Lunch, Anyone? Soulfire BBQ
Southern flavor with hearty helpings
The Boston restaurant scene is known more for seafood than for barbecue. Yes, there’s Redbones, in Somerville, Blue Ribbon Barbecue, in Arlington and Newton, and the upscale East Coast Grill, in Cambridge. But happily, BU students can find genuine Memphis-style barbecue much closer at hand: Soulfire, in Allston.
The restaurant’s ribs, fried catfish, pulled pork, and brisket make you feel like you’ve been transported to the South and the casual setting and large tables offer a comfortable place to gather with friends.
And then there’s the music. At 3,400 songs and counting, the playlist includes R&B, gospel, country, and even some hip-hop. A huge mural of famous soul musicians decorates one wall.
Soulfire serves traditional barbecue fare, which means plenty of comfort food and plenty of calories. In fact, there’s only one vegetarian entrée, a rice and bean bowl with corn, tomatoes, onions, and peppers ($8.95). But then, why would you want to go to a barbecue restaurant unless it’s to savor brined, rubbed, and smoked chicken, beef, and pork?
Starting with the appetizers, you’ll find plenty of guilt-inducing options. A large order of fried mac ’n’ cheese ($4.95) is generous enough to be a standalone meal: eight fried cubes of mac ’n’ cheese flavored with garlic. The pungent aroma hits before your first bite. An equally delicious option is the chili cheese fries ($5.55), topped with chili and drenched in a creamy cheese sauce.
Soulfire offers salad options, including the classic Iceberg Wedge ($4.95), half a head of lettuce with tomatoes, onions, and blue cheese. And you can add a quarter pound of pulled pork, pulled chicken, or brisket for an additional $4.95.
The main menu has two categories: sandwiches, which come with one side, and entrees, which are served with two sides. We found Soulfire’s biggest challenge was choosing which of the delicious sides to order. Among the tantalizing options are baked beans with bacon, creamy coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and collard greens (extra sides are $1.99, except the cornbread, at $1.25.) Our favorite? The mac ’n’ cheese, which wasn’t overly cheesy and came topped with crispy barbecue chips, just one example of the innovative touches you’ll find here.
The restaurant’s attention to detail is most evident in its barbecue sauces. We recommend the Pitboss, a sweet sauce with a peppery finish that works well with all meats, and the Soulfire, a Kansas City–style sauce with a tomato base and vinegar and pepper kick, a good match for the beef brisket.
Now a word about the barbecue itself. Recommended was the beef brisket sandwich ($7.95), topped off with Soulfire sauce, so we decided to try it. The meat was very tender, though a bit fatty, and the sauce added subtle flavor. The pulled chicken sandwich ($6.95) was flavorful, but the sweet sauce—a strong honey and molasses base with a hint of citrus—made it rise above most barbecue sandwiches. If you’re really hungry and feel up to the challenge, try the fried chicken platter ($11.95), huge pieces of chicken that have been marinated for 24 hours. Other popular entrees include the spare ribs ($14.95 for a half rack, $23.95 for a full rack), the fried catfish platter ($11.95), and the pulled pork platter ($10.95).
For those with a big appetite and not worried about calories, Soulfire is a food-junkie haven.
Soulfire, 182 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-787-3003, is open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. The restaurant takes all major credit cards. To get there, take a Green Line B trolley to the Harvard Ave. stop. The restaurant is less than a five-minute walk. Check out the menu here. Catering is available and the restaurant delivers to BU, BC, and MIT.
This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.
John Fichera can be reached at email@example.com Comments