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New in BBQieux 

  The smoke is getting thicker in Fat City. Last fall, Saucy's BBQ Grill (3244 Severn Ave., Metairie, 322-2544; www.saucysbbqgrill.com) opened near Lakeside Shopping Center, and more recently Smokin' Buddha BBQieux (3206 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 304-6602; www.smokinbuddhabbqieux.com) joined the scene a few blocks away.

  Smokin' Buddha BBQieux is the first restaurant venture from Rob Bechtold and Eric Heyde, two friends who share a passion for the smoker.

  "Rob has cooked at just about every major restaurant you can think of, and I'm a carpenter by trade," Heyde says. "We got together and started cooking barbecue and people kept telling us we had to open a restaurant."

  They previewed their barbecue at the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival last fall and did a pop-up for a while at the Dragon's Den (435 Esplanade Ave., phone n.a.) bar in the Marigny.

  They opened their restaurant in Fat City in December. It's difficult to spot, but it's certainly worth tracking down. The meats are smoked over pecan wood, and in addition to platters and sandwiches the Smokin' Buddha menu uses its meats in savory fried pies, over nachos and fries and in tacos.

  Choucroute makes an interesting barbecue side, as does the kitchen's bacon and blue cheese potato salad. Cajun pastrami, sliced into dense, beet-red planks, is one of the more unusual meat options here, and the pulled pork I tried was crusty, luscious and smoky.

  Smokin' Buddha BBQieux is open Tuesday through Saturday, serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is BYOB while a liquor license application is in the works.

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