Windy City Pie’s news that it will relocate from Interbay to a full-on restaurant on Phinney Ridge is delivering a slow-smoked ripple effect. Turns out, the owners of Wood Shop BBQ will take over the pizzeria's former quarters at Batch 206 distillery.
Wood Shop owners Matt Davis and James Barrington are planning the same sort of unruly, yet detail-oriented comfort food that keeps their Central District barbecue joint packed day and night. At Oaky’s Tex Mex, though, the smoker will put out carnitas and barbacoa rather than ribs.
While Wood Shop remains (mostly) faithful to Kansas City barbecue traditions, Oaky’s is a byproduct of the guys road tripping and eating their way through places like Austin and El Paso, barbecue “research trips” that inevitably included Tex-Mex spots where barbecue comes with tacos, and meat smokes on mesquite and post oak. (One recent trip was to claim their new smoker, dubbed Ladybird, destined for the new restaurant.)
Get ready for chili and barbacoa, carnitas, and tacos. Like its predecessor, Oaky's will be a counter service operation and, because it’s located inside a distillery tasting room, a 21-plus spot. Given the bar format, the menu will skew mostly toward small plates, with a few larger entrees like enchiladas. Smoked wings will get a Tex-Mex–inspired sauce, chili pies get a liberal dose of Frito’s, and Davis promises vegan and vegetarian options too; he’s been playing around with a marinated, smoked shiitake that’s meatless kin to pulled pork.
Here, Davis also gets to embrace another Tejano barbecue tradition: braising meat on a smoker. “We just look at the smoker like it’s an oven,” he says. One that’s too erratic for baking, but perfect for barbacoa or carnitas to set for hours in a cast iron dutch oven. “It’s richer, it breaks down fat really well, and also imparts that earthiness,” he says. Davis ranks his love of queso just behind his love of his wife and dogs, so presumably the version here will be good.
Davis and Barrington had been kicking around the Oaky’s concept, envisioning something family friendly, but teaming up with Batch 206 seemed a natural fit, says Davis. “We all make stuff the hard way.” Since its inception as a food truck, Wood Shop has aligned itself with breweries and distilleries, smoking smokes barley and malts for local operations, and parking the truck at Chuck’s Hop Shop on the regular. Plus, Batch 206’s industrial location made it possible to install a smoker.
Look for the queso to start flowing at 14147 Elliott Ave NW just after the first of the year. Eater says Batch 206 will be debuting a tequila-like agave spirit around the same time.