On April 24, Blowin' Smoke Southern Cantina opened its doors to the public at their new location on Habersham and 33rd.
The restaurant moved from MLK Boulevard to its new space, previously occupied by Sol. Blowin' Smoke has a new look and feel, and a menu serving eclectic Southern, barbecue and south-of-the-border dishes.
Blowin' Smoke is one of five establishments owned by the Gaslight Group; others include Abe's on Lincoln, B. Matthew's Eatery, The 5 Spot and Blue Turtle Bistro.
We were there for opening night, and found the location revamped with fresh paint inside and out, significant renovations and a new fence to define the outdoor dining area.
The new space screams casual outdoor fun, evidenced by open-air seating inside and out, and pleasingly quirky dÃ©cor - the Grateful Dead-like psychedelic painted patio and cornhole game.
The reasonably priced menu has something for everyone, from appetizers, salads, soups, tacos and sandwiches to full plates. Excluding the Flintstone ribs, prices start at $3 for appetizers and tacos and go up to $14 for full plate items. The ribs are $15 for half and $26 for a full serving. More on the ribs later.
I have eaten at Blowin' Smoke two times after my opening night visit and have watched the menu change slightly (for the better) over a few weeks.
On my last visit, we were a party of four. We started with two organic margaritas, a Terrapin Hopsecutioner and a Tybee Island Blond draft. Blowin' Smoke has a respectable specialty cocktail offering and a diverse selection of 30-plus beers and 16 wines.
The margaritas, touted as organic, low-calorie and agave-sweetened, were a crowd pleaser. We ordered more just to be sure true agave syrup was used to sweeten the margaritas.
For the table, we ordered the housemade tortilla chips with queso chorizo, chips with fresh guacamole and fried pickles. The guacamole was lightly salted with fresh tomato, onion and cilantro, and the queso dip was good, as expected, but not too spicy.
The fried pickles were a pleasant surprise. They were pickle spears or quarters, lightly crusted with parmesan, having the right balance between pickle and coating. Starters and drinks were a hit.
For the main course, we ordered multiple tacos, including the baja shrimp taco, blackened fish taco and the vegetarian. One in our group ordered the Flintstone ribs.
After inquiring whether to order the half or full order of ribs, our server informed us most people don't finish the half order.
When the "half order" of Flintstone ribs arrived, we couldn't believe the dinosaur-sized single rib in front of us.
Along with the gargantuan rib were sides of roasted corn salad and spicy fried mac and cheese. The rib was delicious - crisp on the outside and tender and juicy inside. All four members in our party tasted the rib, but we did not finish it all.
The giant bone was taken home to one lucky Lhasa Apso. The roasted corn salad and fried mac and cheese were good accompaniments.
Blowin' Smoke's tacos are served in a paper-lined basket.
I've had all five taco selections during my three visits, and all were very good. My favorite is the baja shrimp taco, consisting of lightly battered fried shrimp, mixed greens, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and spicy aioli.
The shrimp were tender and perfectly cooked, and the balance of flavors was delightful.
The blackened fish taco, containing fresh fish blackened, mixed greens, onion, fresh cilantro and a zesty pineapple salsa, is another favorite.
However, the taco surprise for me was the vegetarian. I am not a tofu fan, but this taco with fried tofu, mixed greens, cilantro and the pineapple salsa was really enjoyable. I would order it again.
My last visit to Blowin' Smoke was the best of the three. Blowin' Smoke Southern Cantina has successfully worked through most, if not all, of the typical new restaurant growing pains.
Both the front of house and back of house have their acts together since the recent opening.
The menu tweaks have been positive and the wait staff knows the menu well and is attentive.
Additionally, the other dishes I have sampled at Blowin' Smoke, including the black bean soup, pulled pork sandwich and fried ice cream, have also been enjoyable.
The Blowin' Smoke recipe is a good one. I recommend Blowin' Smoke Southern Cantina for the food, drinks and friendly, casual atmosphere.
I really like the restaurant's makeover and new location. The result is a warm, welcoming restaurant and bar.
If you are looking for a casual, al fresco meal on a sunny afternoon or clear evening, Blowin' Smoke is a terrific choice.
The atmosphere is fun and festive, but get there early - they don't take reservations.
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Blowin' Smoke Southern Cantina
1611 Habersham St.