The aroma of smoked meats leaves no doubt about the focus at LA Smokehouse, but this new eatery along Earhart Boulevard is a bit different from the classic barbecue joint.
It’s modeled as a delicatessen that centers on smoked meats served up in a variety of formats. You pick your meat and then its vehicle, whether that’s a by-the-pound order to bring home or something from the menu of sandwiches (deli-style, wraps or po-boys), salads and grits bowls, for a barbecue-inspired twist on grillades and grits.
“Smoked meats give you a lot of options for how you serve it up,” said Daniel Wender, who opened LA Smokehouse with his wife and fellow chef Aubin Wender earlier in March. “It’s cooked with a lot of love, but we can serve it fast.”
Service is from a walk-up counter in front and there’s a brick-lined dining room in back. In the kitchen, an indoor smoker burns a mix of hard woods. All the meats and dishes are prepared for ready-to-go deli orders for home or for dine-in meals.
Daniel was previously sous chef at Muriel’s Jackson Square. Aubin is part of the culinary team at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. She’s from Pearl River, Mississippi, and her family has been intimately involved in developing the couple’s first restaurant. For instance, her father, the specialty woodworker Charles DeLerno, crafted the wooden sign outside. As for the menu, that speaks more to Daniel’s background.
“I grew up in Jackson. Three hours away was Memphis and barbecue, three hours the other way was New Orleans and Creole food,” he said. “Both of those combined, that’s where I’m coming from.”
The service counter doubles as a coffee bar and there’s a small selection of beer (wine and a full bar will come later). One corner of the room has been configured as a sauce bar, with dispensers for self-serve sampling. Overhead, homespun menu boards list the meats of the day, and show various options for ordering them. That includes a “potluck gumbo” made from a smattering of meats. Pies and other desserts and breakfast service are in the works too.
LA Smokehouse shares a parking lot, perhaps cruelly, with a fitness club. But it’s also part of Landis Construction Company’s building, and after hours the restaurant has access to a long hall between the two that Wender said he’d like to use for special dinners and catered events.
“We feel like there’s a lot we can do here, if it’s people coming in with a 30 top for lunch or someone taking an order home for dinner,” said Wender. “With smoked meats, it’s like a la carte catering.”
8300 Earhart Blvd., 504-265-8905
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.