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Best Barbecue in Vancouver?

I know everyone has a different idea of what "authentic" barbecue is, but how about some nominations for a New Mexico girl?

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  1. The best BBQ in Vancouver would be Chinese BBQ....but I'm sure you are looking for the Southern stuff. I don't have enough experience with the real deal to make recommendations...perhaps the Re-Up foodcart?

      1. re: waylman

        I checked it out this past week. They do Carolina-style BBQ -- dry-rub seasoning. The pork ribs and beef brisket were very good, as was the corn bread on the side. I was a little disappointed with the creamed corn (light on flavor) and baked beans (too thin for my taste). Nice, floury biscuits -- similar to what they serve over at Deacon's Corner (same owner). Decent mac & cheese as well.

        My main beef (pun slightly intended) was that the place is pretty small, so when they open their meat smoker (which is right in the restaurant), the entire place is overwhelmed with the smell of smoked meat -- and I really mean overwhelmed.

        1. re: JEheartbreak

          Forgot about Peckinpah ! So they're opened, huh ? Do they have cornbread ? Hush puppies ?

          Is Memphis Blues still on the "good BBQ" radar scope of Vancouver ? Seems the last couple times I been (2009, 2010) their portions got smaller but prices got higher, with no noticeable (to me) changes or innovations to their (now tired) menu. My $0.25 of course.

          1. re: LotusRapper

            I didn't realize Peckinpah was open either. I should check it out. Memphis Blues is just alright, but the BBQ aficionados I know tend to look down upon it....but Iike it once in a while. So YMMV.

          2. re: JEheartbreak

            More like Meh-kinpah.

            The buffalo ribs were so tough I had to send them back- the waitress saw me hewing away with my knife and suggested I give up. She brought beef ribs instead, which were much better but dry in texture as well.
            I get the dry BBQ thing, grew up with it summers in the southern U.S. Have never had such tough meat before... My feeling is that they're still getting the hang of the smoker/process & things will hopefully improve over time. Husband's beef brisket brought raves from him.

            Cornbread is bland, dry and flavourless. Ditto the beans- echo the 'thin' sentiment. Staff was very obliging and the space was pleasant. I'm not too interested in going back though.

            1. re: majordomo

              I actually didn't find the cornbread too dry. In fact, my ex-wife from Alabama would have said it was too moist -- she's a firm believer in cornbread needing to be dry as the desert, which I always thought was weird.

              1. re: majordomo

                I went recently and ordered the beef ribs; they weren't dry at all, and were actually quite juicy, but a bit too fatty. While I did enjoy them initially I found them a bit too rich as the meal when on.

                My sis had the wings which were really dry and sort of awful, my mom had mediocre mac and cheese, and my gf had the brisket sandwich which was definitely the standout dish -- the brisket had just enough fat to make it tender and was really nicely smoked.

                The corn bread and creamed corn were both extremely disappointing, but the fries were great.

                Despite the many shortcomings I would return and only order brisket as I really love the stuff and don't often have the chance to eat it anywhere else. The place is very hip and like many establishments that are hip, the food seems to come second to ambiance and aesthetic.

                On a side note -- I stopped at the Campfire BBQ place in Squamish en route to whistler and found it absolutely revolting. We bought brisket, mac'n'cheese, corn muffins, beans, and coleslaw and we actually threw it all away. Even the soft white rolls which came w/the brisket were awful. I don't know who said that place is good, but my experience was terrible. I am not sure that the brisket was even smoked -- they filled an aluminum dish with shredded grey meat with no pink hue or smoke flavour (or any flavour whatsoever).

                BBQ is soooooo easy to cook well and I just can't understand why people always seem to fudge it up.

                1. re: brokentelephone

                  I now would agree with "Meh-inpah"

                  Went there with a friend for lunch yesterday. Place was empty at 12:15pm. Bad omen. Scanned the menu, I ordered the combo that had brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs, with cornbread, and two sides of collard greens and hush puppies. Friend had just brisket platter with collard greens, potato salad and cornbread.

                  My brisket slices was fairly tender but the ends were dry. Friend's brisket slices were all dry. We looked at it and it looked like sliced lean roast beef than brisket. And the rub ..... no taste. My pulled pork was not bad. But the pork ribs were dry dry dry, again no flavour. Cornbread (like a big cornbread muffin) and the greens were decent enough, perhaps the highlight of my lunch as the hush puppies were, again, lacking in taste and fairly mealy dry.

                  At 1/2 their stated prices perhaps some of these flaws would be more forgivable, but my combo being $22, I have no immediate plans of returning.

          3. I'm from the south, born and raised in Oklahoma. Lived in Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana and had barbecue all over and I must say, Memphis Blues is a big disappointment. I ate at the one on Commercial and the staff were rude, the food was mediocre at best, the portions small, the prices outrageous and the restaurant was not clean. If you want barbecue, do not go there.

            That said, I'm still looking for good barbecue in Vancouver.

            5 Replies
            1. re: pjq

              If i'm hungry, then MB is okay ... but I concur (with the Broadway location) assessment that the menu is tired, the location is small and uncomfortable and the whole serve yourself thing only works because the place was packed when I was there last.

              I mean, it works for the restaurant and servers, felt kind of strange to me but i got used to it.

              I had some good BBQ out in Langley, of all places, at a place called Ozarks Famous BBQ


              I had their 5 dollar lunch special which was a pulled pork sandwich, slaw, beans and fries. Water was fine for me.

              It was very good and for 5 bucks it was good value. I'll go back, probably for their all you can eat ribs special to check it out.

              I know it's not Vancouver ... but it's "only" 40-45 mins away.

              1. re: bill_n_opus

                Thanks for the Langley tip. Considering that I would travel a couple of thousand miles for real Texas BBQ, Langley is no big deal. Vancouver is very weak for southern BBQ, and unless there is some great place hiding away, right now Memphis Blues is the best we've got. I've not had any bad experiences, but I also haven't been there in about a year. Has it really gone downhill? That would be a shame. My only wish is that they would put fried okra on the menu. Miss that big time.

                1. re: bill_n_opus

                  Frankly unless MB undergoes some radical change (menu, prices, proprietors), I'm in no big hurry to go back. Not trying to sound jaded, but like many once-successful restaurants (and other types of businesses) in Vancouver, they start out serious, then after a few years just end up on autopilot. Quality wanes, prices go up, and menu begins to stale, and stale.

                  Thanks for the tip on Ozark's, Bill n' Opus. Langley is not all that far, certainly closer than the real Ozark Mtns ;-)

                  Migz I've heard good things about even though I've never been. Their predecessor was a place called Fatzo's (same owner ?) which had ok BBQ but service was inconsistent and the owner a bit quirky.

                  Peckinpah could (and hopefully) begin some kind of southern/BBQ renaissance in Vancouver if they are (and stay) as good as initial reports. Like good Mexican/Latin American cuisine, Vancouver is just starting on that journey, so I'm really hoping good southern cooking is next.

                  There was an earlier thread where I asked about that southern place in Marpole which closed many years ago (still forget their name). Rumor has it the cook is now doing P/T work at that Jamaican place on E. 15th/Fraser, just west of Les Faux Bourgeois. His cooking wasn't 5 star but it had heart !

                  1. re: LotusRapper

                    I think you are thinging of Big Al. He used to have a place downtown but now just does catering and maybe works at the Lion Restaurant. Used to love his fried chicken but never had his ribs. http://bigalsoulfood.com/

              2. You might also phone to see if Boonie's in Langley is still open - I'm getting mixed info there. It runs out of the Quality Inn near 64th Ave & 200 in Langley. I also could've sworn I saw a place as I zipped down the Millenium Line. Can't recall where though..bah

                2 Replies
                1. re: deworde

                  Boonie's, evidently, was very good back in the day at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds ... brother-in-law thought it was really good. They've moved in the last couple of years iirc and i've heard mixed things ... but that's hearsay so I shouldn't talk more without actually trying it out for myself.

                  Oh yeah, word to those trying out Ozarks ... it's got a restaurantish-pub like feel. Perhaps not as much as a southern-style joint. I wouldn't know for sure since i've never been to a US bbq joint ... only judging what i've seen on the Food Network!

                  1. re: deworde

                    Boonie's restaurant is no more. As with what occurs sometimes, greedy bastards at the Quality Inn basically took Boonie and his wife and drove them out of their business. When Boonie cooked up soul food, he literally put his soul into the food he prepared. He has a huge following from his days in Cloverdale and they followed him to the Quality Inn. His closing had nothing to do with lack of support but rather what happens when someone literally kills the goose that's laying the golden eggs.

                  2. Re up BBQ is also very good, best pulled pork in Canada says my boyfriends father. It is very good though I have never had their ribs. They have a couple street carts around the city.

                    Apparently they are trying out bacon and did smoked turkeys for delivery at Christmas.


                    1. If you're ever in Whistler give BBQ Bobs a go. They're located in Creekside by Nita Lake Lodge.

                      Creekside Restaurant
                      4087 Squilax Anglemont, Celista, BC V0E, CA

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: DutchieD

                        There is also a great bbq place in Squamish called the Campfire Grill. Everything is homemade and from scratch and tastes that way. I probably like the ribs best, but the pulled pork and brisket are good, too. As for sides - I'd recommend the Waldorf salad with freshly grated orange zest or the potato salad is also great. It's a little hard to find - it is outside right next to a camp ground - but the website is http://www.thecampfiregrill.ca/.

                        1. re: kejsphs

                          I have to agree with you on the Campfire Grill - I'd argue it's the best in Southern BC.

                          1. re: radar75

                            Heading to Whistler in a few weeks and will definitely try it on the way up....i'll apologize to Wendy's as I drive by!

                            1. re: brokentelephone

                              I posted above, but just wanted to say I had a really awful meal at Campfire Grill....

                              1. re: brokentelephone

                                What happened? "Awful meal" is pretty rough sounding.

                                1. re: bill_n_opus

                                  Scroll up and see my review -- threw out the meal in the garbage!

                      2. -1 for peckinpah for me.
                        -2 for memphis(errr they reheat via microwave)

                        anyone tried the burnt ends at Hogshack in Steveston?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: betterthanbourdain

                          Finally made it to Peckinpah last night. We had wings, brisket, pulled pork, back ribs, sausage, chili, baked beans, coleslaw, southern greens, corn on the cob, macaroni, potato salad, fries, hush puppies and (oddly) guacamole. This is apparently northeastern Carolina style bbq, which was most definitely to my taste. I would order all of the meats again with the exception of the pulled pork. While it was the best tasting pulled pork I've tried (alas, I've never been anywhere in the States where I could try the real thing), I found it too fatty.

                          I liked that there was NO sauce on any of the meat (there was sauce on the table you could add). I am not a fan of any "bbq" sauce I've ever tried that was applied directly to the meat. I want to taste the meat, which I really did here. I loved the wings, and I couldn't stop eating the brisket. I believe I now understand the term meat sweats :-). The ribs were also delectable, retaining their meaty goodness even when I abandoned a couple of them till they were room temp. And I liked the sausages a lot. I can't remember the last time I said that about this kind of sausage. Well spiced and a toothsome texture.

                          While the meat was the star, the side dishes were an unexpectedly strong supporting cast. I'm used to them being an afterthought at places like Memphis. Here I really enjoyed all of them (well, I didn't try the corn on the cob or the guac). I probably wouldn't order the chili again, just because it had a slight sweetness to it that didn't appeal, and the coleslaw while tasty was not special. The rest were very good, with the standouts for me being the potato salad, the hush puppies and the fries, which were perfect. And they were even better with the Carolina style chile vinegar sauce :-).

                          I don't know if they've worked out the kinks since others on this thread went, or if we hit them on a "on" night, or if my tastes are just different but this was a topnotch spread. I'm already plotting to get takeaway from here...

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Great to hear this. I was at Peckinpah's a few weeks ago and I thought it was merely "OK."....but it could have been an off-night. Plus - the TVs there were blaring (loud!) one of the Canucks' losses to the Bruins. We had one of the platters (Bit of Pork n Beef, IIRC). I'll check it out again soon.

                            1. re: fmed

                              Yeah, we didn't have the beef ribs, so that's something to consider for takeout I guess.

                              Hoping to hit Hogshack tomorrow, though alas I don't think they're going to have the burnt ends available.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                Hogshack in Steveston was a BIG disapointment. Food was v. mediocre - makes "chain" BBQ joints in the US look good...

                            2. re: grayelf

                              Went to Peckinpah last week during the Jazz Fest. We had just eaten around the corner and just intended to grab some bourbon, but were lured into trying their BBQ sausage - ordered a half order + baked beans and coleslaw.

                              The sausage was incredible... thoroughly smoked, flavourful, and great texture - not at all fatty, but not dry either. Amazing. Felt like it was cooked over a campfire (I love strong smokey flavours). The coleslaw was crisp and shaved into fine threads of cabbage - refreshing and not sopping wet with dressing like most coleslaws are. As a side, I was happy. The baked beans were also a very pleasant surprise. I forget exactly how they were cooked, but they weren't runny or weak but thick flavourful beans with bits of smoked pork I'm guessing? Maybe even bits of cheese? Whatever - it doesn't matter, they were a hit.

                              The cornbread wasn't memorable, but I'd go back in a heartbeat to Peckinpah.

                          2. While not immediately in Vancouver, I thought given the lack of strong options in Vancouver itself I should mention Reverie BBQ in Mt. Vernon. It is located at 1300 South 2nd St. Details: http://www.reveriebbq.com/

                            I've been twice now and it was very good both times.

                            Popping in for lunch was a very pleasant surprise on my first visit. They offered a very reasonably priced lunch special ($5.99) which that day included a pulled pork sandwich with two sides. I picked a cup of clam chowder, and a piece of cornbread. I could have also had beans, slaw, potato salad, or green salad. It came together on one plate.

                            I've never had clam chowder with BBQ before. But when in the Pacific Northwest it somehow made sense. The chowder was nice and thick and loaded with potatoes and very fresh tasting clams. Sometimes New England style clam chowder can be too flour based to the point of being goopy. This was not the case here. Nicely balanced, just the right thickness, nicely seasoned, and loaded with goodies.

                            The cornbread was served warm, had the right amount of sweetness and saltiness, and was a generous chunk. It was served with a bottle of honey if you wanted to dip some sweetness. But it was plenty sweet and moist on its own.

                            The pulled pork was the best I have had within driving distance of Vancouver. By far. It had a nice smokey flavour, and clearly was properly smoked low and slow instead of the stovetop stewing version you find at so many places in this region. It was served without it being covered up by a sauce - so that you could truly appreciate the meat and then sauce it only as needed. The pork was very tender, properly seasoned, and clearly had been given a proper seasoning rub during the smoking process. Delicious.

                            On the second visit, the $5.99 lunch special was the BBQ brisket sandwich. I chose the soup and cornbread as my two sides. The brisket was just as good as the pulled pork had been on my first visit. It had a nice smokiness, a good bark, deep rich flavours, and was perfectly tender. Delicious.

                            The split pea soup was a thick, almost stew like, soup. It had good natural flavours, and nice chunks of carrots and celery. It was just a tad saltier than I would prefer - but still very very good.

                            My only wishes for this wonderful little spot, which would bring them up to 5 stars for me, are:

                            1) Sliced brisket. I know it is hard to do if there isn't high volume. But they seemed busy, and perhaps doing it as a special sometimes could work? I have a feeling based upon their smoking skills they could do a very good job at it.

                            2) Better sauces. The sauces were commercial. While good for commercial sauces, a little housemade secret sauce would elevate things even more.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: YVRChow

                              I'm from Vancouver so I should know this, but where in the F is Mt. Vernon?

                              Sounds too far

                              1. re: brokentelephone

                                It is across the border in WA. But not far at all.

                                1. re: YVRChow

                                  Surprisinly, I've met quite a few people who've never even "crossed the bridge" and the furthest east from Vancouver they've been is Burnaby or New West lol.

                                  In either case, one thing I'd like to share since I do quite a bit of BBQ'ing for work and in defense of some of our local BBQ joints...without going into details of what these restaurants use for their equipment, it would be unfair to say that they aren't smoking them, cooking in an oven, boiling their ribs, no smoke ring etc etc.

                                  There's a lot of misinformation for example as to what a smoke ring is. Some of these establishments could be using an electric smoker for example. Real wood chunks are used but an electric smoker (unless some tricks are used) will never produce a smoker ring. However, if too much wood is used in the hopper a product could easily be over smoked to the point of being inedible AND still have no smoke ring.

                                  Complaints that ribs aren't "fall off the bone" to "the ribs are obviously boiled or braised because they're fall off the bone" are complaints I see in reviews quite often. Ribs overcooked will produce "fall off the bone", and if overcooked further they will start to dry up. Ironically what some people think is also "overcooked" because the ribs are tough is because the ribs are undercooked.

                                  Same thing with brisket as its probably the toughest of all the BBQ meats to get right. If the brisket is tough and dry, there's a chance it wasn't cooked long enough. If you're a home BBQer you'd know that sticking a probe into the brisket should have little to no resistance. However, I've read many a recipe online on how one should pull a brisket off their smoker when it reaches 180-190 degrees. In my experience brisket at that temp especially 180 degrees will ALWAYS be tough due to the collagen not being broken down yet.

                                  Either way...most of our "BBQ" joints in Vancouver were opened by people who in my opinion probably do better BBQ at their own homes. Either that or they've stopped being put masters and have turned their cooking over to someone that doesn't really know what to do other than turn the dial and take out the meat based on the automatic set times.

                                  So where's the best BBQ in Vancouver? It's done by the BBQ caterers who don't own a restaurant. Brian Misko from House of Q just recently won his 2nd out of the 3 BBQ competitions in BC is one and Smoke n Bones out of North Vancouver is the other. Frankly, I will say my BBQ is also better than what's out there, but it's easy to say considering the most I've ever cooked for is 150 and not a daily operation.

                                  What I'd like to see one day is much like a lot of the BBQ joints are like in the US. Small joints opened and operated by our competitive BBQers who've won and placed in contests. However, unlike the US our restrictive laws here won't allow for a little roadside BBQ joint with a few picnic tables. So what happens? It's much cheaper to operate and make much much more money doing events and catering with a BBQ business in our part of the world.

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      Hi fmed, well I came out of lurking because these past few days I've been reading a lot of posts/reviews of BBQ joints in the US and Canada on yelp, chowhounds etc. I also stumbled on Ron's page http://barbecuesecrets.libsyn.com/ where he mentions a Toronto article basically saying that BBQ'ing is super easy to do etc. While on one level I believe it is well within every persons reach to do great BBQ at home, I also believe that it isn't as easy to maintain a consistent product all of the time. This is especially true of brisket.

                                      BBQ restaurants I believe are hard to run in Vancouver. Why? Because we have so much other food to choose from. Every BBQ restaurant in the lowermainland smokes their brisket and pork butts over night. In the mornings they'll probably do their ribs and chicken. In general my guess would be that the pulled pork and the brisket fresh out of the smoker will be pretty tasty. Where BBQ restaurants run into trouble here is they've got to hot hold it for so long. That's why pulled pork seems dry, or the brisket losses it's magical taste. Brisket especially if they've pre-sliced it. When I serve it up I'm serving as I'm slicing and no one complains about how dry it is.

                                      It's a tough one alright. I've talked to one owner of a Memphis Blues and he still cooks all the meat. His is the best of them all. I recently went to another one where only a few months ago they had a CL ad looking to hire a cook...see the difference? I had one of their platters the other day to have a friend try it out simply so he would know how much better mine was. The brisket to say the least didn't taste much at all like it had much of a smoke profile. It all made sense when I asked what smoking wood they used and the reply was they only use applewood for everything. That surprised me as beef needs a stronger bite than fruitwood. Keep this in mind that the smokers that are in Memphis Blues are the same smokers you've seen on many of the diners and dives shows too.

                                      Anyhow...I think the BBQ revolution and knowledge base that people will acquire will happen naturally as they start doing it themselves at home. That's how the competitive BBQ scene started out here in BC and as mentioned earlier is where the best Vancouver BBQ is from. However, at the end of the day it's whatever people think is good. It may not be the best...but if they've never tasted something different than there really isn't anything to compare it to. Cheers!

                                      1. re: fmed

                                        fmed, on the topic of Filipino BBQ lechon, I have info you may like and sent you a message on FB. Couldn't find an email day for you.

                                        1. re: Craft Service

                                          Hey CS, thanks! I didn't get the FB message. Look at my profile here on CH for an email address http://www.chow.com/profile/145820