The Porchetta Sandwich at Smoqehouse in Faribault, Minn.

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Amid the hobby shops and shuttered storefronts that comprise the Faribo West Mall grows a hopeful green shoot: a relatively new barbecue-focused eatery called Smoqehouse, which is serving one of the best sandwiches in the state.

The dish is a porchetta sandwich, an adapted Italian classic that has become a North Country staple. The Smoqehouse version is a marriage between tender, earthy pieces of pork and the substantial herbal kick of a bright, garlic-heavy salsa verde. Bread plays a critical role, too. The Brick Oven Bakery ciabatta that the sandwich arrives on is light and crispy, substantial enough to hold the thing together, but not so doughy or massive that it buries the flavor within.

“While researching butchery, my husband (Andy Kubes) came across an Italian butcher (Vito Bernabei) who specializes in porchetta,” writes co-owner Heidi Kubes. “He became really interested in the process and made it a few times at home for our family. We knew if / when we ever opened something we would want it to be on the menu. The pork belly is topped with our fresh salsa verde to contrast and enhance the richness of the belly.”

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Our lunch companion (a farmer, Tiffany Tripp, from Graise) vouched for the place across the board, and we’re sold on it. Beyond the porchetta are dishes including pulled pork, a brisket burger, and Cajun chicken, plus crispy, beautifully hand-cut fries ($3, or $5 for a large order) that could stand up proudly in a trendy North Loop bistro. The fries are cooked in lard and come with fry sauce (a Utah-beloved mix of mayo and ketchup). The result is heaven on a plate.

Smoqehouse has regional ambitions. Its second location opens in Northfield later this month. The quality food on its streamlined menu merits a visit the next time you’re within detour distance of either spot.

Smoqehouse, 200 Western Ave, Suite C5, Faribo West Mall, Faribault, MN; 507.334.1901. Or 212 Division St, S in the historic Archer House, Northfield, MN (opening soon).

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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  1. Tom Weaver 02/11/2017

    Wow, Happy to see some really good quality ethnic food in my hometown of Faribault where I lived from 1947 – 1970 or so – Also in Northfield where I went to college in the 60’s – Best regards on your adventures in creating authentic fresh food here in the Northland — Tom Weaver —-St Louis Park – Will check this out when I return sometime in 2017

  2. Rich Arendts 02/13/2017

    That place is so good I went there for lunch one day. I thought about it the next day and I wanted to go right back so good. I’m getting hungry right now just thinking about it.