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Dec 29, 2009 05:46 AM

Chowfind: Hog Tails BarBQue in Waterloo

Traditionally, barbeque joints are located on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, distinguished by restricted hours, a few picnic tables, and a steady stream of customers. The closest we've had to that around Toronto is Buster Rhino's, open only Monday-Friday, with its back to the street in a crummy industrial mall south of Whitby.

Hog Tails BarBQue opened in September in a half-empty retail strip plaza about two miles northwest of the University of Waterloo (or four miles southwest of St. Jacobs, via dirt roads). That makes it about a 90 minute drive from Toronto. The walls of the small restaurant are covered with the owners' pictures of southern U.S. barbeque places, taken on their epic motorcycle tour of discovery prior to opening their own place.

Two of us had lunch there about a week ago. The full meals include cornbread and choice of two sides. We had one meal of pulled pork, collard greens, and red beans with rice ($11.45), and another of half rack of ribs, sweet potato fries and coleslaw ($15.25). Both meats were covered in barbeque sauce. The large serving of pulled pork was very good, and very smoky. The side ribs were very meaty, and were cured almost like ham. The menu says they smoke the pulled pork for 14 hours and the ribs for 4 hours using hickory wood. All of the side dishes were excellent, particularly the collard greens.

I have had Buster Rhino's ribs several times in the past year, always without sauce. I like them a lot, but lately I've thought they were a bit too salty and a bit too dry (I know, put some sauce on them). The Hog Tails ribs are very different in taste and texture, and I look forward to reading people's comparisons. The place is definitely worth a visit if you're anywhere nearby.

Hog Tails is open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. The web site is

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  1. Hey.

    Thanks for that! Will have to check it out. I go back once a week to visit family, but rarely eat while there. Having grown up there, I've had my fill of schnitzel and bad pub food.

    Looking forward to trying this later this week!

    1. I am bumping up a really old thread but curious if anyone has been there lately and if it is still good? I see that they are the ones doing the BBQ for one of the events at Stratford Savour :

      7 Replies
      1. re: ylsf

        The short answer is that the food is about the same as it was three years ago, which in this case is a good thing. I've had their food about 4 times since I wrote the original post, and Buster Rhino's maybe 15 times (I live in Durham region, so Buster's is much closer). If both those places were side by side, I would get Hog Tails tonight, and leave Buster's for next time.

        1. re: jjmellon

          Great thanks,
          Their menu looks really interesting. I think I will make a trip down there at some point...

          Have you ever tried their sister restaurant, The Lancaster house:

          1. re: ylsf

            The Lancaster is bigger and has live entertainment, but the kitchen can be quite overwhelmed at times, and waits can be 1 hour +. Still, good BBQ.

            Hogtails used to be a crazy wait (only about 10 tables?) but the opening of the Lancaster seems to have changed that. Nice and relaxed now, and the food is outstanding. I know Camp 31 gets a lot of love on this board, but I can get to either quite easily (work in Cambridge) and my choice would always be Hogtails. Not a huge fan of their ribs (good, not great IMO) but great pulled pork, brisket, chicken and sides (Unfortunately they took the crawfish out of the Mac n' cheese - too expensive?). Certainly comparable (or better) than anything I have tried in T.O. (but in fairness, have never made it out east to Buster's) Also, a little "nawlins" thing going on as well with PoBoys (shrimp, oyster, catfish and an amazing Roast Beef DEBRIS)
            Enjoy your trip (and don't tell too many others.LOL.)

            1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

              I have been a few times and enjoyed the brisket, ribs, wings, cale, Caesar salad.

        2. re: ylsf

          Having moved from Whitby (and giving up Buster's), I've found that HogTail's satisfies my craving for excellent brisket rather perfectly.

          I've had the hush puppies at both Buster's & HogTails, and the latter wins the contest hand's down. They are crispier and have some jalapeno in them (i think it's jalapeno?)....simply divine.

          Collard greens are also a favourite.

          The other honourable mention for BBQ in KW would be Smokin Tony's. Also very good, but much, much busier. The brisket is smokier @ Tony's, but I find that it's more tender @ HogTails.

          1. re: munkdogg

            Munk... I thought Hush puppies were supposed to have Jalapeno in them.

            Re: smokin' Tony's, I found their meat covered (tossed) in sauce... no opportunty to taste/smell the smoke or visibly see any smoke ring. All I could taste was sauce, and the consistency was mushy. One of the things I like about Hogtails is how they use sauce sparingly and allow the flavour of the smoke to come through. You can always add your own sauce at the table! Have to admit, though Smokin' Tony's grills one heck of a footlong dog.
            BTW... a new BBQ spot has opened recently on Highland Rd. in Kitchener: S.Ont. Smoked BBQ. Tried the pulled pork (good) and they smoke some nice back bacon. They also sell a smoked Nathan's hotdog there, but I have yet to try it.

            1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

              This could be true, I am not sure.

              They are great, that's all I know :)