Owned by Otis and Earline Walker and managed by their son, Christopher, Smoki O's has been in business at its current location for two-and-a-half years. Four countertops, no beer, it's mainly a takeout joint with a Soulard Market pedigree: Otis and his brother Bruce ran an oil-barrel operation on the back end of the market, on Carroll Street.
Close second: Big Jake's Memphis Style Barbecue, of which former Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. is a co-owner, on Delmar. A new sit-down joint in a former McDonald's, Big Jake's serves up a mean peach cobbler and a full array of adult beverages with its fine 'cue. Plus, you get a chance at a bonus serving of the Boz's political wisdom. But on a head-to-head smoked-meat basis, get yourself to Smoki O's.
To avoid useless fat, check out the best of the meal of the day at WC -- breakfast, if only for the world's best affordable coffee. It's not pretentiously "gourmet," but it's good and hot and, chances are, it moves quickly. The worst thing for coffee is to sit and burn. A large java with a plain cake doughnut -- individually wrapped -- comes to a reasonable $1.11. It's just the right mix of sugar and caffeine to jerk you into alertness. While waiting for a WC employee to pour the coffee into a paper cup with a faux Starbucks logo, don't forget a napkin to wrap around it. Coffee-cup holders are nowhere to be found. But where else could you get good coffee, a government-issue doughnut and a chance to hear a customer at 8:30 a.m. in the drive-thru order chicken rings with melted "cheese"?