| 03.24.2018

New to the barbecue business – Martin’s Smokehouse offers a new flavor as old favorites disappear


When entering Martin’s Smokehouse, the welcoming smell of barbeque wafts out the door to greet you.

Martin’s Smokehouse, is a relatively new feature of downtown Moscow. Owner Ken Austin said it has been open since Dec. 21.

Martin’s Smokehouse isn’t the only change on the block of Main Street and East Second Street downtown. Two doors down from Martin’s used to be Last Frontier Pizza, which recently moved into the Old Moscow Hotel.

Yishan Chen | Argonaut
Martin’s Smokehouse owner Ken Austin works on payments Tuesday. The new restaurant is located at 115 E. 2nd St. in Moscow.

Around the corner, an empty storefront stands where long-time Moscow fixture New Hong Kong Cafe, used to be.

Above the bar at Martin’s Smokehouse, there’s an old newspaper article about the business that previously occupied the space: Martin”s Auto Service, a family repair store that had been passed down through generations.

Austin said the dining room of Martin’s Smokehouse used to be the showroom of the auto shop.

The newspaper ad, from 1989, details the quality of service from the auto shop, as well as the tradition of generations.

Austin said there was no better place to open the smokehouse. Austin, a long-time Moscow resident, is new to the restaurant business. Before owning Martin’s Smokehouse, Austin was a contractor. After a drop in business, he and his partner decided to try something else.

“It sounded like fun,” Austin said.

Austin said they often smoked fish and other meat. He figured that as they became good at it, they might as well open a restaurant. He said it took a little over a year for them to do so.

Though the shift seems drastically different, Austin said he has been a barbecue connoisseur his whole life.

“We traveled the world and the country and (have) eaten at a lot of barbecue spots, especially down south,” Austin said.

Austin claimed the best barbeque he has ever had was from the New Orleans area. Yet he said Martin”s Smokehouse barbecue has a unique consistency.  

“The way we smoke it, it’s the same every time,” Austin said. “We use the same wood every time, it’s pellet-fed, there”s no fossil fuels.”

Rachel Downing, Martin’s general manager, said her favorite dish is the ribs. Austin on the other hand said he has had his fill of barbeque for a while.

“I don’t really have a favorite,” Austin said. “Honestly I’m tired of it all. I”ve been eating it for the last year, trying new things.”

Downing said she loves everything about working at Martin’s Smokehouse.

“We’ve always got something cool going on,” she said. “We fill up pretty big on the weekends. That makes things fun.”

She said at Martin’s, they serve good food, have a fun crew, and generally have a good time. Downing said that’s not the best part for college students, though.

“Our biggest appeal is definitely $3 PBR pitchers on Saturdays,” Downing said.

Carly Scott  can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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