–By Staci Wolfson

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I just flat out forget about JD’s Smokehouse on the corner of Canton Square. Now, I realize this doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but the truth is, in my mind, this just makes JD’s a hidden gem, even if it is one hidden in plain sight. More often than not I find myself heading to Mama’s on the Half Shell for some delicious Maryland seafood or to Nacho Mama’s for copious, if not gluttonous, amounts of Mexican food and margaritas.

But not to be outdone by the two Mamas is JD’s, a treasure trove of barbecue and comfort food. And what’s better in the summer than barbecue and comfort food?

Appealingly, JD’s doesn’t claim to be anything that it’s not. It falls somewhere between the upscale restaurants of the square and the just-graduated-from-college-crowd bars. JD’s has two floors, each featuring a no-frills bar and a smattering of high-top tables as well as a solid number of arcade games and flat screen TVs.

Reflecting the atmosphere, the service at JD’s is casual and friendly. But most importantly, the servers are knowledgeable about what’s on the menu. Obviously a place called a smokehouse with an e-mail address like eatmorebrisket@jdssmokehouse.com would specialize in dishes like wings (16 flavors!), smoked brisket and pulled pork.

But I had been to JD’s before, and was pleased when the server confirmed what I already knew – the burgers at JD’s are simply unbeatable.

I happily took her recommendation and ordered the Smokehouse Burger, which is topped with peppered ham, cheddar cheese, bacon, and of course, barbecue sauce. The half-pound Angus beef patty was cooked to perfection and smothered in melted cheddar cheese and flavorful barbecue sauce. Although I nixed the ham, the thick, crispy strips of bacon alone provided the ideal salty complement to the sweet and smoky sauce.

I opted for sweet potato fries on the side and used them to sample each of the six sauces that came in a caddy on our table. My favorites? I highly recommend the spicy Cannonball, and the tangy, mustardy Golden BBQ. Oh, and the Georgia peach and Vidalia onion sauce wasn’t bad either.

I also was able to get a taste of the Alpine brisket topped with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. The sandwich comes topped with bleu cheese crumbles and sautéed mushrooms. The meat was tender and the sandwich combination of blue cheese and mushrooms savory.

In fact, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Note to self: Don’t forget JD’s.

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