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Check Out Our Picks for Tomorrow’s National Barbecue Day

10 local spots you’ll want to try


Barbecue is a distinctly American cuisine. But ask people to define it and you’ll likely get many answers. Different regions have distinct ways of preparing it. There’s Memphis-style, Kansas City–style, Carolina-style, and Texas-style. There’s the beef vs pork vs chicken debate, the dry rub vs wet rub—then there’s the sauce: vinegar or ketchup? Add to that the many cultures with their own variations and the choices are legion.

Tomorrow, halfway through National Barbecue Month, is National Barbecue Day. We’ve put together a list of 10 local barbecue places, each with its distinct flavors, and a recommended pick for each. So, go out and celebrate—and don’t worry if you get a little messy.

Sweet Cheeks
1381 Boylston St., Boston

Sweet Cheeks

Fat Cheeks Tray. Photo courtesy of Sweet Cheeks

A Fenway favorite that prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients, known for its honey butter biscuits.

Must try: Prime beef brisket

The Smoke Shop by Andy Husbands
One Kendall Square, Cambridge
343 Congress St., Boston

Pulled pork

Pulled pork. Photo courtesy of the Smoke Shop

World Barbecue Champion Chef Husbands brings slow-cooked, competition-style barbecue to his two outposts, one on each side of the Charles River.

Must try: Pulled pork

Redbones BBQ
55 Chester St., Somerville

Smoked brisket sandwich with coleslaw and cornbread

Smoked brisket sandwich with coleslaw and cornbread. Photo by Cydney Scott

This iconic Davis Square eatery was one of the area’s first barbecue joints, serving Southern barbecue at decent prices, along with an impressive beer selection.

Must try: Smoked beef brisket

Shed’s BBQ
32 Bromfield St., Boston

Smoked turkey BBQ bowl

Smoked turkey BBQ bowl. Photo courtesy of Shed’s BBQ

This new sibling-owned, lunch-only barbecue spot at Downtown Crossing features Texas-style barbecue, from traditional meats and sides to customizable BBQ bowls.

Must try: Lucille’s bowls (build your own—choice of sliced or chopped brisket, pulled chicken or pork, or Texas hot links)

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
1002 Beacon St., Brookline
16-18 Eliot St., Cambridge

Toro beef

Toro beef. Photo courtesy of Gyu-Kaku

Japanese-style grill-it-yourself barbecue restaurant has built-in braziers at every table.

Must try: Toro beef

Magnolia Smokehouse
6 Harvard Square, Brookline

St. Louis ribs

St. Louis ribs. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Brookline

Formerly the Village Smokehouse, this restaurant serves traditional barbecue fare upstairs and has a speakeasy-style bar in the basement.

Must try: St. Louis ribs

Southern Proper
600 Harrison Ave., Boston

Southern Proper BBQ food

Smoked BBQ chicken, pork butt, and house-made pickles. Photo courtesy of Southern Proper

North Carolina native chef-owner Jason Cheek brings his Southern roots to the South End, with sides—pimento mac and cheese, hush puppies, and biscuits—as good as the barbecue.

Must try: Smoked BBQ chicken

Pit Stop Barbecue
888 Morton St., Mattapan

Pork ribs, mac and cheese, and collard greens

Pork ribs, mac and cheese, and collard greens. Photo courtesy of Pit Stop BBQ

This small take-away barbecue joint specializes in Southern comfort food made from recipes dating back five generations, from three families with strong Southern roots.

Must try: Pork ribs

Southern Kin Cookhouse
500 Assembly Row, Somerville

BBQ'd pork ribs with macaroni n’ cheese and skillet cornbread

BBQ’d pork ribs with macaroni ‘n’ cheese and skillet cornbread. Photo by Cydney Scott

Southern-style favorites include chicken and waffles and Kansas City ribs, slow-cooked 15-plus hours.

Must try: Kansas City ribs

Blue Ribbon Barbecue
1375 Washington St., West Newton

St. Louis cut dry-rubbed ribs

St. Louis cut dry-rubbed ribs. Photo courtesy of Blue Ribbon BBQ

This local family-owned chain serves up authentic Southern regional wood-smoked barbecue.

Must try: St. Louis cut dry-rubbed ribs

Have recommendations for other barbecue places? List them in the Comment section below.


2 Comments on Check Out Our Picks for Tomorrow’s National Barbecue Day

  • Alicia on 05.15.2018 at 10:15 am

    Your first line states that Barbecue is a distinctly American cuisine. I beg to differ. BBQ is found in many cultures, as illustrated by your own list including Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ. It’s disappointing that is the only non-American BBQ on the list. What about Korean BBQ? Chinese char siu? Asado, barbacoa, satay or yakitori?

  • Lance on 05.22.2018 at 10:26 am

    I was actually surprised that they included Japanese Grill , because the universal definition of Barbecue is: meat cooked on a grill or open fire. The abbreviation BBQ, and the culture of Barbecue, dry & wet rub, smoke science,and sauces is purely American. I’ve had Korean, Japanese, Szechuan,and countless other cultures and although they call it barbecue,it’s not the even close to the culture of American BBQ and they’re all really good in their own way.

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