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BBQ Ribs
Photograph: Pixabay BBQ Ribs

The best BBQ in Boston

Here’s where to go for smoky, meaty barbecue in Boston, including ribs and burnt ends

By Time Out Boston Staff and Eric Grossman

Barbecue purists head to Meccas like Texas, Kansas City, or the Carolinas for their fix, but quite a few joints around Boston are doing their best to replicate the beauty of meats cooked over an open flame. Whether brisket or ribs, smoked meats or burnt ends, you can satisfy your craving for barbecue, sauce, and Southern sides without traveling too far. Our list of the best barbecue in Boston is all about the meats, but after you indulge, you can compensate by checking out our guides to the best vegetarian restaurants in Boston and best vegan restaurants in Boston

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best BBQ in Boston

The Smoke Shop
Photograph: Courtesy The Smoke Shop

1. The Smoke Shop

Restaurants Barbecue Kendall Sq

Chef Andy Husbands has years of practice as a member of the first competitive barbecue team from New England to with the Jack Daniels World BBQ Championship, so this ‘cue is top notch. Platters of ribs, burnt ends, smoked turkey, and other meats are matched by hearty sides like pimento mac ‘n cheese, bacon collards, and cornbread with honey sea salt butter. Gather a group of 10-12 friends and go for the Whole Hog, served with all the sides. The bar carries more than 200 whiskies, the perfect beverage for a meaty feast.

Blue Ribbon Barbecue
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jen J.

2. Blue Ribbon Barbecue

Restaurants Barbecue

Blue Ribbon has been smoking meats for more than 20 years in Newton and Arlington. It’s the go-to joint for parties and small groups, as they sell meats and sides by the pound. North Carolina, Kansas City, Texas, and St. Louis styles are all represented in the smoker; a variety of sauces is available as well. Burnt ends (hickory-smoked brisket doused in sauce and caramelized) are a popular choice. Don’t miss the baked beans, and save room for pecan pie.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Christina P.

3. Redbones

Restaurants Barbecue Somerville

This long-standing barbecue joint in Somerville is usually crowded, with the chatter adding to the lively atmosphere. There’s something for everyone on the lengthy menu of platters and sandwiches. Try the Memphis-style, dry-rubbed ribs with biscuits, hush puppies, or mac ‘n cheese. Sauces are tangy and flavorful. A solid beer list complements the meats, and banana pudding with Nilla Wafers wraps up a meal with a good Southern finish.

Sweet Cheeks
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stacy S.

4. Sweet Cheeks

Restaurants Barbecue Fenway/Kenmore

Tiffani Faison’s casual spot near Fenway serves up barbecue—from brisket to pulled chicken—on metal lunch trays. Pulled pork is a top item, house-made sauces kick up the flavor, and you can’t go wrong with any of the sides (most, like fried green tomatoes or okra, are vegetarian). Get a bucket ‘o biscuits to scoop up any remaining meaty bits, and don’t miss the giant Nutter Butter for dessert.

Bison County
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Wilfredo B.

5. Bison County

Restaurants Barbecue

Head to Waltham for a taste of Texas and the Carolinas, plus some twists. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken comprise the standard barbecue offerings. Get your meat and standard sides like baked beans or mac ‘n cheese, or go for something more inventive, like bison tips, the Memphis Thanksgiving burrito, candied pork belly, or Barnyard poutine. There’s also an impressive specialty burger menu (Turducken, Chicken Chorizo), and non-barbecue items like Cajun-spiced Catfish Bites, bison shepherd’s pie, and a shrimp po-boy. Fortunately, there’s a strong list of craft beers and ciders to enjoy with all that meat.

Pit Stop BBQ
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Dee J.

6. Pit Stop BBQ

Restaurants Barbecue Mattapan

This Mattapan takeout joint has been cooking classic barbecue for more than 30 years. Pork, beef, and chicken are all smoked to perfection, including brisket and ribs, chopped and whole. Get a tray with all the fixins or a quick sandwich. Southern sides include slaw, collards, yams, cornbread, and Cajun rice, and banana pudding is a must. If you love their secret BBQ sauce as much as many people do, you can take home a gallon. Plan in advance—Pit Stop is only open Thursday to Saturday.

Shed's BBQ
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Damien S.

7. Shed’s BBQ

Restaurants Barbecue Downtown

For Texas-style barbecue from native Texans, head to Downtown Crossing. Get your smoked brisket, sausage, pulled pork, pulled chicken, or turkey as a sandwich or platter; ribs and hot links are available, too. Sauces include Espresso BBQ and Meemaw’s Molasses. On the side, you can’t go wrong with queso mac ‘n cheese or fried pickles. Choose a salad or “superfood” bowl to feel a little healthier, but you can always top it off with any of the meats. In true Texas style, there’s also Frito Pie on the menu. Sorry weekend warriors: Shed’s is only open on weekdays.

Larry J’s BBQ Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kirk G.

8. Larry J’s BBQ Cafe

Restaurants Barbecue Seaport District

Seemingly out of place amongst seafood-focused restaurants in the Seaport, Larry J’s offers apple- and hickory-smoked meats via casual counter service. The menu features smoked sausage, brisket, ribs, chicken and more. The smoked turkey leg, an uncommon offering, is worth a try. Add more flavor with sauces like Arkansas Red and Jamaican Jerk. Sides include Texas chili fries and Texas Caviar (a black-eyed pea salad). Grab a seat outside—there is no inside seating—or order a combo to go.

Causeway BBQ
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Causeway Restaurant & Bar

9. Causeway Restaurant & Bar

Restaurants Barbecue West End

For game-day barbecue or a post-concert meat-fix, Causeway is the place to go near TD Garden. Sandwiches like smoked sausage or brisket are an easy, hand-held choice. Platters come with sides and cornbread. Appetizers and sides include some tasty mashups like brisket nachos or mac ‘n cheese with pulled pork. Don’t miss the award-winning brisket chili. Whatever your meaty pleasure, Causeway is the place to fill up before or after hitting the Garden.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Emily K.

10. Rosebud American Kitchen

Restaurants Diners Somerville

Rosebud is known more for pie and diner fare, but the St. Louis-style ribs would be at home in any barbecue joint. Proof? They’re offered on the menu “while they last.” Several dishes will please barbecue lovers: barbecue half chicken, smoked meatloaf, and the Texas Rachel in a Skirt (smoked brisket, onions, horseradish, slaw, and a cheese skirt, on rye). For a real treat, with a friend or three, try the Asian BBQ Hog Head, served with gochujang, kimchi, ginger scallion relish, and slider buns.

Highland Fried
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jason S.

11. Highland Fried

Restaurants American Inman Sq

The main draw at Highland Fried is the fried chicken, but barbecue plays a strong supporting roles. Brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, spicy sausage, and St. Louis ribs are all done well, and offered in plates or sandwiches. Standard sides like collards and slaw are available, but it’s worth the upgrade for chicken and andouille gumbo. Make it a party with a classic tiki drink like the Painkiller or the Long Suffering Bastard. Save room for peach cobbler.


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