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Oct 9, 2007 11:01 AM

Charcoal grill in Boston?

Hey Boston chowhounds--

I just moved to London after being in Boston for six years. I keep finding restaurants in London that have real charcoal grills. It makes me wonder if we have any in Boston. For some reason all this time I thought you couldn't use charcoal in doors. Am I totally out of my mind? Please tell me if there are charcoal spots in Boston (or around it) that I was totally clueless about all these years

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  1. Some Brazilian churrascarias use charcoal, while others use gas, it depends a lot on local regulations. When I review a Brazilian restaurant, I try to use my best guess, but some that definitely use charcoal are Midwest Grill in Cambridge, Gauchao and Churrasco Grill in Cambridge.

    The old Atasca used to charcoal grill sardines in the windows, but I think O Cantinho uses gas.

    East Coast Grill in Cambridge uses both wood and charcoal. I believe the Blue Room does the same indoors (they used to) and they have a lunch grill while the weather is still good.

    El Chalan in East Boston has charcoal-grilled rotisserie chicken, make sure you eat it with their aji sauce.

    I believe there are charcoal Indian Tandoors, but do not have a handle on which ones.

    1 Reply
    1. re: itaunas

      Wow--all the time I was eating at those places I thought they couldn't use charcoal. Thanks for the 411 itaunas

    2. i hope no gets the wrong idea about this post

      the restaurants use heavy duty vent and exhaust systems not avail in your home
      while it is safe for them to use it in a comercial location it is Not save or legal to use in a residential place

      3 Replies
      1. re: foodperv

        Good call on posting the warning foodperv. Does anyone know which parts of Boston-area have regulations which allow charcoal use in restaurants and which don't? It seems like a lot of the restaurants which use charcoal are in Cambridge.

        1. re: lowandslow

          Its not simply ventilation, but also fire suppression systems etc. However, there are municipalities that will issue permits to install restaurant stoves (which have different clearances from residential equipment) as well as wood burning ovens, and are even smokers designed for inside residential use. In any case, MA requires CO detectors which are most important and avoiding doing anything stupid with burning organic materials comes next.

          What towns permit restaurants to do varies widely, including wood-burning ovens (Bertucci's has converted a number of wood burning ovens to gas, whereas American Flatbread has installed a wood oven in Burlington). Some towns will only allow a pre-fab oven (may require UL, ETL, NSF etc) whereas others might allow a hand-built brazilian churrasqueira or italian wood burning oven. There are a number of pit smokers but some may be gas fired, electric. Other towns may have issues related to air quality (coal pizza ovens are grandfathered in Manhattan, but I don't believe you can build a new one).

          It is more than Cambridge (several were in Somerville, El Chalan is in East Boston, Everett has Sal e Brasa, Allston has Cafe Belo, etc). However, I think the only way to get a comprehensive list is piecing it together via reporting from hounds and other sources.

      2. I suspect the grill they use at the Paramount on Charles St. is a charcoal grill, anyway, it cooks a good burger.

        1. Tremont 647 has both wood and charcoal, as well as their own smoker. On a cold day, the smell of the wood wafting into the dining room is wonderful, although it's not so wonderful the next day when the smell is still in your clothes.