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What's the word on Blue Ribbon Barbeque?

  • p

I see they have locations in Boston and Arlington -- the Arlington location would be my target. Anyone been there (either location?).

Their menu looks promising, I'm wondering if anyone can confirm this.

Thanks in advance!


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  1. The Blue Ribbon Barbeque in West Newton (on Washington St.) is great! It only has seating for about 10 people (a few more in the summer with some tables on the sidewalk). Most people use them for take-out. I love their back ribs, and their pulled pork and brisket is good too. Their burnt ends are also good. Their garlicky mashed potatoes are excellent. My kids often get mashed potatoes for both of their two "sides". We ordered bbq for 10 once for a party and had enough for about 20! I highly reccommend them I haven't been to the Arlington location.

    11 Replies
    1. re: sushimom

      As another Texas-ex, I may as well chime in here as well. I too have been in search of the a great BBQ place and Blue Ribbon is one of the only decent places I've found.

      Having been reared on pork ribs from the Country Tavern in Kilgore, TX (the world's best!) I haven't been able to find anything close to compare here. Besides pork ribs, brisket is another item that everyone messes up. I agree with others here that the pork and chicken are the best reasons to go to Blue Ribbon. I like Redbones more than most but agree that they are inconsistent. I haven't tried Uncle Pete's but will soon.

      Funny thing, I recently bumped into Todd English and was surprised to find out that he was born in Texas. Like myself (an all here on this thread) he is always searching for good BBQ. He's likes Blue Ribbon the best too.

      1. re: sushimom

        I am visiting Boston and I want to check this place out, is it easy to get there by subway?

        1. re: callitasicit

          Not really, although the Arlington location, is right on the #77 bus route (from Harvard Square.) However, it's a long bus ride. Not as bad as taking the TTC/bus trip out to the Toronto Zoo (which I have done quite a few times), but it's a good way out of Cambridge with not much else in the vicinity to attract a visitor.

          On the other hand, given the dire state of TO BBQ, it is probably well worth the trip.

          1. re: callitasicit

            Allstonian's comments are all spot-on. You don't say how long you're in town but you could easily make a full day of it in Arlington alone. The Mass. Ave area has a ton of places to explore including shops, bakeries, cafes and a goodly selection of more than decent full service restaurants of all stripes. There' are lots of fairly recent threads on this Board if that may be of any interest to you. I hope you enjoy your trip!


            BTW & IHMO, there isn't anywhere in Greater Boston delivering as consistently good 'Que and side as Blue Ribbon's. Them's always fightin' words in the continuing Saga of the 'Que Wars but there they are. :-)

            Blue Ribbon BBQ
            910 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

            1. re: Harp00n

              I agree with the statement about Blue Ribbon, but not sure I'd want to spend a whole day in Arlington... So many more interesting areas in beantown.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                If time is a constraint StriperGuy, I would agree with you and why I posited the question to our poster re: "how long"? Without knowing where callitasicit travel interests lie or whether a Type A or B , for that matter, I still stand by my statement that you can, in fact, enjoy an entire day in Arlington.


                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Thanks guys. Can anyone recommend a decent bbq joint in Boston? Since many are familar with Toronto's deficiencies with bbq, I assume even the worst bbq joint is much better than the best we have in TO. BTW, I am only in Boston for a measly three days so I have to make the most of my time here. I guess I could just pass on the bbq and focus on the great seafood you offer here!

                  1. re: callitasicit

                    Jeez, I never realized, when not having a car, just how user-unfriendly getting to the major pits in Boston can be. Lester's in Burlington is out as is Uncle Pete's in Revere. That leaves Redbones BBQ and the East Coast Grill (ECG) for most Hounds.

                    I think, as do many, Redbones an attractive venue for their brew and fun atmosphere more than for their 'Que. I mean it's not bad at all, there's just better options.Taking the Redline to the Davis Sq. T-stop it's about a four block walk to Redbones.

                    ECG's is a bit quirky in it's own right but better, IMO. They're also far more than a "Que place, having a very good rep for seafood among other things and is a destination stop for many. Some think they've slid a bit lately but I'm not one of them. Unfortunately even here, without a car, you're presented with a bit of a schlep. It's somewhere around a brisk ten minute walk to ECG after getting off at the Central Sq.T-stop on the Redline.


                    East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                    1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                    1. re: Harp00n

                      On the other hand, Inman Square and ECG are an easy run from Harvard Square on the #69 bus - don't discount the bus system, folks! It exists to get people to the places not covered by the subway & streetcars, and it does the job.

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        Excellent point Allstonian! My only defense is that I'm rarely car-less and either drive to my destination or take the T when I get into Cambridge. I will be more conscious in offering options in the future, so thanks.


                        1. re: Harp00n

                          And if you decide on East Coast Grill you can cover off another local specialty, ice cream, with a visit to Christina's.

                          Christina's Homemade Ice Cream
                          1255 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

          2. blue ribbon is great for takeout bbq. ribs and pulled pork are what we always get and they are great. they have good sides too. i would highly recommend. (we go to the one in arlington...there's really no seating to speak of, it's a takeout joint).

            1. Blue Ribbon is in West Newton and Arlington..small, mostly takeout. I picked up some ribs and brisket last week from the Newton store. I hate to use the term "best in Boston" but they are certainly right up there..smoked in an indoor pit..I think made by Southern Pride..good sides..mashed potatoes and slaw. I was at the Arlington store a few years ago and it was virtually identical to the Newton location. Other places I like are Uncle Petes in Eastie, Pit Stop in Mattapan (haven't been lately, but I'm sure they're still doing things the same way). Friday, I stopped at M and M BBQ in Dorchester..an old school bus parked on an empty lot..corner of Columbia Rd and Quincy St...very good ribs..a few picnic tables for seating..

              But I think Blue Ribbon is probably my favorite..good pulled pork too..haven't tried the chicken.

              1. Even after living a couple blocks away from Redbones in Davis Sq, I've always been drawn to Blue Ribbon in Arlington whenever I had a hankering for BBQ. I find Redbones to be pretty lousy most of the time (except for the pulled pork and the sausages, which I find acceptable), but most everything I've had at Blue Ribbon has been exceedingly good. I also like their variety of sauces. There are a few stools and counter to sit and eat, if you're like me and can't wait to tear into it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Eric Eto

                  Funny..When I thought of good BBQ in Boston, I didn't even think of Redbones. Trouble is I really like Redbones..best atmosphere of the Boston BBQs, great beers..food is ok...I just wish it were better..it's just not on a par with Boston's best. Had lunch on a Saturday there recently..$10 for all you could eat..chicken, beef and pork ribs..baked beans and slaw...a good take.

                  1. re: 9lives

                    I agree with you that Redbones does have a great atmosphere. It was my favorite place to hang out and have drinks and a few apps (I do like some of the apps there) around Davis. Oh yes, I do like their pecan pie as well. But that's about it. I don't even like their all-you-can-eat lunches of the leftovers from the night before. I never thought it much of a trek to Arlington Heights for some Blue Ribbon BBQ. I always thought the bike path was there just for me to get to Blue Ribbon easily. Luckily, it's mostly downhill on the way back.

                    1. re: Eric Eto

                      I've only been to Blue Ribbon once but I thought the ribs were very ... dry and not smokey enough for me.

                      Redbones ribs are decent if you get them right off the smoker, otherwise they've often been sitting under a heat lamp for hours.

                      For ribs, Uncle Pete's is the way to go, IMNSHO. Unless you do them yourself.

                      East Coast for pulled pork.

                2. d
                  David "Zeb" Cook

                  Since I came up from Texas I've been looking for decent BBQ, just haven't had much time to get out around much. So far:

                  Redbones -- don't go for the meat although they have good beer selection, nice sides (fried okra!), and are good community people. I've never smelled woodsmoke as I walk by, which I consider an important sign.

                  Blue Ribbon BBQ (Arlington) -- Usually has a good woodsmoke smell walking by. Pulled pork is good, not impressed by the brisket. Good selection of sauces for those who want some. Due to Arlington laws, no beer. Indoor and outdoor seating (although I don't think we'll be using that much now).

                  Uncle Pete's -- So far may favorite, but too far away to visit easily. Good pork ribs and brisket that gets up to Texas standards. Beef ribs can be a little tough. So-so sides. Does serve beer.

                  All-in-all, since Blue Ribbon is close, I have no problem recommending them. They make a good intro to the basics of BBQ. Oh, and it's best to go to any BBQ Thursday-Saturday. A lot of places will do the bulk of their meat Wednesday or Thursday so that by Sunday (and especially Mon-Tues) you can be getting cuts that have been sitting in the cooler for awhile. (Some places in Texas are only open Friday and Saturday until they ran out!)

                  David "Zeb" Cook

                  1. Blue Ribbon also has a takeout counter in the Bread & Circus on River Street in Cambridge. However, the ribs I had from there were mediocre compared to their West Newton store. I prefer their pork ribs over the beef ones. However, my favourite BBQ place is Uncle Pete's for the food (again, the pork ribs trump the beef), atmosphere, service, and prices. HAven't tried M and M or Pit Stop BBQ yet.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ju

                      I spoke with the guys at Blue Ribbon in Newton regarding why the B&C location tastes diffent than the other two. Because of B&C's organic slant, they use different meats than the other two locations. I don't think it is nearly as good as the "real" Blue Ribbon locations.

                      1. re: Maura

                        Aha! Thanks for asking. I've wondered why that is. The BBQ is definitely inferior at B&C, but, being a Cantabridgian, I still go back hoping, but I'm always disappointed.

                        1. re: SmokeDawg

                          This being a 6 year old thread, is there still a Bread and Circus somewhere, and does it really have a BR in it?

                    2. My thoughts! Blue Ribbon is very good. I like their sandwiches, pulled pork and burnt ends. They are very similar to the old Jake and Earls of Inman Sq. As for Redbones, I've been going since they openned, fifteen years ago, and have always enjoyed it. However the last two times I've gone this fall, I've found the quality to be way off. Fatty and tough meat. Too bad, great atmosphere and great hospitality from the owner, Rob Gregory. I hardly see him there anymore, maybe that's part of the problem.

                      1. I have mixed feelings about Blue ribbon. I think their pulled chicken sandwich is probably the best around, and their pulled pork is great too. However, I have never been happy with their ribs which I feel are excessively fatty, and sometimes stringy. Plus their extensive sauces aren't so great.

                        On another note, redbones has been getting a lot of flack on this thread so I feel i must put in a good word for their sausage platter which can't be beat.

                        1. I am a pork ribs man first and foremost.

                          Have had really excellent ones at Blue Ribbon.

                          And I hate to sound like a broken record; I always seem to be plugging the place, but East Coast Grill does really excellent ribs smokey, tender, excellent.

                          The beans at ECG are not very good. They never cook them enough so they are often slightly crunchy... wierd?

                          I agree on the Redbones comments. Not so reliable, and decent BBQ, but not the best.

                          Finally I went to Pete's a while back and while the food was good, the sauce on the ribs was too sweet for me. I really like Pete, and the place has such a nice feel. I wanted to love the place, but for ribs I must confess I would go to Blue Ribbon or ECG first.

                          By the way, I go to the Blue Ribbon in Newton.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            In my two experiences at Pete's the ribs are not really sauced. They're probably just lightly "mopped" while being smoked.

                            They ask you what type of sauce you want on the side. And the hot is hot and good. I agree the sweet sauce isn't so tasty.


                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              I found everything at Pete's way too sweet. Disgustingly so. Thought I was going to go into insulin shock. I don't understand how anyone can seriously put them up with any of the other BBQ mentioned here. You might as well save the trip out there and go for a McDonald's BBQ rib sandwich..

                            2. Love Blue Ribbon. I go to the Newton one. Agree with others, their BBQ beans are fantastic. The pulled pork sandwich is the best value in the city ($5.50) including slaw and beans--enough for dinner, which i've done several times. We've had the "pig out" dinner for 6 that includes a slab of ribs, 2 half chickens, another side of meat like brisket or sausage plus sides. Can't recommend the jerked chicken, not authentic at all. Brisket is good, though i'm no bbq authority. Collards are not vinegary or spicy enough for me, but they're not bad. A good value and way better than Redbones in my opinion. East Coast used to be good, havent' been there in a few years, but is more self-consciously "retro" than Blue Ribbon's down home vibe. Quick take-out in Newton, even when crowded.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cucina

                                >>>East Coast used to be good, havent' been there in a few years, but is more self-consciously "retro" than Blue Ribbon's down home vibe<<<

                                I think quite the opposite, actually. ECG has a much more comprehensive and challenging menu, and is way more innovative than Blue Ribbon. Of course, they are different kinds of places, so the comparison is almost pointless-- I was just surprised by the reference.

                              2. Link to a previous BBQ thread for those in search of "greatest":