Zita’s Smokehouse, a taste of Americana in Exeter
We were invited along to Zita’s to check out their deep south American menu with a local Devon twist, new contributor Heidi and her hubby took one for the team and we’re all feeling a bit jel…
If you enjoy a taste of America, are a Bourbon fan, love Rock ‘n’ Roll music or simply like to treat yourself to a meal out in Exeter city centre from time to time, then I would highly recommend you head to Zita’s Smokehouse on Bartholomew Street. The team at Zita’s are passionate about what they do and bring an authentic smokehouse inspired restaurant and bar to Devon’s capital.
The first thing you will notice about Zita’s is that it is located in a lovely old Malthouse. Upon entering you are met by neon signs, American brand memorabilia, a little herb garden, pretty lights across the exposed wood beam ceiling and an inviting bar. There is also a small section of outdoor seating outside the front of the restaurant but in truly English summer style, the weather wasn’t on our side so we opted for a table inside.
On first glance at the menu, we knew Zita’s was our kind of place. The first difficult decision was which drink to go for. As we were on our summer holiday – which mostly ended up being a week off doing house admin – I thought I’d add a bit of holiday to my meal by ordering from the frozen daiquiri list… Even then I was spoilt for choice with the flavours, but I opted for a classic strawberry daiquiri. There was a great selection of Bourbons inspired by deep South America, and for those who like a local drink, there were plenty of options from Exeter Gin to Otter Ale.
For our starters we chose Zita’s Mac ‘N’ Cheese (a special); Smoked macaroni and cheese topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and smokey bacon and Bourbon Sausages; Evan Williams bourbon glazed, smoked pork sausage bites. We always tend to order a couple of starters and share them between us as one of us is bound to get food envy otherwise, we were VERY happy with the starters we had chosen, we’ve had our fair share of Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Zita’s did not disappoint (I’m getting hungry writing about it).
Also, the Bourbon Sausages were delicious but not something we’d had before – if you like sausages and a sweet and smokey glaze then these are for you!
I couldn’t help but notice the offers that Zita’s run too – Two cocktails for £10
Ordering our mains became a little more difficult for me as once my other half saw ribs on the menu he knew that’s what he would be having. The team at Zita’s made a great suggestion of trying their Smokehouse Feasting Tray which is available for 2, 4 or 6 people and includes Moink balls, Beef brisket, BBQ ribs, Lollipop Chicken, Smoked Sausages, Thick-cut chips, House slaw, Salad and Redneck BBQ sauce, you can even upgrade your tray with extras such as Onion rings, but I knew my other half had his heart set on the ribs and wouldn’t be sharing them so the feasting tray will be one for our next visit to Zita’s.
This meant that I was torn between The Usual Suspect Beef Burger, Pulled Pork Bun or the Tennessee Honey Chicken Burger of which I chose the latter. Clearly from the options that I struggled to choose between I am not a Pescatarian, Vegetarian or Vegan, but there were plenty of options on the menu to cater for those who are, including a Pulled Jackfruit Bun, Blackened Fish and the Vegan Feasting Tray.
When our mains appeared, I couldn’t believe the size of my chicken burger, I honestly think it may have been the biggest burger I have ever had and instantly thought I shouldn’t have hoovered up the starters but they were so delicious it would have been rude not to! My burger was made up of a panko covered buttermilk chicken breast, a homemade hash brown, cheddar cheese, bacon and Jack Daniels honey BBQ sauce in a soft white bun with tomato, lettuce, a side of homemade chips and house slaw and did not disappoint one bit! My other half was very happy with his order of ribs that had been smoked on-site with hickory wood and served with a side of homemade chips and house slaw. The team at Zita’s reassured us that we could take our leftovers home with us should we need to.
DISCLAIMER: You may not look elegant when eating this food… prepare to get messy, but the team at Zita’s do provide wipes if needed!
Neither of us had room for a dessert, which was a shame as I have a massive sweet tooth but I did order myself an Oreo shake before the mains arrived which was very tasty and I guess it was a great dessert alternative!
Our experience at Zita’s Smokehouse was very enjoyable. I encourage you to try it, wheter you’re a meat-eater or not. There are many wonderful options on the menu and it’s in the centre of Exeter! The atmosphere and décor are not what you would expect from an old Malthouse, we kept commenting on how good each song that came on in the background was and loved the American memorabilia items dotted around the restaurant. The team at Zita’s were lovely and also helpful when it came to us deciding on what to order, it is also somewhere I would recommend going for a few drinks if you were looking for a nice bar with tasty cocktails.
Cost: around £25 per head
Location: Old Malthouse. Central – behind Exeter high street & plenty of local parking. From Fore Street you can reach Zita’s by foot in under 5 minutes and if you are driving into the city then Mary Arches, Guildhall and Harlequins car park are very close by.
Food Offering: A smokehouse offering a taste of deep south America with a local Devon twist
Zita’s Smokehouse is open 16:00-21:00 Tuesday to Thursday and 12:00-22:00 Friday and Saturday.
Zita’s, The Old Malthouse, Bartholomew Street East, Exeter EX4 3BG
Disclaimer: We were offered a review in exchange for a meal, as always opinions are all our own.
About the Author:
Heidi Notter moved from Surrey to Exeter last year with her boyfriend and pup to escape the hustle and bustle of living on the outskirts of London for a more outdoorsy lifestyle in Devon.
Heidi’s day job is marketing food which naturally makes her a foodie, meaning you will quite often find her in restaurants and coffee shops around Exeter which is unrelated to her day job but she just can’t keep away.
Heidi and her boyfriend like to spend a lot of time outdoors which is one of the reasons that attracted them to live in Exeter. At the weekends they love exploring the south-west from jumping on paddleboards and exploring by water, to putting on the walking boots and heading to Dartmoor with their dog and of course spending lots of time at the amazing beaches that Devon and Cornwall have to offer!Tags: americana, Devon, Eating out, eating out in Exeter, Exeter, restaurant review, Zitas exeter