The Palomino Smokehouse
By Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

Texas Barbecue, Calgary Style

Beer, barbecue and rock ‘n’ roll — what could possibly make for a more satisfying night out on the town? For patrons of the Palomino Smokehouse, these three pillars of fun are a magical combination, and the Palomino, an authentic Texas barbecue restaurant with one of Calgary’s most rollicking live music venues tucked in its basement, serves up generous portions of all three.

Walk into the Palomino and there’s no doubt about what kind of joint you’re dealing with: the walls are covered with kitschy rock and country music posters, vintage beer ads and Southern-style food products. There are TVs tuned to the football game as rock music blasts from the speakers, and the smell of sweet barbecue sauce and slow-cooked meats wafts from the kitchen. It’s a place without pretentions, just good music and food that’ll rival what you’d find in the heart of Texas.

“We do a lot of the classic barbecue dishes here,” says manager, Arlen Smith. “We do Texas brisket, pulled pork, we do ribs. The thing about barbecue is it’s one of the only true North American dishes. It’s classic Southern U.S. cooking. So, it’s barbecued meats, it’s grits, it’s macaroni and cheese, and we want to make it so that if you went to Texas and had barbecue you’d be blown away, but you’d still think we’re just as good.”

Ribs, chicken, macaroni and cheese, burgers, meat platters, brisket, brunch, beer, wine, cocktails
Manager Arlen Smith loves the Palomino’s combination of beer, barbecue and rock ’n’ roll.

Music as Authentic as the Brisket

Smith says that a huge chunk of the Palomino’s clientele come in solely for the barbecue (either for lunch or to unwind over dinner) and may not even see the live music element as being part of the Palomino experience. But for others, the Palomino is the place to go to check out local and touring musical acts. The venue has become a clubhouse of sorts for the local rock crowd, who come early for a plate of ribs or a pulled pork sandwich and then drift downstairs for a night of music. The Palomino features regular live performances by up and coming local and touring independent groups.

“The only requirement we have for music is that it’s primarily original material,” Smith says. “We’re not genre specific. We just want to showcase the best of local and touring bands. It doesn’t matter if you’re a singer-songwriter or a punk rock band. If we think you’re good, you’ll get a chance to play.”

Ribs, chicken, macaroni and cheese, burgers, meat platters, brisket, brunch, beer, wine, cocktails
Poster boards at the front entrance detail the month’s live musical performances.

A Solid Meal Stop

Of course, touring musicians love seeing the Palomino on their tour itinerary because it means they’ll get at least one outstanding meal on the road. Next time you’re digging into your two-meat platter or slow smoked half chicken, look at the table next to you: your neighbour may just be the next Iggy Pop or Garth Brooks (who once performed here) filling up on barbecue before hitting the stage.

Ribs, chicken, macaroni and cheese, burgers, meat platters, brisket, brunch, beer, wine, cocktails
The establishment is located on the Seventh Avenue CTrain line downtown.
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