Smokehouse 52 BBQ
125 S. Main St., Chelsea
734-562-2565 | sh52bbq.com
11:30am-10pm/Friday and Saturday
The Short Course
To avoid wait: Friday and Saturday nights are busiest. Try early evening or go on a weeknight.
Noise level: High when busy
Bathroom amenities: Changing table in women’s, but not men’s
High chairs? Yes
Got milk? Yes, plus lemonade, iced tea, soft drinks or a juice box
Kids’ menu? Yes
Anything healthy for kids? Skip fried main dishes and sides
Food allergy concerns? Call ahead to speak with a manager about your specific concerns.
“We’re going out for barbeque tonight,” I announced to my family of four. “Smokehouse 52 BBQ in Chelsea. I think it opened last year.”
“Uh, honey, it’s been open three years,” my husband corrected.
Three years? Where have I been? Oh, yeah. Working, raising a family, shuttling kids to activities, and running some of those activities.
While it took a few years for us to visit, we located Smokehouse 52 easily once we arrived in downtown Chelsea. That’s because the delicious smell of barbecue guided us from the parking lot to the corner of Park and Main St.
We anticipated a wait since it was Friday night and the restaurant looked packed. However, it took mere minutes before a table was ready. The restaurant is large, seating over 150. Two rooms, one with a bar, offer numerous tables surrounded by countrified walls of exposed brick, barn beams, and tree trunk slices held in place by chicken wire.
From the Pit
The menu is extensive, with appetizers, soups, salads, three types of mac and cheese, fried chicken, entrees like cedar plank salmon, sandwiches, burgers, and pulled pork, chops, brisket, chicken, and ribs cooked in wood-fired pits. We ordered Burnt Ends ($9.59) to start, twice smoked and basted beef brisket nuggets. I picked the Pig Mac for my entrée, a sandwich concocted with pulled pork, mac and cheese, and bacon on Texas toast with fries ($12.29). My husband chose beef brisket from the pit with collard greens and pit beans ($15.29).
Our son, 12, is our family’s picky eater. He wanted fried chicken, but passed when he learned it was white meat. He went with plain house smoked wings ($8.59) adding a side of loaded potatoes ($3.89) only after our server confirmed she could omit the green onions.
Kids’ menu selections include a pulled pork sandwich, cheeseburger, grilled cheese, chicken and waffles, ribs, chicken strips, or mac and cheese with a choice of side (fries, pit beans, coleslaw, applesauce, cornbread or collard greens) and a small drink ($5-6). Our daughter, 9, chose chicken and waffles.
The Real Deal
The burnt ends were a terrific start to our meal. Thick chunks of brisket were tender and juicy, others tougher but still tasty. We dipped them in Smokehouse’s five house made sauces: the traditional All-American, Root Beer with a sweet flavor, Smokehouse Gold with mustard and horseradish, Kiss & Vinegar with vinegar and red pepper, and 52 Alarm with jalapeños and habaneros.
Copious amounts of food then arrived. My Pig Mac was delightful. The mac and cheese was sparse, but I preferred it that way. The saucy pulled pork melded with the buttery toast and salty bacon to prove delectable. I skipped my fries to allow me to concentrate on enjoying my sandwich completely.
My son consumed his smoked, fried wings sans any sauce with pleasure. My daughter preferred the waffle portion of her chicken and waffles, which meant my husband and I got to savor the chicken. It had a thick, flavorful buttermilk batter with a hint of sweet honey.
My husband loved his brisket, dusted with rub and featuring a strong smoke ring. “These beans are legit,” he noted, offering that the sign of a good BBQ place is the tastiness of its beans. The collard greens were agreeable as well.
Stuffed with smoky, meaty goodness, we passed on dessert. Offerings like banana pudding or the Piggy Candy Sundae with candied bacon, caramel, and fried jalapeños might tempt us next time.