Eight years on, American barbecue sensation Up in Smoke continues to bring their style of smoked meats to the heart of the inner west.
After meeting in trade school, Robi Smith, his business partner Shayne McCallum (also founder of 8 Bit in Footscray) and their three friends turned the barbecue game into a full-blown experience in Footscray.
“Three of the five partners grew up around here, and we liked the opportunity in Footscray when we were trying to find the right site,” Robi says. “This used to be a kitchen and bathroom fittings showroom and we had to do a full refurb.”
Think concrete table tops, black-leather chairs, and exposed brick walls – it’s the kind of joint you’d bring a date or your crew for a chill hangout. And if the weather’s playing nice, there’s a beer garden out front to soak up those good vibes.
The venue’s star is a whopping $20,000 smoker. Yep, you heard it right – this isn’t your grandma’s backyard grill. It’s a big, bold, double-barreled beast, known as the Yoder Frontiersman, slow-cooking and smoking brisket, pork shoulder, ribs and sausages to perfection.
Each dish is a nod to pop culture comedians Cheech and Chong, who also inspired the restaurant’s name.
Robi breaks it down, “They made movies in the 70s and 80s, a lot of them about weed smoking, and one of their movies was called Up in Smoke!
“What makes us unique is that we make our own sauces, our rubs, our version of pickles. Our bestseller is the ‘Up in Smoke Sandwich’ – a brisket burnt ends masterpiece, but don’t miss our mozzarella sticks made with house-smoked mozzarella and served with plum sauce.”
Now, let’s talk drinks. Sample from ten craft beers on tap, a solid selection of bourbon and brown liquors, and a signature cocktail list that won’t disappoint.
Next door to the dining room is the ‘evolution space’ – it’s like Up in Smoke’s experimental playground. American deli? Check. Ice cream shop? Done. Up in Smoke is still evolving, and Robi’s stoked about it. From pop-ups to ventures further out west, these guys are all about keeping it fresh and giving customers what they want.
So consider this your invitation to savour the flavours, and let the good times roll!