Mexican food mini-chain Oaxaca Taqueria is getting into the barbecue business. Owner David Schneider, along with chef and partner David Schapp, will be opening a barbecue concept called Urban Smoke later this month, first in Prospect Heights and then additionally in Stuyvesant Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Garden. Schapp and Schneider decided to pursue the project because they think good barbecue places are not ubiquitous enough, Schapp says. "You have to travel so far to get it," he says. But they want Urban Smoke to be slightly different from typical barbecue joint, where brisket or pulled pork is the focus.
The barbecue itself — cooked in a smoker at a commissary kitchen — will sometimes be made with non-traditional ingredients, says Schapp, who previously worked as executive chef at the Randolph Group. "We didn’t want to be compared to a traditional barbecue place," he says. "The whole place was to change the old traditional, stiff menus that no one ever wants to play with." As such, Urban Smoke locations will offer items like smoked portobello mushrooms and pulled turkey neck in addition to classics like pulled pork. Later on, dishes like smoked cauliflower steak may be added to the menu.
Side dishes will change seasonally as well, Schapp says. "Every place, it's the same things. It's sweet coleslaw, it's mayonnaise-y potato salad, it's mashed sweet potatoes," he says. In contrast, Urban Smoke's spring menu includes items like an elote corn bread pudding — a Mexican street food spin on the classic dish — and a coleslaw made with collard greens instead of cabbage. Schapp will also be making a "Hoppin Joe," a version of classic Southern dish "Hoppin John" that features a coffee-based gravy.
The team plans to open the Stuyvesant Heights location within the next few months and the Prospect-Lefferts Garden one afterward. They don't have plans to expand further beyond that, but seeing how quickly Oaxaca Taqueria has expanded over the years, it wouldn't be a surprise to see more Urban Smokes in the future. Check out the opening menu below.