BBQ

Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge

Nevermind the fact that it’s closer to Canada than it is to the Mason-Dixon line—greater Boston hosts BBQ joints that compete with the best. Whether you’re a homesick transplant or a Yankee craving a taste of the South, head to the following spots to get your carnivorous fix.

A pilgrimage to one of the Blue Ribbon Barbecue locations in Arlington, Dedham, or West Newton should be considered mandatory for Boston-area smoked meat aficionados. Modeled after the roadside barbecue joints that dot the American South, Blue Ribbon slow cooks its ribs, pulled pork, hot links, and more over oak and hickory for maximum flavor. Meat may take center stage, but don’t neglect sides like dirty rice or Southern desserts such as fruit cobbler and pecan pie.

With Smoke Shop locations in Kendall Square and Fort Point, chef Andy Husbands is building a mini barbecue empire. We’re happy to see it grow, so long as it continues to serve the excellent slow-cooked ribs, brisket, and burnt ends that Husbands has been perfecting in competitions for more than 20 years. The Smoke Shop takes barbecue’s natural pairing—whiskey—just as seriously, offering over 200 varieties of American brown spirits.

On Saturdays between March and October, Formaggio Kitchen’s Cambridge location puts cheese on the back burner and gets to grilling. Each installment of its famed sidewalk BBQ features smoked chicken, brisket, and other BBQ staples (which they begin preparing two days beforehand) plus sandwiches, half-pound hot dogs in hollowed-out baguettes, and sides like candied yams and mac and cheese. This street barbecue inspires impressive lines and cooks until sell-out, but you can pre-order until 4 p.m. the day before.

Sweet Cheeks Q represents Top Chef alum Tiffani Faison’s quest to bring laid-back Sunday-style barbecue to the heart of Boston. Long wooden tables and mason jar cocktails help create that sense of casual ease—as do cafeteria trays laden with pork ribs, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and “hot” or “cold” scoops of sides like collard greens or Cita’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole. Portions are generous, but that doesn’t stop us from starting with an order of fluffy, buttery biscuits that are almost a meal unto themselves.

Blackstrap BBQ

Situated in a small Winthrop space decked out with, hanging lights, a dartboard, and an American flag, Blackstrap BBQ isn’t trying to look fancy. They’re far more concerned with cooking good barbecue and pull inspiration from across the country; expect to find Memphis-style dry ribs, Texas-inspired brisket, and more. On the more creative side of the menu resides duck poutine and a smoked and fried bacon-wrapped hot dog dubbed The Hog.

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