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Where is good BBQ food in Toronto?

I am looking for a restaurant in toronto or surrounding area that serves real bbq food including chicken, ribs, steak etc.

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    1. re: CarNut

      Hopefully they open one in toronto or mississauga. I will have to try this on a weekend. A little too far through the week. Thanks!!!!

      1. re: CarNut

        buster rhino's is okay, but not real southern bbq, imho. stockyards bbq is not legit either, but is the best i've had in the gta, imho.

        1. re: CarNut

          +1 on buster rhino, though my one minor complaint is that there is no sauce on the tables (order comes already sauced), which is particularly surprising for a place that was on dragons den for its sauce business. I might have bought a bottle or 2 to take home if I could have taste tested with some (excellent) fries and rings. Overall though, everything was very very good at the downtown Oshawa location last week.

        2. Stockyards on Tuesday/Sunday/Friday for Chicken & Ribs

          1. If anyone on this board knew the answer to this question they would be the most popular person on the board. There is no real BBQ places in Toronto. The only time you'll get real bbq is the ribfest in the summer. I have tried every place on this board that people talk about and none of them compare to ribfest.

            Phil's origininal BBQ, Buster Rhino's, Paul and Sandy's ect... and it's always a flop. Ther is only one place I haven't tried and it looks pretty promising and it's a food truck.

            here is the link


            I'll give it a go when they open up for the summer.

            5 Replies
            1. re: C mac

              yeah i kinda didn't give that place a second thought the first time i saw it in that parking lot but then that thread popped up... looking forward to giving it a shot

              1. re: C mac

                What is the difference between the food you get at RibFest vs say a place like Buster Rhino that makes RibFest "Real" and Busters "Not"? I do not understand what you are looking for in a BBQ joint.

                1. re: C mac

                  Well, I must be going to the wrong vendors at Ribfest, because I've been to a few and I've never had anything that I would say is better than so-so.

                  My personal favourite in the city is Paul and Sandy's, but even then it's inconsistent. I've been there a couple of times and the pulled pork essentially tasted like flavourless mush. Other times it is smoky, fatty, and amazingly tender (but not overly so).

                  1. re: Michael N

                    yeah well a few people on the board have told me they weren't crazy about the ribest either. I don't know what to say but I find far superiour to the places I mentioned. Having that said, I will say that last year I only hit up two and they definitetly weren't as good as previous years. Hopefully they are good again this year.

                    it also depends on the vendor. I like boss hogs http://www.bosshogsbbq.ca/#menu-item-20

                    and bad wolf


                    Funny cause the first ribfest I ever went to I heard lots of good stuff about Uncle Sam's, and it was spot on. I with in love, but about the 3rd year they didn't seem to be as good so I started to try other vendors.

                  2. re: C mac

                    Yeah, I kinda agree with C mac. There's decent barbecue in this town, but, in my opinion, not "proper" barbecue. I suspect the reason is because "proper" barbecue (not only low-and-slow, but it's-done-when-it's-done and when-it's-finished-the-shop's-closed) doesn't lend itself well to a formal restaurant setting. Possible, sure, but difficult, I suspect, to build a restaurant model around.

                    And might I suggest that the best barbecue in town: in my backyard!

                  3. What's real?
                    Is that real in the metaphysical sense with piles of hardwood and a billowing smoker outside? If it's even allowed, unfortunately that's an urban rarity.

                    Some of the operators mentioned here do an acceptable job, and better than many in the southern States.

                    1. I'm wondering how steak is included with real or good BBQ. If you mean grilled steak, there are lots of choices.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jayt90

                        perhaps the OP is referring to "beef" as in brisket, as opposed to steak?

                      2. I'm still very much infatuated with Big Bone BBQ's Newmarket location. There's no steak on the menu probably because that'd be just a bit fancy for this place. You can get grilled items and deep fried foods at BBB, but do go for the smoke. I'm very excited to see they're coming to Markham. Please oh please open near Beau's mom.

                        1. There are 2 places at the top of my list and both have been mentioned. Paul and Sandy's and Big Bone in Newmarket.

                          There are a couple other Big Bone locations but I won't attest to them. I only know about the one in Newmarket and it's O/O buy the two brother who started it and were behind Purple Pig. Often cited as some of the best the GTA has ever seen.
                          The usually have a spot in the food building during the Ex.

                          I've been to Buster Rhinos and he does a fine job as well. All 3 could hold their own in the south.

                          Don't let anyone tell you different.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Davwud

                            Unfortunately, it looks like Big Bone BBQ won't be at the CNE Food Building anymore. I noticed their absence last year so I asked BBB about it. Since the CNE has devised their own food program, they've eliminated some of the 3rd party restaurants.

                            My take on it is Exhibition Place didn't want BBB to kill the ribbers brought in for CNE RibFest. Too bad. That would have elevated the game. Being stuck with food trucks serving preciously titled goods with even more precious prices was not funny.

                            1. re: Googs

                              Ah. I didn't know they weren't there last year. However when i posted about it I did hedge so perhaps I did and forgot.

                              I should point out that I was advised by someone (no one with BBB but they did confirm that was their understanding as well) who has competed at rib fests that there are basically 2 or 3 teams. Those teams will have multiple vendors. So it is as much a controlled environment as you'll find at a "Fest"


                          2. Top on my list for Southern Ontario area is Memphis Fire BBQ in Winona. Not to be mixed up with Memphis BBQ in woodbridge,etc.

                            If you are ever heading to Niagara area worth a stop. Or for those in the west end it isn't too far a trip.


                            I have been to Camp 31 a few times but I wouldn't say it is worth the trek for a special trip

                            Had a very good meal at Buster Rhino's but I went for a special "Sampler" menu so maybe more attention was put into it than normal? I definitely want to go back and try it again (I went to the original one in Whitby vs. the newer Oshawa location).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ylsf

                              that does look very good. Hopefully if they have some success they will open one up here in the big smoke.

                              1. re: ylsf

                                i was gonna mention this place, and in any event i give it a hearty second, i was out that way a couple times last summer and they do a mean meat at memphis fire

                              2. How's 'Barque'??! How does it compare to the rest of the places mentioned below?

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  I like Barque when I want to go out for a scheduled dinner... The food is good but nothing is great (but I have heard their fixed menu sunday dinners can be amazing but you dont know what the menu will be beforehand).

                                  Pros: consistient, fairly quiet for conversation
                                  Cons: having to make reservations, feels cramped especially in winter with coats, hipster servers, bit more expensive then other places for the amount you get.

                                  1. re: pourboi

                                    Thank you!! May be I'll give the Sunday dinner a try!!

                                  2. re: Charles Yu

                                    I went once. It's not convenient for me so don't read anything into the single visit.

                                    Here's my notes:

                                    The Cuban Corn is fantastic. Grilled, buttered and garnished with lime juice, feta and paprika it was very corny with a nice hit from the citrus, cheese and seasoning. All that said I still think could be better. It wasn't a taste thing but a texture thing. I like my corn kernels to burst with juiciness. These were a bit soft. Perhaps a little over cooked or perhaps local corn will make it better. Don't get me wrong, if this is a good as it gets, it's fine with me.

                                    The Smoked Barque Burger with aged cheddar, pickles, candied smoked bacon & chipotle mayo (I omitted the tomato and lettuce) was quite tasty. I find myself steering more and more towards the smashed burgers that have caught on in TO lately and less and less the "Meatloaf" or "Greek" style with fillers and seasonings mixed in. Not that there's anything wrong with them, it's just not my preference. That being said, my real preference is for good. And good is good no matter how it's done. Let me tell you, this is done very well. The chiabata bun was a good consistency and didn't dominate in terms of size and taste. The smoke from the burger and the bacon was very pleasant without being too strong while the cheese added some depth as did the pickle. I think I'll add onion in future. My only complain with it is it's slightly dry. It almost has to be as it can't be cooked to order or it'll take and hour to get your burger out. I suspect it's smoked and then held to be put on a grill.

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      About the corn, probably the latter. There's very little reason to be grilling corn out of season. You need the full fresh moist sweetness to make grilling worthwhile. They probably had to boil first to cheat the moisture making them soft in the process. Can you tell I like my corn grilled?

                                      1. re: Googs

                                        Well you sure know your stuff.

                                        I personally like cut the silk and loose leaves off and put it right on the grill. The husk adds a nice grassy note.

                                        2 summers ago we were getting corn that didn't need anything on it.


                                        1. re: Googs

                                          If anyone is looking for old fashioned corn from the back yard garden, with a rich flavor but no enhanced sugar (pick and shuck just as the water comes to a boil or the coals are hot), I have found Golden Bantam seeds at Giant Tiger.

                                          This ancient variety has not been grown commercially for 50 years. The Tiger has seeds for <$1 a packet.

                                          I'll be planting it in a few weeks.

                                          1. re: jayt90

                                            Bought some fresh seed of Golden Bantam from OSC and it's in the ground. Damn fine corn. Thought you might be interested in the availability.

                                            First mentioned in Canada in 1906.

                                    2. If you find yourself near Dixie/Dundas in Mississauga...


                                      1. Try Marky and Sparky`s, 520 Annette...


                                        It has got to be at the same level as any other existing BBQ joint.

                                        BUT -- all the meats and flesh come from Butcher by Nature, which sells only organic and sustainable meats.

                                        So at least you are getting some healthy food, believe it or not.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Dean Tudor

                                          Is it actually open yet? I don't think it is (especially since a comment said something about May opening). If they have done a soft launch or are open I am interested in checking it out. Saw a mention of it before.

                                          1. re: ylsf

                                            I think it's a scheme to make money on a current trend. They are looking for servers, supervisor, and cooks used to a fast passed (sic) environment. It will be just the opposite of a southern BBQ joint. They are not alone.

                                        2. Just tried Memphis BBQ & Wicked Wings in Woodbridge.

                                          Ordered a combo for myself:

                                          Ribs were smokey and off the bone tender. BBQ sauce coating was flavorful but on the stingy side. Smoked Wings with both their regular and spicy BBQ sauces were equally flavorful, smokey and tender. Fries were a killer!! The special coating creating a super great crispy product!. Both home made baked beans and coleslaw were tasty but the corn bread was a bit underwhelming.
                                          Overall, compare to the Phil's, Big Bone, Stockyard, Paul and Sandy's etc... IMO, they are all about the same. No clear stand outs!

                                          However, service was incredibly SLOW!!!If I'd known earlier, that the wait time for food would be over an hour, I would have headed over to Big Bone instead! Long drive and a long wait. That really 'SUCK'!!!

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Sorry but coated fries should be outlawed!

                                            1. re: justsayn

                                              From the purist stand point, I totally agree with you!
                                              However, if the texture and taste of the mutated version is good, once in a long while, I can allow myself to tolerate this approach.

                                                1. re: Googs

                                                  I thought that was common knowledge.

                                              1. was out for a ride the other day, and dropped into big bone bbq in barrie for the elvis combo: smoked wings, ribs, pulled pork, with the usual sides (cornbread, beans, slaw).

                                                verdict: average. not trip worthy, whereas the stockyards is, imho.

                                                wings were the best of the three meats--juicy, decent flavour, and good size.
                                                the ribs had very little smoke ring, and had average flavour. at least they were not over-sauced.
                                                the pulled pork was pretty bland, and i didn't taste an awful lot of smoke flavour. i have made better pulled pork myself, and i'm not good at it. kinda disappointing that a place that makes a living out of it, wouldn't be better.

                                                the sides were pretty bad actually. the slaw had a very limp, vinegary taste, no zing. the beans could have been canned, and the cornbread was probably stale.

                                                oh well. back to stockyards i go. . .

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: afong56

                                                  Next time you are in Barrie try Big Chris. I prefer it but only been in Barrie a few times.

                                                  1. re: ylsf

                                                    i stopped at big chris on my way up north last summer after reading about it on here. it sucks. so hard

                                                    1. re: ylsf

                                                      I've been to Big Chris. Decent brisket. Very decent brisket, though not on par with the Wren, where I order a double brisket sandwich, hold the bread, hold the slaw, double the sauce.

                                                      Brisket's tough to do. "Decent" is strong praise indeed.

                                                    2. re: afong56

                                                      Unfortunately, not all Big Bone BBQ are built the same. They should really tighten up quality control at their franchises before the irregularity pulls the whole thing down. The ribs that you get at one location should be precisely the same at all 6 locations. They need to do more on site inspections and follow-up training after new locations open, not just sell a concept and run.

                                                      All that aside, it's the Newmarket store that's worth the trip. The original crew works there.

                                                      1. re: Googs

                                                        fair enough--will give the newmarket location a shot when i'm in area. . .

                                                        1. re: afong56

                                                          So I realize this thread is good bbq in Toronto, but since someone already mentioned it, I'm headed up to Barrie on Wednseday as one of my friends is going to try "da ultimate dirty burger " challenge at big Chris smoke house.

                                                          Anyone have any recomendations?

                                                          1. re: C mac

                                                            yeah, don't go to big chris's smoke house. i stopped there on the way up north last summer and everything is sickly sweet, massively portioned, textureless, and... bad

                                                    3. I have yet to find a resto that has it all - but some semi-authentic southern BBQ dishes I've enjoyed in Toronto:

                                                      - pulled brisket at Leslieville Pumps
                                                      - ribs and pulled pork at Stockyards
                                                      - ribs at Big Crow (interesting and different...with a salsa on top)
                                                      - smoked wings and brisket at Barque.

                                                      I bought a smoker and have been doing it myself lately....to great results. Not as good as Texas though!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: MeMeMe

                                                        Did you see the Rib contest in Post City Magazine? They had Grant (ex Chef from the Hoof) do a blind taste test of ribs from around the city...


                                                        1. re: MeMeMe

                                                          Very surprised that the Ribs from AAA bar on Adelaide don't make your list

                                                        2. Ok, by the sounds of the BlogTO review not worthy of a visit but I will mention it in this thread anyways in case people come across it:


                                                          Hoosier Daddy - in the Village on the grange across the street from the AGO.

                                                          21 Replies
                                                          1. re: ylsf

                                                            They had a short lived location in the food court at Cumberland Terrace in Yorkville this spring.

                                                            1. re: ylsf

                                                              The owner of Hoosier Daddy has a rebuttle to the BlogTo review in the comments section of the BlogTo link above... Sounds like he is passionate.. but admitted that they outsource their salads from "Ziggys" (Macaroni & florescant Coleslaw). Not sure why they do not make their own coleslaw.. has to be one of the easiest cheapest things to make..

                                                              1. re: pourboi

                                                                Thank you for pointing out the rebuttal. I love how the "critic" digs himself in deeper trying to respond to that. The only thing the owner did wrong was respond with anger. All of his points are valid. There are for too many unqualified bloggers out there covering territory they have no experience or training in.

                                                                Personally, I love the name so much I wish I'd thought of it myself. After reading his words, I'm inclined to give it a try if I'm in the area. Fast food bbq serving the quick lunch crowd. Quite an endeavour. One thing's for sure. The guy's smart.

                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                  But from the owners comments I do not see that this is "BBQ" i.e. I do not think it is smoked (or even grilled)... I think it is the style where it is just a slow cooked chunk of spice rubbed meat then pulled...

                                                                  1. re: pourboi

                                                                    Not sure how you're getting that. Assuming the "critic" asked at least one question while they were there, it states in the piece that they smoke off site.

                                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                                      Article on Blog TO says: "Hoosier Daddy's cooks its BBQ off-site then ships it in cryovaced" - "Cooks" is not "Smoked"....

                                                                      Many pulled / chopped meat sandwiches are rubbed & slowcooked (aka Black Camel) but are not smoked.. Nowhere on his facebook did I seem "Smoked" (but I may have missed it - so correct mee if I am wrong)..

                                                                      1. re: pourboi

                                                                        I interpreted "cooks its (sic) BBQ" as smoking since anything else is just grilling. However, with such bad writing it's hard to know. I guess one of us wil have to take the bullet.

                                                                        1. re: Googs

                                                                          Since it says "Hoosier Daddy's cooks its BBQ off-site then ships it in cryovaced", I wonder of Buster Rhino can shed some light on this.

                                                                          wink wink nudge nudge.


                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                            Other commenters on the blogTO article also noted a complete absence of "Smoke" in the meat.. I stick to my original thought they are slow cooking it probably in a convection oven...

                                                                            1. re: pourboi

                                                                              Possibly so, possibly not. Both the "critic" and the owner should hang their heads that they didn't cover that point.

                                                                            2. re: Davwud

                                                                              If you're nudging in the direction I think you are, that'd be pretty freakin' funny. Do tell.

                                                                              1. re: Googs

                                                                                I would be shocked!!!! This brisket is not the BR I love! There is nothing BR here.

                                                                                But yea that would be a big one! LOL

                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                  It wouldn't surprise me at all if BR is behind a few places BBQ/Pulled Pork.

                                                                                  It's just when they talk about doing BBQ off site and cryovac-ing, how many places around here do that??


                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                    Dunno. I have a cryovac'd smoked meat brisket from Schwartz's in my fridge right now. I'm pretty certain it's smoked. In any case, I'm not suggesting anyone's right or wrong. I'm saying the question should have been asked before publishing.

                                                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                                                      When you say smoked meat brisket do you mean like pastrami or MSM or actual Texas BBQ??


                                                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                                                        Schwartz's. When you're that good, they call you Mister.

                                                                              2. re: Googs

                                                                                I'm not sure why you're tearing into the BlogTO writer so hard. It seems like a decently written review to me. Not withstanding a few nitpicks that the owner blew up into a multi-paragraph rant, the writer's main argument (i.e. that the food isn't very good) is fairly bulletproof, it being his opinion and all.

                                                                                Also "cooks its BBQ" is gramatically correct, so I dunno why you threw the (sic) in there.

                                                                                1. re: Michael N

                                                                                  I get a little testy when someone who clearly didn't do their homework rips into a person's livelihood.

                                                                                  1. re: Googs

                                                                                    What homework would that be, exactly? His only mistake was an off-handed comment about Indiana not being known for BBQ, which isn't exactly an unforgivable offense. I mean, when you think about great American BBQ, Indiana isn't exactly the first state to come to mind. Or the second, or the third. It's probably not even in the top ten!

                                                                                    1. re: Michael N

                                                                                      We sell pulled pork, brisket, chicken and ribs to many, many (I will never say) restaurants around Ontario. I can promise you this though, no smoke - not mine. Unfortunately BBQ in Canada and honestly throughout most of the states can be justified by using smokey bbq sauce in a slow cooker (don't believe me, look it up). I also know many BBQ chefs who don't use a ton of smoke as they don't want to offend anyone's pallet. As the old commercial used to say "only the cook knows"

                                                                  2. Hogtown Smoke (the foodtruck) is opening a restaurant location in the Beaches. According to Blogto it was due to open mid-October, but doesn't look open yet (although I've only observed as I pass by on the streetcar).


                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: midtowngirl

                                                                      It's open now, has anyone been yet?

                                                                    2. Triple A Bar at Adelaide and Jarvis does very-respectable-for-Toronto BBQ in a Texas style, that is, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chili (authentic Texas - no beans!), fried chicken & waffles, as well as various rotating daily specials. I find the ribs to be hit and miss (sometimes great, sometimes just okay) but the rest of the menu is very consistent and always prepared with care and attention to detail. Decent beer selection and the place is run by super nice people. http://tripleabar.ca/