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Smoked on High Barbecue to Open in Brewery District

Rebecca Wagner Rebecca Wagner Smoked on High Barbecue to Open in Brewery DistrictPhoto via Smoked on High BBQ.
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Smoked On High, a new Southern-style barbecue restaurant, is making its way to the heart of the Brewery District this summer.

Owner Max McGarity is a restaurant veteran who grew up on the Northwest side of Columbus. He got his restaurant industry start in high school working at a small barbecue joint, making his way up from dishwasher to pit boss. After graduating from Columbus State with a degree in business management, he started his first food truck, Buckeye Back Ribs, and business blossomed accordingly.

McGarity briefly teamed with the now-closed Papaya Fusion Grill to run Papaya Barbecue, a food truck that served Southern-style barbecue with Asian flair. McGarity and his Papaya partner had a falling out, after which McGarity rebranded as Smoked On High.

Smoked on High’s new digs are unconventional, located in a Victorian house that once functioned as a law office.  The tucked-back 755 South High location is sandwiched between and Local Cantina and Nurtur Salon. The brick interior will seat 30-40, with an ample front patio seating 75. McGarity plans to eventually add hanging lights, a fire pit, and cornhole boards to the spacious patio.

“I think the Brewery District is in an early renaissance boom,” said McGarity. “There’s a lot of businesses, restaurants and bars popping up all over the place, and I thought this was perfect.”

Smoked on High’s menu will be simple and straightforward, featuring four meats (brisket, chicken, pork, and St. Louis-style ribs), and four sides (mac ‘n cheese, vinegar slaw, cornbread, and one rotating seasonal vegetable). Four sauces will be served on the side: sweet Evan Williams whiskey sauce, Carolina Gold tangy mustard sauce, hot sauce, and a vinegar-based sauce.

The restaurant will be set up cafeteria-style, with customers waiting under a minute to get their food.

McGarity smokes his meat low and slow for 12-14 hours, following the general rule of one hour of cooking per pound. His dry rub is deceptively simple: fresh-ground black pepper and sea salt.

“If the meat’s really good and it’s cooked properly, I don’t need a lot of ingredients,” said McGarity. “I like to keep it nice and simple. I think the product will speak for itself.”

He recently stocked up on his wood supply for the next few years, sourced from Hickory Bluffs Farm in Worthington Hills. There, he hand-picks the trees he’ll use to smoke and season his meats. The trees are cut down, dried, seasoned, and chopped by McGarity himself.

“I’m excited to sample and experiment with different woods, different profile combinations,” said McGarity. “It’s like a chef with any type of ingredient; it’s pretty fun.”

Smoked On High’s red meats are smoked in a mixture of hard oak and shagbark hickory. For poultry ,which can take on a smoke flavor more heavily than red meats, McGarity uses fruit woods for their lighter, sweeter smoke.

While applications and permits for the restaurant are being finalized, Smoked On High will continue catering services. The two businesses will be run simultaneously when the brick & mortar opens. McGarity has also applied for a beer and wine license, as barbecue isn’t complete without beer.

Smoked on High will be open Wednesday – Sunday, from 11 a.m. until food is sold out.

For more information, visit www.smokedonhigh.com.

Want to taste the best BBQ in Columbus for yourself? Join us June 23rd for Best Bites: Barbecue and sample food from nearly two dozen local restaurants, food trucks and caterers! CLICK HERE for details and tickets!

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