Boston's Hottest BBQ Dishes Right Now

By Scott Kearnan  |  July 15, 2014
Credit: Sonya Highfield Photography

Boston isn't exactly overstuffed with barbecue spots. (Although there will be an exciting new entry later this week, when Causeway — originally scheduled to open over the weekend — finally fires up its grill.) There are some reliably top-notch spots to grab 'cue; here are a few of the highest rated. But we also wanted to recognize some specific standout dishes that catch our attention. There are some staple favorites, sure. But we also looked for new menu entries and those that put a twist on tradition. Let us know if we missed any of your smoked-meat favorites in the comments below. 

  • Pulled Lamb Shank at Henrietta's Table

    As befitting this seasonal New England, farm-to-table favorite in Harvard Square, Henrietta's Table's pulled lamb is almost stewlike. Braised in a luscious BBQ ale, it's served with wilted greens and smoked bacon. 

    1 Bennett St., Cambridge; 617-661-5005

  • Lettuce Wraps at SlowBones

    When you think of barbecue, lettuce probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But we sort of love that this fast-casual newcomer from the co-founder of Boston Chicken lets you put any of its barbecued meats in a lettuce wrap, rather than on a sandwich roll. Pulled pork, fire-smoked chicken, and BBQ braised brisket can all get the crunchy, no-carb and lower-calorie treatment. 

    80 Mall Rd., Burlington; 781-365-1998

  • Korean BBQ at TAMO

    Included in a recent overhaul of the Seaport Hotel restaurant's space and menu was the addition of a spicy, sweet and sticky new Korean dish. Thinly sliced short ribs are prepared with a marinade of soy sauce, brown sugar and onion, served on a bed of red leaf lettuce and paired with vermicelli and pickled daikon. 

    1 Seaport Lane; 617-385-4315

  • BBQ Oysters at Tryst

    Launched in time for the summer, "T's BBQ Menu" is a special selection of plates available only on Monday and Tuesday nights at Tryst. We're smitten with the BBQ oysters served with a spicy Creole butter, but the coffee- and bourbon-glazed babyback ribs are a standout too. 

    689 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington; 781-641-2227 

  • Credit: Sonya Highfield Photography

    Pork Ribs at Bostonia Public House

    Chef Kyle Ketchum promised that classic comfort foods would get a twist at his Bostonia, and he makes good with this hot little number: pork ribs spiced with the Ethiopian spice mix berbere. It's served with almond quinoa, and puts an East African twist on a "down South" fave. 

    131 State St.; 617-948-9800

  • Tailgate Platters at Cask 'n Flagon

    When chef Donley Liburd stepped up to bat at this Fenway-side stalwart, he introduced a menu-within-a-menu dubbed "Big D's BBQ." The best way to sample the new offerings? On a tailgate platter ($18) that lets you mix combos of BBQ beef brisket, BBQ chicken, babyback ribs and BBQ pork. Add cornbread and sides, like creamy mac 'n' cheese. Serve piping hot. 

    62 Brookline Ave.; 617-536-4840


  • St. Louis Ribs at Merrill & Co.

    South End newcomer Merrill & Co. (which happens to be one of Boston's 10 Hottest Restaurants right now) has a seafood bent, but there's some excellent turf to match the surf. Exhibit A: a massive platter (at $40, it's meant for you) of St. Louis ribs roasted overnight and rubbed with a mix that includes za'atar, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. The grilling is accompanied by a generous brushing of Carolina red sauce, and it's served with kohlrabi slaw and waffle fries paired with an Old Bay aïoli. 

    1 Appleton St.; 617-728-0728

  • Credit: Michael Young

    Memphis BBQ Spaghetti at State Park

    We'd be remiss if we didn't give a nod to this dish at the dive-bar-inspired spot in Kendall Square; after all, it's one of the 10 Best Things We This Year (So Far). Inspired by a similar dish served at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis, the bowl is a bold heap of smoked pork shoulder, pasta and a 50/50 mix of housemade marinara and barbecue sauce. 

    1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge; 617-848-8355

  • "The Pit" BBQ Sauce at Pit Stop 

    Not a dish, but it's a draw on its own. The signature sauce at this unassuming BBQ joint is sold by the pint, quart and gallon if you want to take it home. Or just swing by to enjoy it slathered on some of the best barbecue pork and beef around Boston. 

    888 Morton Ave.; 617-436-0485

  • Everything at Sweet Cheeks Q

    Okay, one little cheat. It's hard to narrow things down to a specific dish, and Top Chef alum Tiffani Faison's Fenway-side BBQ restaurant is too vital an entry in the scene to ignore. Whether throwing down fried chicken, platters of pork or heavenly biscuits — or even having a little fun with pop-up ramen nights — everything at Cheeks is pretty darn sweet.

    1381 Boylston St.; 617-266-1300