The brick and reclaimed-wood walls, tiled floor and pressed-tin ceiling can barely contain all the culinary ebullience that is Bell’s Kitchen & Smokehouse. This 10-month-old Franklin Square eatery serves barbecue, Southern, Cajun-Creole, burgers and some uncategorizable items such as smoked-pork egg rolls and crab-stuffed jalapeño poppers.
Chef-owner Lara Talt grew up in Nassau County, but considers herself a Southerner at heart. She formerly lived in Florida, and if she had to align herself with one type of barbecue, it would be the vinegar-reliant style of the Carolinas. “Bell” is her childhood nickname, but she welcomes its suggestion of Southern belle.
Her smokehouse menu comprises pulled pork, brisket, St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, “burned ends” of brisket and oversized beef “dino ribs.” Dinners (with cornbread and two sides) designed for single diners range from $11.99 to $15.99; dinners for two, from $17.99 to $28.99.
Southern specialties include buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits with sausage gravy. From New Orleans: jambalaya, chicken-sausage gumbo, Creole-braised pot roast. There are tacos, quesadillas and empanadas, Texas cheese fries and chili topped with mac and cheese, Philly cheesesteaks and portobello sandwiches. Almost everything is priced below $12.
For Lent, Talt is leaning more on fish specials, and she occasionally brings fresh crawfish and alligator meat up from Louisiana. Call first if your visit depends on them.
The intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and New Hyde Park Road is turning into quite the dining destination, with Bell’s, Naples Street Food (Newsday’s top destination for pizza) and Franky Thai (one of our top 10 Cheap Eats) all within a few steps of one another.
Bell’s Kitchen & Smokehouse is at 976 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square, 516-492-3557, bellskitchenandsmokehouse.com.