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2nd Hand Smoke

October 12, 2022

  • 24901 Red Arrow Highway
  • Mattawan, MI 49071
  • (269) 283-5054
  • Website
  • Menu

Friday nights in the fall are my favorite.  I pick up a little extra OT every week with an additional assignment and it’s work I actually enjoy.  

I work my normal 9-5 shift then head out without a co-worker to tackle the additional duties.  There’s usually a little bit of traveling away from Kalamazoo involved and since I’m alone, I always look for opportunities to find new places to eat.  

I was heading to the Paw Paw area a few Friday’s ago and I had plenty of time to plan out a detour for dinner.  There’s a BBQ place outside of Mattawan I’ve been meaning to go to so I took the long way to Paw Paw and headed down Red Arrow Highway.  

2nd Hand Smoke is on Red Arrow Highway just past the intersection with Main Street/24th Street outside of Mattawan.  The building was previously the first iteration of Skinny Kenny’s.  Like Skinny Kenny’s, 2nd Hand Smoke got their start as a catering company and food truck before moving in to this place.  To make it their own, they put a bright red coat of paint on the building so it’s easy to spot as you’re heading west on Red Arrow.  

The setup in side the building really hasn’t changed all that much. There’s a large order counter that separates the kitchen from the dining room. A big menu board takes up some of the space on the order counter because there’s no room to hang it above.

I ordered myself a brisket sandwich which comes with homemade chips, and a homemade French onion dip. The cost was around $15 before tip which also included a can of Coke.

I was grabbing my sandwich to go but there is a pretty good size dining room if you’re a dine in person. This space was a breakfast joint before it became a BBQ joint so there are some booths along one wall and a number of four tops spread through the remaining space.

It only took a couple of minutes for my meal to be bagged up and handed over to me. I headed to the car because I was running a little late now to my assignment.

I started with the chips because I knew they’d be easy to eat while driving. The chips are homemade and have that awesome golden brown crunchiness to them. They’re seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper and come with a homemade French onion dip. This is the only way I like onions and this dip was fantastic. Quality sides are always an added bonus and this is a simple, yet high quality pairing for the sandwich. You can upgrade to two of their other sides for a $3 upcharge but I’m not sure why you would.

The sandwich I picked was the Brisket Chopped Cheese. This sandwich is served on Ciabatta. It’s chopped brisket, Monterey Jack cheese, and pickles. I typically prefer sliced brisket over chopped but I thought this sandwich might be more like a cheesesteak so I went with it. Every layer of this sandwich was delicious. The smoky, salty brisket, the crusty ciabatta, the pickles…everything. Brisket cooked right is going to be good on a sandwich no matter what you pair it with but this simple combination highlighted the meat but also gave room for the rest of the sandwich to make it’s mark.

2nd Hand Smoke is a solid BBQ joint. I get kind of annoyed at food truck rally’s when all that show up are BBQ trucks but at the same time, I seek out BBQ restaurants. A lot of food trucks are getting their starts that way then expanding in to brick and mortar buildings because they’re able to hone their success on the streets. There have been at least three BBQ food trucks that have made that leap in the last few years with great success. 2nd Hand Smoke is poised to do good things and having a spot where we always know where to find them is a good thing.

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