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B.T. Smokehouse Southern Barbecue: The Real Deal in Sturbridge

I know it's the Boston board but we often head out this way to visit family in the Berkshires and this is so worth a stop on the way! we bring dinner and no one is more welcome than a rib-carrying guest. This is easily the best and most reasonably priced barbecue in New England (I haven't tried Sweet Cheeks so take that into account). The sides are as good as the ribs: collard greens, black eyed peas and cole slaw taste as it should. The ribs and the homemade beef jerky are so good we haven't gotten to the wings, house-smoked salmon or pulled pork yet but we're trying. Great little place, order ahead. Five minutes off the Sturbridge exit on the Mass Pike right up Main Street.

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  1. The wings and tacos are worthy. I've been praising BT's here for some time as the best BBQ in MA.

    1. The onion rings are the best I've ever tasted. And if only the brisket had more smoke flavor, it would be absolutely perfect. I've had some good ribs and some bad ribs there. And of course their "cornbread" is New England corncake, but hey, I like that stuff too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Luther

        My one visit there I found the brisket to be great and very smokey. Great place.

      2. Love, love, love BT's. We stop here when we do our NH to NJ drive.

        1. teezeetoo, if you read the thread on Sweet Cheeks, you won't bother to go there, as you'll see a lot of posts, including mine, extolling the virtues of BT's. I'm in love with their Brisket Reuben.

          I will say the biscuits with maple butter at Sweet Cheeks are great. They are 4 for $10.00.

          6 Replies
          1. re: CookieLee

            I love BTs too but I still find that statement ridiculous.

            If I live in the city and don't have a car (cuz, I do and I don't), I'm not going to explicitly eschew SC just because BTs is better because they're not directly comparable - they're over an hour drive apart! I don't exactly see a T stop anywhere near BTs either.

            1. re: jgg13

              It's not a T stop but a phantom tollbooth. Take the fifteenth door on the left in the Tip O'Neill Tunnel and turn around three times while imagining a big plate of smoked chicken wings. You will be there in no time.

              1. re: hckybg

                Gonna try this out at lunch, thanks :)

                IMO, I'm not even sure that I think BTs belongs on the "Greater Boston" board considering that it is past Worcester. We don't talk about places in Manchester, NH or Providence, RI here, why are we talking about things in Sturbridge?

              2. re: jgg13

                OK, lighten up. Jeez, it's not like I go there on a regular basis. All I mean to say is their bbq is fabulous. I'm sorry if you can't get out to Sturbridge. As for it being on the Greater Boston board, read the OP's reason for posting it.

                1. re: CookieLee

                  It's just that it's a silly comment. Why bother going to anything here in boston when there's a better equivalent somewhere else? It irks me when people don't take location into account when they make these sorts of sweeping statements.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    To be honest, there are certain things that I wait to eat when I can get the better equivalent. I certainly didn't mean to irk you.

            2. Not to mention that brian smokes his own bacon and sausage. I did the same thing bringing ribs to friends in the Berkshires for dinner. This place is the best i've had in the northeast and among the best I've had anywhere for quality and value.

              1. I thought I read recently that now they're set up to bring their smoker to you, catering style. Anyone have details/experience with that?

                1. I have to agree with all here - the brisket and ribs I had there are the best barbecue I have ever had in a restaurant. The sides were amazing too, as were the deep fried andouille doughnut bites (or whatever they were called).

                  Agreed that this probably shouldn't be on the Boston Board, and it's a haul to get there, but the awesomeness of the food makes it totally worth driving to. I would probably drive an extra 3-4 hours for barbecue that good. Or carjack someone.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: nsenada

                    i drove there on father's day, and i ended up waiting about 45 minutes for Q. I recommend calling and ordering before you end up stewing. I spoke to the waitress who said that the though of BT's coming to Boston would put the fear of the Lord into Sweet Cheeks.

                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                      Very good point - they are not quick by any stretch. I had read that in advance, so was ready for it. I also couldn't figure out why - there weren't a huge number of people there, and 'cue and sides aren't "cooked to order."

                      1. re: nsenada

                        they did heat up the Q while i was waiting even though i told them that i was taking it back for dinner in Boston. There were two people working in the kitchen and 2 waitrons.

                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                          The wait times can certainly vary; I think they not only do a fair amount of take out, but catering as well, all from a pretty small work space. But I'd rather wait a bit and have good quality than the rush job some Q places do where the meat is barely warm. The lack of abundant seating can be an issue at times.

                          As far as catering, I contacted them last fall and got a very reasonable quote, however they were booked for the date already. I'd recommend them based on my conversations. And they just got a new catering trailer.

                          As for the poster upthread about the brisket not being smokey enough - either you like a LOT of smoke, or you caught them on an off day. I think theirs is some of the smokiest in New England and some people I have pointed in their direction have returned saying it is TOO smokey.

                          Check out their Facebook page for daily specials - if he ever does his pork belly and cranberry jam bahn mi, drop everything and go there FAST if you're in the area.

                      2. re: cambridgedoctpr

                        Not just Sweet Cheeks, most of the Boston Q spots would be put on notice.

                        That said, their prices would almost certainly go up - I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the rent out in timbuktu is a little lower than in the middle of boston.

                    2. Here's a bad photo of a delicious three meat platter I got. Brisket ( I asked for extra fatty) was the standout, but they were all excellent.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Northender

                          definitely order ahead whether you're eating in or doing takeout. yes they cater and their prices seem very reasonable and they'll bring their truck to your place and do anything from a whole pig to the full range of cue - this is a kitchen that knows how to do what it's doing. i haven't had collard greens this good since the last time I was in Tennessee.

                      1. Arrgghh! And we went to Thai Place instead........:(

                        1. Stopped in for lunch around noon on Saturday and the tables were already full of diners, but by the time our bbq was ready - 15 minutes? - a table opened up. I ordered the pig trip platter with spare ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and beef rib with slaw, bbq beans, and collards to get a feel for the bbq here. Overall I thought the meats were good - but not great.

                          The spares were big and meaty and perfect texture but the char grilling flavor was stronger than the smoke flavor and burnt up whatever rub was applied.

                          The brisket we were served was extremely fatty - only one slice out of the 3/4 lb of meat or so was from the flat - and that seemed dense, pulled apart easily, and was both dry and juicy at the same time like juices were applied before serving. The bark tasted like meat candy due to a sweet rub. Only half of the brisket was edible, the other half fat.

                          The pulled pork was nice - just plainly pulled, no sauce applied - flavor was mostly porky with outside pieces giving good smoke and rub flavor - didn;t see any bark in there and surprisingly no fat, but plenty of smoke ring on the outside pieces.

                          Beef rib was dry and crusty on the ends and very fatty as well - my least favorite of the meats.

                          The smoke levels on all the meats were about the same - nicely smoky on the outside, but the smoke did not penetrate into the meat. Three sauces were available - a sweet tomato based sauce which went well with the brisket, a vinegary sauce that was perfect for the pulled pork, and dark colored mustard sauce which I hardly touched after giving a try.

                          The bbq beans were very good - savory and sweet without being too sweet, the slaw was vinegary and otherwise lacking flavor, and the greens were cooked perfectly but were a little too vinegary for my liking, but my wife really liked them.

                          I would stop in again if traveling through the area and was hungry just to see if I could get a better luck of the draw with the brisket, but I wouldn't consider it destination worthy from the boston area. IMO you can get better pulled pork at Sweet Cheeks and equally good spare ribs at Soul Fire.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: LStaff

                            I have to agree. This place is way overrated to the point where I suspect astroturfing. The food was mediocre, the service slow and the furniture falling apart.

                            I recall dry meats, watered down sauces, and old coleslaw.

                            I would not go back.

                            Blue Ribbon is average BBQ, but way better than BT's.

                          2. 4:30PM yesterday was about half full. Still had to wait 10 minutes for 1 rib, cup of pulled pork and a cup of smoked chicken. All well worth waiting for, 1 pound of smoked turkey and 3/4 pound of jerky to go . . . waiting for me at home right now!

                            1. Quite simply, the best barbecue in the area!!!! I am not happy about the one hour drive - but it is well worth it. Brisket and beef ribs are fantastic!

                              Do yourself a favor, "try it, you'll like it."

                              1. Wow! Just wow!
                                We stumbled upon this place en route NYC to NH, a drive I've made dozens of times, but always in the morning rather than BBQ o'clock. Found & located it on Google maps and we were expecting--and probably would have been content with, since needs must when you're on the road--a Famous Daves type experience.
                                The Harleys, pickups and giant smoker in the parking lot and the tubs of spicy pickled wonderments on the counter next to the cash register suggested we were in store for something much different. The beans were black and undercooked and could have used a different species of bean coupled with some burnt ends. The hush puppies were nicely spicy and serviceable. The mac & cheese our neighbors got looked sublime. And aforementioned pickled delights/relishes and their sauces were really good. Next time I've gotta try some ribs.
                                But the brisket. Oh my.
                                Moist, fatty, tender, smokey like the Lord intended it to be.
                                As I wrote on the wall of the men's room (which is cool since it's blackboard and chalk is provided): "Best brisket east of Luling, Texas!"
                                Those who know barbecue will know that that's heady praise, indeed.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Poindexter

                                  Loved the brisket and I have been to City Market in Luling which is A Number 1 but BT's rocks too.

                                  1. re: Poindexter

                                    I've been back in the country for about three weeks and am staying right nearby. Been in twice and the food hasn't failed to impress. Brisket was incredible, Wednesday tacos amazing, haven't met a side a didn't like. And the smoke! Not for sweet and sticky BBQ lovers, this is meat in it's purest form with most sides having a nice vinegar bite to cut the rich, fattiness of the perfectly smoked meat. Haven't bothered with a sauce.

                                  2. An old thread but we stopped here for lunch today. Food was fresh, hit and tasty!

                                    Boy had the bison burger which cooked perfectly and was sweet and juicy. Hand cut fries were piping hot and crispy.

                                    My burnt ends brisket sandwich was the right combination of meat, fat and carbon crispness. Topped with their hot BBQ sauce j couldn't stop eating.

                                    The man had the pork ribs with corn bead, hush puppies and slaw. I can't tell you how they err as he wouldn't share. If he could have hidden the bones in his pocket to naw on later he would have.

                                    And how did I miss this candle?

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                      So good, and one of their current specials is a Soft-Shell Crab BLT, which is unbelievably good and totally unexpected for a BBQ place. I had one last Friday and I'm trying to figure out when I can get back for another before they stop selling them.....

                                      1. re: Jeremy01506

                                        Yes my husband was really torn- he LOVES soft shell crab- but he couldn't pass on the ribs. I was sad they were out of the drunken peach cupcakes! They inspired me to make a drunken peach cake on Monday along with the gorgeous peaches I found at the market…

                                        1. re: Jeremy01506

                                          BTs smokes its own bacon. mmmm. RE Luling comment, I actually enjoyed BT's brisket more than Kreuz's market, but Kreuz' smoked prime rib takes it to another level.

                                          1. re: gourmaniac

                                            Ahh, but Kreuz 's is in Lockhart, not Luling!
                                            Next time you are in that area head south about 12 miles to Luling City Market where the brisket is sine qua none, in my humble opinion.
                                            But BT's, in freaking Massachussets is right up there with em!

                                            1. re: Poindexter

                                              Not been to Luling. Also, my trip to Kreuz's was before the ugly split up and so it was Kreuz's BBQ in the Smitty's location with 100 years of carcinogen-coated walls kissing the meat with smoke and flavor.

                                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                                If you were put off by the small dining area inside in the past, think again. I went for the first time since early Spring and was very impressed by the expansion they added in late March. Indoor seating has probably tripled in capacity, and they've added a center bar type table where you can stand and eat . They've also moved the soda fountain out from behind the counter so you don't have to wait for the often busy count staff for refills.

                                                The food as usual was excellent.

                                          2. re: Jeremy01506

                                            ...and they JUST started selling these again today, get 'em while you can!

                                        2. Took a detour to BTs today and they did not disappoint. Our son got his usual-bison burger. I opted for the brisket "Reuben" and my husband got the pulled pork. Along with we had a side of hush puppies, cole slaw and fries.

                                          As always the place was packed but efficient, getting people their grub fast. My Reuben was sublime. Grilled bread, lots of meat, Swiss and coleslaw. This baby was huge so I only ate 1/2. I could have easily eaten the rest based on taste alone but held off. My husbands pulled pork was very flavorful, moist and messy! Really good. The boys burger, like the fries were a little too crispy but a minor complaint as they disappeared. A full rack of ribs, coleslaw and hushpuppies to go and it will be a BT repeat for lunch tomorrow.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                            That Reuben is one of the best sandwiches in Massachusetts.