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Good barbecue

Sara DiBari asks:

Where can I get good barbecue in MA? Like taking someone from the South good. Doesn't have to be near Boston.

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BT's smokehouse in Sturbridge. Get the brisket you will not regret it. Worth the drive. http://btsmokehouse.com

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Lots of other Boston fans of BT's. ;-}

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The best authentic BBQ I've had in Boston is at the M&M Ribs food truck. Blue Ribbon is good too.

I've been to Sweet Cheeks a few times, but I can't hang. The sides are too fancy and not really that good.

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In addition to a name which feels like you're about to get slapped with an accusation by HR, the food is a bit overrated for what it is. Not bad -- I'll go there 2-3 times a year with co-workers but it is to real BBQ what Quodba is to burritos. It's the type of place which could stand to tone down the theatrics and improve the menu.

I really like Bub's BBQ in Sunderland MA but that's not exactly nearby.

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Unnecessarily harsh, no?

I like Sweet Cheeks a lot but I wish it were in a different location because then it wouldn't have the frat boy/Fenway crowd which kind of kills it for me. And yeah--the prices are bonkers. But I love her ribs and fried chicken and the sides--the crazy chunky-cut slaw, the $$$ but perfect biscuits, and the broccoli cheddar casserole are fantastic.

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Big Moe has been doing it right for over a decade. M&M catered my brother's high school graduation party ~12 years ago and they haven't missed a beat since. Website says they have a new location on Southampton street, or follow them on Twitter to see temporary truck locations.

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I agree this everything you said, and would also like to add an RIP to Jake's (next to Doyles back in the day). M&M is probably the best, although for pulled pork I have to give that to Blue Ribbon. The one in W Rox I didn't care for at all (tried it twice), Sweet Cheeks is meh, rather over priced and somehow touristy. Not terrible, but not great either.

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... but kind of a long trip for dinner:

B.T.'s Smokehouse --- in Sturbridge:

http://pigtrip.net/review-BTSHR.htm

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I moved up from Texas about 6 years ago, and for the longest time, I'd given up on good bbq in Mass. Blue Ribbon is nice and all, but it's nowhere close to authentic. Don't even get me started on Redbones, which pretty much tastes and smells like lighter fluid.

B.T.'s is the place to go for beef done right. You know they're doing it right when you want to eat the fat.

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Everything I had at BT's was unreal. The brisket in particular was perfect. Well worth the drive.

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... and it's always been great. We have never gotten a seat inside, however -- which meant eating outside once when it was definitely a bit chilly and windy. ;-)

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I bring multiple quarts of brisket whenever we pass by Sturbridge. Maybe not quite as good out of the freezer, but far above any brisket I've ever had before.

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Blackstrap is good, followed by Redbones Davis sq.

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Don't go to Red Eyed Pig in W. Rox. Only time I have ever seen my husband throw ribs away. He was looking very forward to them opening but unfortunately the several times he has gone the food has been sub par. I don't eat meat so I got some of the sides and they weren't good either.

When I did eat meat I did like Blue Ribbons burnt ends and brisket. I found their ribs fatty. Excellent mashed though:)

Red Bones is ok - I haven't eaten there in a while so to be fair I shouldn't say much.

The best rib place was Uncle Pete's but unfortunately Pete died a few years ago and his family didn't want to go on with out him. RIP Pete.

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Did Red Eye Pig change owner/managers? It was excellent and now is passable...

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Yes - the original owners sold it to some of their employees, who have failed miserably without the direction of people who know anything about barbecue (or running a restaurant). We used to go there regularly but only did so twice after the owners left. The first time, the gravy, which used to be thick and smoky-flavored, was basically a cup of brown oil; the meat was poorly cooked. Second time they told me it was now policy to charge *a dollar* for each additional cup of barbecue sauce - that was the last straw. I hope they go out of business soon, and feel bad for anyone eating there who thinks they're eating good barbecue.

As for recommendations: We've switched to Soul Fire (the one in Brigham Circle), which I haven't seen mentioned above, unless I missed it. Although we mostly started going there for convenience, the head cook there is really good. The fried chicken is delicious, and hey, you can pump your own sauces, all you want!

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They did but we thought it was sub par under both. I think the ribs are done in the oven.

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m&m barbecue google it.

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It might help if they specified what part of the south they (or their guest) is from, or what sort of barbeque they're looking for. Each state has at least one distinct way of preparing/saucing their barbeque, as well as variations between individual restaurants. There's no monolithic concept of "barbeque from the south" any more than there is for "seafood from the northeast".

The place near my office in Raleigh has amazing chopped BBQ (pulled pork), way better than anything I've ever gotten in Massachusetts, but the ribs are just OK. You can get much better ribs at Redbones. If someone wants the different types of sauces (like the gold sauce), I'd send them to Blue Ribbon, but if they want different types of rib preparations, I'd send them to Redbones. If they want brisket, there's probably somewhere else that's worth checking out (although I love the burnt ends at Blue Ribbon).

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I don't like seafood very much but.. I've had it elsewhere. Let's just say Red Lobster looks attractive compared to many places outside of New England I've eaten seafood at.

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I meant that there isn't one kind of "Southern BBQ" any more than there's one kind of "New England seafood".

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It's still reasonable to ask for "some place that serves a good New England-style seafood dinner." It's an impossibly vague concept as far as pinpointing dishes, but people who know restaurants around here would have a general idea of what you meant and would find a restaurant you could like. Besides, lots of places around here have simultaneous Italian/English/Chinese/etc influences.

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It's not a single cuisine, but a rich, varied assortment of specific regional cuisines. They share some common ingredients and techniques and traditions, but the Hong Kong style live-tank seafood genre is pretty frickin' far off from Shaanxi cuisine.

You can say that South Carolina pulled pork shoulder with mustard sauce and Kansas City burnt ends of beef brisket with molasses/tomato sauce are both barbecue (slow-cooked using low-temperature hardwood or fruitwood smoke), but to a casual observer, they might as well be from different planets.

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Yes, that was my point. I once took a friend to the Hong Kong Eatery after raving about it, and he ordered Kung Pao Chicken and complained that it was mediocre.

To put it in New England terms if someone asked for some "New England style seafood", I might wonder if he meant a clambake, a lobster roll, some broiled cod, or some fried clams.

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OP here. My dad is from Mississippi and is a good cook himself, so he has high standards. As for what we're specifically looking for, that's TBD.

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I recommend you check MC Slim JB's advice, then maybe head up to Seabrook for some lobster and steamers at Brown's. 8-)

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and read PigTrip.

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What part of the south is your friend from? Redbones is great if you're from inland N Carolina, but if you're from the coast.....NO! I'll stick with M&M's, Blue Ribbon as a second, then Redbones, prob the Pit on Morton St is better.

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Glad to see people mention Bub's on 116 in Sunderland. The place is always packed, especially on nice days. Bub's is pretty good, but I prefer Red Bones over them, then Blue Ribbon, in that order.

On the other hand, we should keep quiet about Western MA being a nice place to visit, or it will turn into NH-level traffic on long weekends.

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On the other hand, we should keep quiet about Western MA being a nice place to visit, or it will turn into NH-level traffic on long weekends.

Too late, my wife and I are already regular visitors ;-)

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...and only once in my 6 years out there. Was not impressed. I think people liked it so much because it was really the only place around. However a tiny little shack of a place opened up in the seven-o's/snowzies (or whatever it's called now) parking lot that had some tasty meats.

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The only thing I got there was brisket, which was well executed but served in an odd manner (like, have you ever gotten a brisket sandwich with slaw ON the sandwich?). I don't think they were there last summer, though.

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I've never gotten a sniff of real smoke at that place. Stuff always seemed kinda...parboiled.

If you want q in Western MA, look for Smoky Bro's on Route 2 in Shelburne, Friday-Sunday noon to 7 in the warm months only. It's a roadside stand with nothing but a couple of picnic tables, but the q is excellent.

In EMa, I'd choose Blue Ribbon as my number 1.

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I've never been to the Newton location but would assume it's just as good as Arlington. Almost on par with the legendary Dinosaur BBQ, which can be had with a few hour drive to Troy, NY. I guess the latter isn't "true" southern BBQ, but it was named best in America by Good Morning America a few years back, and is highly regarded by BBQ fans in general. I'd recommend the original Syracuse location if you're really up for a road trip (~5hrs).

For what it's worth, my GF's sister in law is a born and raised Texan, and she loved Sweet Cheeks. It never really blows my mind (aside from the biscuits), but it's worth a shot.

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A Boston Dinosaur BBQ is imminent. They've recently embarked on a franchising enterprise, and have been spreading out all over. There's one in Chicago, Baltimore and even Stamford CT. It would only make sense to get into the game here as well.

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There have been rumors for years and Eater Boston seemed to confirm last year that it is eventually happening.

My only concern with the expansion is that they seem to be modifying the menu more and more to fit local tastes instead of just being Dinosaur with each location. Kind of like what Wegmans did with Chestnut Hill.

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The best BBQ I've had in Boston is either Sweet Cheeks or Blue Ribbon. Have heard great things about Black Strap but have never been.

Red Bones is good for side dishes and beer. Not BBQ.

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Is overrated in my opinion. It's good, but doesn't live up to the hype.

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to me is over rated. I don't know how it gets high marks every time. I just find it 'meh' .

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You say that. Because I always read good "official" reviews, but I tend to get the same response from people who have actually eaten there: "meh"

I've had it exactly once, when my old job had them cater something. It was enough to make me not care about actually going there.

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people talk about how good it is.. I've gone several times over the past several years to make sure I didn't hit it on a bad night. And I've had a few jobs also had it catered too. Just not good and "meh". I just don't see the fascination everyone has with it.

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Redbones has been up and down but I was under the impression that it had gotten back "up" ca. 2010-2013, before I moved away. Maybe not.

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Waaaay back in the day (late 80s) it used to be both (back before west Somerville was hip). But they got so popular that volume eventually won out over quality. It's still fun to be there with a big group, but the food isn't good enough to justify a trip across the Charles.

Btw, I agree that Red Eye Pig is ruined now, which is a damn shame. The family didn't stick around long before selling out, did they? Like less than a year! (Similar abandonment by the owner-manager of Los Amigos. Recipes still good, but service is horrible. Ate at the Newton location last week and it was buzzing and great. West Rox gets no chow respect I guess.)

***

But much thanks for this thread. Rest of the family is off on vacation and I'm on my own this week, so I will be trying out Pit Stop on Morton tonight!

(Also, does anyone know if M&M serves out of Southhampton st loc, or do you have to catch the truck?)

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Waaaay back in the day (late 80s) it used to be both (back before west Somerville was hip). But they got so popular that volume eventually won out over quality. It's still fun to be there with a big group, but the food isn't good enough to justify a trip across the Charles.

But I'm eating out for FOOD not vibe.. I can go anywhere to find a vibe. I understand though, I do agree it has a good vibe (and second the beer choices) but if I'm waiting for a table, then paying a premium (BBQ is typically pricey anywhere), I expect more for what I am getting that just 'vibe'

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I could be wrong here (I haven't been to the Southampton Street location), but I don't think M&M has a brick and mortar restaurant at Southampton Street (or anywhere). I think that's just where the truck is serving food most of the time. I know they used to park in an abandoned lot on Norfolk Ave. I think they moved to Southampton Street from there. Probably not a place to go if you're out for a sit down dinner, but the food is delicious if you can track it down.

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'Tuesday's on harrison ave @ BMC and Wednesday in the financial district on Milk and Kilby, lunch time (11-2 or 4pm). Southampton at a couple days a week, Thursday's and Fridays.' (From comments on their Facebook page).

I'd like to try M&M sometime too. I've had their catering, and I remember it was good, just don't remember more detail than that.

Pit Stop won't have brisket until tomorrow, usually.

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I normally get the catfish sandwich at Redbones which is pretty good. Perhaps it's not the best BBQ but at least it's a local, longtime Somerville place that isn't some corporate chain trying to seem hip and edgy like Sweet Cheeks. Also their beer menu is good and they have a lot of special events which are fun.

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Sweet Cheeks is terrible. The Blue Ribbon is pretty solid though, great vinegar based pulled pork (hard to find). As others have said though, M&M Ribs is where its at.

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Commonwealth BBQ in Wrentham. Go outlet shopping then get your BBQ fix.

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on dining out, in my book. 90% of the time, asked for their favorite Boston restaurant, they'll say Abe & Louie's or The Capital Grille. Wow, you like a nice steak, too? Thanks for the tip. Those places use commodity beef, and you're not even getting prime grade much of the time at the The Cap Grille, dopes.

At least Papi favors Merengue, an actually good Dominican place.

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Most people in Boston don't know what barbecue is.

Meat plus candy sauce is not barbecue.
Parboiled ribs are not barbecue.
Reheated barbecue is not even real barbecue.
Grilled meats (ribs, steak tips) are delicious but not slow-braised like barbecue.

I would recommend that you get an inexpensive smoker ($200) and learn how to slow-smoke the meat of your choice in the style of your choice in your backyard.

If you can't do that, then head to BT's! (I also would like to try Blackstrap based on what others have said!)

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FWIW, I do my own and I can vouch that if you spend a decent amount of money and get a good smoker (more than $200, less than $500), you can make better barbecue than you'll get just about anywhere, including the South. It's no different than any kind of cooking: most kitchens are turning out so many meals that they can't lavish the kind of attention on one meal that you can if you are doing it at home. But I don't think that's really what was asked for here. I like doing it myself but I go through waves, if you know what I mean (the same with beermaking). Sometimes I'm into it, other times I just go through a stretch where I want someone else to do the cooking -- and particularly if it's not a big party. You can't exactly cook up a brisket for yourself, but you can go to Blue Ribbon and get brisket for one.

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Soulfire in Alston has good brisket.

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For my money, and gas, I'd go to Tennessee BBQ in Braintree. They also have locations in Peabody and Framingham, but I've never tried them. When I eat their fresh cucumber salad and ribs, I feel like I'm back home at a backyard summer BBQ.

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They have a pulled pork sandwich and a BBQ Ranch chicken salad. It'll be just like at home for your friend.

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If I have to eat any more "North Carolina" bbq that isn't, I'll cry.

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We love Tennessee Barbeque in Braintree!

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Surprised no one has mentioned two my favorites- East Coast Grill and Formaggio Kitchen's sidewalk bbq. East coast has a great platter and has a diverse menu for those that don't feel like or don't get down with the Q. Formaggio Kitchen is worth standing in line with all those Canterbridgian yuppies for- heaping sandwiches that have a very clean flavor and great taste.

New England gets barbecue places confused with a roadhouse. The latter usually have boiled meat, Sysco french fries, and cheap bud light. If it weren't an institution I'd lump redbones in that category.

I haven't been, but have heard Little Red Smokehouse in Carver is incredible.

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M&M's BBQ. GOOGLE THEM!!!! THEY ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!

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I love the smoky goodness of SoulFire BBQ on Huntington Ave in Mission Hill near the Brigham Circle T stop.

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