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Where to buy good hardwood charcoal (Belmont/Arlington/Watertown vicinity)

I used to get my supply of hardwood charcoal (not briquets, lump charcoal) at Russo's. They had a variety of brands over time, always at a good price. Now they seemed to have stopped carrying any. I need another source! There's always the Barbecue Barn in Arlington, but you pay full price there. Perhaps some Hounds know of other sources. Someplace near Belmont would be very nice but anyplace near or inside route 128 between the Mass Pike and I-93 would be fine.

Yes, I know Whole Foods sells charcoal, as does Trader Joes. TJ's sells Cowboy brand, which I have used only as a last resort. It burns very quickly. According to a website that reviews charcoal by brand, WF Charcoal is actually Cowboy. So while those sources are convenient, I am hoping to find something better.

TIA

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  1. The best charcoal I have ever used is Wicked Good charcoal.
    Better than anything else I have ever used, by far, but it's kind of expensive, if you're used to buying Cowboy. I think its worth the money considering the size of the pieces.
    I believe it is available at Whole Foods in Cambridge. I know Milton market carries it.
    I order mine online at www.wickedgoodcharcoal.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: janzy

      Just noticed that Whole Foods at Fresh Pond carries Wicked Good, but at a whopping $18.95 for a 22 pound bag.

      1. re: samovar32

        Thanks for the pointer. The price is not that bad compared to places like Wilson Farms, which sells Mali's for $9.95 for a a bag less than half the size (8.8 pounds, if memory serves).

    2. Arax in Watertown always has good lump charcoal.

      4 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy

        Arax carries Royal Oak lump, which is very good. I've also bought RO lump at Martignetti's on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, but now that I think of it, I didn't see any when I was just there a couple hours ago.

        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          Ive also bought Royal Oak lump at Brookline Ice and Coal, agree it is a quality product. Cowboy is the worst!

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            Arax actually mixes it up. Can't remember the names, but at times seen 2 or three different kinds simultaneously.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              Made a special trip to Arax today and all they had was Cowboy. :-(

          2. Market Basket has had Royal Oak this year.

            2 Replies
            1. re: DTHEASH1

              I saw Royal Oak at the Reading MB the last time I was there, but it was briquettes, not lump charcoal. I am looking for lump charcoal, not briquettes. Thanks, anyway, for the helpful thought!

              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                Look more closely. Reading MB has had both for the last three months. The briquettes are displayed on the floor, but if you check the isle you will find briquettes and lump. As usual with MB, the price is reasonable.

            2. if you want to come out a bit more then i'd highly reccommend Brookline Ice and Coal.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ScubaSteve

                I've always shied away from voyaging to BI&C on the grounds that parking anywhere near it certainly must be a Big Problem. Am I wrong about that?

                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                  i used to just pull into their yard.

                  but then again my usual oprder was 20 bags of lump charcoal and 150# of chunk hardwoods, which would last me the whole summer.

                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                    There are meters all along the street near there

                2. BBQ Barn in Arlington. http://www.bbqbarn.com/ I haven't been there in years so I can't say what kinds they have right now, but you can give them a call. I've also gotten some at DeMoulas in Union Square, Somerville.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mrgeocool

                    $19.95 for an 18 lb bag of Basque at BBQ Barn.

                  2. Just called Brookline Ice & Coal and they also only carry Cowboy....

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: samovar32

                      I was at Wilson Farm yesterday and remembered that in the past they had Royal Oak. No such luck. I wonder if there is some wierdness going on in the lump charcoal business? However they did have some bags that looked like Cowboy charcoal at first glance, but were actually a brand I had not heard of before, Mali's. This website, which even has a picture of the bag, likes it pretty well. I might just try a bag if nothing better turns up.

                      http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpdatabase...

                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                        Can't be that hard to lay hands on Royal Oak: I saw hundreds of bags of Royal Oak lump at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Chicopee over the weekend.

                    2. Just about any Brazilian butcher and most stores will carry large bags of hardwood charcoal. In the past it was imported directly from Brazil and mostly eucalyptus, but more recently its been Royal Oak (which comes from Paraguay) and another brand with very similar packaging. Although there are a bunch of Brazilians in Watertown/Waltham, your specified towns don't have much in the way of butchers. Via Latina on Main Street in Waltham probably has something at a bit of a premium, but you would be much better to head into Somerville. Mundial Market is just outside Porter Square on Somerville Ave, there is Armazen on Medford Street in Magoun Square... BBQ Barn is fun to see their new display showroom, but very overpriced. Hardware stores sometimes have royal oak, but cowboy is more common -- Shattuck has cowboy and Royal Oak Briquettes. Hillside might have Royal Oak, I thought the Lexington True Value used to have it (a long time), but would have to call. I have only seen the briquettes at Somerville MB, but Chelsea had the hardwood.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: itaunas

                        Thanks for the Via Latina heads up - they had a bunch of Royal Oak 17 lb bags for about $13 (marked as a special). Russo's did have some spendy stuff, around $10 for a 8.5 lb bag - it was stacked up in a corner outside under the canopy.

                        1. re: xcernfsi

                          The Royal Oak at Via Latina is from Paraguay, which is reputed to be sparkier than US-sourced Royal Oak, but I bought a bag to try. Certainly one of the better deals for non-Cowboy lump in the area.

                          1. re: samovar32

                            Wow, this Paraguay Royal Oak does indeed spark WILDLY when first starting up.

                        2. re: itaunas

                          Called Hillside. They have something called Natural Hardwood Lump (not listed in the Nakedwhiz review db); $25 for a 20 lb bag.

                        3. Check your local HOME DEPOT, the ones in NY have hardwood and charcoal.

                          1. Somewhat out of the way, but on topic - Gary's Liquors on the VFW Parkway had a brand of hardwood charcoal that I'm not familiar with. It's called Basques
                            http://www.basquescharcoal.com/bbq.htm
                            Sorry, I didn't get the price, but the bags were big!

                            -----
                            Gary's Discount Liquors
                            655 Vfw Pkwy, Chestnut Hill, MA

                            1. Brookline Ice & Coal does keep the lot clear so customers can pull in to pick up whatever they need, so short term parking should not be a problem.