Summer means barbecue, but doing it yourself can sometimes be a daunting culinary adventure to embark on. Reduce your risk of fire hazard while still reaping all the rewards of summertime’s tastiest grilled, smoked, charred, dry-rubbed, or drenched-in-sauce barbecue options thanks to these five recommendations from local chefs.
The Smoke Shop
“I’m really looking forward to Andy Husbands’ new place, Smoke Shop. I love brisket and I have no doubt his will be great.” — Anthony Caturano, chef/owner of Prezza & Tonno
“As H.I. McDunnough would say in Raising Arizona, ‘I found myself driving by BBQ places that were not on the way home.’ (I think H.I. drove by convenience stores, but you get my drift.) I’m waiting for Andy Husbands’ Smoke Shop to open in Kendall Square. Any of the barbecue dishes Andy has cooked, written about or won national championships with will ‘smoke’ the competition. That’s where you’ll see me if I’m not smoking some brisket in my own backyard.” — Brian Poe, chef/owner of The Tip Tap Room, Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, and Bukowski Tavern
We’ve been hearing about Andy Husbands’s barbecue restaurant since at least early April, when more than one local chef named it as the soon-to-be-opened restaurant they were most looking forward to. Now, The Smoke Shop is all set up in Kendall Square. Husbands is the award-winning chef and owner of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel in the South End. His latest eatery offers a wide range of slow-cooked barbecue and classic sides such as corn bread, pimento mac and cheese, and sweet and spicy coleslaw.
“Blue Ribbon…[has] the best ribs in the area, mostly because they’re cooked correctly, consistently delicious and remind me of BBQ joints back in my home state of Georgia. The best BBQ places are the no-frills, affordable type of restaurants where smoked meat isn’t an afterthought; it’s the only thought.” — Jason Heard, executive chef at Coppersmith
This family-owned chain has locations in Arlington and West Newton, as well as a catering service so you can have the barbecue brought to you—if you still want to pull off that backyard bash without all the effort of smoking the meat yourself. Heard is right to compare Blue Ribbon to the iconic barbecue places down south; the business was inspired by those classic roadside joints, according to its website. Blue Ribbon offers fare from melt-in-your-mouth brisket that’s been smoked for 14 hours to dry-rubbed barbecue chicken seasoned with their own 15-spice blend.
“While not ‘barbecue’ in the traditional sense, I’d say Koreana in Cambridge is my favorite. I’ll gladly eat marinated short ribs and pork belly all day, every day. Plus noodles, seafood pancakes and kimchi are pretty awesome sides to accompany your BBQ.” — Patrick Gilmartin, executive chef at River Bar and The Independent
This might not be the traditional barbecue many of us Americans are used to, but Koreana offers traditional Korean barbecue of roasted pork, chicken, or beef that has been marinated in soy sauce or sesame oil. At Koreana, like at most Korean barbecue joints, the tables come equipped with built in grills, so technically you’re still manning the controls here. As Gilmartin suggested, expand your idea of what a barbecue side is with flavorful options like like kimchi, sushi, and fried squid that can all be ordered a la carte.
The Backroom at Moody’s Deli
“Josh Smith from Moody’s Deli and The Backroom in Waltham, MA is serving my favorite BBQ right now, which is his 7x Wagyu Kansas City burnt ends.” — Charlie Foster, chef at Woods Hill Table
Moody’s Deli in Waltham pulls double duty, offering bagels and pastrami sandwiches up front while serving up more involved dishes such as roasted mussels, plates of pasta, flatbreads, and more in a sit-down section in the back. The most important menu item, of course, is the Wagyu beef dishes. Wagyu is a famous kind of beef from Japanese cattle favored for its “marbling” of fat. Whether wood-fired or smoked, this meat is sure to be tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. It’s accompanied by either heirloom grits or charred broccoli gratin.
“[I order] almost everything when dining there with the family, specifically the baby back ribs and smoked beef brisket. The brisket is very well done and the ribs are nice and tender.” — Pedro Alarcon, chef/owner of La Casa de Pedro
This Somerville spot has been a staple for barbecue lovers since it opened in 1987. Redbones focuses on authentic, “down-home style” Southern food from pulled pork sandwiches to half racks of ribs. The smoked beef brisket is wood-smoked for 14 hours. Redbones also offers catering options, including a pig roast (for a minimum of 50 people) if you want to go all-out for your summer bash.