No two barbecue restaurants are alike. From flavor to décor to atmosphere, each is as individual as a thumbprint.
What makes Haze Smokehouse in La Salle special (aside from its amazing menu) is the restaurant’s dual identity. It’s the kind of place where you can dress up for a date-night dinner or have a casual meal with friends.
The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily closed the restaurant in November, but it reopened to carryout orders on Jan. 22 and welcomed back diners for indoor seating on Jan. 28. The reopening coincided with a celebratory weekend for my spouse and me, so we treated ourselves to a carryout meal.
While my spouse celebrated with a pit-fired ribeye ($27, including two sides), I opted for my favorite menu item: the Bama White Nachos ($11). This platter of nachos – covered in pulled pork, green and red onions, and Monterey Jack cheese, drizzled with tangy-sweet Alabama white sauce – is technically an appetizer. However, it’s large enough to serve as a full meal. There were even enough left over for me to share with my spouse.
As much as I craved the nachos, I had worried about soggy chips. Since we opted for carryout, the chips would be sitting in the sauce for at least 20 minutes during our drive home. To my delight, they stayed firm and fresh.
My spouse’s cooked-to-perfection ribeye came with two sides – a scoop of ham-and-poblano mac ‘n’ cheese and a cornbread muffin. The smooth mac ‘n’ cheese is filled with poblano peppers and chunks of house ham, and it’s a perennial favorite for both of us.
Normally, I would order a side of the mac ‘n’ cheese, but both of us were in the mood for Haze’s smokehouse chili ($5), which has a mild peppery kick and is stuffed full of brisket. While my spouse ordered a bowl of chili, I chose the best-of-both-worlds option of Haze chili mac ($5), which is a generous serving of smokehouse chili covered in a helping of mac ‘n’ cheese.
All of these menu items stand out because Haze gets the basics right. The restaurant serves standard barbecue fare such as peppered beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, St. Louis ribs, and hot sausage. By mastering the flavor of the meats, all of the specialty menu items like chili and nachos are elevated.
When dining in, be sure to look through the window in the dining room – you’ll be able to see the enormous wood-fired grill pit where the meats get their signature flavor.
Haze also offers 11 sandwich options (including a vegetarian grilled portabella sandwich) and a children’s menu. There’s also a full bar adjacent to the dining room.
Haze Smokehouse is following COVID-19 indoor dining measures, and carryout remains available.
Even though we dined at home this time, we’re looking forward to future date nights at Haze.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Haze Smokehouse
WHERE: 159 Bucklin St., La Salle