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This local smokehouse is serving up barbecue — but making it Miami

A married couple pose together
Courtesy of Harry Coleman
Harry and Michelle Coleman are the owners of Smoke & Dough in Miami. The New York Times just named their restaurant in their annual list of the 50 restaurants in America they’re excited about.

The first time I ate at the restaurant Smoke & Dough, I thought, “Am I crazy, or is this some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had?”

I wasn’t in Texas. I wasn’t in North Carolina. I was at the edge of the Florida Everglades in Miami-Dade. The barbecue restaurant was made by the couple that owned an empanada shop next door, Michelle and Harry Coleman.

Well, the New York Times just named Harry and Michelle’s restaurant to their annual list of the 50 restaurants in America they’re excited about. See, I wasn’t crazy.

People fall in love with their brisket rubbed with ground espresso — Harry calls it a cafecito rub. The ribs are glazed with a guava-chili barbecue sauce, and a luscious flan is smoked for five hours. If you can imagine dessert barbecue, this is it.

The restaurant business was a hard left for Harry and Michelle. They both graduated with journalism degrees from Florida International University in 2008. They couldn’t find jobs, so they went to work with Harry’s dad, who owned bakeries in Miami Beach.

But Harry and Michelle followed their own paths. They did something new by opening Empanada Harry’s, which makes different styles of empanadas from all over Latin America from crispy Colombian to sugar-coated Chilean.

And they’re doing the same thing with Smoke & Dough. They spent more than two years studying barbecue before they opened the restaurant. They studied with barbecue pit masters in Kansas City, Texas, Oklahoma.

And then, they brought in the flavors they grew up with in South Florida to make true Miami barbecue.

On the Sept. 21 episode of Sundial, we talked with Harry and Michelle about how they did it.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with comedian Gadiel del Orbe, who got his start making viral videos for Buzzfeed. He told us how he went from being the funny guy on a Navy aircraft carrier to being that funny guy on YouTube.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.