Arcadia, CA

One Good BBQ Joint in Arcadia

Peter Dills

Craft by Smoke and Fire

Long before the internet my father, Elmer Dills, would go into a restaurant and steal a copy of the menu for the restaurant he was reviewing. Why? Simply so he could remember all the dishes that were offered and their prices so he could ensure that his article was correct.

Speaking of past critiques, the LA Times had a review called “First Impression” which is, as it sounds, a review that spotlighted a restaurant on its first visit by the reviewer. I think a restaurant should at least be given the opportunity for its paint to dry before any review or post is made. Another reviewer, Merrill Shindler, who I respect and admire for his 40 years of reviewing, restaurant feels if they are charging full price then they are ready for a full review.


So, here goes! I went to the new Craft by Smoke and Fire restaurant at the newly renamed “Shops at Santa Anita” in Arcadia for lunch, and here is my first impression: Located in the space last occupied by Wood Ranch BBQ, Craft has continued the BBQ theme and my first impression is A-OK!! It wasn’t perfect – maybe because it was lunchtime and had only one server and one busboy to take care of all the tables, but our server Mariah sure gave it an all American try, no excuses. Menus were on time and water arrived quickly. If she had time perhaps a few suggestions would have been helpful, but this isn’t my first BBQ joint, so I went right for the Beef Brisket ($26) with a side of chili and a la fin Du Monde beer. My table mates opted for sandwiches including Brisket Grilled Cheese and the Southern Fried Steak that the menu describes as legendary ($18). My quick poll got thumbs up from all - was everyone just hungry? No, they seemed sincere. My only other thought (besides Mariah not having help) was the proverbial manager coming by to ask how everything was, or in my mind, I just didn’t feel a sense of urgency for me to come back tomorrow. Maybe with a full staff I would or might. Friends have raved and I see potential. Is it the post-COVID syndrome of lean and mean? My days of eating at Robins Wood Fire BBQ were not matched, but the prices were very reasonable. As Napoleon said, “I will return”… or was that George C. Scott?

All things considered, my first impression is a thumbs up!

Full bar with many TV’s

Craft by Smoke and Fire 400 S. Baldwin Ave Arcadia (626) 461-5023
Brisket on the boneMe

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Former writer Pasadena Star News/Lang Newspaper Group. Currently host of radio Show AM 830 on Sundays.

Pasadena, CA

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