Doc's Smokehouse (1017 Century Drive, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-656-6060) just opened February 24, but Doc and Susan Richardson aren't new to barbecue. They've been cooking at home for more than twenty years and have been making the rounds on the competitive-barbecue circuit since 2007. They turned their awards into a catering business four years ago, all with the goal of opening a restaurant.
"We wanted to gain some credibility and thought some awards would speak to the public," Susan Richardson tells Gut Check. "And we proved to ourselves that we could do it."
Doc's has all the classics -- pulled pork, chicken, brisket, turkey, smoked sausage. It also makes most of its dressings in-house, plus all its rubs, and specialty sides like corn casserole. Desserts will change almost daily, but they include homemade coconut-cream pie, chocolate-pecan pie and butter-rum apple pie.
Over the past few days, Richardson says, probably two-thirds of sales have actually been the two specialty sandwiches: "The Doc," brisket topped with provolone and grilled onions on a ciabatta roll, and "The Big Bear," a sandwich of pulled pork, bacon and smoked sausage.
Richardson says they hope to educate people about competitive barbecuing and even hold some classes in the spring, "just for the backyard guy, to help their flavor profile." The decor features memorabilia from legends like 17th Street BBQ's Mike Mills and other barbecue champions.
"We just want 'em to come hungry and hope that we can fill that void. We feel like our barbecue will stand against anybody else's," Richardson says. "We want people to come in and relax, like you're going to Grandma's house and having comfort food."
Doc's Smokehouse is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Check out its Facebook page for more info.