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Must haves from Blackstrap and Sweet Cheeks BBQ

What are highlights from both spots and how do they stack up against each other?

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  1. blackstrap strategy.

    FRIED OR BBQ CHICKEN FAMILY 4 PACK!
    $19.99 before 6:00PM
    $24.99 after 6:00PM
    4lbs of Chicken cut into 8 pieces,
    2lbs Mashed Potatoes, Garden Salad,
    4 Biscuits + Gravy on the side

    go before six on wednesday.. monster deal. make cornbread at home.

    grab a side of collard greens and mac n' cheese@ 4.50 a pint and youre out for 30 bucks
    will feed six without a problem.

    1. I haven't been to Blackstrap yet. I went to Sweet Cheeks last night. I had the short rib tray, with mac 'n' cheese and the carrot raisin salad. I had a biscuit and a ginger beer. I was v. happy with the whole meal.

      1. Three out of four tries, the pork ribs at Blackstrap have been outstanding. The pulled pork has been spot on, too. I also enjoyed their new version of mac and cheese with smoked onions.

        Avoid the brisket, though. Maybe it just doesn't hold up to the thirty minute ride home, but it's been tough and dry twice.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bear

          Agree with you on the brisket - the only item I tried there whih was less than great. Nice folks there too!

        2. as an aside, my visit to sweet cheeks was very good but my dinner ALONE cost more than my recommended blackstrap strategy above.
          it is one of (if not THE) most expensive straight bbq places i have ever been in in my life.
          just so people are aware.

          19 Replies
          1. re: hyde

            I have not been yet. Leaving the prices aside, is it noticeably better than other decent BBQ joints around town?

            1. re: DoubleMan

              Define "around town". W/ the possible exception of the new place in JP I'd say "yes" if one was talking about the immediate Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area but "no" if meant "in the general area"

              1. re: jgg13

                Let's say within 15 mins of Boston (with no traffic) - so the region would include both Blue Ribbons. What joints do you think best Sweet Cheeks?

                1. re: DoubleMan

                  If Blackstrap counts that's the only one I'd definitely put in that category. Blue Ribbon I"d say it'd depend on your opinion of Blue Ribbon. Again, excepting the new place in JP (I've not been there) I can't think of anything else that close in that I'd prefer, speaking purely about teh food & ignoring cost.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    Wait, there's a new BBQ place in JP? Where? What's it called?

                    1. re: celeriac

                      Red eyed pig

                      1. re: jgg13

                        That's technically West Rox

                        1. re: L2k

                          Not even technically - heart of West Rox :)

                          1. re: L2k

                            Oops, for some reason I had it in my head that it was JP. I rarely leave camberville much less know anything about JP/Rox/Rosi :)

                2. re: DoubleMan

                  given this criteria, im not sure i will be able to answer to your satisfaction. as a capable home cook who does not take home a lot of money, price is always relevant to me.

                  to wit, the board love for neptune oyster is lost on me as the times i have been there an insufferable attitude coupled with tabs that steal half a weeks take home pay so color my experience there that i can not be objective about the food.
                  when a person at work described a roasted lobster dish at ICOB that sounded intriguing and then reported that it was "only 55 dollars", i burst out laughing. the next day (after a striperguy alert) i went with a friend to the 88 (or whatever it is being called now) and watched him buy TWO four+ pound lobsters for around 60USD.

                  have you seen a 4 pound lobster recently? they looked like they were going to mug us on the way home.

                  i understand that a tasting menu at l'espalier is going to run big dough but the truth of the matter is i just dont care about service that much. if they get the food to your table hot and leave you the hell alone (upsell drives me around the bend) im fine. that said, this is barbeque we are discussing not molecular cuisine.

                  while i want to applaud the possible use of better sourced meat, etc. that this place seems to have made a commitment to, a 30 dollar tray of 'que (or worse, the table next to me 25 dollar plate of beef short ribs which seemed to be TWO ribs) i cant seem to tell that it is THAT much better than food at blackstrap, or even blue ribbon on a good day.

                  i guess i can state that the brisket at BT's in sturbridge blows this one out of the water.

                  so i guess if you have unlimited funds and dont mind a bit of gouging to eat what a good friend used to call "barbeque for white people" in the city. go for it. but for me, ill put some gas in the tank and drive to sturbridge one in a while or take that 30 dollars and eat until i am stuffed in winthrop.

                  1. re: hyde

                    ^ this

                    1. re: hyde

                      Of course, driving out to BT's would cost me more than the price difference between the two places - so if cost was an object it's cheaper for me to eat at Sweet Cheeks.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        I think the food is much better at BT's. I'm willing to wait when I'm in the Sturbridge area to eat 'cue. And, it is much less costly. The brisket was not good at Sweet Cheeks. It didn't look good, and it was a tasteless slab. My short rib tray, while quite delish, was only 1 rib. It was huge, but it was only one. I couldn't eat the whole thing.
                        Blue Ribbon has burnt ends, which no one else seems to have. We go to the one in W. Newton, so I can't speak about Arlington.

                        1. re: CookieLee

                          You don't get my point. Hyde brought up cost as being an issue, I pointed out that for me it would cost so much to get to BTs that it'd be cheaper for me to eat at Sweet Cheeks. In fact, it'd probably cost me more to get to BT's & back w/o actually eating there than it would for me to eat at SC.

                          We had basically all the meats at SC except for the short rib, I thought the brisket was the worst of the bunch by a large margin. We avoided the short rib as I was afraid it'd be $25 for a single short rib :)

                          Blackstrap has burnt ends, btw.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            The burnt ends at Blackstrap are excellent. ECG does a good version as well, but the rest of their BBQ is pretty average.

                            I agreed with Hyde's post in regards to Blackstrap. It is better than Sweet Cheeks IMO and much less expensive. BT's, while excellent, really doesn't belong on this board geographically (they do get bonus points for their beef jerky by the pound).

                            1. re: Gabatta

                              Yes, Blackstrap is both better and cheaper. If one wanted to limit things to the range of the T, IMO sweet cheeks (so far) has been the best I can recall coming across.

                            2. re: jgg13

                              I totally get your point. You can make the case to eat at Sweet Cheeks. I'm saying since I don't make cue part of my regular diet, I'm saving my cue calories for BT's.
                              We will give Blackstrap a try, check out their burnt ends, ty.

                          2. re: jgg13

                            what about east coast grill? i like their cue.

                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                              I liked SC better than ECG, although I've never been a huge gan of ECG's BBQ. I don't dislike it, but I don't love it either.

                              I'd also make the point that ECG isn't exactly the paragon of a value destination itself - their main platter is pushing $20 the last I checked.

                    2. The salt and pepper potatoes at Sweet Cheeks were amazing. Nothing else really stood out.

                      1. I went to Sweet Cheeks tonight and probably won't return. The BBQ there isn't worth the price point. I'd rather eat at Soul Fire or Blue Ribbon, if I'm looking for okay BBQ and want to stay local.

                        I got the 3-meat platter with 2 hot sides ($1.50 upcharge to get 2 hot sides vs. 1 hot & 1 cold side). I paid $27.50 for this, BEFORE tax and tip -- that's $27.50 just for the 3-meat platter with 2 hot sides and no beverage. It didn't even come with cornbread or a biscuit (just 2 pieces of white bread). The ribs were small and relatively smokey/tasty. They're not quite as good as Blue Ribbon but on par with Soul Fire. The brisket was unremarkable. The pulled pork was really good with the addition of North Carolina (vinegar-based) sauce. My 2 hot sides were baked beans and mac & cheese. The baked beans were, hands-down, the absolute worst baked beans I've ever had at any BBQ establishment (except Redbones' black beans, but that's just because black beans don't go with pork BBQ). They were tasteless and bland -- no bbq flavor at all. The mac & cheese, on the other hand, was outstanding-- some of the best I've had. Oh -- they give you some pickles and onions,which you can use to make a pulled pork sandwich (add the pulled pork w/North Carolina sauce to the 2 pieces of white bread, and then add the pickles & onions). That was yummy! Overall, I paid $34 after tax & tip for what should've been a significantly cheaper meal (just a single plate of BBQ with no beverage). As I said, I'll stick with Soul Fire & Blue Ribbon for now.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: nolowcal

                          $1.50 surcharge to replace a cold side witha hot side? THAT is cheesy.

                          Try the new BBQ place in West Rox - Red-eyed pig - we just got our second takeout from there last night and it was delicious. My husband loves the ribs, the mashed potatoes are divine, and for less than the price of your entire meal ($28) we got an appetizer of hush puppies (excellent), a plate of ribs, beans, collard greens, and a plate of smoked chicken, mashed potatoes, and cheesy spinach. The smoked chicken was a litlte dry, so I can't recommend it, but everything else was great, and their sauces are outstanding. Cornbread comes with everything.

                          1. re: sallyt

                            I've heard nothing but good things about red eyed pig but haven't been myself which is why I kept giving the disclaimer that I wasn't including it for my comparisons on sweet cheeks.

                            nolowcal's post reminded me that I forgot about soul fire in terms of T accessible Q joints. If factoring price in I'd definitely choose to go there over sweet cheeks. If not, I'd probably choose SC but it'd not be a slam dunk.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              The menu looks good, and they have smoked pork belly.

                              And roasted sweet potatoes. :-)

                              http://red-eyedpig.com/

                              ~ Kiran <entropy@prismnet.com>

                        2. Went with a group of six to sweet Cheeks last evening. As a group we ordered:
                          Biscuits - excellent and huge, one was split between 3 of us
                          Hush Puppies - quite good
                          Fried Green Tomatoes - OK, but cut too thick
                          Salt and Pepper Potatoes - fine but forgettable
                          Most folks got pulled pork sandwiches, which were generally lauded. I ordered the pulled pork and ribs two meat plate, but my friend who ordered a pulled pork sandwich was given a brisket sandwich, so we switched meats, as I did want to try the brisket. Ribs were very good, brisket was a bit fatty, but tasty, regular BBQ sauce too sweet, hot sauce was good, but without other distinction other than heat. Since I didn't have any pulled pork, I didn't try the vinegar based sauce, but in the bottle it appeared too thick for my liking.
                          mac and cheese was phenomenal, collards were ok (I like mine with a bit more pork flavor), baked beans were an abomination, wrong kind of bean (too large), not cooked long enough, stay away.

                          Overall, I enjoyed it very much, but would have been raving about it if I spent $15 less than I did (we split the whole bill, and it was $43 each including 20% tip). I did have their version of an Aviation, which was good.

                          1. Oh and the house made Nutter Butter was great. Big enough to split 6 ways, and each of us had about one normal cookies worth of cookie. Fantastic.

                            1. Update on Blackstrap, went there Friday to get some take out for Pats game on Sat night, Ill give you a run down of what I had and score out of a scale of 1 to 10 , 10 being the best
                              when I was waiting for order I had
                              BBC wings , great say a score 8
                              Bowl of Chili good score 7
                              had to go
                              Full Rack of Ribs mummm score 9.5
                              Baked Beans , disappointing, needed way more cooking in my opinion,score 3
                              Mac and Cheese not bad score 7
                              Corn bread, I must point out I cut in 1/2 buttered and grilled in cast iron, yep good score 8
                              Sweet potato mash, real good , and I don't like sweet potato score 8
                              Coleslaw, V Good score 7
                              Burnt Ends, just OK, score 5.5
                              Pulled pork, of the charts maybe one of the best I have had 9.5
                              Service and help , was wonderful, they packed everything to go and went the extra yard to help score 9
                              Overall was a great , only thing that needs attention is the beans!!