On Monday, March 23rd, my good friend Danielle took me as her “plus one” to my first Yelp Elite event. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Yelp is a company whose site and app features crowd-sourced reviews, and the Elite status is bestowed on active members who are role models on and off the site. Business Insider likened Yelp Elite to “a secret society” who bears special badges on their site profiles and get invited to private events and up-and-coming restaurants. So of course I was looking forward to this rare opportunity to see how the Elite get down.
After a couple cocktails down the street, we decided to head to Smoke BBQ a few minutes early to grab a drink at the bar before the event started. To our surprise, the place was already packed with Yelpers who were already seated, enjoying drinks and Texas Caviar Bean Dip (black-eyed peas, black beans, yellow corn, red pepper, green pepper, red onion, celery, Roma tomatoes, jalapenos, & cilantro) with flavorful seasoned tortilla chips. We checked in, got our nametags and our picture taken by Colleen & Cassie, and were seated by Blue who was running the event for Yelp Broward/Palm Beach.
First things first… Danielle & I noticed that Smoke BBQ had a special menu for the event including specialty cocktails – we decided to start off the the tequila drink first. We then met Roseanne and Tim who were enjoying the Applewood-Smoke Chicken Wings, which are making my mouth water just typing the words.
After the wings, our server Brandon started bringing out the sides while we waited for the main reason why you go to barbecue joints – the meat. The sides on the menu today were BBQ beans (which contain meat… of course), the State Fair Winning Cole Slaw, and the Jalapeno & Cilantro Potato Salad. And as I was doling out some sides to my plate, I saw the meat platters showing up at other tables – I couldn’t get a clear shot of them since it was going so fast:
And then Brandon shows up with our first platter of the night – St. Louis Cut Ribs and Smoke Chicken. Wow!
The wet ribs were fall-off-the-bone scrumptious and the smoky chicken is some of the tastiest I’ve ever had. After a couple helpings of each, Danielle & I had to take a break before the next platter came.
Oh my – I almost forgot to mention the Sweet Corn Bread served with Cinnamon Butter – the butter is like spreadable crack. This combination could have been dessert if I didn’t know better.
After we got back to the table, our second platter of meat showed up – 16-Hour Beef Brisket, 12-Hour Pulled Pork, and Smoke Turkey! I don’t know how I got any more food inside of me, but I did… the smokiness of the turkey was excellent, as was the chicken!
As everyone was enjoying the wonderful food, I noticed people taking off their nametags and sticking them on a particular Yelper. I eventually found out that this is tradition for Yelp newbies, and this was Sarah’s first event with her aunt Jennifer. For a split second, I wondered if this happened to Yelp newbies, or Yelp Elite newbies – then I realized I had more food on my plate and got back to work.
Blue then thanked everyone for coming before the co-owner Scott addressed the crowd and gave a little bit of Smoke BBQ’s history. He told us how he hired Bryan Tyrell, 2-time World Series of Barbecue Champion and pitmaster from Oklahoma Joes in Kansas City, named one of the “Top 13 Places to Eat Before You Die” by Anthony Bourdain. While Bryan addressed the crowd, the last two surprises of the night came out – Deep Fried Oreos, and gift cards to Smoke BBQ for our next visit.
So, foodwise I was extremely satiated – total food coma going on. And Scott, Bryan, GM Adrianne, and the entire Smoke BBQ staff put an excellent event on for this Yelp Elite squad – I think they were very satisfied as well, according to the raving I overheard… and the silence while everyone was busy stuffing their faces. But I also want to thank Blue from Yelp BPB for holding this event and Danielle for inviting me – it seems the Yelp Elite have it good, and it proves there is something to strive for when rating and reviewing on Yelp.