Your guide to BBQ joints in Boston, New York and everywhere in between




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Archive - September 2009





The Month That Was

If you take a look at the Recent Eats column, you'll notice more restaurant photos (16) than usual, yet there's been less writing than usual. So where have I been? At the gym. My Boston Sports Clubs membership has afforded 27 visits to seven different gyms in three different states during that same period, and I've been attacking those visits with more gusto than at the barbecue restaurants. It's all about balance. But I promise that the writing (beyond the filler) will be back soon.





Boston BBQ: Oktoberfest is Coming to Redbones, October 4

This Saturday from noon to 6:00PM, Chester Street in Somerville's Davis Square becomes a biergarden, as Redbones hosts its own Oktoberfest. Sausages and sauerkraut, potato pancakes, pretzels and other fest fare including Oktoberfest beers will all served outside in front of the restaurant. There will be live music by The Mad Bavarian Brass Band, featuring polkas, happy musik, marches and more.

Boston BBQ: Hogtoberfest is Coming to Jake's Dixie Roadhouse, All Month

The ever creative Don Yovicsin is at it again. There are no details to pass on, but the names of some of the forthcoming offerings at October's "month long homage to the hog" at Jake's Dixie Roadhouse (Waltham MA) sound intriguing:



Deep Fried Bacon w/ Cream Gravy

Chocolate Covered Bacon

Three Little Piggies w/ Pickled Red Onions & Creole Mustard

BBQ Porketta

Hawaiian Kalua Pig


Southern Barbecued Pork Belly

Pickled Pigs Feet

Pigs in a Snuggie®


Brooklyn Brewery’s Bacon Beer

Bakon Vodka

and more porcine pleasures planned





Connecticut BBQ: Blues Views and BBQ Returns To Westport This Weekend

The second annual Blues, Views & BBQ event is ready for action tomorrow and Sunday on the banks of the Saugatuck River in Westport CT. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association, led by Bob LeRose of Westport's Bobby Q's barbecue restaurant, is putting on a two-day event that promises something for everyone and is an absolute must for the barbecue fan, judge or competitor.



Competitions include a backyard contest (chicken, ribs, chef's choice) Saturday afternoon, an Iron Chef contest Saturday night and the traditional KCBS barbecue contest Sunday afternoon, along with a sauce contest.


There will be beer sampling from a host of microbreweries, sauces and other specialty food vendors, family activities, street performers and live music both days. Barbecue will be available from vendors both days, and Westport restaurants will also be offering grilled fare. If you're just getting into barbecue, the cooking demos and barbecue education will be right up your alley.


For more information as the details come into focus, check the event website:





Some Short Takes On Recent Eats

Within the last month I've posted a few reviews, started some soon-to-be-posted reviews and recently submitted a rundown on my Long Island and Manhattan BBQ crawls. Now it's time to fill in some of the cracks by describing a few other barbecue restaurant visits.


Firefly's, Framingham MA
Owner Steve Uliss told me that Firefly's improved the cooking method for the brisket, so I was eager to give it a test drive just an hour before a doctor's appointment. I had already noticed significant improvement in the brisket within the previous year and a half that ramped down the char and ramped up the moisture, with thicker, fattier (in a good way) slices. My sandwich arrived open faced, with the cut edges of the slices facing upward and the much more appealing bark and smoke ring buried in the bread. A little rearranging yielded the photo shown in the Recent Eats column. I liked both the flavor and texture of the meat, though the moisture levelwhile nowhere near dryhad been more pronounced on earlier visits. I should also mention that even though I rarely sauce brisket, the Firefly's Texas barbecue sauce, made with vidalia onions, is a worthy accompaniment.


Tennessee's, Framingham MA
I can't vouch for all the branches of this mostly Massachusetts mini-chain (formerly owned by Uliss), but the Framingham outpost has acquitted itself quite nicely on my last three visits. Ribs again tasted extremely fresh, again exhibited good texture (plenty of bark and tender without being fall-off-the-bone overcooked tender), again boasted full-on flavor inside and out, and again were served with humongously generous portions of three sides. I still can't distinguish their three sauces from one another.


Redbones, Somerville MA
A weeknight visit with a barbecue buddy afforded a good sampling of the barbecue menu and the results were typical: nothing was spectacular great but everything was good, and the best dishes of the night as usual were the beef ribs and the BBQ hash. I like the cornbread here, which has a baking powder component that nudges it toward biscuit territory.


Flaggstead Smokehouse, Farmington CT
Three visits to this 2-month-old upstart have all been positive. Everything here is served fresh, so when they run out, they run out. Some find that inconvenient, but I'll trade convenience for fresh 'cue any day. I'll have more detail in my forthcoming review, but the short take here is that the textures are near-perfect, the flavors (smoke and rub levels) could use a little boost, the service could not be friendlier and they offer one of the more enjoyable spaces in which to eat barbecue.


Blue Ribbon, Newton MA
After a fierce workout at the gym next door, I enjoyed a few bites of a burnt ends sandwich to tide myself over for a late dinner elsewhere. The meat had that familiar beefy flavor along with larger chunks, more bark and less steaminess than on recent visits. Mac and cheese was a side special, so I tried that as well. It's the tight Southern style typically found in soul food restaurants, with a moderately sharp cheese.


SoulFire, Allston MA
I used the Patriots Monday night season opener as an excuse to revisit the all-you-can-eat wings deal at SoulFire, and the joint was packed as I had never seen before. I liked that night's apple-bourbon "guest wing" but resisted the gluttony option and instead went with a more diet friendly pulled pork sandwich. The bark-filled meat also had a hint of apple flavor and served as a good vessel for some house-prepped habanero vinegar. Texture had just the right amount of give.


Big Daddy's, Acton ME
At least 95% of the full house on a Saturday visit had lobster or fried seafood on their plates, so that may give you an idea of how good the barbecue might be. The ribs and pulled pork failed to impress, but the wings were excellent.


Silk Route BBQ, Belmont MA
I've already made two visits to this traveling road show that sets up shop mostly in Belmont and once a week in Cambridge, but I haven't said much. That's because this one deserves a little extra attention that I hope comes through in the upcoming review. Some of the offerings here stretches the definition of barbecue (some meats are smoked but most are grilled), but this site is more about good food than good semantics, and I like this place. This is also an operation in transition, so I'm purposely delaying the review a bit not only to do it justice but to also reflect what they're actually serving by the time the review hits.





Massachusetts BBQ: Two-Part Weekend Brisket Class at Lester's, October 2-3

Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA) is offering a two-part, hands-on brisket workshop on Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3. The class will be divided into four groups, each with its own smoker and brisket. Stephen Eastridge and Scott Procko from the "Meat At Slim's" barbecue team will demonstrate how to select, trim and prepare brisket for the smoker, how different types of woods and charcoal can influence the flavor, and how to maintain and monitor cooking temperatures inside the smoker. Limited to just 16 participants, the workshop is $99. Hours are 7:00PM to 9:00PM Friday night and 10:00AM to noon on Saturday, with overnight attendance optional but not required. To register, call Lester's at (781) 221-7427 or email





(09/20/09)(second post)

New York City BBQ: Notes From A Labor Day Manhattan Barbecue Crawl

Long Island on Sunday, Manhattan on Monday? Absolutely, and Ernie Banks ("Let's play two!") would be proud. This was my first time in the city in a while, so I was more interested in revisiting some favorites than in covering new ground. I was jointed by Robert Fernandez of the White Trash BBQ blog at Hill Country, where we started a tour of my top two for sure and what might be my #3 for New York City BBQ.


Hill Country, NYC
I arrived exactly on time and found a message instructing me to start alone, which was a shame for my would-be guest: this was by far the best barbecue restaurant visit of the weekend. The Kreuz sausage was its usual impressive self, with good snap, plenty of juice, nice heat and hints of cheddar poking through the fierce smoke. The "Lean" brisket was super flavorful, super smoky, super tender and even super moist (without the blubbery fat you sometimes get in the "Moist" brisket). I especially liked the higher bark ratio and wonderfully caramelly texture that made this sampling one of the best examples of brisket I've been served at Hill Country. A beef rib was also very good, with fresh tasting tender meat, a crisp exterior and the unmistakable flavoring of post oak. Think about it: just after noontime on a holiday and Hill Country completely nailed it.

Wildwood, NYC
This visit was a mixed bag. Lamb ribs were excellent as usual, with a strong, natural lamb flavor, a good dose of smoke and a nice freshness, though they were a little fattier than usual. Pork tasted a bit odd and was overtender. Ribs (curiously, St Louis cut instead of the usual spares) were very tasty but unlike the lamb were not fresh tastingI'd guess they would have tasted great at 10:00 PM the night before, but they came across as reheated for lunch. Sausage was decent, though plainer than what I tasted earlier at Hill Country. Chili (a nice bonus as a side) had a diner style chili texture and light heat, but steered back somewhat to the overly sweet early versions of Wildwood chili. Cole slaw was excellent and an improvement from previous versions: creamier, zippier and with the new addition of caraway seed. 

Burnt ends were very good as usual, with the dependable mix of crispness, fat, juiciness, smoke and rub, though that last component might have been just a shade lighter than on those many occasions where I'd give RUB's burnt ends a perfect 10. Brisket, which was outstanding on my previous visit to RUB, had a perfect crust, a beautiful smoke ring, perfect slicing and good flavor. But though not dry, it wasn't as moist as last time, so score the brisket battle in Hill Country's favor for that day. Chicken empanadas were an interesting novelty, with the unlikely star of this item the fresh and delicious homemade outer crust that outshone the pulled chicken and chipotles within. Both the vinegar and mayo cole slaws were excellent as usual. I spent much of the ride home kicking myself for not ordering the ribs.

see Robert Fernandez's comments on this visit (and 3 of my photos)


So there you have it: three Long Island barbecue restaurant visits on Sunday, followed by three Manhattan barbecue restaurant visits on Monday, with two additional stops each day. How much weight did I gain? None. In fact, I lost a pound. How do I do it? Volume. Or should I say lack of volume. The point of these crawls is not to see how much I can stuff into myself but how good the 'cue is. Some of it was very good, some of it was laughably bad and most of it fell somewhere in between.



Brooklyn BBQ: Pies 'n' Thighs to Return in November

Last Thursday Eater reported that Pies 'n' Thighs, the Brooklyn barbecue joint that's been shut down for nearly two years (without resurfacing last or this summer as planned) will finally be making an autumn return.

read the report on Eater





Long Island BBQ: Notes From A Labor Day Weekend Long Island Barbecue Crawl

On Labor Day weekend, I met some friends in New York to catch up on old times and new barbecue joints. Joining me for all or part of the crawl were Will Breakstone (barbecue savant, beer aficionado, fearer of pickles, pitmaster of the world famous Willie B's BBQ in Bay Shore), Eric Devlin (poet laureate, sauce aficionado and author of the Home of BBQ blog), "Mineola Fred" (of Willie's competition team, satin orange shorts aficionado) and "Guy" (longtime PigTrip reader and the only professional fitness trainer I know willing to be seen eating barbecue with a bunch of fat guys).


Longhorn Saloon & BBQ, Rockville Centre:
The barbecue joint that was previously B-B-Q Inc didn't exhibit much change or improvement since the "changeover." I was told that this was a completely new barbecue joint under different ownership, but I was suspicious when I also heard that the B-B-Q Inc's menu and cooking methods would be retained. Based on my sighting of one of the Longhorn Saloon waitresses doing a little errand across the street at Croxley's (same ownership as B-B-Q Inc), I'm going to go out on a limb and postulate that the joint was never really sold but merely renamed as a marketing ploy. As for the food, all the meats lacked smoke, texture and flavor, with one exception. The Andouille sausage had some kick but they also grilled it into oblivion, making char the main flavor and stripping it of any moistness it would have had. Brisket was very pot roasty. Pork was very pale and looked and tasted like bland chicken. Wings were good sized, lightly breaded (a la General Tso's) and coated with a sauce that was decent but not the promised chipotle flavor. Willie B ventured into the kitchen and reported back that there was no smoker, only a Garland convection oven.


Ruby's Famous BBQ Joint, East Meadow:
This was a return visit a few months after Greg Barry took over as pitmaster, so we were anxious to see whether there was any delivery on the last visit's promise. I really liked the chicken, which succeeded on all fronts and would rank among the best I've had. Brisket was pretty good too, with a tender texture, more flavor than in the past and some welcome moisture. Pulled pork was way too saucy and limp in spots, a regression from what I had last time. Ribs lacked rub, flavor and crust. Sides were mostly pretty good.


Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint, Massapequa Park:
The new Massapequa Park location offers a high energy room wirth about five times the seating as the Bay Shore original. The service was good but the food was disappointing, especially considering my positive earlier visits. We ordered the Ribs+Ribs combo and a brisket sandwich, all without sauce, and all of it had an overpowering charcoal taste without any discernable smoke. Ribs were moist but lacked flavor. Brisket was dry and dark looking with no smoke ring. All of the sides were very good to outstanding, with the fries among the best I've had. If only the barbecue were as good as I remembered from my first visit, when both the sauced and unsauced ribs had flavor and texture in spades. On the second visit the chopped brisket and pulled pork were mushy and relied too much on the sauce. Admittedly it's only a small sample but each visit to Smokin' Al's has been a step down from the previous one. Am I ready to dismiss Smokin' Al's as strictly tourist 'cue? Not yet, though I'm allowing that it's a possibility. For now I have to factor in the Labor Day weekend, when the A team might not have been on hand. There have also been recent issues with the neighborhood regarding the smoker, so some new techniques to address that may also have had a hand.






Maine BBQ: Shaw's Ridge Farm BBQ Barn Reviewed

Within the last two weeks I posted two guest reviews of Eastern Long Island joints that are a bitch to get to at the height of beach season but are much more reachable now. The flipside of that is the seasonal joint that only has a short lifespan left before closing up until next year. One such joint is Shaw's Ridge Farm BBQ Barn, which closes on Columbus Day weekend next month. The place I never heard of until doing some research last month and visiting last weekend is the subject of my surprisingly positive 165th barbecue joint review. Check it out via the link above, the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.







New Hampshire BBQ: City Flame Closes

There's some sad news in Manchester, as City Flame Smokehouse has been reported (thanks, Wayne and Sean) as closed. I'm not sure how long this has been the case, but I was notified yesterday that the windows are covered in brown paper and that the flame has officially burned out after a two-year run.


It's just the latest Manchester BBQ casualty for a city that not too long ago had more barbecue restaurants per capita than any in the Northeast, including even Boston and New York City. At one point, the city simultaneously had KC's Rib Shack, Down and Dirty BBQ, Sausage Heaven (when it still sold BBQ lunches) and Santa Fe Smokehouse. Santa Fe and Down and Dirty moved on but Premier Palette and City Flame Smokehouse filled the void. Eventually Sausage Heaven and Premier Palette closed their doors, and now City Flame has done the same.


Manchester now has one barbecue joint remaining: KC's Rib Shack.


There was a lot to like at City Flame. Their small lot provided free parking (a rarity in Manchester), the people were friendly, the smoker was a J&R, the sausage in the early days was from Sausage Heaven and many of the recipes and methods echoed Goody Cole's Smokehouse (Brentwood NH), where the City Flame pitmaster once worked. I'll miss City Flame's barbecue spaghetti, the outstanding cucumber salad and the ribs, which at their best were as good as any in the area. But even more, I'll miss the hospitality.




Boston BBQ: Poppa B's Temporarily Closed; To Relocate as Takeout Only Joint

A few days ago there was a post on Chowhound asking for information about the mysterious closing of Poppa B's, the Dorchester soul food joint that also offered some barbecue items. Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that Poppa B's won't be closed long term but is simply moving to a new location. The bad news: it'll be a takeout-only joint. That's not much consolation, because much of what made Poppa B's was the space, and their best itemthe fried chickendoesn't travel very well.

read the Boston Globe post article on Poppa B's





Long Island BBQ: A Guest Review by "Chuck From Long Island" of Townline BBQ and Turtle Crossing, Part 2

Now that summer's unofficially over, the trek to the Hamptons and other Long Island points "out east" should be a lot easier, so here's the second installment of the tough-to-get-to joints by Chuck From Long Island.


This time it's Turtle Crossing (East Hampton). Here's Chuck's take:

I recently had lunch at Turtle Crossing in East Hampton NY, after not having visited in several years. The restaurant is located just east of the village center, housed in a small storefront off Route 27. It's easy to drive past the restaurant, but hard to miss the outdoor seating in front of the place. Both take-out and seated service is available. My girlfriend and I chose to sit at one of the small tables outside overlooking the highway. I ordered a combination platter of brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken, with a half rack of pork ribs as an add on. My girlfriend ordered the smoked duck. We ordered cole slaw, collard greens and cornbread as our sides. 


The meaty pork ribs were smoked, lightly glazed with a tomato based sauce, and finished on the grill. They presented with no pronounced smoke ring, but were moist and flavorful. I could detect the taste of mesquite wood under the flavors of the sweet sauce. I liked the ribs the best of everything served on this visit. The brisket was also pretty good, but unfortunately a trickle of the same tomato-based sauce covered up most of the beef and smoke taste. The pulled pork and pulled chicken were drowned in sauce. (I had a hard time telling them apart and I started to find the sweet sauce cloying.) The duck was nice, but here the Asian sweet sauce on them covered up the duck flavor. 


Cole slaw was excellent. Collard greens were better than average, but unfortunately the chef added too much sugar to them. (He obviously has a sweet tooth.) By the time I was almost done with my meal I started to find my ribs too sweet. I guess I had sugar overload and my taste buds had been raped by all the sweet sauce and added sugar. (Suprisingly the corn bread was extremely authentic and not too sweet, especially in comparison to the meats.) 


I gotta say that although this place has potential the sauces turned what would've been above average barbecue to just average. If I go again I would just order the ribs and brisket served without the sauce with the cole slaw and cornbread. Overall, I would say that this is not destination barbecue. And although I liked the size and juiciness of the ribs I wouldn't go out of my way to try them again. 



Connecticut BBQ: Smokin' Rock BBQ Reviewed

I've made a few daytrips to Connecticut in the last month or so, hitting a bunch of the Nutmeg state's newer and more obscure barbecue joints. The site's 164th barbecue joint review is now available for Smokin' Rock BBQ (also known as the Rock Cafe) (Rocky Hill CT). Check it out via the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.






New England BBQ: The Best of New England, Outside of Boston

Remember the little birdie who told me about a list in the Sunday Boston Globe of the ten best barbecue joints in New England outside of Boston? It didn't appear last Sunday as originally expected, but it's in today's Travel section.

read the article online


Here are the joints the Globe listed (in alphabetical order):

  • BBQ Bob's (Bethel ME)

  • BT's Smokehouse (Brimfield MA)

  • Buck's Naked (Freeport ME)

  • Chester's Barbecue (New London CT)

  • Cookhouse (New Milford CT)

  • Curtis BBQ (Putney VT)

  • Moat Mountain Smokehouse (North Conway NH)

  • Muddy River Smokehouse (Portsmouth NH)

  • Smoke 'n' Bones (Oak Bluffs MA on Martha's Vineyard)

  • United BBQ (Providence RI)


Before last weekend, I compiled my own list just to see how closely the Globe's list would overlap. There wasn't much.


Only three of the Globe's ten selections (BT's Smokehouse, Buck's Naked, United BBQ) made my list. I also like Chester's, a tough omission that might be the next joint to make my list if I dropped a couple of too-close-to-Boston joints. The Cookhouse would have made my list at one point, but they spiralled downhill shortly before closing down three of their four locations, leaving only the New Milford flagship. Three of the Globe's choices are joints I have not yet visited, though I have heard very good things about one, very bad things about another and nothing about the third. Of the Globe's two selections I disagree with, one I can understand and one leaves me scratching my head in amazement. It's easy to fall in love with Curtis BBQ based on the funky location, unique open pit and personable pitmaster, but the (decent) 'cue for me just doesn't warrant the hype (give me corporate looking but better tasting Big Bubba's at Mohegan Sun any day). As for Muddy River Smokehouse, its inclusion gave me the second biggest chuckle of the article (I'll let you guess which line early on gave me the biggest).


My list of New England BBQ Joints beyond greater Boston (in alphabetical order):

  • Big Bubba's BBQ (Uncasville CT) see my review of  this joint

  • Bobby Q's (Westport CT) see my review of  this joint

  • BT's Smokehouse (Brimfield MA) see my review of  this joint

  • Buck's Naked (Freeport ME) see my review of  this joint

  • Goody Cole's Smokehouse (Brentwood NH) see my review of  this joint

  • KC's Rib Shack (Manchester NH) see my review of  this joint

  • Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA) see my review of  this joint

  • Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington MA) see my review of  this joint

  • Texas BBQ Company (Northborough MA) see my review of  this joint

  • United BBQ (Providence RI) see my review of  this joint

  • Wilson's (Fairfield CT) see my review of  this joint





New Jersey BBQ: A Guest Review by Eric Devlin of Southern Smokehouse

My New Jersey coverage has been admittedly weak and recently challenged, so when I heard from Eric Devlin (Home of BBQ) about his recent visit to Southern Smokehouse (Linden NJ), I seized the opportunity to ask him for a guest review. Here's his take:

With my predilection for all things smoked, sighting a new BBQ joint is always a treat. I recently had occasion to drive a friend to Newark International Airport. Stuck in some truly horrendous traffic, we managed to miss his flight by minutes. After rescheduling for a later flight, we decided to get an early dinner.


Driving a few miles down routes 1 and 9, we found a shopping center that had a number of restaurants. Tucked into the back was a Southern Smokehouse location. Being completely unfamiliar with them, I suggested we try them out. I now deeply regret fostering further calamity on my already stressed friend.


When we walked through the door it became clear that this was a buffet. Not a good sign, but not enough to deter us. I asked the college aged hostess if they smoked their meats. She quietly shook her head in the negative. I should have been more surprised, with the name being ‘Southern Smokehouse’, but I have been getting more and more inured to false advertising in BBQ. We took the attitude of ‘how bad could it be’ and continued into the dining area. Oh, what fools we were.


The food ranged from atrocious to edible. The service was friendly but inept and sporadic. There were no BBQ type items available during the lunch hours. The closest was the fried chicken. During the dinner hours they have turkey and ribs. The turkey is baked and the ribs are grilled.


There seemed to be little or no rotation of the buffet items, resulting in dried out and just nasty food. They had a salad bar that fell into the ‘edible’ category. Oddly, they also had an Asian section in their buffet. The usual standards were on display. Lo Mein, General Tso’s Chicken and chicken on a stick all made an appearance. Sadly, their totally quotidian General Tso’s Chicken was the best thing that I had to eat.


The bathroom was disgusting, but the rest of the cleanliness was reasonable.


Thankfully, the prices are low. I was able to get my money’s worth at Southern Smokehouse by drinking about 10 Sprites in an hour’s time.


My advice? If you are waiting for a flight at Newark and you’re getting a bit peckish, roll down your car window and suck down the diesel fumes. You’ll get just as much nutritional value and it’ll taste better.



(09/10/09)(second post)

A few Photos From Today's Catered Lunch By Redbones


click to view larger image


click to view larger image


click to view larger image





Boston BBQ Becomes Worcester BBQ: Redbones Is Catering My Lunch Today

It's that time of year again at my office: there's a summer barbecue luncheon today. This year I'm even part of the inner circle that's planning the event, so I know ahead of time that it'll be Redbones (Somerville MA) making the trek out to Worcester to cater it. And this year I know that the menu will consist of pork ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled chicken, vegetables, cornbread, rice and beans, watermelon, cookies and brownies. (I would have also added the BBQ hash, but what do I know?) I'll try to take a few photos.


New York City BBQ: Beer and BBQ Dinner at Hill Country, September 23

Hill Country (NYC) is partnering with Samuel Adams to host a Beer and BBQ Dinner on Wednesday, September 23. The event starts at 7:00PM with a reception featuring passed appetizers (chicken and cheese stuffed jalapenos, mini jalapeno and cheese corn muffins, mini chili bowls with aviocado) paired with Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Samuel Adams Light. The first course is a BLT wedge salad with devilled egg spread on toast, paired with Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat. The second course is a smoked bone-in pork chop with homemade apple sauce, baked sweet potato and cinnamon sugar, paired with Samuel Adams Octoberfest. The dessert is fresh berry crumble pie with Blue Bell ice cream and Samuel Adams Cherry wheat.


The event is $65 and may be reserved by contacting Laura at 212-255-4544 ext 13, or

more details here





Joints Directory Madness

Here's the latest batch of barbecue Joints directory activity, spanning three states. This time there are eight new joints, three new closings and one new website.

  • Old Devil Moon (New York, NY) has been closed since winter. Thanks to Robert for the tip. There's a tribute posted on Vanishing New York

  • Bad Bob's (Oceanside NY) was a borderline addition when it first joined my directory, since it's a small but national chain. There's no longer an outpost in Oceanside and there are two locations struggling in Port Washington. Based on its chain status and some mixed reports from people I trust, I've pulled it from the Directory altogether.

  • Picnick, Smoked (New York NY) is a barbecue truck that's a sister operation of the Picnick kiosk, located at the corner of Wall Street and water Street. It doesn't have ribs and doesn't have a phone, but it does seem to have a loyal following based on the Menupages reviews and a Midtown Lunch post.

  • Marfa NYC (New York NY) earlier this year took the space previously occupied by a Chinese transvestite bar. The theme is West Texas, with pork ribs, pulled pork and chipotle chicken arguably offering barbecue (where's the beef?). Current recession specials include all you can eat ribs ($12) and/or wings ($9) on Mondays and all you can eat fried chicken ($9) on Wednesdays.

  • Riverview BBQ & Grill (Seymour CT) was bought in December 2008 by two brothers who opened the joint in March 2009. I know nothing about the food, but I have a hunch the service might be good, based on the friendliest, most courteous telephone response I've received in a long, long time. [website not currently active]

  • Pig Pen Bar and Barbeque (New City NY) is a squeaky clean new addition with two kinds of ribs (St Louis cut pork and boneless beef short ribs), three types of burgers (beef, turkey and pork), plus a wide range of appetizers, including shrimp with Alabama white sauce.

  • Smokey O' Grady's (East Lyme CT) has the distinction of a PigTrip visit before it was added to the directory. I can say that it's a good place to watch sports and the Sunday deals in particular are inviting. As for the barbecue, my review is forthcoming. There's no website but you can view the menu here.

  • Sweet Potata's (Bloomfield CT) is another addition to Connecticut's already-strong soul roster. In addition to the usual ribs, brisket, "chopped BBQ" and BBQ chicken, Sweet Potata's offers a full breakfast menu (starting at 6:00AM) with specialties such as grilled SPAM and egg sandwiches, salmon cakes, smoked sausages, grits, sweet potato pancakes and too many others to list.

  • Shaw's Ridge Farm BBQ Barn (Sanford ME) just might be that elusive "fun for the whole family" place, with miniature golf, more than 40 flavors of ice cream, barbecue and a separate lunch shack offering salads and sandwiches.

  • The Real BBQ Bob's (Bethel ME) was already in the directory but now has a website:

  • Overtime Grill & Ale House (Island Park NY) doesn't have the full barbecue offerings of the previous two regimes that occupied (disgraced?) this space, but babybacks, a pulled pork sandwich, a bevy of TVs and possibly better execution might be an upgrade. Thanks to Sledneck for the heads up. There's no website but you can view the menu here.

  • Island BBQ (Islip NY) has shut its doors after just seven months of operation. Thanks to Will for the tip.





Long Island BBQ: A Guest Review by "Chuck From Long Island" of Townline BBQ and Turtle Crossing, Part 1

Now that summer's unofficially over, the trek to the Hamptons and other Long Island points "out east" should be a lot easier, so this is a good time to post some guest reviews of Townline BBQ (Sagaponack) and Turtle Crossing (East Hampton) by Chuck From Long Island.


First up is Townline BBQ. Here's Chuck's take:

I recently visited Townline BBQ on a sunny summer afternoon. The restaurant is just a short drive from beautiful Sagg Main beach in Sagaponack, NY. It's housed in a large, modern, barnlike structure on a stretch of Route 27 after the town of Bridgehampton (across the road from a driving range and surrounded by farmland on both sides). Townline BBQ provides take-out and counter service only, but there's plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with nice accomodations such as a pool room, clean bathrooms and a sink in the dining area for hand washing.

In my opinion Townline BBQ serves better than average barbecue for Long Island, but nothing extraordinary. It's supposed to serve Texas BBQ, but few of the offerings are actually done in a true Texas-style. On this visit I ordered the pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw and collard greens. I was alerted that my order was ready for pick-up via a vibrating beeper device.

The dry-rubbed St. Louis cut ribs were prepared Memphis style, with a spicy rub sprinkled liberally on the ribs after smoking. They were lean, smallish in cut, and presented with a discernable smoke ring. The dry rub contained papika and many other spices (while typical Texas style ribs are generally prepared with a Dalmatian rub of salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne). Nevertheless, it was very flavorful somewhat reminding me of the kind used at RUB. Unfortunately, I found my ribs to be slighlty on the dry side and could not taste any smoke over the flavors of the rub. (I found myself adding some of the tomato-based sauce to the ribs for both moisture and to balance the heavy rub seasonings.)

The pulled pork sandwich was served on a hamburger bun with cole slaw on top (typical of the Southeast). The pork was moist and flavorful, served with a thin application of sweet tomato based sauce. I enjoyed the contrast of textures and flavors of this sandwich: the sweet, moist pork contrasted nicely with the creamy, crunchy coleslaw.

The beef brisket was probably the best thing I tried on this visit. It was offered both moist and lean. (I chose the moist, but it was still very lean.) Nice flavor although it probably could've benefited from some more drippings. I'd say it was above average, but nothing like the brisket offered at either Hill County or Wildwood.

All in all a nice place to stop after a day at the beach, but I wouldn't go out of my way for a visit.





Connecticut BBQ: Tar River Barbeque Reviewed

A post on a Saturday is a rarity, and a Saturday post on a holiday weekend is even rarer. Rarer still is a barbecue joint review on a Saturday, but since last week was light on posts due to other pressing matters, why wait 'til next week.


The site's 163rd barbecue joint review is now available for Tar River Barbeque (Colchester CT). Check it out via the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.


I'll probably have another post or two this weekend.





Southern BBQ: Some Assigned BBQ Reading in This Month's Travel + Leisure

Based on their article in the September issue of Travel + Leisure magazine, it's obvious that food writing brothers Matt Lee and Ted Lee know how to prepare for a barbecue crawl. The vehicle of choice for the 5-state sojourn (Kansas City to North Carolina) was a 1972 Buick that may not have had the gaudy miles-per-gallon stats you'd like for such a long journey, but the four cigarette lighters allowed refrigeration and computer connectivity to process photos.

The actual magazine has a different assortment of photos from the online version, but the article is identical and a great read. Note that the "America's Best Barbecue" caption on the front cover was probably not written by the Lee brothers, who did not include Texas, Alabama, South Carolina or any of the nouveau barbecue regions on their survey and did not claim in the article that their goal was to include and identify the best in the country.

Read the Travel + Leisure article online




New England BBQ: The Best of New England, Outside of Boston

A little birdie told me that this Sunday's Boston Globe will feature a rundown of the ten best barbecue joints in New England outside of Boston. The point of this post is neither to brag that I was involved (I wasn't) nor whine that I should have been involved (I never think that), but merely to offer a heads up. I'm very much looking forward to seeing that issue on Sunday.


Just for fun, I compiled my own list of 10. Part of the challenge lies in how you define "Boston." For the purpose of this list, I excluded all barbecue joints that are listed in the Boston Metro Area section of my Joints directory.


Here's what I came up with (in alphabetical order):

  • Big Bubba's BBQ (Uncasville CT)

  • Bobby Q's (Westport CT)

  • BT's Smokehouse (Brimfield MA)

  • Buck's Naked (Freeport ME)

  • Goody Cole's Smokehouse (Brentwood NH)

  • KC's Rib Shack (Manchester NH)

  • Lester's Roadside BBQ (Burlington MA)

  • Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington MA)

  • Texas BBQ Company (Northborough MA)

  • United BBQ (Providence RI)

  • Wilson's (Fairfield CT)


Yes, there are eleven joints, but that's my list. There were some tough omissions, but for the most part it was easy without all the metro Boston and New York restaurants to jockey for position.


I'm guessing that the Globe's list will include Uncle Willie's (Waterbury CT) and Curtis BBQ (Putney VT), and if they really want to lead the receiver, they could also includeas I nearly didthe upstart Flaggstead Smokehouse (Farmington CT).




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Recent Eats (click photo to view larger image)

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Ribs at Firefly's, Framingham MA.


Brisket sandwich at SoulFire, Allston MA.


Babyback ribs and brisket at Bison County, Waltham MA.


Pulled pork sandwich at SoulFire, Allston MA.


Burnt ends sandwich at Blue Ribbon, W. Newton MA.


Pork ribs at Flaggstead Smokehouse, Farmington CT.


Pulled pork sandwich at Big Daddy's, Acton ME.


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Smoked chicken salad sandwich at Shaw's Ridge Farm BBQ Barn, Sanford ME.


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Brisket at RUB, New York NY.


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Brisket and sausage at Hill Country, New York NY.


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Rib at Wildwood Barbeque, New York NY.


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Brisket sandwich at Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint, Massapequa Park NY.


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Chicken at Ruby's Famous BBQ Joint, East Meadow NY.


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Burnt ends sliders at Longhorn Saloon & Barbeque, Rockville Centre NY.


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Brisket and sausage platter at Flaggstead Smokehouse, Farmington CT.


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Brisket sandwich at Firefly's, Framingham MA.



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