San Jose, CA

Smoke Eaters Continues to Bring the Heat

J.M. Lesinski

With COVID still keeping many restaurants from offering in-person dining experiences, eateries have been stepping up their takeout game and bringing their signature dishes into the new form to adapt. Smoke Eaters in San Jose, California is one such restaurant that is not only adapting to the new normal but thriving with their takeout menu like no one thought possible.

Keeping the signature spicy and hot dishes at the forefront, Smoke Eaters new takeout menu holds onto all the classic dishes that have made them loved in the community and famous on the hot food television circuit. The new takeout menu is simple, sleek, and offers everyone the visual variety one needs when ordering online instead of in-person.

Perhaps most important of all to be specified on the menu is the signature winger sauces. Chicken wings, called wingers at Smoke Eaters, come in fourteen delicious, but deceivingly spicy based on the rating, sauces. The top hot sauce on the scale, Inferno, is not for the faint of heart. The heat is incredible and not to be taken lightly, as is the 4 Alarm positioned second on the sauce scale.

The Traditional Death sauce is the only sauce on the sauce scale with its own distinct color, a lighter red, and while milder than the two hottest on the menu is still a challenge to even the more seasoned hot sauce aficionados.

The Mango Habanero sauce offers a sweet hot kick beneath Traditional Death, and the Fiery Garlic brings in a much-loved garlic kick beneath Mango Habanero. The Nuclear sauce is a step above the Atomic, both traditional hot sauce by nature with devilish hot kicks.

Around Honey Sriracha, most non-heat-seeking diners will find their comfort zone, with the sweet of the honey pooling around the spicy center. Traditional sauce follows Honey Sriracha, and Thai Zing follows Traditional, bringing a unique zesty kick to the menu. Beneath Thai Zing, Lemon Pepper brings the classic pepper bite alongside a sweet and sour lemon kick.

BBQ fans will be glad to know Honey BBQ rounds out the bottom three hot sauces on the heat index, with a smokey aftertaste that just satisfies every taste bud. Garlic Parmesan finishes just above mild, and while Fiery Garlic may be too much for some, the sheer amount of garlic on the Garlic Parmesan is a taste festival in and of itself.

Wingers themselves come in counts of five, ten, fifteen, or twenty-five, with celery, ranch, or bleu cheese. Arguably some of the best chicken wings in the Bay Area, the wingers at Smoke Eaters are breaded, and fried crispy just right. Alternatively, the tenders are equal parts delicious and dipped in buttermilk before being breaded and fried. Tenders come in three, six, and nine counts with ranch dressing on the side. The Coop family meal comes with fifteen wings, six tenders, and choice of two appetizers for another option.

In addition to the fabulous chicken dishes at Smoke Eaters, the burgers and sandwich options allow for the maximum variety of things to try on the menu. The standard cheeseburger and all burgers come on brioche buns, while all sandwiches in general come with fries or a house salad.

The Cali Burger comes with cheddar, sliced avocado, applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion, while the Western Burger comes with Tillamook cheddar, onion rings, applewood bacon, lettuce, house hickory, and tomato for two California classics.

The Royale Burger is sure to pack a flavor punch, made with sharp white cheddar, caramelized onions, applewood bacon, and garlic aioli. Additionally, Bacon Cheese Sliders are another burger option that come with choice of cheese, applewood bacon, and caramelized onions.

Two beef sandwiches that cannot be beat at Smoke Eaters are the Tri-Tip and Philly Cheesesteak. The Tri-Tip comes with a Santa Maria rub and house hickory on a garlic hoagie roll for some unbelievable BBQ, while the Philly Cheesesteak would make Philly proud, oozing with provolone and American over thinly sliced rib-eye, pepper, and onions, all on a hoagie roll.

One new dish that is a must-try is the Nashville Hot Chicken, featuring a spicy fried chicken thigh and pickles on brioche, the Southern classic is a crispy piece of heaven at Smoke Eaters. The Rancher, also new, features the signature fried chicken thigh, avocado, bacon, and buttermilk ranch on brioche for a creamy crunchy sandwich experience.

The Chicken Wrap rounds out the new dish options at Smoke Eaters, with chopped tenders and choice of winger sauce wrapped in a tortilla with lettuce and cheese. Always a classic, the Buffalo Chicken features a buttermilk fried chicken thigh, Traditional sauce, and lettuce on brioche, while the Garlic Parmesan features the same buttermilk fried thigh, garlic aioli, melted cheese, and marinara on a hoagie roll.

A must-try chicken sandwich is the Diesel, which comes with grilled chicken, sharp white cheddar, applewood bacon, avocado, tomato, and chipotle aioli on a hoagie roll. Then there is always the California classic, the California Chicken, which features grilled chicken, Tillamook cheddar, applewood bacon, avocado, tomato, onion, and lime aioli on a hoagie roll.

Finger foods, synonymous with appetizers, all come with ranch dressing standard. The new Cheesesteak Egg Rolls are a highlight of the apps, featuring ribeye, onions, peppers, and cheese each in a crispy wrap. Other phenomenal sides include garlic fries, curly fries, sweet potato fries, regular fries, tater tots, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and disco tots, which come with traditional sauce, melted cheese, and chopped bacon.

Another amazing appetizer that kind of takes on a life of its own as an entrée as well is the Nachos Take n’ Bake. The premade nachos supreme dish features pico, avocado, jalapeno, black beans, cheese, cilantro-lime crema, and choice of chicken, steak, or a combination of the two. All one has to do is pop the tray in the oven at four hundred degrees for eight to twelve minutes and savory gooey nachos are reborn like the phoenix.

Salads are available at Smoke Eaters too, with the Buffalo Tender featuring two tenders in choice of winger sauce, the Chicken Caesar topped with grilled chicken, parmesan, and garlic croutons, and the Chopped Salad available in regular and jumbo.

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Professional journalist for over five years, covering topics all up and down both coasts of the United States, including arts, music, food, politics, and culture. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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