Smokin' Joes

The staff at Smokin’ Joe’s Grill serve up homemade barbecue and sides. The establishment will celebrate its three-year anniversary this January.

DUNDALK — We all knew Dundalk had the best pit beef, but now the whole world knows, too.

The Washington Post recently published an article about the best places that serve pit beef sandwiches in Maryland, and one of Dundalk’s own made the list.

Smokin’ Joe’s Grill, located in a tiny building on Merritt Boulevard, was named as an honorable mention. The establishment will celebrate its three-year anniversary on Jan. 31.

Owner John Darney said he didn’t know his restaurant was in the Washington Post until someone called and told him.

“It was a little flattering, but second place is the first loser,” Darney told the Eagle, adding it would be different if he were named the best of the best.

Darney said barbecue started out as a hobby, which he has been doing for about six years. He comes from a family of people who work with their hands. He started out “piddling around” with a grill, and the rest is delicious history.

Some time later, his hobby transformed into a business.

“I saw this dilapidated building when I first started,” Darney said. “It was vacant for a while, and totally dilapidated. I decided to go and fix it up. I wanted home-cooked, no avocado and no bean sprout. I just wanted normal, home-cooked meals.”

Darney said the name “Smokin’ Joe’s” was inspired by his middle name. The name “Smokin’ Joe’s” just “flows,” he said.

The home-cooked food on the menu includes beef, ham, turkey, pit corned beef, sausage, chopped pork, a variety of hamburgers and chicken sandwiches.

The menu also offers potato salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, baked beans and french fries. More things will be added during the winter, like mashed potatoes, stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers.

Darney describes Dundalk as “the best community,” and said that people here were supportive when he first opened. They did things to help out, like take out the trash and fill the ice machines, he said.

“Some people complained because there was so long of a line,” Darney said.

Readers can find Smokin’ Joe’s Grill at 2102 Merritt Blvd. in Dundalk. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. The establishment is closed on Mondays and holidays.

Readers can find the restaurant’s menu at their website,