Food & Drink

Holy Smokes Country Barbeque Creates Divine Flavors in Smoking Style

Their barbeque smoker is set to low and slow

A “small” order of a combo plate at Holy Smokes Country Barbeque and Catering offers a mountain of food. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

Holy Smokes Country Barbeque and Catering is a family-owned, family-run restaurant and catering business that is all about serving divine flavors in a down-home cooking style.

Owner Janis Cota started catering barbeque 25 years ago as a side business, and after she retired Holy Smokes Barbeque became her full-time passion project. She expanded by opening her restaurant two years ago, and all three of her children work there. They are currently open Wednesday-Sunday from 11:30am-8:30pm for takeout, as well as outdoor dining in their beer garden barbeque patio. Cota tells GT about her barbeque ethos and some of the standout food that makes her business so popular.

What is your philosophy on barbeque, and what style of barbeque do you serve?

JANIS COTA: People ask me a lot what style barbeque we are, and I always tell them that we are truly our own style. Our barbeque smoker is low and slow and has a rotisserie as well. We house-make all of our rubs and sauces. Our sides are all house-made as well. We have a good variety, and most of them are gluten-free and some are vegetarian. We try to use what’s around us, sourcing locally and from farmers’ markets, and for our barbeque we certainly try to get the very best meats. Basically, our philosophy is to serve consistently great barbeque and switch it up and get creative with our specials. I make it all myself, and I wouldn’t serve anything that I wouldn’t eat myself. It’s all about mom’s recipes. We try to make it all taste like mom’s homemade barbeque.

What are a few of the house specialties?

My favorite items are the brisket and ribs. We smoke the brisket for about 13 hours; it has crispy burnt ends and a crunchy crust, which people really love. The meat is very tender and juicy, it just falls apart in the fingers, and people love the seasoning on the crust. It’s also served with a house-made horseradish dipping sauce that people really enjoy as well, and all of our barbeque plates come with a pickle, garlic bread and choice of two sides. The baby-back pork ribs have a prominent smoke ring around the sides and are finished with a barbeque sauce glaze so that it’s really cooked into the meat. They’re very juicy and tender and just melt in your mouth.

21505 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. 831-471-8787, holysmokescountrybbqandcatering.com.

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