During several midweek visits between 6 and 7 p.m. to Hank’s Texas BBQ in Clintonville, the friendly new place was variously teeming with customers, nearly empty, playing “new country,” playing “jammy” tunes, playing no music, warm when the garage doors were open on a sweltering evening, and comfortable when the garage doors were closed on a sweltering evening and the air conditioning and ceiling fans were more effective.
One aspect of Hank’s ambience remained consistent, though: The aroma of hardwood smoke always perfumed the entire premises.
The premises include a duly popular patio and numerous other features such as interior yellow brick walls, simple-but-accommodating wooden tables and a long banquette left by previous occupant Old Skool, a sports bar that didn’t survive the pandemic.
While sports are still beamed onto the many TVs in Hank’s, which offsets its yellow walls with soothing gray paint and a couple of well-placed strings of blue lights, Hank’s isn’t devoted to sports. As its name and that persistent come-hither scent of smoke suggest, Hank’s is primarily devoted to barbecue.
This devotion pays off in fine smoked meats, some of which appear in, or can be added to, starters, which are the most playful dishes on the menu of chef-owner Brad Harkrider (aka Hank, formerly executive chef at J. Liu’s). The meats also are sold in straightforward barbecue-joint fashion: by the pound and in sandwiches and combo…