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BBQ Places That Aren't Primarily Takeout?

So we were in the mood for some BBQ last night, and we headed up to Murphy's Country Kitchen in Hyde Park. As we drove by we saw that all three tables were full and there were other people who seemed to be waiting. We continued on to Jake's in JP...and realized there is no more Jake's(?). There was some new place there that looked like a sub shop. So we gave up on BBQ and went to Plan B--beers and sandwiches at Doyle's.

I always seem to get frustrated when I look for barbecue spots in the Boston area. Other than Blue Ribbon, Firefly's, and Jake's in Waltham, what other BBQ places are worth going to (with emphasis on sit-down places, so that would cancel out Murphy's and the Pit Stop).

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  1. Soulfire in Allston is pretty good, and there's lots of tables, but you do order at the counter and then sit down. There's no waiters.

    1. Much recent discussion can be found about the merits (and drawbacks) of Redbones in Davis Square, Somerville.


      6 Replies
      1. re: BJK

        I'd certainly think Redbones if I wanted to sit down for BBQ. I'll have to try Soul Fire now though... and Village Smokehouse - was thinking of stopping there riding on the T today.

        1. re: steinpilz

          Village Smokehouse? Dear God no. They blantantly finish off all of the meat on a big grill out front just to sear on some sauce. That's not barbecue. I doubt any of it is actually smoked either.

          1. re: Dax

            Haven't been to Village Smokehouse yet, um.... Thanks for the comment, I see similar ones below so I consider myself warned.

            1. re: Dax

              They do (and I agree that VS is bad)--but name a single BBQ place in all of Boston that doesn't? ECG, Uncle Pete's, they all smoke first and finsih on a grill.
              Along the same lines--went to Linwood the other night, and I could not have been more disappointed with their ribs. Waste of a meal.

              1. re: AHan

                Actually big difference. Uncle Pete's and others may warm up finished BBQ on a grill. This is meat that has been cooked low and slow for 4-12 hours. And probably kept warm in a smoker that is has died down almost completly. Getting this BBQ piping hot on a grill for a few minutes at the end, no biggie. Big difference from meat that was poached in water, smoked a bit if you're lucky, and then has sauce burnt on at the last minute to give it flavor.

                1. re: AHan

                  Well it's amazing how VS manages to suck all of the smoked taste out of the meat before serving it. I went once and won't return.

                  Edit: What I meant is that VS seems to a make such a spectacle about it. I've only eaten there once for a quick bite and wasn't all that impressed. But I've been there for drinks a couple of times when Matt Murphy's got too crowded. They seemed intent on jacking up the high heat on that front grill until flames were quite visible in order to sear sauce onto the ribs. The darkness on the ribs I saw come and go was not from a good bark, but rather from too much high heat and excessive caramelization. Linwood seemed to do that too, but I haven't eaten their 'cue in 3 years.

                  Whatever ECG does, that's bark on their ribs, not burnt sauce.

                  I haven't eaten at Pete since one disappointing visit just before their move.

          2. Uncle Pete's in Revere has plenty of seating.

            1. Ate at Soul Fire last night for the first time. Very happy with the ribs, their house sauce, mac 'n' cheese and baked beans. Come to think of it, the corn bread and pickles were real good too. All in all, I'd say the food surpassed Blue Ribbon, Redbones and the places in Waltham -- and there's lots of seating. All that's missing is a liquor license. I also was delighted that Memphis-style dry rub is available to sprinkle on your ribs. Mmmmm.

              6 Replies
              1. re: katzzz

                Pretty big statement to say they are better then Blue Ribbon... how many times have you eaten at BR? In my book, while sometimes a tad better, sometimes less, BR is beyond reproach on many fronts.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  I've eaten at Blue Ribbon at least 30 times. I like it. I like the food, the people, the prices....yet while the ribs are satisfying enough, they fall short of piggy transcendence; they don't stop me from dreaming of Memphis and Kansas City. And I don't find any of their bbq sauces to be better than adequate.
                  But I'll have to go back to Soul Fire a few more times to see how the food holds up. Why don't you give it a try and tell us what you think.
                  By the way, they also serve baby backs at Soul Fire, which I didn't sample. In a brief discussion, the owner (?) said he preferred the spare ribs, which were meatier and tastier (and they were slightly cheaper, too).

                  1. re: katzzz

                    I've actually spent a decent amount of time in Memphis and KC. Blue Ribbon is as good as the best Memphis joints, and better then many KC places. Honestly, I travelled in the south for 6 years for work and BR and East Coast Grill are consistently (not every single time) up their with the best I've had. I also am not a Pete's fan, but only been their once.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I think Blue Ribbon is the best around these parts. If you want to drive 4 hours to Syracuse, then Dinosaur bbq is excellent. I have not been to KC but to Memphis dozens of times and Corkys is great. Also great food at BB Kings place. There are always plenty of small no name shack like places that will put 99% of the places we have up here to shame.

                      There is a new place open in Ayer MA that I have meaning to try out. It is called Tejano Loco. The guy says he has been smoking meats since he was 12 years old with his dad

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        I used to live in western NY and know Dinosaur is very good (there's one in Rochester and in NYC now as well), great music too.

                        I'll also put in a plug here for Curtis' in Putney VT, another great stop if anyone is traveling around there:


                    2. re: StriperGuy

                      Yeah, I kind of scratched my head over that and then decided that maybe the poster was someone who doesn't like a strong smokey 'cue taste or doesn't value it as high as other things - you know, the BBQ equivalent of people who like to drink coffee but genuinely prefer Dunkin Donuts because it is mildly coffee flavored liquid vs roll the taste around the tongue **coffee**. Because that's my main criticism of Soul Fire - not a lot of smoke taste to anything, with the pulled pork probably the strongest - while I dream about Blue Ribbon's rich, smokey brisket and burnt ends. Otherwise what I've had a SF has been pretty good. Especially since I noticed last time they had toned down the sweetness a bit in the collards.

                  2. if you want excellent barbeque food go to the New Bridge cafe in
                    chelsea ma. near the revere line--washington avenue.
                    there steak tips, lamb tips, turkey tips are awsome!!
                    they also have excellent ribs and sausage as well there salad dressing is very unique but also excellent!!
                    check it out!!
                    Frankie Imbergamo

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: StriperGuy


                        FRANKIE IMBERGAMO

                        1. re: frankie Imbergamo

                          Frankie...Most bbq restaurants serve ribs but all places that serve ribs are not doing bbq. Agree that New Bridge does do great steak, lamb and turkey tips..but they are not doing bbq in the generally accepted method..which is slow smoking. They're grilling.

                          1. re: frankie Imbergamo

                            Frankie, just wanted to be clear that some of us chownerds are very specific about BBQ. BBQ pork and beef is very specific. Cooked low and slow, a minimum of 6 hours, and more like 10+, over a wood smoke fire. I don't doubt New Bridge Cafe has excellent chow, but true BBQ is a special thing.

                            Down south if you say you are going to make barbecue and then say I am going to grill some burgers and tips and chicken, people will reply: "oh, you mean you are having a cookout." Implication being that a cookout is different then true BBQ.

                      2. It's sort of hard to skip the seafood, but East Coast Grill does a great job with their smoker. I particularly like the pulled pork and the burnt ends; I haven't had enough of their ribs to say how they stack up against Blue Ribbon et al. If you're really restrained and stick to a sandwich plate you can even eat pretty cheaply there, although I find it impossible to skip the tuna tacos, the oysters, the margaritas, etc., which do push the bill up from places that do strictly barbecue.

                        Also agree with the Uncle Pete's rec. And it needs to said once a year or so, the Village Smokehouse [edit: my original post incorrectly called it the "Brookline" Smokehouse] is vile.

                        Oh, and what the heck is Murphy's Country Kitchen?!? Couldn't find anything about it in archives.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MichaelB

                          Agreed re: ECG. Totally respectable BBQ and sides.

                        2. Hmmm, sounds like a trip to Soul Fire might be in the cards....

                          MichaelB, Murphy's Country Kitchen is a tiny place a block or two east of the center of Hyde Park. It has maybe two or three tables, and features bbq/soul food. I haven't been there yet (we almost went last night, as I mentioned above), so I'm not sure exactly how good it is.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: hiddenboston

                            I'm trying to picture this place but can't. Is it on Hyde Park Ave. I assume? New? Where in relation to Ron's? Thanks.

                            1. re: Joanie

                              Joanie, it's at 10 Fairmount Avenue, just east of Hyde Park Ave.

                              If anyone gets over there, I'd love to hear how it is. Perhaps I'll head over for takeout one of these days and bring it to the Blue Hills or Stony Creek or someplace...

                          2. Did you try the Village Smokehouse in Brookline, near Brookline Village T-Stop? It is a decent BBQ joint!

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: coffee1004

                                What have you had there that you liked? I used to live a block away and after several horrible visits (horrible food; service was perfectly fine), I never went back. They served the single worst plate of pulled pork I've ever tried to eat -- tough, stringy shreds of dried-out pork in a gloppy sweet supermarket-quality sauce. Just hideous.

                              2. If you are up for a drive, the Memphis Roadhouse in North Attleboro is my favorite sit-down BBQ place. It's on Route 1, a couple of miles south of the Emerald Square Mall. Lots of tables with waitstaff, full bar (microbrew with your 'Q, yum), blues on the sound system. Excellent ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage, etc., smoked for 15-16 hours. Also has superb, but pricy, hand cut steaks (which they will allow you to grill yourself on the open wood fired pits), and seafood dishes such as catfish and grilled shrimp skewers for the non-carnivores.

                                1. I've seen the Memphis Roadhouse on my way back from Providence. Is it a chain? How long have they been there? Perhaps if I get to a PawSox game later in the month, I can check it out. Thanks!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                    Not a chain - this is the only location. Don't know how old they are, but I've been going for at least 6 or 7 years. Would be an easy drive from McCoy, but check hours first as I don't know what time they stop serving. You might have to stop on the way to the game, instead of afterwards, if it's a night game. If you go, be sure to have the chicken wings - they are positively addictive. I consider the BBQ to be second overall only to Blue Ribbon in the Boston area.

                                    1. re: groaker

                                      I tried Memphis Smokehouse about a month ago or so. Brisket was pretty good, ribs were OK, sides were very forgettable. It may well be the best in the immediate area, but for me it's just not as good as most of the usual Boston BBQ suspects. Though it is at least better than Linwood Grill and Village Smokehouse.

                                  2. Anyone tried Lester's in Burlington? His BBQ is some of the most authentic I've had since I moved north of the Mason-Dixon line (ok, ok, that was awhile ago). But I've been to many of the major hot spots in the South for pulled pork pilgrimages, and Lester's is pretty good for New England. If you're in Rowley, American BBQ is not bad. Not nearly in the same class as BR, ECG, Redbones, et al, but hey, we North Shore folks can't exist on roast beef sandwiches and clams alone. (Warning: their collards are flavored with pepperoni. They actually taste decent, albeit a bit odd; maybe it's their version of fusion cuisine!) I hear that a new place in Canton, Spitfire's, is great, although I haven't eaten there yet. And Memphis BBQ in Attleboro is definitely worth the drive, although I'd recommend eating there at peak dining times. If you're there mid-afternoon, you might get a plateful of the "dry-hards".

                                    1. Memphis Roadhouse in North Attleboro gets my vote. I like it better than Redbones or Fireflys. The atmosphere is red checkered tablecloths and booths, and the kitchen is "open" so that you can watch all the goings on! The service is not always the best,it can be a bit rushed, but I like the carolina pulled pork and the brisket which is always tender. Another favorite is the baked potato which is stuffed and topped with pulled pork! The Texas sausages are delicious as well! I'm not much of one for ribs so I can't say much other than they really looked good!

                                      1. Redbones in Somerville. Even my veggie roommate likes eating there.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: FoodFemme

                                          Not a strong endorsement for a bbq place..:)

                                        2. I disagree with what people think of village smokehouse. Their bbq is similar to Texas bbq, not memphis, and that is what they claim. I work near there and know that they do bbq all day (you can smell it in the morning).

                                          OHHH, and I don't like Blue Ribbon. They claim silly things that just are not southern or BBQ like. First of all they don't fry anything: that's just pompus and ridiculous! And, they had something on the menu called texas okra, and it wasn't fried!!!!! In 15 years of living in Texas, I was never served any okra that wasn't fried unless it was in Gumbo. Their sauces have too much sugar in them and the iced tea isn't good either.

                                          1. Soul Fire is my new Go To place for BBQ. The ribs have been incredible each time and the sauce station is great. Sides I rec are Potatoe salad, collard greens and beans. Mac and cheese just ok.Pulled pork sandwich was excellent. I have been forced however to get takeout on each visit. No beer licence yet but I am told it is in the works. I like to wash my bbq down with a couple cold ones.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Northstar22

                                              I'll have to give it another try. The one time I went the ribs (baby backs) were dry and a bit chewy, brisket tender but bland, and the sides so-so except for the very good collards.

                                            2. Well, I acknowledge that I am no BBQ expert, but I really enjoyed eating at Redbones last night. We started with the superb Buffalo Shrimp. DH had the baby back ribs and was was willing to part with one rib, which was luscious. I had the fried catfish sandwich, also very good. Washed down with good margaritas.

                                              1. The Linwood Grill and BBQ, in my opinion, has excellent BBQ -- especially pulled pork. Also nice array of grilled fish items for the non-meat eaters, great sides, and top-notch beer list.

                                                It is a bit tough to find about 3 blocks from Fenway Park down some side streets and don't go into the dive bar under the same name next door unless you're looking for midafternoon drunks or serious midnight local music.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: redredwine

                                                  That bar is so renovated, I'm surprised you're referring to it as a dive. You should have seen it a couple years ago. And the local music is cut back too.

                                                2. wow... been to linwood before, thought it was completly horrible. tried some of what ev4eryone had, just to be sure. EVERYTHING was dry and stringy. the fried chicken was overcooked, and smothered with this pasty cream sauce(come on here, not everything has to have a sauce, especially not fried chicken), all the sides were tasteless, or mushy, or a plethora of other things, and it was some of the most horrible ribs i've had in my life....

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: ashwood

                                                    I've had some pretty bad ribs over the years and I won't say the ones at the linwood were the worst, but they were very very far from the best. I agree on the fried chicken. I used to like their grilled shrimp in debris sauce with texas toast but haven't been back in years.

                                                    1. re: ashwood

                                                      Also not a fan of the Linwood. Meats very dry and use the sauce as a crutch.

                                                      1. re: GaryLovesFood

                                                        OK, it is has been a few years since I went. I hardly thought it was awful then (I actually really did like it), but this is convincing me to stick to Blue Ribbon.

                                                        1. re: redredwine

                                                          I really like the Linwood. In fact, I've gone there during the summers for the past seven years and sat on the patio with a group of friends. I've had excellent pulled pork, chicken, and mac n cheese there. Also, the servers are excellent...funny and nice. I also enjoy the Village Smokehouse. The inside of the restaurant feels so warm from the giant fire. The meat is delicious, and the cornbread too.
                                                          I tried SoulFire twice. The meat is delicious, but the sides are pretty bland. I hate their mac n cheese. It is just pasta with a dot of cheese and a dab of crunchy stuff. Just my 2 cents.

                                                    2. Is it my imagination, or does it seem that, based on all the comments, there are many more bad BBQ places in the Boston area than good ones? After all these responses, I still don't know where to go! Perhaps I'll stick with Blue Ribbon (and get out to Firefly's one of these days).

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: hiddenboston

                                                        In my experience (I spent 6 years travelling extensively in the southern U.S. for work and sought out good BBQ wherever I went) good BBQ is hard to do period and hard to find North South East or West in the U.S. It takes many hours of conscientious attention and hard work. It is almost impossible to do in a chain restaurant environment. Bottom line to make good BBQ, the person making it really has to have some passion for the food.

                                                        Thus yes, there is much more mediocre BBQ then good. In beantown I like Blue Ribbon, ECG, and in all fairness I liked Firefly (a small chain) the one time I ate there. Pete's did not wow me the one time I went. Redbones is just barely passable. I avoid eating there if I can.

                                                      2. What about Mo's in Dorchester? He's on Geneva Avenue, and he has been hoping for a restaurant of his own for years. He and his family operate their pit out an open lot. The City of Boston has forced the buy to move his operation a couple of times in recent years.

                                                        Maybe that's what we'll do this weekend. I'll let you know how it is if we go.

                                                        But seriously, hounds, if you can trek down to Newmarket for Speed's, then how about checking out Mo's in Dot?

                                                        Also, if anyone has been, I'd love to know what you think.

                                                        Oh, yeah, I ate at the VS once years ago, and never went back.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: jdoherty

                                                          I think Mo's (M&M) did have a sit down restaurant years ago. I remember going in the mid-90's. I think it was called C-11 because it was in the old C-11 police station in Dorchester.

                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                            Beetlebug, that definitely rings a bell now that you mention it. So how was the q?

                                                            1. re: jdoherty

                                                              I haven't been in over 5 years. But I use to love M&Ms. I liked the truck much better than the restaurant. There was something about having ribs smoked in a giant garbage kettle that totally appealed to me. I always got the pork ribs but only have a hazy memory of the sides but I do remember the collards. One of the few places where I actually liked the collards (outside my own kitchen). I remember liking the sauce to the ribs and remember the meat being tender and flavorful. I'll have to take a trip out there before winter hits.

                                                          2. re: jdoherty

                                                            I tried M&M's ribs a few years ago. I didn't care for them, but seeing them again on the phantom lately made me wonder if I ordered wrong. For some unknown reason I think I got beef ribs. (The must have been out of the pork.) The sides look really good, especially greens, and the chicken too. Hm.

                                                          3. Talking about M&M's got me thinking about all the bbq/rib places I've seen scattered through Mattapan and Dorchester. I bet there are some that are really good, but I just don't know much about them. There's one on River Street in Mattapan (the name escapes me) that always has lots of people coming in and out of it whenever I go by it.

                                                            I wish M&M's had longer hours, as I am almost never in the area during the day...actually, what are their hours? Perhaps I can get there on a Saturday or Sunday.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: hiddenboston

                                                              There used to be a guy who smoked and grilled his own excellent pork ribs during the summer months in JP, right around the corner from JJ Foley's Fireside Tavern. I haven't seen him this summer though. Wonder if he got shut-down due to zoning or licensing laws.

                                                              BTW, M&Ms pork ribs are tasty, but Mo's a tad heavy-handed with the sauce.