The latest stop on the 'I.E Soul Food Tour' with Lashaun Turner- is Smokey Canyon BBQ.
Smokey Canyon BBQ is family owned and operated by husband and wife, Pam, and Dan Nusser.
The restaurant is in the Canyon Crest Town Centre, in Riverside, and has been in business since 2007.
If you follow the I.E Soul Food Tour, you may have read a recent review I did about a BBQ spot that was voted #1 in the city last year by the Press Enterprise newspaper.
Well, I can honestly say that my experience at Smokey Canyon BBQ well exceeded the other eatery in every category.
Smokey Canyon is easily one of the best BBQ spots I have tried thus far in the Riverside area.
I visited at about 2:30 in the afternoon for lunch and was able to place my order quickly.
The restaurant has full open indoor dining that is spacious and comfortable. There is also a lovely, covered patio dining area with a water feature and additional seating.
The establishment appeared neat, clean, well laid out and the atmosphere was pleasant.
For lunch I ordered ribs with macaroni & cheese, collard greens, potato salad, and baked beans.
As the title says, the sauce was a standout in my opinion. It’s called Carolina sauce.
Pam spoke with me about how she formulated the recipe for her BBQ sauce and then tweaked it with the help of her husband and friends:
My husband used to play handball several days a week when we first opened. I would be making different barbecue sauces and would make either pork or brisket and send it down with him. I had them all numbered, you know, and I would send back the one that was the most popular each week and change it up a little bit and just go from there. Every week Carolina was the favorite. And so, I said that's our barbecue sauce.
The ribs were perfectly smoked, and the sauce enhanced the flavor. The rib meat adhered to the bone while still being tender and chewable.
Of the sides, the potato salad impressed me the most. Classic taste and great consistency.
The beans were flavorful. And as funny as this may sound, that little piece of cornbread was on point. Not sweet like cake. Not dry and crumbly like others have been. I usually don’t eat it much – but did eat that entire muffin. I liked it.
The greens left a little to be desired for my taste buds. All the sides are “vegetarian” and I do prefer my greens cooked with salt pork or bacon etc. so that’s probably why they weren't appealing to me.
The greens were cooked well as far as texture, not over or undercooked. The menu refers to them as being “spicy”, cooked with cayenne, vinegar, and garlic.
In this clip of our conversation, Pam talks about the current supply chain issues impacting their business, and other challenges. Plus, she gives advice to others interested in starting a restaurant business and more. Click to listen!
Pam also emphasized for continued success you have to be heavy hands on if you're an owner.
Customers like it when they know you. They want to get this special attention. Customers feel that if they make a effort to come in and I'm not here, no matter what time they come in, they think I should be here 24/7.
Impression & 'EATER' score
The lunch came to about $34.00, which was higher than similar plates we have encountered in the Inland Empire.
The meal was top-notch, and so was the atmosphere, and wait staff. This meals scores a 9/10 on the EATER scale and I would definitely recommend the BBQ.
Of note, they are closed to the public Mondays, but will cater special events for private parties of at least 70 people.
Smokey Canyon BBQ is located at 5225 Canyon Crest Drive #9 Riverside, CA 92507
The I.E Soul Food Tour with Lashaun Turner, spotlights Restaurants that specialize in Southern Soul Food. I also share local dining experiences encompassing all types of cuisine.
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