Summer may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat like it’s still hot out! Over the last 5 years, BBQ has really made a home for itself in Toronto. While traditionally a Southern cuisine, Hogtown has been pretty good to these new school BBQ masters. Each of the restaurants on our list has their own rendition of BBQ – some try to emulate classic Carolina and Memphis styles, while other have created their own hybrid, mixing techniques from here and the South.
If you’re looking for the best bark-encrusted ribs, marbled briskets, and mind-blowing spoon-torn pork shoulders, this list is for you.
A Toronto staple, this St. Clair West Smokehouse and Larder is definitely a local favourite. The small spot is really more of a takeout spot with bar-style seating for a lucky few. In the summertime, you’ll see people in the park around the corner having a picnic or on the street devouring juicy brisket sandwiches and finger-licking good fried chicken. Their prices are reasonable, especially if you’re with a group of people and plan on sharing. While it’s almost impossible to get a seat during brunch hours, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays after 5:00pm are when it gets really busy. This is because that’s when they bring out their specialities: Smoked ribs and BBQ pit chicken (drool). I highly suggest calling ahead of time for takeout as they usually sell out.
Hogtown Smoke is the spot for BBQ in the Beaches. Originally a food truck, their success led to them opening up a standalone restaurant in 2013. Hogtown has some seriously mouth-watering creations including their brisket, “Burnt Endz”, their Tequila Smoked Chicken and their St. Louis spareribs. But if you know BBQ, you’ll know that the sides are almost as important as your main. Hogtown Smoke takes it to the max with theirs, with a mac & cheese that is actually the best I’ve ever had. So gooey and cheesy, if I wasn’t so full I would’ve ordered another one. Their slaws are creamy with just the right amount of zest, and the grilled corn with maple bourbon butter glaze is heaven on earth. Hogtown Smoke is definitely a must try for any real BBQ fans.
STACK is huge with 2 floors, 2 bars, and 100+ seating – it’s definitely one of the bigger BBQ joints in the city. Unlike other BBQ joints, STACK offers a variety region-inspired foods including Texas-style brisket, Memphis-style ribs, and Carolina-style BBQ pulled pork. Craving BBQ but your partner doesn’t? Have no fear! STACK also serves everything from burgers to grilled fish tacos to grilled chicken panini sandwiches. If you’re with a group try “The Ultimate Platter”. It features baby back ribs, a 1/4 chicken, Pulled Pork, Brisket & Smoked Meat and is served with gooey mac & cheese, molasses beans, slaw, and buns.
This “refined BBQ” eatery specializes in BBQ with more of a grown up attitude. Less sauce all over your hands and more knife and fork. Probably the best presentation out of any of the joints mentioned on the list. As mentioned before, Barque is more of new wave BBQ joint, offering hybrid dishes like pulled pork & blueberry pancakes for brunch or citrus smoked salmon with dill sauce and napa cabbage. You’ll be amazed by the dishes they create.
From the owners of Toronto’s beloved Grand Electric is Electric Mud BBQ. The restaurant has an overall chill picnic vibe with limited seating inside and a slightly more spacious year-round patio. Electric Mud puts out some seriously good food that is sure to make your tastes buds say, “yay!” and your arteries say, “oh god no!”. The ribs have to be my favorite, they don’t fall off the bone so much as cling to it very lightly. The sauce is sweet but has a nice tang and a robust smoky taste. The drink list here is also pretty awesome if you’re not looking to pig out. The Clydesdale and Mississippi punch will have you sitting sideways if you’re not careful. As for the sides, the broccoli salad will have you begging for more. And their white BBQ sauce? We’d put that sh*t on everything!
Like any good traditional barbecue joint, Smoque N’ Bones draws inspiration from the 4 regions of BBQ – Texas, Memphis, Kansas, and the Carolinas. And while their rustic industrial look doesn’t scream Southern hang out, the food sure does. We suggest getting the establishment’s sampler plate. With 3 types of meat and 3 sides for $48, it’s definitely a generous value, especially when compared to competitor platters. You will not be disappointed with any of your choices (I couldn’t choose a favourite). As for bevvies, Smoque N’ Bones offers up a serious drink list with 42 different types of bourbon, 9 cocktails, and a variety of beers – it’s hard not to get lost in the sauce.
This Islington smokehouse really offers up that backwoods rustic vibe that I’d expect you’d find down south. While not as sophisticated as some of the other BBQ joints on this list, Memphis BBQ gives you exactly what you want: quality made BBQ with no frills. With just 20 seats and a takeout window, prepare for a lineup. Also be prepared for sell outs as a lot of the items go quickly!
This compact Danforth eatery serves up Memphis and Carolina barbecue in the east end and has been making diners drool since 2014. Owner and pitmaster Warren DeSimone began BBQing as a hobby before deciding on opening this joint up. Like STACK, Greenwood Smokehouse offers regional-based classics including Memphis-style ribs and Lexington-style pulled pork. As for vegetarians, well they need not hesitate about coming here with their carnivore friends. Greenwood Smokehouse’s menu offers wood-smoked veggies in soups, chilis, and stews, plus a vegan burger. And of course, like any good Southern-style smokehouse, Greenwood has a wide selection of bourbons.
Under the same restaurant umbrella as the ever popular Rose and Sons, Fat Pasha, Schmaltz Appetizing and Bar Begonia, is comfort food BBQ joint, Big Crow. Located in the backyard of Rose and Sons, Big Crow offers ups some really creative iterations of BBQ, with grilled and smoked options. While the restaurant may look like a pop-up cookout, the cuisine is elevated and sophisticated. The menu features items like cornbread with pimento cheese, chili sauce, and maple syrup; smoked country beef salami with an apricot glaze and mustard; jerk rainbow trout with pico de gallo; and Korean beef short ribs with dill cucumbers and sesame. Are you hungry yet?
Pig Out BBQ, located by U of T campus, is definitely the spot you’re looking for if you want to pig out. The restaurant has a no-frills approach to dining with limited seating and counter service. Pig Out caters to the university crowd with their affordable eats. Sandwiches like the pulled pork and brisket start at $7.95 while heftier options like the rib & 1/4 chicken dinner are $15.95. And if you’re looking to pig out with friends or family, you’ve got options. Pig Out BBQ’s shareable platters are super affordable and come in 2 different sizes: the Jr. Pig Out Platter (1 lb of ribs, beef brisket, 1 lb of wings, 2 sides, coleslaw, and pickles for $30.95) and the Pig Out Platter (2 lbs of ribs, smoked sausage, pulled pork, 1 lb of wings, beef brisket, 3 large sides, coleslaw, pickles, and dipping sauce for $61.95).
Toronto’s buzziest new BBQ restaurant skips the fancy sugar and sauces and shines a spotlight on the meat. Located inside an industrial park in Leaside, they serve up Real Texas BBQ with five types of meat: brisket, turkey, sausages, pulled pork and spare ribs, all smoked in-house. Meats can be bought by the pound or on a platter, which comes with brisket, ribs, housemade sausage, two sides (beans, potato salad or slaw), and will only run you $20. All orders come with pickle, onion and white bread for sopping up juices. And while the restaurant is open Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm, be sure to get there early – the BBQ is so good that they usually sell out by 1pm.
Did we miss any of the best BBQ in Toronto?
Featured image via Instagram/@adamsonbarbecue