The flat-screen is tuned to the football game. The neighbors show up with a cold six-pack. The day demands barbecue, but who wants to stand in front of a hot grill when kickoff is in 20 minutes? If you live in the Coral Gables-South Miami area, your solution is to follow the smoke to Smoke't, now offering weekends-only Bar-Be-Cue Express curbside pickup.
The idea is that you pull up, shout your order to the cook manning the big, black gas grill and drive off 10 minutes later with your smoking hot, foil-wrapped ribs and burgers. Because this takeout service is new and it's a lot to ask a cook to stand outside waiting for hungry drivers in the 90-degree heat you might want to call in your order instead. When we drove up before a University of Miami game on a recent Saturday, the patio grill was unstaffed, so we had to unbuckle and go inside to order. Even though the grill was hot and the chef hustled out, the curbside concept fell by the wayside. Still, with time and cooler weather, the idea has potential.
Because Bar-Be-Cue Express is all about speed, no side dishes or frills are offered. Your choices are simple, swift grilled food: baby back ribs slathered with sweet barbecue sauce, a half-pound burger, all-beef hot dog or grilled chicken sandwich. Cash only. The prices go down as easily as the lean, fall-off-the-bone ribs, which were less than $20 for a full rack. (You'll pay that for an uncooked package of ribs at the grocery store.) Sandwich prices are only slightly higher than a fast-food joint's, with a much better and bigger burger. The only thing more delicious than fresh-off-the-grill food is knowing that someone else will stand over the flames to cook it for you.
Chef/Owner Michael Altmen OF "Smoke't Southern Kitchen and Tap" Restaurant in Coral Gables.