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“Southern Cuisne on James North”

Salt Lick Smoke House
Ranked #51 of 1,440 Restaurants in Hamilton
Restaurant details
Reviewed September 27, 2016

It should start like any other true tales do, Many years ago 282 James St North, Hamilton was a Portuguese grocery and fish store. It was called Atlantic Fish Market. Linda and her husband ran it until circumstances compelled them to sell and move. That sign form their store is still adorning one of the walls of the current establishment Salt Lick Smokehouse. A departure from dry salted cod and chorizo sausage.
When Shane took over this place he started a more subdued salad place but not too many remember. This one is different… The appeal is immediate and the style very congenial. Now a few words on our host extraordinaire Mr Shane McCartney: a self taught chef he worked in many kitchens, including a long stint at Balazing Kitchens. Catering to artists and musicians for days on end you had to be creative and not bore them with the same food twice. He did a lot of catering, travelled and worked on the East coast and commuted to Toronto from the North End until he met Eric Bowden, of Jack and Lois, himself working in the film business in Toronto. So four years ago Shane’s James North End culinary adventure started a stone throw away from the current Salt Lick. He ran the place for the owner until he decided on opening up his own place. And just as an aside , part of his accomplishments was also assisting “ Charred” ,another successful restaurant on James North, in design and overall management.
He also partnered with George owner of the Wild Orchid to open Knead a Pizzeria occupying the corner of the building North of Christ Church Cathedral.
With such a varied food culture background , Shane could jump on any tradition and feel at home in it, when one remembers the food world he has evolved in, it really meant catering to all kinds of tastes, diet restrictions, cooking methods and so forth. Well he happened to smokers, the barbecues not the nicotine addicted types. He likes cooking , creating bold flavours, with simple ingredients but in definitely your face. The ones that come from slow cooking for hours on end in a place that requires very little supervision but is designed with care and safety in mind. One cuisine stood out and appealed to him: that is Southern American cooking. He set out to travel and try all what the good ol’ south had to offer. Soon enough anyone will find out there is no one single place that represent the ultimate goodness in all things Southern- Pulled Pork may have been best in Memphis, TN and Ribs best in North Carolina, Moist Brisket in Texas and deep fried chicken in New Orleans , LA?
Finding that ready made smokers were beyond his budget , he built his own saving him about 80%. Being a self taught chef therefore a true free mind, he mixes ingredients that may not be thought of as part of this cuisine. He uses premium charcoal and maple syrup, dry rub of his design. The menu is displayed on wall mounted boards . Lunch and Dinner offer slightly different choices. Meats are Chicken, Pork and Beef. The presentation is rustic on wood boards and the sides very traditional, Beans, green salad and coleslaw . The deep fried chicken drums are big and juicy. Smoked first they are then deep fried. This is real food, tons of fat and sweet coatings. It is bold , tasty and filling. Pork Belly, pulled pork and brisket are all there , at a dinner you could add Korean ribs for good measure The wine list is simple and easy to understand, priced right and pairs well so do the beers.
Go ahead and gather with friends and colleagues and share in the goodness of food you could eat with your fingers. Pour some wine or beer , it will enhance your experience.

Date of visit: September 2016
    • Value
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1  Thank DonEmilio2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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107 - 111 of 205 reviews

Reviewed September 18, 2016 via mobile

Hands down the best meal I have had in the halton region in years.
A true gem in the area! It's very casual, but the food is simple, straightforward and delicious.
I have been on 2 occasions about 8 months apart and the food was amazing both times.
You must try the brisket!
As a side note, both times we went the service was not great...very slow, had to constantly flag down the waitresses for drink refills and the bill.
If they sharpened up their service, this would be 5 stars for sure!

Date of visit: September 2016
Thank Lisabean9
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 11, 2016

We live in Toronto and have visited many of its best smokehouses, and this one is right in there for sure, better than most. Three of us feasted on jerk chicken, brisket, pork belly tacos and smoked pork. To be honest, the smoked pork was a bit on the dry side, but everything else knocked it out of the park, especially the brisket, O M G. We chose slaw and mac and cheese as our sides, and wow on both. I also enjoyed the smoked Manhattan cocktail, and they have some very decent and interesting wines at reasonable prices. This place is AMAZING. Make a resi!

Date of visit: September 2016
    • Value
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Thank MaraFromToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 10, 2016 via mobile

The ambiance was exactly what we expected. Very hip and casual. Lots of meat to be had! We ordered the brisket and the park belly tacos - so there was more than enough fat...should have mixed in the smoked pork or flat iron steak to reduce the fattiness. The chicken was good but was a little salty....I guess the name salt Lick!!? Our sides were the slaw and corn bread ... Thank goodness for the great slaw to cut the meat. Kyle at the bar was memorable and a great addition.

Date of visit: September 2016
2  Thank 730tanyaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 8, 2016

Visiting from Victoria BC, my brother treated me to dinner at Salt Lick on August 29th. We had the flat iron steak, beef ribs, pulled pork, spicy jerk chicken, beans and coleslaw. They were all fantastic! The meats were incredibly tender and the different seasonings did not over power. The beans and coleslaw were great sides. We washed it down with the local Blue Collar Pale Ale - also very tasty - as suggested by our server Adrianna. She was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about all items on the menu - gave us great recommendations! Chef Liam came out to chat - he was very passionate about the smoking process, seasoning and about the restaurant in general. He treated us to a amazing biscuit - my brother and I agreed that it was the best we had ever tasted. Do yourself a favour and check Salt Lick Smokehouse out. It's the best southwestern BBQ I have ever tasted! Thanks Adrianna and Liam for a great experience!

Date of visit: August 2016
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1  Thank Karl S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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