I’ve always enjoyed cooking outdoors, especially while camping. But I found that grilling an entire meal over an open campfire often results in disappointment. There’s no way to accurately control the temperature, for one thing, and inclement weather can put a damper on things in a hurry. That’s why I decided to take the Smoke Hollow 205 Stainless Steel Tabletop propane gas grill for a spin.
If you’re in a hurry, here is the verdict: we don’t think that the Smoke Hollow 205 is worth the money. Instead, we recommend our all-time favorite portable gas grill, the Weber Q2200. You can also take a look at its smaller friend: the Weber 1200. They cost more, but you get WAY more than what you paid for!
Things to Consider Before Buying a Tabletop Propane Grill
If you’re an avid camper or tailgater looking to step up your grilling game while on the road, a tabletop propane grill might be just the ticket. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
These units can be fired up at the touch of a button—no need to wait for the coals to cook down, as you would with a charcoal grill or a campfire. They’re also easy to transport, giving you the ability to grill just about anywhere. You can set them directly on the picnic table or truck bed, making sure they’re under cover if necessary. (Just be sure the overhang is a safe distance away from the open grill, and never use the unit indoors.)
So, is there anyone who wouldn’t benefit from the use of a Smoke Hollow 205 Stainless Steel Tabletop propane gas grill? First of all, know that this is not a stand-alone unit. If your tailgating activities take place around the trunk of a car rather than in the back of a pickup truck, you’d probably be better off with a portable grill that comes equipped with legs and/or wheels. Also, be aware that this particular grill is larger than some portable units, so you should consider buying it only if you have ample space for its transportation and storage.
Narrowing the Field
Here are a few basics to keep in mind as you begin your search:
- How often you think you’ll use your tabletop grill
- How many people you’ll usually be cooking for
- Amount of space you can afford
- How much you’re willing to spend
- Whether your car/truck/boat situation can handle a tabletop grill versus a stand-alone unit
The Smoke Hollow 205 is a single-burner propane grill that offers 305 total inches of cooking space (205 in the primary cooking area, which is how the unit gets its name). Measuring 32 inches wide by 19 inches deep, it stands 33.5 inches high when in use. All of the working components are made of stainless steel. This is a single-burner unit capable of cranking out 10,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat.
This grill can make positive changes in your outdoor cooking experience, but it’s worth the investment only if you plan to take it on the road frequently. Home grillers would likely do better with a larger stand-alone model—they offer greater stability and better temperature control in addition to more cooking space.
- Stainless steel construction
- Chrome-plated warming rack included
- Locking hood
- Temperature gauge included
- Heat distribution can be uneven
- Top shelf is set at an awkward distance from the main cooking surface
Smoke Hollow 205: Features & Benefits
When it comes to value, the Smoke Hollow 205 is difficult to beat. It offers many of the same features that higher-priced models have, but at a lower price. The issues that arise as a result of the bargain price are mainly cosmetic, and not likely to affect your enjoyment of the product in the long run.
The burner, grates, firebox, and lid of the Smoke Hollow 205 are all made of durable stainless steel, and the grates are chrome-plated to aid with cleanup. Note that the lid features a double layer for heat retention.
As is the case with most propane grills, the ignition system on this unit works at the touch of a button—no need to fuss with wood, coal, or matches. There’s also a small ignition hole in the side of the unit that allows you to manually start the flame in case the button malfunctions.
Though the Smoke Hollow 205 features just one burner and a BTU capability of 10,000 (there are units that offer more than twice this heating output), I was able to bring it to an ideal cooking temperature within five minutes. The burner stayed hot for nearly an hour, giving me plenty of time to turn out a good supply of grilled bratwurst.
It should be noted, though, that the burner is lightweight enough to shift position during transit. If it doesn’t seem to be heating fast enough, try switching the grill off and waiting a few minutes for it to cool down completely, then adjusting the burner’s position so that it’s closer to the front of the unit. Once it hits the sweet spot, it should work fine.
Something else to be aware of: The burner control on this unit can be finicky. The knob is somewhat flimsy and loose, making it difficult to pin down an exact temperature. With a bit of practice, though, you should get the hang of it.
This grill weighs only 17 pounds, making it light enough to bring along on any camping or boating excursion. I’ve even taken it on overnight canoe trips that required long portages, and the hassle of the added weight was nothing compared to the pleasure of having a hot meal in the evenings. Remember that the Smoke Hollow 205 is compatible with a 16-ounce propane canister.
Weight isn’t the only thing to be aware of, though—you also need to take surface area into account. This is one department in which the Smoke Hollow earns lower marks. While the legs do fold away for ease of storage, the propane valve on the unit is on the fragile side, so you should take care not to pack anything too close to it or the component could be damaged in transit. The electric igniter sticks out a few inches as well, so this grill takes up a bit more floor space than some of its competitors.
The Smoke Hollow 205 does feature a drip pan, which is a step in the right direction. However, while the grill’s legs and lid are capable of locking in place, there’s no locking component for the drip pan—it can slide around if you’re not careful. To avoid messy spills and flare-ups, try to keep the grill as stable as possible while in use, especially if you’re grilling something greasy like hamburgers.
No cleaning brushes or other equipment are included with this model—you’ll have to buy your own. I recommend using a stiff wire brush to clean the grates, as well as the inside of the grill (make sure all the dials are switched off before beginning this step). If you’re diligent about using this method, the Smoke Hollow cleans up quite easily.
As mentioned above, the lid on the Smoke Hollow 205 features locking hinges. This has important safety benefits in addition to making the unit easier to transport. The warming rack is another plus (it can be used to heat sauces in addition to keeping cooked foods warm), as is the handy temperature gauge.
On the Road with The Smoke Hollow 205 Stainless Steel Tabletop Propane Grill
Even once you’ve read all the features and benefits that a tabletop propane grill offers, it can be difficult to tell how well it might perform in real-life situations. That’s why I searched the internet for consumer reviews to help back up my claims—and was happy to find that most of the people who’ve used this product have been just as satisfied with its performance and overall value. Customers who purchased the optional accessories (such as the carry bag) were impressed as well. The only issues reported were with the electric starter, but that could possibly be a fluke (and easily repaired).
If this description leaves you wanting to explore other options, fear not—the Smoke Hollow 205 has a number of close competitors. For your convenience, I’ve provided an in-depth look at three of them.
#1 Weber Q1200
Weber’s entry in the tabletop propane grill race is significantly more expensive than the Smoke Hollow 205, and the higher price comes with trade-offs. On the plus side, it’s a very attractive model with side tables for extra storage, and the nonstick grilling surfaces are exceptionally easy to clean. The burner is highly wind-resistant and features a reliable ignition system. My biggest complaints are with the setup—the propane grill can be a real bear to attach—and with the included disposable aluminum grill inserts, which are flimsy enough to fly away when a slight breeze kicks up. In addition, the grill has only 189 square inches of cooking space, but the unit weighs in at a hefty 31 pounds. For tailgaters, these weak points will be less of an issue, and could be offset by the fact that the Weber wins high marks in the eye candy department.
>> Check Price on Amazon <<
#2 Camp Chef Portable BBQ
This grill doesn’t offer quite the same value—the construct is flimsier and rattles significantly during transport, and it’s a few critical pounds heavier and bulkier to carry. The good news? The burner cooks evenly and puts out 12,000 BTUs, which is good news if you have a larger group, and it’s easier to maintain the unit’s temperature. Which, considering its price point, is a good deal.
The Napoleon earns consistently high marks in consumer polls. With its 285 square inches of cooking space and two-burner system, this unit functions more like a home grill that’s had its legs lopped off. The downside to that is the weight—at 26 pounds, it’s nearly 10 pounds heavier than the Smoke Hollow offering. The burner also has surprisingly low wind resistance, considering the higher price point and overall performance of this grill (it cranks out 12,000 BTUs, but the dual-burner system makes it seem hotter). If you can afford a pricier grill and don’t mind the added weight, though (for instance, if you’ll be using it mostly for tailgating), then the Napoleon could be a good fit for you.
>> Check Price on Amazon <<
Who Should Check Out These Alternatives?
- Camp Chef Portable BBQ—larger groups, people who remain in one place while camping
- Weber Q1200—people looking for form over function, tailgaters
- Napoleon TravelQ 285—tailgaters, large families
If any of these criteria apply to you, or if the Smoke Hollow 205 just doesn’t sound like a good fit, be sure to check out one of the alternatives listed above.
While camping enthusiasts, football fans, and frequent travelers are bound to find plenty of reasons to invest in a tabletop propane grill, the Smoke Hollow 205 is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who’s looking to expand their outdoor cooking repertoire. It’s lightweight, portable, and efficient, with a price point that won’t break the bank. If you think you’d like to add the Smoke Hollow 205 grill to your cooking arsenal, click here to check it out.
If the product is not available, you can check one of the 3 alternatives above, I’m pretty sure you will not go wrong with any of them.