Barbacoa Smokehouse Opens in Fairfield: Casual Customized BBQ

Jessica Ryan
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Barbacoa Smokehouse is one of the most recent restaurants to grace the Fairfield food scene. The smokehouse marries modern technology with a rustic and relaxed setting. Kiosks replace waiters, though Ambassadors are on hand to help and answer any questions you may have. 

The restaurant’s concept is the brainchild of Westport’s Clare Powel and Nigel Bradley, who both love to be in the kitchen. It began with a few experiments at home as the two toyed around with various seasonings and meats. Claire urged Nigel to open a restaurant and taking her suggestion seriously, he began his thorough research into various software programs and cookers. To their knowledge, no concept quite like theirs exists. While she kept her day job at Deloitte, Nigel rolled up his sleeves and shifted his efforts to the physical location, doing much of the handiwork himself. 

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So how does a restaurant with no menu yet tons of options work? The idea is that each customer can create something unique. Certain to appeal to Millennials and Gen Z-ers, this digital-age friendly way of ordering your food is incredibly easy to use. If you can get cash from an ATM, you can order your meal! The touch screen computer guides you through the process quickly and seamlessly in four easy steps. 

 Photo: Courtesy of Barbacoa

Photo: Courtesy of Barbacoa

Step 1. Pick your meal – choose from a multitude of selections including sandwiches, wraps, salads, bowls, just meat, loaded fries, loaded nachos or a quesadilla

Step 2. Pick your protein – select grilled chicken, hamburger, shrimp, filet mignon of tofu! Or select smoked brisket, filet mignon or pork.  

Step 3. Pick your BBQ sauce – some hot, or some not.

Step 4: Pick your toppings – artichoke, avocado, corn, cucumbers, guacamole, lettuce, spinach, pico de gallo, peperoni, red/yellow peppers, sour cream, shredded cheese and tomatoes. 

You can eat on-site or order for take-out. Dishes are made to order within 15 minutes. 

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Last weekend, armed with my hungry troop of three ranging in age from 13 to 19, we decided to give this new interactive eatery a try. Ordering our meals was easy and fun and everything was delivered within the 15 minutes promised. 

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My daughter ordered a burger which was well-cooked (as she specified) and flavorful. To hers she added roasted garlic, lettuce and avocado. Her only regret was not adding some of the other toppings available. My oldest son went for a quesadilla with smoked pork and brisket. The meat was so incredibly tender and we were quite unexpectedly surprised. To that he added sauce on the side, scallions, guac and sour cream. My 13-year-old son also opted for the quesadilla, but he went for the smoked pulled pork and grilled chicken. He was not at all shy with his toppings, selecting chipotle BBQ sauce, sour cream, scallions, shredded cheese, guac, corn off the cob, avocado, pepperoni and seasoned white rice. I tried a bite of his too… DELISH! 

 Photo: Courtesy of Barbacoa

Photo: Courtesy of Barbacoa

I ordered a salad for the sake of being healthy, adding grilled shrimp, artichoke hearts, corn off the cob, pico de gallo, cheese, scallions, guacamole and the peppers. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but boy did it pale compared to my kids’ selections! For those who work nearby and want something on the lighter side, for less than $7, one can grab a very nicely sized salad for lunch.

My kids ordered the fries and onion rings and which were flavorful and crispy, and spot on!

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Tasty and flavorful, Barbacoa offers something for everyone, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, at prices that won’t break the bank. With no freezer on premise, just two freestanding refrigerators for protein and produce, deliveries here are frequent. You won’t see food processors or similar appliances either. All vegetables are hand cut – for onion rings, fries, corn off the cobb, and tomatoes for the house-made salsa. Even the fruit for the frozen drinks is cut by hand. The barbeque sauces and dry-rubs are also house-made. 

 Photo: Courtesy of Barbacoa

Photo: Courtesy of Barbacoa

The casual eatery is family-friendly and perfect for both Fairfield and Sacred Heart University students looking for a budget friendly place. With free WiFi, students can settle in with their meals and laptops. Those over 21 can make their way to the generously sized bar area. Although I didn’t have any, the couple at the bar raved about their frozen drinks. 

Whether you chose to eat on premises or order for take-out, the service is fast and efficient. There’s plenty of parking and the proximity to Fairfield Metro is ideal for commuters who can place their orders from then swing by to pick up dinner on their way home.

Barbacoa is a really fun concept. Welcome to Fairfield!

Barbacoa Smokehouse 665 Commerce Dr, Fairfield, CT