Archive for the ‘BBQ’ Category

Foodie Survival Kit – East Texas

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Sure, I know it’s hard to believe, but someday you will venture outside of Boston.

Helpfully, I offer a series of posts devoted to enabling you to eat well in such far-away places as Gary, IN, Fresno, CA, and now – East Texas.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself about two hours east of Dallas in the town of Tyler, TX. Here, you will encounter an abnormally high proportion of fast food chains and will find it near impossible to lay your hands on some vegetables.

Indeed, in my experience, some of the most abundant food options available include donuts, TexMex, cheap Chinese food, and burgers slid across a drive-thru window.

Thank sweet baby Jesus for that B-B-Q.

Tyler has it – and it’s mighty fine too.

Gimme some ribs, some beans, ‘n some slaw

Ain’t nothin’ better, ‘cept of course my maw.

A few things you should know about BBQ in this part of Texas:

  1. They love their ribs and do those the best
  2. Sauces are a little sweet, not spicy, and NEVER vinegar-based
  3. Everybody feels VERY strongly about which ‘cue is best, and each individual will give you a different opinion

After sampling many of the most-raved-about spots in these parts – here is where to get your BBQ-on in E.T.:

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

Definitely my personal favorite in the area, Stanley’s made the List of Top 50 BBQ Joints in TX published by Texas Monthly Magazine. Rightly so. Their ribs are a square tie with Country Tavern (see below) for the best I’ve ever had, but overall these guys bring better game to the table.

The ribs – ooohhhh the ribs. Tender, well-seasoned, quality pork meat that when slathered in one of their excellent sauces blew my Yankee mind.

Their other meats (especially the sausage) are commendable, and their potato salad and slaw were divine things that left me craving more rather than tasteless add-ons that are better left untouched.

Best Ribs Eva

Country Tavern

Country Tavern is located about 20 minutes further east than Tyler – and well worth the extra drive. It is basically a long red house off the main road. One enters into the dimly-lit interior, saunters up to the bar, orders a beer, and eats only one thing – the ribs. The seasoning and smoke flavor on these bad boys was a step above Stanley’s, but overall I’d  say the two are different but equal in my mind.

Hickory Fare

I came to Texas seeking, craving, and dreaming about brisket. I didn’t find a lot of the stuff in the Eastern part of the state…and when I did – it failed to wow me. But Hickory Fare was the one bright spot in this quest. They served me up a monstrous beef brisket sandwich that was oohh-so-tender, ripe with that hickory flavor, and flavorful to the last bite. They also earn points for their look – check-it:

Hungry Mother – Back Door BBQ

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Ahhh the joys of summer.

Pool parties, margaritas, 90 degree days, short dresses, water polo – and pork sandwiches served out the back door of your favorite local restaurants.

Hungry Mother is now offering lunch service on Thursdays and Fridays from 11:30AM until all the BBQ goodness has been exhausted.

Simply stroll up to the dack door of the restaurant and look for this sign:








Inside, you’ll find a couple happy chefs gleefully assembling $9 meatwiches from a red-and-white-checkered-cloth-covered table and a small coterie of diners hunched over their lunches with a couple RC colas or Miller High Lifes in hand.

I scurried back to my place of employment and unwrapped a gift more heavenly than a faun’s whisper – A pulled pork sandwich with house-made BBQ and slaw nestled between two slices of gourmet wonderbread.

Observe below and clear your lunch hour next Thursday:

Cancel your 12 o'clock and chow

Sweet Cheeks – Pork Belly ‘N Biscuits ‘N Baseball

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie Says: Cosi-Cosi

Barbecue. It’s about as ingrained in the blood of the New Englander as grits, confederate flags, and born-again conservatism. But we try.

First of all, I ho-heartily applaud anyone brave enough to put a pit in the ground north of New Jersey and Sweet Cheeks is a welcome addition to the Boston BBQ Scene.

Others are thankful too – we pulled up on our hogs to eat some hog on a Friday night and the place was packed to the brims. Spacious, wood-toned interior, nice vibe, fun atmosphere. Like the typical roadside Texas smokehouse they don’t take reservations, but we managed to snag a seat in no time.

Sweet Cheeks is all about emulating the authentic experience – think metal trays, pay-by-the-pound options, and huge portions.  Naturally, the menu revolves around the meat. Choose from the following formats:

  • Tray: Pick one meat, one “cold scoop” and one “hot scoop” ($16-$25 depending on your meat)
  • Big Cheeks Tray: two types of meat along with your cold and hot scoop ($24)
  • Fat Cheeks Tray:  three types of meat with ‘yer scoops ($26)


Sweet Cheeks should rename their establishment to pork belly ‘n biscuits, ‘cause those are the menu items that will really wow you more than anything else. Amazing Berkshire pork belly with this nice smoked-cherry-wood-essence to it. The biscuits are humungo and a meal in themselves but are about as comforting as a warm gun on your lap during a Tennessee sunset.








  • Kick the draft beer menu up a notch – let’s see some big IPA’s and rare finds on tap
  • Seeking a little more flavor out of the non-pork-belly meats
  • Re-engineer the BBQ sauces…the mild sauce came off closer to an Asian sweet ‘n sour and the “hot” was closer to what my local taqueria would serve rather than a southern US meat house


You’re right by Fenway Sweet Cheeks. Take advantage of that. If you really want to smoke your way into the heart of the average New England patriot, try to break into Fenway Park during the season. Set up a food truck or food cart or find a way into the stadium.

Southerners figured out years ago that the only thing that goes better with a slab of smoked brisket than baked beans is a baseball.