As chef at the durable Winnie's Le Bus in Manayunk, John O'Brien used to treat customers to barbecue.
When Bella Trattoria next door closed, he and owner Winnie Clowry sprang into action, leasing the wide storefront at 4258 Main St. to install Smokin' John's Barbeque.
No road house, It's a polished bar-restaurant. You order at the counter and the proteins are priced by the pound. Add a few sides and build a meal, which you can eat at the wooden community table in the main room or at a table in the barroom next door. If you're more of a traditionalist (e.g. you don't care for the cafeteria style, popularized here by Fette Sau in Fishtown), simply sit at the bar and they'll take care of you.
O'Brien has hickory going in his Cookshack Fast Eddy 500, where he makes beef brisket (rubbed in rosemary, thyme and crushed coriander seed), turkey, pork, St. Louis ribs, turkey breast, Atlantic salmon, vegan ribs (seitan!), sausage and the like.
His sides include broccoli slaw, mashed sweets, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and hauntingly delicious baked beans whose secret ingredient is smoked Vidalia onions.
Full stocked bar, specializing in brown spirits, offers 10 beers on tap; there is a growler filler and a flight offering of four 2-ounce pours.
Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.