Since southern Taiwan’s legendary Smokey Joe’s opened its flagship Taichung store, it has made a big impression on Taichung diners. That impact is initially visual, with its big villa-like structure, outdoor courtyard and fountain, and spacious 172-seat interior, filled to every corner with an eclectic mix of nostalgic items selected by owner Amy Wu. Including vintage Americana like a Chevy pickup, gas pump, signs, cattle skulls and cowboy hats, all this surrounds a wide variety of seating areas. Taichung Manager Kevin Chiu notes that this ambiance is a big draw for customers, which is three-quarters female but includes business people and families.
Once you’re seated, the second main impression comes from the big menu with an unusually broad range that extends across American, Tex-Mex and Italian favorites to Chinese/Taiwanese and Southeast Asian cuisine. Kevin points out the restaurant group (celebrating its 35th anniversary this year) actually started out selling Chinese food. Recently, the menu here expanded even further to include best-selling western appetizers and entrees and Thai-style dishes from the discontinued Wenxin Road branch.
On my most recent visit, I savored a tasty, filling Porcini Mushroom and Chicken Risotto (NT$360) while salivating at menu items that jumped out—Camembert Pizza Donut (NT$420), Smoked Rib Plate, Vietnamese Chicken Satay (NT$180), Hainanese Chicken Rice (NT$280), Taiwanese Braised Beef Tendon Noodle Soup (NT$320), Poutine Burger (NT$320), Chicken Tortellini with Truffle Sauce (NT$390), and Lemon Meringue Pie (NT$160/2 people). There’s an entire vegetarian selection and, unsurprisingly, the choice of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks is equally extensive.
If this weren’t enough, there’s a very significant Smokey Joe’s specialty with food selection that’s well over twice as large as this menu—catering. The restaurant has recently been very busy catering everything from weddings and kids’ birthday parties to 2,000-person luxury car branding events across central Taiwan and as far away as Taipei. Western/Asian buffets, barbecues, the restaurant’s wood-burning oven pizza truck and even private home visits by chefs can all be arranged for a starting price of NT$30,000. This means that wherever you are and whatever the occasion, Smokey Joe’s can come to you. –translated by Anna Yang
冒煙的喬美式墨西哥餐廳 Smokey Joe’s
西區梅川西路一段7號 (04) 2375-3990
7, MeiChuan W Rd, Sec 1, West Dist
11 am-10 pm
每人低消200元 Minimum NT$200/person charge.