Your guide to BBQ joints in Boston, New York and everywhere in between

 

 

Joints by Region:

 

Boston metro BBQ

Boston 'burbs BBQ

Massachusetts BBQ

 

New York City BBQ

Brooklyn BBQ

Long Island BBQ

Hudson Valley BBQ

New Jersey BBQ

 

Rhode Island BBQ

Connecticut BBQ

 

Vermont BBQ

New Hampshire BBQ

Maine BBQ

 

 

BBQ by City:

(coming soon)

 

Albany NY

Arlington MA

Augusta ME

Bay Shore NY

Boston MA

Bridgeport CT

Brockton MA

Brookline MA

Brooklyn NY

Burlington MA

Burlington VT

Cambridge MA

Concord NH

Edison NJ

Elizabeth NJ

Fairfield CT

Framingham MA

Hartford CT

Lowell MA

Manchester NH

Massapequa NY

Merrick NY

Milford CT

Montpelier VT

Nashua NH

New Haven CT

New London CT

Newton MA

Newport RI

New York NY

Northampton MA

Norwalk CT

Norwood MA

Nyack NY

Patchogue NY

Peabody MA

Plymouth MA

Portland ME

Portsmouth NH

Poughkeepsie NY

Providence RI

Queens NY

Revere MA

Saratoga Springs NY

Somerville MA

Southington CT

Springfield MA

Stamford CT

Waltham MA

Waterbury CT

White Plains NY

Woburn MA

Worcester MA

Yonkers NY

 

Archives:

Mar '07

Feb '07

Jan '07

Dec '06

Nov '06

Oct '06

Sep '06

Aug '06

 

 

Archives: April 2007

 

(04/30/07)

Lester's Redux

Barbecue-wise, I ended the month the same way I started it: at Lester's Roadside BBQ in Burlington MA. Maybe it was the Zagat snub that steered me there as a show of solidarity. On Saturday, my wife and I tried their pulled pork quesadilla appetizer and liked every aspect of it, from the smoky, tender pork to the fresh salsa to the crepe-like outer shell. Ribs, chicken and chopped brisket were also solid.

 

 

(04/27/07)

Third Firefly's Opens Tuesday in Quincy

Last night my wife and I attended a "dress rehearsal" at the new Firefly's in Quincy MA, which opens May 1. The revamped menu has a few new items, including grilled shrimp, fried calamari and BBQ beef ribs. I tried the beef ribs and thought they were pretty good, but the wings appetizer was the star of the show. They were larger and smokier than they've ever been, and the insides were pink, moist and tender. Owner Steve Uliss said he's very pleased with the results he's been getting out of the new Old Hickory smoker. Based on those wings, so am I.

 

The new space, now listed in the Joints directory, has what looks like the largest bar area of the three Firefly's, and musical entertainment is already scheduled through June.

www.fireflysbbq.com

 

 

 

(04/26/07)

What A Maroon

The 2007-08 Boston Zagat guide has been out for a little over a week now, and I just got my free copy in the mail today. Some foodies swear by the maroon-colored guides and some despise them, but I'm not in either camp. I look at Zagat as just one of many tools for finding restaurants. It fits in your pocket or your glove compartment and is much easier to reference than a website when you're in a car or on foot in the city. I don't put much stock in their ratings, but in 10 years Zagat has never given me a wrong phone number.

 

Before the advent of the internet, these handy guides were like maps to buried treasure, especially if you were about to venture into a new city. Today, they've been rendered somewhat obsolete by sites like Chowhound, Roadfood, Menu Pages, eGullet, Grub Street, Eater, Phantom Gourmet and the many blogs like this one that offer not just opinion but photos allowing you to form your own. Restaurant review sites and blogs typically have the room for a lot more detail than what you'd find in the 50-word Zagat review, and allow updates to reflect changing opinion over time. Plus, the reviews aren't watered-down composites culled from hundreds to thousands of mixed opinions. Even the Zagat ratings are a composite: the numbers for food, ambience and service are on a 30 point scale but derived from reader input entered on a 3-point scale.

 

That said, I still look forward to new editions of the Zagat guide, and I even root for my favorite restaurants to do well. Often, the ratings will lag. For example, East Coast Grill had a 24 food rating for years, upped it to 25 over the last few and in the new edition boasts a 26. I love East Coast Grill, but I don't think they're any better now today than they were four years ago. In fact, they might have been better four years ago. Still, I'm glad they're getting the long overdue props.

 

The top Boston BBQ food ratings in the latest Zagat guide are:

 

  East Coast Grill 26
  Blue Ribbon 26
  New Bridge Cafe 25
  Pit Stop BBQ 25
  Uncle Pete's 24
  Redbones 23
  Firefly's 21
 

SoulFire

20

  Village Smokehouse 18
  Bison County 17
  Jake's Dixie Roadhouse 17

 

I haven't been to New Bridge (not really a BBQ restaurant) or Pit Stop (I'll try to brave the trek to Mattapan this summer). I'd probably bump Redbones, Jake's and SoulFire a little higher, bump Village Smokehouse a little lower and add the slighted Lester's (Burlington) to the upper half of that list, but I can't really argue with the results.

 

It's a popularity contest, for sure, but it's a good list to get people started. Unlike a few years ago, when Village Smokehouse was named for best barbecue in the Improper Bostonian's annual "Best Of" issue. Then, I likened the result to a beauty contest among the marooned women of Gilligan's Island. If you're a Ginger fan and Mary Ann wins, you can at least understand. If you're a Mary Ann fan and Ginger wins, you can also understand. But if Mrs. Howell wins, you know there's something really wrong.

 

www.zagat.com

 

 

(04/25/07)

More Magazines, More Meat, More Molto

Though he's less visible these days on the Food Network, Mario Batali continues to be profiled in popular magazines, cooking and otherwise. In the April Esquire, the meat of the month is pork butt and Batali declares it his roast of choice. At home, he applies a rubs of fennel seed, garlic and rosemary, cooks it in a 250-degree oven for 8 hours, then lets the meat rest and cool before reheating and carving.

 

 

In the May issue of Food & Wine, the 7-restaurant Boston "Go List" includes All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge. A few months ago, their Atomic Meatloaf Meltdown sandwich (one of my favorites) made Boston Magazine's list of the city's 25 Must-Try dishes.

 

 

Well worth buying on the stand is this month's (June) issue of Chile Pepper magazine. The annual BBQ issue has the usual recipes, as well as profiles of Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City and B. E. Scott's Bar-B-Que in Lexington TN.

 

 

 

(04/24/07)

Redbones Wins Boston Phoenix Best of '07

The April 20 edition of the Boston Phoenix is out with the annual Readers' Picks edition. Repeating last year's Phoenix win for Boston BBQ honors is Redbones in Somerville's Davis Square. Redbones is one of the region's oldest barbecue joints, an institution among the college crowd, and the "go to" pick for those who are equally serious about barbecue and beer.

http://thephoenix.com

www.redbones.com

 

Back to Blue Ribbon

I made my first visit to Blue Ribbon in just over a month yesterday, stopping in for a quick lunch. The pulled pork sandwich hit the spot, with a vinegar and spice profile that I hadn't been able to find in the renditions I've tried in New York lately. I noticed far less smoke and bark than usual, but the meat had the right balance between tenderness and toothsomeness. A nice sammitch.

www.blueribbonbbq.com

 

 

 

(04/23/07)

A Visit to Willie B's BBQ in Bay Shore

I forgot to mention that on last week's trip to Long Island, I stopped into Willie B's BBQ in Bay Shore before my visit to the Hog House in Merrick. I tried the Willie B's pulled pork sandwich, served unsauced, with the meat fairly moist, like turkey thighs. I also tried a few babyback ribs and they were nearly as good as I remembered from my December visit, with a nice blend of sweet and heat, crusty outside, tender inside. St Louis ribs and beef ribs are now on the menu Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

 

My refrigerator at home has a nozzle for fresh water, but I gotta get a setup like Willie has. His walk-in refrigerator has a handy tap on the outside connected to a keg inside, allowing convenient access to a quick brew. Click the smaller photos below to see larger versions of the "behind the scenes" activity. Those ribs in the smoker are awfully meaty for babybacks. And I have a mental image of that well-seasoned chicken that I'll have to remember the next time I order.

 

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Willie B.

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Babybacks in the smoker.

   

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Pork in the smoker.

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Chicken in the smoker.

 

www.williebsbbq.com

 

 

(04/22/07)

Dusting Off the Smoker

Yesterday was the first warm day of the season, so I cleaned the porch and fired up my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker. The cleaning took up a good part of the day, so I kept things simple by sticking to sausage and chicken, items that cook in under 3 hours.

 

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For the sausage, I experimented with a few kinds of "fatties" made by stretching the sausage meat flat, inserting various cheese and pepper stuffings, rolling it back up into a sausage link shape and applying dry rub on the outside. The one cheeseless variation had pepper rings and crushed pineapple, with a light sprinkling of habanero powder inside and a heavier dose of jerk rub outside.

 

For the chicken, I made a smoked version of huli huli chicken thighs, with a rub whose key ingredient was five spice powder. The huli huli finishing mop, applied only at the end of the cook, had ketchup, soy sauce, lime juice, chicken stock, pineapple preserves, ginger and Asian hot sauce.

 

 

 

(04/20/07)

LI's Hog House Opens 2nd House in Merrick

Hog House Barbecue, open for just a little over a year in Huntington Station, added a second location in Merrick this week. It's on Merrick Avenue in the former BD Cool's location, just a few doors down from RS Jones. The Merrick Hog House opened last Saturday, with what looks to be the same menu as Huntington Station.

 

I checked them out yesterday, and found the pulled pork an improvement over the rendition I tried in their original location a few months back. Ribs were meaty and juicy, although they didn't really taste wood smoked. I'll probably visit again before posting a review. I'll sleep on it.

www.hoghousebarbecue.com

 

 

 

 

(04/19/07)

Boston BBQ: Beach Party Lineup Takes Shape

Two weeks after New York's Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, Boston will have one of its own. The pitmaster lineup for the Phantom Gourmet's BBQ Beach Party, set for June 22-24 in Boston's City Hall, is still being ironed out, but participants announced so far will include legends John Willingham and Jack McDavid. Local restaurants participating in the event will include Firefly's and Redbones.

www.phantomgourmetbbq.com/bbq.cfm

Brooklyn BBQ: Pigfest Date Announced

Check the News page for more restaurant news and events, including the 2007 Brooklyn Pigfest.

 

 

 

(04/18/07)

NY BBQ: Big Apple Barbecue Block Party On

Yesterday Grub Street reported that the 2007 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Manhattan is indeed happening despite speculation that last year may have been its last year. On June 9-10 in Madison Square Park, look for legendary pitmasters like Chris Lilly and Mike Mills, legendary BBQ joints like the Salt Lick (Driftwood TX) and Southside Market (Elgin TX), as well as NYC BBQ icons Blue Smoke, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Brother Jimmy's.

www.bigapplebbq.org

 

Big Bully's Reviewed, Big Fatty's Updated

Today I posted my review of Big Bully's BBQ Burgers in Beverly MA. There are now 105 reviews available. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.

 

I also updated the review of Big Fatty's in Hartford VT to include their recently-opened Burlington VT location and a link to their blog. It's cool that a barbecue restaurant is using a blog to communicate with its customers.

Some Reorganizing

You may have noticed a slightly different look for the site today. I'm trying to make the site a little easier to navigate and a little easier to find in web searches. At some point the Joints directory will be split further to make more sense geographically, with Long Island broken down into separate sections, the Hudson Valley broken down into areas closer to New York City and Albany, a separate section for Cape Cod and BBQ joints by city. This won't happen overnight, but I probably won't wait until the whole thing is completed before making parts of it available. And yes, there will be maps.

 

 

 

(04/17/07)

My Spring 2007 Most Wanted List

 

There are still many New England and New York BBQ joints I've yet to hit. Here's the 2007 follow-up to my 2006 Most Wanted List of the ten list of places I most want to try in the coming weeks:

#1 Big W's
, Wingdale NY
Yes, I visited it two weeks ago, but when I first compiled this list I still hadn't made the trip. This is the former roadside operation in Pawling that moved on up (Route 22, that is) to a new indoor location in Wingdale last December. Food critic and Serious Eats honcho Ed Levine calls Big W's ribs the best he's had within a 90-mile radius of New York City. This joint was also prominently featured in the March 7 New York Times BBQ special.

www.bigwbbq.com

 

#2 Fette Sau, Brooklyn NY
This month-old joint in Brooklyn has the right look (a converted auto body shop), the right menu (Berkshire pork, limited offerings) and the endorsement of a competitor-turned-restaurant-pitmaster whose opinion I trust.

New York magazine listing

 

#3 Chico's, Guilderland NY
This Albany area joint comes with a strong recommendation from a fellow NEBS barbecue competitor and judge. The menu looks good and it's a much shorter drive than Manhattan.

www.chicosbbq.com

 

#4 Route 7 Grill, Great Barrington MA
This new joint in the boonies of Western Massachusetts comes with two recommendations from people I trust within the competition community. One said the beef ribs were the best she'd ever had.

www.route7grill.com

 

#5 Hill Country BBQ, New York City
This joint isn't even open yet (it may be in May), but I know it will be good. The pitmaster, Rob Richter, is a rising star on the competition circuit. I'm looking forward to sampling some Texas style clod and some other beefy bites, and I've already mapped out the barbecue crawl routes from nearby Blue Smoke and RUB.

www.hillcountryny.com

 

#6 Smoke 'n' Bones, Oak Bluffs MA
I've heard good things about this joint on Martha's Vineyard. As said once before, going here would be that rare day trip that's fun for both me and my wife.

www.smokenbonesmv.com

 

#7 Norm's, Portland ME
I like Maine and I like barbecue, so this should be a no-brainer. If it doesn't work out, there's always the fries next door at Duck Fat.

 

#8 Front Street Smokehouse, Elizabeth NJ
Plenty of reasons: last year's Front Street Smokehouse report in Off the Broiler looked pretty tasty; these guys also compete in BBQ contests; and who would turn down a chance to visit New Jersey in the spring?

www.frontstreetsmokehouse.com

 

#9 Parker's Maple Barn, Mason NH
Did you say ribs and eggs for breakfast? I'm there.

www.parkersmaplebarn.com

 

#10 Dallas Jones, New York City
On bulletin boards and forums, this place hardly gets a mention among New York BBQ fans, but when it does, the comments are usually favorable. Besides, I see four reasons to go here: B.Y.O.B.

www.dallasjonesbbq.com

 

 

 

(04/16/07)

Weekend Wrap-up

On Saturday a friend and I visited Big Bully's BBQ Burgers (Beverly MA), where we sampled burgers, pulled pork, brisket and ribs. We came in expecting it to be more of a burger place that has barbecue than an actual BBQ joint, and we weren't that far off the mark. Decent burgers, so-so "barbecue" and great ice cream selection. That's probably all you need to know, but I'll have a review in a few days.

 

Kids Draw the Darndest Things at Big W's

On my visit to Big W's BBQ (Wingdale NY) a few weeks ago, I noticed a group of drawings done by kids to commemorate their experience at the restaurant. Here's one that I found particularly amusing, and I couldn't have expressed it better myself:

 

 

I'm very much looking forward to my next visit to Big W's, which will happen before I write a review. Until then, trust me: this is one of the good ones.

 

 

 

(04/15/07)

Rest in Peace, Don Ho

Hawaiian entertainer and cultural icon Don Ho died yesterday. One of the great ambassadors of aloha, Don Ho was to Honolulu what Wayne Newton is to Las Vegas. I never did get a chance to see him live on my many trips to Hawaii, but I'll raise a glass to Don's memory at his namesake restaurant the next time I go back.

 

Meanwhile, here's a photo of some ribs I had a few years ago at Alan Wong's. One of Honolulu's finest restaurants, Alan Wong's was twice ranked among the top 10 restaurants in America by Gourmet magazine.

 

 

 

 

(04/13/07)

An Updated Review: RUB NYC

Today I posted an updated review of RUB to incorporate the new neon sign, the beef rib and pork belly specials and some of my recent sandwich experiences. There are also a few links to other reviews. I need to add more, but it's a start.

 

A Visit to Bobby Q's and a Brisket Lasagna

On the way back from RUB on Wednesday, I visited Bobby Q's in Westport CT. Fans of the Food Network may remember the feature on the restaurant that aired a few years ago. Long story short: Bob Lerose fell in love with barbecue after many trips to visit his in-laws in Kansas City, hit all of the city's barbecue joints, started smoking meats in his backyard and eventually quit his day job to turn a passion into a business. It's the barbecue dream.

 

Bob gave me the nickel tour, showing me the Southern Pride smoker that's on the second floor above the kitchen. Later I tried a new Bobby Q's menu item called campfire lasagna (see photo in Recent Eats). It's just like a traditional lasagna, but with smoked brisket as the meat and a chipotle cream sauce instead of tomato sauce. It's a nice option for the barbecue fan and the non-barbecue fan alike, and I liked the balance of the sauce (just enough spice, not too creamy). At home I might just try something like that on smoked chicken. I also tried the sausage for the first time. It has the same basic flavor of breakfast sausage but with a lot more spice.

 

I'm looking forward to trying the burnt ends, which I learned are available Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

 

Bobby Q's owner Bob Lerose and the Southern Pride smoker.

 

Chickens in the smoker.

 

Ribs in the rack.

 

Like a breakfast sausage on steroids, with more smoke and spice.

 

 

 

(04/12/07)

RUB To Open 2nd Restaurant in Las Vegas

RUB is exanding its operation to include a second location in Las Vegas by the end of the summer. The new RUB will be a 225-seat restaurant in the Rio Hotel, just off the strip. It will have more room, more creature comforts, more ammenities and more "glitz" than the Manhattan original. There will even be a stage for musical entertainment.

 

There's something about Las Vegas that makes you think neon. That may be the reason there's a brand new neon sign outside the original RUB on 23rd Street.

 

 

Yesterday I stopped into RUB for their Reuben Crusher sandwich made with smoked pastrami, cut a little thicker than the last time I tried it. As I say in my updated review (available tomorrow), the pastrami is the unsung hero at RUB. Sure, the ribs are a given and the burnt ends are a must, but make sure you give the pastrami a try the next time you stop in.

 

 

 

(04/11/07)

T.O.N.Y. Names Blue Smoke Best BBQ

The Time Out New York reader's poll results are in and the winner for best barbecue in the city is Blue Smoke.

see all results

www.bluesmoke.com

 

True Blue BBQ Opens Today

True Blue BBQ (Kingston MA) emerges from its winter hibernation today at their roadside location near Kingston Nurseries. Pulled pork, soups, salads and other sandwiches will be available for lunch; ribs and chicken will be available after 4:30PM.

www.truebluebbq.com

 

Fette Sau Open in Brooklyn

It doesn't sound like a BBQ joint unless you say it three times fast, but it looks pretty good. Check this report from Eater on the recently opened Fette Sau.

 

 

 

 

(04/10/07)

Firefly's Quincy Construction Progress

Yesterday I made a calorie-free visit to the still-under-construction Quincy outpost of Firefly's, which should be open by May. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

 

The former Red Wood on Adams Street in Quincy MA.

 

The dining room is big.

 

Firefly's owner/pitmaster Steve Uliss at the roomy bar.

 

Steve oversees construction of Dante's nightclub adjacent to the bar.

 

That's an Old Hickory smoker in the kitchen.

 

The condiment bar area will have heated sauces.

 

 

(04/09/07)

Weekend Wrap-up

No barbecue this weekend. I had it two days in a row during the week and wanted to take a little break. I did eat at Firefly's (Framingham MA) on Friday night, but I passed up the barbecue for some moist and tasty blackened catfish. On Sunday I wanted to get the grill going, but it was too cold and windy. Instead, I worked on a huli huli chicken marinade and accompanying glaze that I'll be using at a Hawaiian-themed cookout later this summer. It was pretty good out of the oven, so I know it will be killer when cooked in a smoker.

Regular Advice from Mario, Norm and the Fat Guy

It’s already April and I’m still making my way through last month’s magazines. The March Men’s Health had a nice little feature with advice from some of Food Network personalities, and I was glad to see Mario Batali represented. Two of Mario’s recommendations were familiar mantras from the Molto Mario shows: establish good relationships with your fishmonger and your butcher to ensure getting the best available product.


By sticking with one purveyor, and not trying to simply find the lowest price at different stores, you create a rapport that translates into the freshest items and best cuts being saved for you. Maybe the purveyor will also prepare the meat or fish in a way that isn’t possible for the majority of his customers. Maybe he’ll place a special order for you or let you in on some new product before it’s available to the general public. If you’re a competition cook, having a butcher or meat supplier you can count on is a must. It’s really quite simple: if you’re loyal to him, he’ll be loyal to you.


The concept also translates to barbecue restaurants. Remember on Cheers, how every time Norm Peterson entered the bar, they not only knew his name but cheered it? You can bet Norm got faster service, better bar snacks and a better all around experience than the extras in the background. If you’re a regular, you might not only get cheered like Norm but also get treated better than the norm. You might get served ribs from the batch that just came out of the smoker even though there are still a few racks left from the night before. You might get noticeably bigger portions of the side dishes. Or you might be the first to weigh in on a new creation for an upcoming menu change, free of charge.


Yes, it’s good to be a regular. In the dining out manifesto Turning the Tables, food critic and eGullet founder Steven A. Shaw (a.k.a. “the Fat Guy”) explores the topic for several pages, starting with this:

The best restaurant isn’t the one with the highest Zagat rating, the most stars from the local paper, or the cute celebrity chef. It's the one where you’re a regular.

Even if you’re not a regular, you can still get treated well just through sheer effort:

  • If a combo comes with a quarter chicken, ask for the part that you prefer (white meat or dark meat). Some places charge more for white meat; some don't care. It can't hurt to ask. I’m a reformed white meat guy who now swears by the thigh quarter.
  • If you’re ordering a combo with a few ribs, ask that the ribs come from the end you prefer (the short end or the long end). Manhattan’s RUB is the only joint I know that actually lists the long end and short end separately on their menu. The long end’s ribs are bigger, but I like that extra meaty last rib from the short end.
  • Ask what’s fresh. You may get the “everything’s fresh” answer born from either ignorance or salesmanship, but many of the smaller BBQ joint owners will tell you. One way of doing this is to order “a combo of the ribs and whatever you think is the fresher today between the brisket and the pork.” Say it something like that and you’ll probably get better ribs too.


 

(04/07/07)

More Pigtrip Video: the Firefly's Sunday Buffet

A few weeks ago I tried the Sunday brunch buffet ($12.99) at Firefly's Bar-B-Que in Marlboro MA. Here's a short video that shows the amazing assortment of meats: pork loin, fried chicken, BBQ chicken, pulled chicken, pulled pork, chopped brisket, St Louis ribs and boneless ribs. Sides included cucumber salad, house made potato chips, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, dirty rice, grilled vegetables and sweet potato pudding. Not shown, because they're on the other side of the aisle, are the cornbread and brownies.

 

 

On Easter Sunday, the Firefy's buffet will run from 11:30 to 7:00 at the Marlboro and Framingham locations. This event is $16.99 for adults, $8.99 for children under 8 and requires reservations. In addition to the usual items, the menu will also include brown sugar bourbon ham, red velvet cake, warm apple crisp and more.

 

 

(04/06/07)

Another Good Redbones Visit

Some friends and I hit Redbones in Somerville's Davis Square last night, where we shared four different appetizers, seven different meats and seven different sides. Some things were better than others, but overall, the food was very good. I really liked the juicy beef ribs, which were shorter but more plump than on previous visits. This was my third good visit in a row over the last year. I thought they started to go downhill a few years ago, but Redbones definitely seems to have its mojo back.

 

 

(04/05/07)

My First Trip to Big W's in Wingdale NY

Yesterday was the first day in almost a month that I had some time to do any long distance driving, so I braved the rain and headed to Big W's BBQ. I started with a pulled pork sandwich, served open faced with enough meat to dwarf the full size roll under it. My sandwich was the envy of the party of 4 behind me and one of the best renditions of pulled pork I've had in a while. Moist and chewy, the meat stood on its own, in rather large chunks—some barky, some pink, some brown—with sauce on the side only if needed. The sauce, also chunky, is an unusual combination of apricots, onions and black vinegar that struck me as a barbecue version of Chinese restaurant duck sauce, but it was good.

 

More on Big W later. You don't think I'd drive all that distance and not try the ribs, brisket and chicken, do you?

 

All Star Sandwich Leaning More Toward BBQ

Last November, All Star Sandwich Bar (Cambridge MA) scaled back its menu to streamline their operation. The upside was improved service and shorter wait times, but the downside was that their two BBQ sandwiches were relegated to once-a-week status. In the last few weeks it seems like they're gradually steering the wagon back toward barbecue territory, with the Texas Reuben (always available Tuesdays) and pulled pork sandwich (Thursdays) making frequent appearances as daily specials during the rest of the week. Today, for example, both sandwiches are on the menu. Savory hush puppies have been a special for a while, and last weekend I tried some ribs that they had as a special.

 

 

 

(04/04/07)

Meat: The Action Figure

Now I've seen everything. The manufacturer Jakks has a series of action figures based on the Rocky movie series starring Sylvester Stallone.

 

Not only are there multiple versions of Rocky, in different outfits and in various degrees of punch drunkenness, but there are also figures of brother-in-law Paulie, trainer Mickey, rival-turned-pal Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang (Mr. T) and—get this—broadcaster Brent Musberger.

 

But the real star of the set is a slab of beef. Yes, the slab of beef that Rocky punched in the original 1976 film now has its own action figure. It even comes with an eye hook for hanging and a blood-stained white butcher's coat. Go figure.

 

www.jakks.com

 

Q Smokehouse Reviewed

Today I posted my review of Q Smokehouse in Methuen MA. It's still a work in progress (my review, that is), so look for updates to it as well as the one for New York's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in the coming months. There are now 104 reviews available. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.

 

 

 

(04/03/07)

More Pigtrip Video: Lester's Roadside BBQ

Last week I arrived at Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA) shortly before the chickens were about to be removed from the smoker. You can tell from the short videos that these chickens were quite juicy.

 

click to view video
click to view video
chickens from the smoker
one juicy chicken

See the video on YouTube

See the video on Google Video

See the video on YouTube

See the video on Google Video

 

 

 

(04/02/07)

Play Ball! And the Elusive Triple Crown

Today major league baseball starts its season, and today every team is in first place. It's a day for optimism. With the Red Sox opening in Kansas City, I would have loved to see the game live and the celebrate a victory with a brisket sandwich at Arthur Bryant's. Maybe next year.

 

 

It was 40 years ago that the Red Sox had their "Impossible Dream" season, taking them from last place the year before to the 1967 World Series. That year, Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown, leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI. For whatever reason, it's something that no player in either league has been able to do in the 40 years since. It's hard enough to combine power and average; it's nearly impossible to do both better than all your competition.

 

Much in the same way, it's hard to achieve what I call the barbecue version of the triple crown—excellence in ribs, pulled pork and brisket. There are the joints that excel at ribs, and there are those that dazzle with pulled pork, and there are the rare few who know how to produce fine brisket. But doing all three better than anyone else is probably too much to ask.

 

OK, so how about doing all three, to the best of the restaurant's ability, all in one meal? That is, to get a 3-meat combo where all three meats are as good as they ever made them, with no comparison to another BBQ restaurant. Even that's tough. Some days the ribs are perfect and the pork is just a shade dry. Sometimes the brisket is mind blowing and the ribs are just a shade dry. Sometimes all three are really good but you can remember when it was better.

 

It's hard. At some of my favorite joints, it's actually harder, because the bar has been set so high from previous visits that even great isn't as great as their greatest. But someday, it will happen. It's a day for optimism.

 

 

(04/01/07)

Joints Directory Madness

Today I made some updates to the Joints directory. The new listings include:

  • All Smoked Up (Beekman NY) is a roadside operation that's getting underway for the season.
  • Arnie's Place (Concord Heights NH) looks like a fun summer destination.
  • Big Bully's Burgers (Beverly MA) is a burger joint that just added BBQ to their menu.
  • Big Fatty's BBQ (Burlington VT) is a second location of the Hartford VT joint. It either just opened or is about to open really soon.
  • Holy Smoke (Mahopac NY) is another in the growing list of Hudson Valley joints.
  • Norm's East End Grill (Portland ME) now has corrected contact info.
  • Route 7 Grill in (Great Barrington, MA) has a menu that looks creative.
  • Smoke 'n' Bones (Oak Bluffs MA) is a joint on Martha's Vineyard that I've heard good things about. This would be that rare day trip that's fun for both me and my wife.
  • Tremont 647 (Boston MA) is where chef Andy Husbands (one of the members of the IQue competition team) creates his "adventurous American cuisine." Barbecue has more of a cameo than a starring role here, but it's well worth the trip into Boston.

 

 

 

March 2007 archive

February 2007 archive

January 2007 archive

December 2006 archive

November 2006 archive

October 2006 archive

August/September 2006 archive

 

 

 

Recent Eats (click photo to view larger image)

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Pulled pork quesadilla at Lester's, Burlington MA.

 

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Wings at the Firefly's preview, Quincy MA.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at Uncle Pete's, Revere MA.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at Blue Ribbon, W. Newton MA.

 

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Pulled pork at Willie B's BBQ, Bay Shore NY.

 

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Ribs and pulled pork at Hog House Barbecue, Merrick NY.

 

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Brisket and pulled pork sandwiches at Big Bully's, Beverly MA.

 

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Campfire lasagna at Bobby Q's, Westport CT.

 

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Reuben Crusher sandwich at RUB, NYC.

 

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Plump beef ribs at Redbones, Somerville MA.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich at Big W, Wingdale NY.

 

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Ribs at All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge MA.

 

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Half rack at Chili Head BBQ, W. Bridgewater MA.

 

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Chopped brisket at Lester's Roadside BBQ, Burlington MA.

 

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Pulled pork, chicken and ribs at Q Smokehouse, Methuen MA.

 

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Bacon steak at East Coast Grill, Cambridge MA.

 

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Pulled pork sandwich and ribs at SoulFire, Allston MA.

 

 

 

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Please feel free to contact me.

 
 

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