Barbecue buffs will be happy to hear that Bethesda’s long-awaited Smoke BBQ restaurant is finally opening for lunch tomorrow, January 17.

The former Asian Café has been transformed into a light and cheery space—with apricot-colored walls, red-upholstered chairs and bar stools, and vintage posters.

Owner Martin Hage, a meat smoker, architect and woodworker all in one, built the red oak tables and the bar, according to general manager Susan Lennon.

The restaurant, which I first wrote about in my January 6, 2012 blog, took way longer than anticipated to get up and running; Hage’s original estimate for opening was last March.

There was “calamity after calamity,” said Lennon. Like many restaurateurs, the two ran into delays with construction and county permitting and approvals.

In fact, even at the last minute, there was a holdup. The restaurant was supposed to open on January 15, but the drains got clogged, and Lennon had to call in a plumber.


The chalkboard menu will feature house-smoked pulled pork, beef brisket, pulled smoked chicken and ribs; side dishes include macaroni and cheese, baked beans, collard greens and corn bread. And there’s a fully stocked bar, with a good selection of craft beers.

4858 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-2011,