Sure, Boston’s not exactly known for being a barbecue town, but there are still plenty of places to satisfy the craving if you can’t get down South any time soon. Purists and barbecue newbies alike can debate endlessly about which local spots come closest to the real thing and which aren’t worth your time, but here’s a handy sampling of some of the well-loved Southern-style barbecue restaurants you can find in the Greater Boston area, serving everything from Kansas City burnt ends to dry-rubbed Texas brisket and the juicy and tangy barbecue from the Carolinas.Read More
15 Essential Barbecue Restaurants Around Boston
Brisket, ribs, and more
Blue Ribbon BBQ
The beloved counter-service barbecue restaurant and catering operation Blue Ribbon, around for over 25 years, has locations in Arlington, West Newton, and Dedham, serving up pit-smoked favorites in the style of a variety of regions: Kansas City burnt ends, Texas brisket, North Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, etc. No-frills sides (coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and the like) round out meals, but save room for a slice of pecan or key lime pie. Note: no booze.
The Porch Southern Fare & Juke Joint
Medford’s sizable barbecue joint and music venue opened in summer 2019, a move from its original space in Wakefield. Chef and owner Jonathan Post, a Nashville native, serves pulled pork, Texas brisket, St. Louis spare ribs, and more by the tray, accompanied by sides such as cheese grits and collards. There’s a packed live music calendar with plenty of blues, soul, and more.
35 years old, Redbones has cemented its popularity in Somerville's Davis Square. In non-pandemic times, it's perpetually crowded, and the ambiance is fun, particularly at the downstairs bar, Underbones. Redbones's strength lies in its lively vibe and solid beer list. The restaurant doesn't really specialize in any one aspect of barbecue; there's a giant menu that has a little bit of something for everyone, so it's an easy choice if there's a big group to feed. Try the banana pudding for dessert.
Scott Brothers at Winter Hill Brewing
Located inside Winter Hill Brewing in Somerville, Scott Brothers have been making a name for themselves. Though barbecue isn’t the only thing Scott Brothers are good at, it definitely seems like that’s what they’re passionate about. Be sure to follow them on Instagram, as they’ll post updates when they bring out the smoky and tender Vermont wagyu brisket.
Founded over a decade ago by a couple of East Coast Grill alums, Blackstrap started out as a tiny space with a focus on takeout, but the restaurant has expanded into adjacent spaces over the years, adding a full bar and dining room. Blackstrap touches on different barbecue regions with sweet and spicy Memphis-style dry rub ribs, smoky Texas-style brisket, and tangy North Carolina-style pulled pork. The friendly crew also does catering.
Smoke Shop BBQ
Smoke Shop opened in Cambridge in 2016 thanks to Andy Husbands (who owned the now-defunct Tremont 647), a longtime barbecue devotee and fixture on the competitive circuit. His Kendall Square restaurant and its newer counterparts in Boston’s Fort Point, Somerville’s Assembly Row, and Cambridge’s Harvard Square feature big platters of meats, from burnt ends to ribs, piled high with sides. Don't miss the wings, coated in sticky-sweet agave and spices. On the beverage side, there's so much whiskey. (Find a mini counter-service version of Smoke Shop at West End food hall Hub Hall, too.)
The Don's BBQ
This Watertown newcomer is the self-declared “godfather of brisket,” so start there — try it with sides like andouille sausage and rice or black bean and corn salad, or get it in a Reuben. Ribs, pulled pork, and smoked chicken round out the menu, as well as a few sweet treats like bread pudding and pralines.
Larry J's BBQ Cafe
Larry Jimerson closed down his Chelsea restaurant, Larry J’s House of Q, in 2012 and quickly relocated to Boston’s Seaport, opening up Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, a small counter-service shack. There’s no seating inside, but outdoor seating is available when weather permits. (He eventually opened another location in Revere, too, but it closed in early 2021.) Jimerson smokes his meats over apple and hickory wood, offering up ribs, smoked link sausage, smoked brisket, smoked turkey legs, and lots more.
Sweet Cheeks Q
Tiffani Faison’s lively, loud Fenway barbecue restaurant, Sweet Cheeks Q, serves everything from pork ribs to pulled chicken to brisket, and diners can’t go wrong with any of the sides, especially the farm salad or the mac and cheese. Sweet Cheeks Q also offers a couple of fun desserts, like the giant Nutter Butter. Plus, everything about the restaurant’s biscuits is true. Save room — one biscuit is roughly the size of a human face. Sweet Cheeks Q has a full bar, and the beer selection is strong.
Formerly known as M&M Ribs, M&M BBQ began as a food truck and catering operation before finding a home inside Dorchester Brewing Company in early 2020. Get the pork ribs, of course, but also try one of the sandwiches, which feature pulled pork, shredded beef brisket, fried chicken, or bratwurst. M&M offers ample gluten-free and/or vegetarian options, too.
Tennessee’s Real BBQ
With locations in Framingham, Braintree, and Peabody, this fast-casual group smokes meats over hickory, apple, and cherry wood, and the house barbecue sauce has a tomato base with a hint of chocolate. Lots of combos and bulk meats and sides are available.
Lucy's American Tavern
This Dorchester spot doesn’t strictly serve barbecue, but its Southern-style barbecue menu is the star of the show, including their Carolina-style pulled pork and double-smoked brisket. If a large-format tray of tasty meats isn’t what you’re looking for, sandwich options, including a Cubano with pulled pork and fried chicken sandwich, are great alternatives, too.
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Pit Stop BBQ
This tiny takeout joint, which has been around for more than three decades, is a neighborhood icon. It’s only open Thursday through Saturday, but it’s worth planning around the schedule in order to get a taste of the ribs, brisket, chopped pork, and more. Don’t overlook the sides, especially the cornbread and baked beans.
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Sarcastic Swine BBQ & Restaurant
This South Shore newcomer has been quickly building up a fanbase since opening in early 2019. It’s known for its sauce choices — there are about a dozen — and over-the-top dishes like a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with pulled brisket, mac and cheese, and honey barbecue sauce. The cornbread, which comes with a choice of butters (whipped, cinnamon, or bacon), is a must.
Plan a little road trip 60 miles southwest of Boston to Sturbridge: B.T.'s Smokehouse is a worthy destination, featuring meats slow-smoked over apple and hickory, available in sandwiches, platters with sides and cornbread, and more. Watch for dishes like andouille dog bites and sticky rib tips, too.