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Phil's Barbeque - Good Ribs

I've had a wicked craving for BBQ and since going to Kansas City is not in the cards, we went to Phil's -- I hadn't been in a looong while.

Gotta say, very pleasant surprise. The ribs were more tender than I expected, better than most of the ribs at the Burlington Ribfest. And I really liked the (regular) sauce, it wasn't too sweet.

The beans were amazing! Big chunks of meat in them too.

We also had the chicken and the pulled pork -- for BBQ chicken the chicken was pretty good, but really, ordering chicken at a BBQ place is a waste of bites. We were a bit bummed with the pulled pork, this is usually our favourite, and it wasn't quite brilliant. Also, didn't so much love the coleslaw -- that was too sweet and too watery.

We'll definately go back for ribs & beans. (now if they would only make burnt ends, I'd be over the moon)

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  1. im really not a beans person at all.. any idea if they have any other sides like fries or anythign they will sub for it?

    5 Replies
    1. re: hungryabbey

      yeah, they have fries (they're moderately chunky, not thin) and potato salad (which has horseradish in it). They also have hush puppies.

      1. re: hungryabbey

        Definitely try the cachapas (corn pancake with cheese) if it's still on the menu! I don't care for their other sides. Beans were amazing first visit and ho-hum the second visit.

        1. re: Food Tourist

          mm that sound good. is the cheese like melted on top?
          also, this is stupid i know, but what exactly are hush puppies?

      2. I haven't been to Phil's since before Dipamo's (which closed last year) opened up on Eglinton . It's probably time for a visit. From what I understand, Phil was forced to give up the Dipamo's name, which he started out with.

        8 Replies
        1. re: FlavoursGal

          Yes, Phil's was originally Dipamo's. I think it's his nickname. He got into a franchising deal with a couple of hotshot restaurant consultants. The place on Eglinton was, in some ways, better than Phil's own place. They had a greatly expanded menu and more finesse.

          But Eglinton strayed far from the original concept and into a much higher price category. When they first opened, they were serving free seltzer of all things, and bargain Dom Perignon. It may have suited the Forest Hill neighbourhood, but it was a very different kind of place.

          I don't know what happened, but there was a very acrimonious breakup and Phil lost the right to use his own name. He was never willing to talk about it. He was lucky, though, because most people who find themselves in that kind of situation usually lose their livelihood, and Phil got to keep his original place.

          I always found the owners of the Eglinton Dipamo's to be pretentious, and it never had the welcome that Phil and his wife provided. But it did have one very important menu item, beef ribs, that Phil, for reasons unknown to me, refuses to serve.

          1. re: embee

            pulled pork and ribs failing in forest hill? hmmm...how could this happen?


            1. re: embee

              Those beef ribs were the only reason we ever ate at Dipamo's on Eglinton. It certainly wasn't for the atmosphere. And I never could figure out the free fudge-sicles on the way out.

              1. re: embee

                It was a very different kind of place! But to me it had a total wanna-be chain feel - the decor and the look of the menu - without the menu diversity (hey I love red meat, and even greasy sides once in a while, but I would never have brought a group with any diversity in diet to that place). Also their attempt at being Southern was sad. I think it probably just confused people who would rather have been at Montana's.

                1. re: julesrules

                  They did want to be a chain. They even had info on their website about how to partner with them and the types of locations they wanted. It seems that nobody ever bit. If anyone had been interested, I suspect that one call to Phil for a reference would have undone any potential deal

                  I disagree about the menu diversity, though. They had much more than red meat at Eglinton. While it wasn't optimized for a veggie, it would also have been possible to make a reasonable (if not exactly wonderful) meal out of the sides.

                  1. re: embee

                    Yes, later in their existence, the menu was expanded considerably. They offered salmon, shrimp, and veggie burgers, I believe, and main course salads, as well.

              2. re: FlavoursGal

                Dipamo's was nothing special. It survived on yuppy North Toronto families who were far from food lovers.

                Ive always thought Phil's was ok.I wouldn't rave about Phil's ribs even though I do think they are decent. Phil's merely accentuates what a dearth of quality bbq joints Toronto has.

                1. re: 88GK

                  Agreed Dipamo's on Eg wasn't special, and what they did to Phil (the "real" Dipamo) personally was awful. But Dipamo's on Eg had a wider variety of food that was often better and more consistent than what Phil was serving. On a good day, their beef ribs (which Phil wouldn't serve), cornbread, and onion strings were special. There just weren't enough good days.

                  Phil had real BBQ passion when he first opened, but his place is just another restaurant these days. The food he serves now is sometimes okay, but often badly cooked and served. And he still claims he "can't get" beef ribs, which is absurd.

              3. I watched the Restaurant Makeover episode on Phil's BBQ over the weekend. Funny I ate there a couple of months ago right after the renovation and it crossed my mind then that they must have been through a restaurant makeover. I don't remember seeing David Adjey's wacky BBQ sauce creations being on the menu though. I'm sure Phil is working on it. :-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: climacus

                  that's funny i just saw the same episode last night and i'm totally inspired to go back and have some bbq asap

                  1. re: dannyboy

                    We also saw the show. Never been to Phil's, but now I'm quite tempted to try it out.

                2. I haven't been there in a couple of years, but they did have burnt ends back then. It wasn't on the menu, but they had them if you asked.

                  1. Phil's is pretty accomdating with subsitutions; sides for sides and meat for meat. If I get the combo plate (ribs, brisket, chicken) I swap in pulled pork instead of the chicken. They are happy to sub the beans with fries or potato salad.

                    What else did David Adjey try to change on Phil's menu? I've been there since the makeover, nothing has changed on the menu.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cookiebaker

                      that's good to know about the substitutes, I will use that tip next time

                      AD's dishes were a dirty rice with shrimp, a grilled tilapia and something else.

                      1. re: cookiebaker

                        oh very good swap! see id really want to try the pulled pork more then the chicken too

                      2. Yes, and I'm sure he's going to serve seared ahi tuna and olive oil poached escolar at Phil's... as opposed to those other restaurants that clearly won't be able to serve such extravagances.

                        1. I posted this before but it was removed. Adjey first insulted Phil's dry rub, then proceeded to use it in every dish he "developed" for the restaurant. However, he put no effort into the dishes he was creating for the menu and admitted as much. If I was Phil I'd want some money back as part of the investment he makes financially is suposed to go towards the menu consultation from a 'top chef." Adjey made no effort and contributed nothing.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: jamesm

                            When will they learn that upscale bbq is an oxymoron. You'd have to be one to mess with loyal clientele like that. Gimme down-home. Now to make a complete liar outta myself, any chance Phil might consider going BYOW?

                            1. re: jamesm

                              I gather Lynn Crawford proposed a giant scallop & shrimp dish and a lobster roll for Reliable Fish & Chips. Sure...

                              (The owner did say that the dishes she created were delicious, but he obviously couldn't sell them.)

                              1. re: embee

                                We live just down the street from Reliable and I was curious what changes they would try to make. Lobster roll sounds great, but I love their fish & chips. I can't wait to see the show. I know the decor needed some improvement, so I'm wondering what the budget was - they couldn't have spent $30K. Now, if I weren't trying to lose a few pounds before my vacation, I might have those fish & chips .....

                                1. re: SusanB

                                  There have been no changes to the menu...none at all. He would have needed to sell her dishes for more than twenty bucks a plate. I feel Restaurant Makeover did a good job there. The changes were very small - it is still the same place, only nicer. I see people eating in now, which was rarely the case before.

                            2. Sounds mouth-watering. I love BBQ. I am new to Toronto, so I will check it out!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Mirra435

                                We went to Phil's this week for the first time in at least a year. We used to go quite frequently and loved it but just hadn't gotten around to going in a while. The cachapas and beans were still great but I didn't like the ribs. They were dry and just not lucious. I actually had ribs in Chicago recently at a place that was highly recommended that were quite similar so I'm guessing it's a style that I just don't like. Has Phil changed his style or something? I can't say what the difference is but I certainly know I used to love his ribs. And the prices have gone up a lot.

                                And I hated the decor. Those birch logs are tragic.

                                1. re: crawfish

                                  I was at Phil's for dinner on Friday. I agree with you on the new decor. The logs are laughable.

                                  On the other hand, the food is still as good as ever. In fact, the menu is almost identical to when they first opened, in '98, I believe. Back then the small ribs plate was $8.99, it's now $14.99. It was a deal then, but probably overpriced now given the location and ambiance.

                                  The prices don't seem to have hurt business, as by 7PM there was a line up quite a ways down College Street. I'm glad to see this place a success. It is a one of a kind in Toronto. We could use more places with their food integrity.

                                  Phils' will remain one of my regular pig out spots.

                                  1. re: Moorepark

                                    Thinking of trying Phil's for the first time tonight. Is the BBQ combo for $23 just for one person? We both have hearty appetities and I think it's a bit pricey if we both ordered one each. I called them this morning and they suggested ordering one each! Also, how are the portions and are the ribs really that dry?

                                    1. re: red dragon

                                      Portions are big and ordering the combo platter each might be a bit much. unless you are indeed a true southerner.

                                      I've found the last time I went to Phil's, it wasn't nearly as good as the previous times i've been. The brisket was 'okay'. I almost felt that it was oven braised as opposed to slow cooked in a smoker.

                                      I do have to say though that the pulled pork was on point. Juicy and super tender.

                                      1. re: red dragon

                                        Probably a little late for you but I had Phil's ribs the other night and I quite enjoyed them. I've had them before but this was the best yet. The side ribs didn't seem to be as gristly and fatty as previous. Also, I really like their baked beans - nice smokey flavour. I will definitely return.

                                        1. re: Aardvark

                                          We tried Phil's last week after reading about them here.

                                          Had the ribs, brisket and the pulled pork. We were very under-whelmed. The meat was moist enough, but lacked flavour. One would expect better, especially for the prices they charge. We won't be going back.

                                2. I don't like Phil's for a few reasons. He either does not prepare the meat properly, smoke long enough or uses the wrong wood because the closest I have seen a smoke ring at Phil's was the dude outside the store smoking a cigarette. I know there are alot of rave reviews for his beans, but they are only canned beans which he adds meat chunks and some spices. I find his pulled pork shredded too much and very dry.His sauces are too sweet for me but that is K.C. style so I can't fault him. If there are more than 3 tables occupied, the service suffers. T.O. really needs a good bbq joint but Phils is not it.

                                  1. My husband LOVES the pulled pork and beef brisket at Phil's, and both of us agree that the ribs are usually not worth the money - lately they are dry and not very meaty.

                                    I am not as much of a fan, I would rather go for Chinese BBQ!

                                    I do find that the smokiness of the meat seems to vary from visit to visit.

                                    Based on the listing in Toronto Life Take Out edition we tried Memphis BBQ and Wicked Wings in Woodbridge and were VERY disappointed... even I thought Phil's was much better.

                                    Weird thing is, both the beans and ribs don't seem as good since the Restaurant Makeover renovation... it might be psychological, but maybe because of the boost in business things are getting rushed? Maybe because of having to cover the cost of the makeover they are cutting on quality?

                                    The one thing that the place in Woodbridge had that Phil's doesn't and should add to the menu is CORNBREAD! Maybe even a Jalapeno Cornbread? That is what I will be making for my hubby to go along with the takeout from Phil's for when he returns home from his trip overseas.