« Baldwin Street Grille | Main | Calasan Indonesian Fast Food »

Blowin' Smoke BBQ (cart)

In a word: B-R-I-S-K-E-T heaven.

The specs: #0698 
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at 77 Square, Isthmus; Facebook, Blowin' Smoke Food Cart on Urbanspoon

Latest Blowin' Smoke BBQ news and reviews

JM ate the ribs with mild sauce, potato salad, and a Sierra Mist.
Nichole ate the beef brisket sandwich with hot sauce, coleslaw, 3-bean salad, and a Diet Coke.
We split a ginger cookie.
The bill was $18, or $9/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Blowin' Smoke BBQ an A- (see our grading rubric).

Blowin' Smoke has a buy-10-get-one-free loyalty card*, which is bold but brilliant. With food as craveworthy as theirs, there's no risk of tiring of their meals before buying ten in a summer. Especially if you bring a friend, the kind who, when it comes to sauce on your face and bits between your teeth, has your back. Or would that be "has your front"?


"Ribs, ribs, ribs" (delivered almost as a chant) was a line from a puppet production JM wrote in high school. (Seriously, that happened.) In it, a character ends up travelling a long distance to tussle with another man over his order of ribs. If they were Blowin' Smoke ribs, we'd totally understand.  Tender without being too messy, these ribs are walkin' around meatcicles. Not too much fat on either end and not too much recoil in the meat themselves. Very tasty.

The beef brisket sandwich was wrapped in paper speared shut with a toothpick and a pickle. The sandwich was hefty and came on a fresh white roll that doubled as a napkin. The roll reminded Nichole of the kind you can (could? please say you still can) get in Milwaukee on a Sunday morning with your hot ham: yeasty, soft yet springy, crusty yet not hard. Perfect. The beef itself was pleasantly chewy and the hot sauce had a deep pepper-hot heat.

On a later visit (told you so) a smoked turkey BLT had only the roll to redeem it; haphazardly assembled deli slices, long strips of thin bacon, and leaf lettuce flopped everywhere, making the sandwich hard to handle and hardly worth it. It's wise to stick to the quadruped choices.

There are usually four side dishes available: potato salad, coleslaw, broccoli salad, and three-bean salad. All tasted immaculately fresh and had a kick of fresh-ground black pepper. All but the three-bean salad are mayo-based. The potato salad used small pieces of red skin-on potatoes and had a touch of mustard. The slaw was a crunchy mix of cabbage and carrots with almost a pineapple sweetness. While the broccoli salad is a good source of folate, it's no light choice due to a liberal helping of sunflower seeds. Speaking of folate, the sweet-and-sour three bean salad is a winner, with red onions and kidney beans with a distinctly non-canned texture.

RibsBrisket sandwich

And there's usually a choice of cookies for dessert. Winner!

*Zen Sushi had a buy-6-get-one card, with the extra bonus that they kept a little file box with them so you didn't need to cart your own card around. Although they appear on the city's official list of food carts (pdf), they're off the List and we haven't seen them all summer. Anyone know what's up?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

How was the sauce?

The rolls you're thinking of sound like Sheboygan hard rolls.

I really, really want to like this cart but I just can't get into it. There's something in the sauce that tastes off to me. Anise maybe? Very strong and very non-bbq in my opinion. I still grab a pulled pork sandwich occassionally but I usually abandon it halfway through.

Just a matter of personal taste I guess, but I wish it weren't the case. So close to being awesome...

Re: Jason
I don't know when they sauce the meat, but would it be possible to ask them to NOT sauce your serving?

Better than 'other' downtown BBQ joints, not as good as Smoky Jon's. Definitely worth a visit for a quick lunch bite.

Ken, I considered that but I got a chicken sandwich (not recommended btw, just a boneless skinless breast cut in half and sauced - much better options available on them menu) one day and I could taste it in the meat itself. So looking back I guess it's not the sauce that's the problem. Maybe it's a brine or a marinade that all the chicken and pork sandwich meats get.

Not a bad cart by any stretch, just not to my taste. I was more curious if anyone else had noticed the flavor I was talking about and could help me put a finger on it.

I know of a gas station in my hometown of New Berlin that no longer sells gas, but still sells hot ham and rolls, so never fear, that trend is not going out of style anytime soon.

I decided to give this cart another chance and I'm glad I did. Just finished a great pork sandwich. The flavor I complained of above was very slight this time around and I think I finally put my finger on it - liquid smoke. Maybe that varies from batch to batch but this was an all-around excellent meal. Hope my earlier complaining didn't put anybody off this place.

Filled up 2 more spots on our loyalty card. I got the "three little pigs" sandwich special (pulled pork, smoked ham, bacon, chipotle mayo) and will not need more food nor hand moisturizer (pork fat > Palmolive) for a while. Found out they make their own rolls AND you can buy them by the dozen.

Fantastic. One of the 3 best carts in town. Didn't know that they made their own buns--mine was great! Their brisket is comparable to Smoky Jon's, and that's a very high complement from Timmy. Sandwiches are $5 and serving size is large; one could easily eat a sandwich and a side and be stuffed. Love the sauce, smoke, meat, and buns for all three sandwiches I've tried so far. Are there any components I missed?

The comments to this entry are closed.


Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



About Follow madisonatoz on Twitter Contact
Blogroll Ad 
Free Blog
Read our book and food tour
Dish du jour Creative Commons License subscribe to RSS Subscribe
Memo to restaurants Bloggers' Rights at EFF Quizzes
Reflections BlogWithIntegrity.com Tip jar
Banner image by Kayla Morelli, Red Wheelbarrow Design