There isn’t a time of year where a good plate of barbecue doesn’t feel right. Here are a few spots to hit up across Canada where you can find authentic Southern-style barbecue and some smoky, finger-lickin’ good meals.
Barque Smokehouse (Toronto, ON)
There’s a lot to love about Barque — from their lively yet family-friendly atmosphere and wide array of Southern-inspired dishes that aren’t afraid to step outside the box (try the Cuban corn, that’s grilled and finished with feta and lime). The Sunday night dinners offer up an abundance of barbecued goods perfect for sharing with friends. And their brunch? Well, who could say no to Barque’s spin on eggs benny with cornbread, barbecue hollandaise and beef brisket?
Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse (Calgary, AB)
A Calgary favourite (and You Gotta Eat Here! alum owned), this barbecue spot now has two locations, as well as a stand at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. You can buy all sorts of Big T’s smoked meats like sausages and bacon or, in my opinion, one of the best breakfast sandwiches in the city, topped with brisket, homemade barbecue sauce and all the fixings.
Boneheads BBQ (Halifax, NS)
What do you mean there’s no lobster on the menu? This is Halifax! Some may scream East Coast blasphemy, but I’m sure if we stuffed some pulled chicken or bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers in their mouths, there wouldn’t be much complaining. Save some room for dessert here, as the lemon lime icebox pie will call out to you like the sirens to Odysseus.
Bookers Barbecue + Crab Shack (Calgary, AB)
Bookers’ fairly extensive menu goes well beyond the sandwich or smoked meat platters, covering everything from appetizers (like deep-fried pickles!) to crab and shrimp boils, and jambalaya. Any Calgarian will tell you that Sunday night is the best day of the week to visit Bookers, where you can opt for either all-you-can-eat crab or ribs.
Electric Mud (Toronto, ON)
Sister restaurant to the taco-centric Grand Electric, Mud is all about embracing Southern cuisine and having a little fun with it. Shrimp and grits, pork ribs and smoked sausage links make for a perfectly meaty start here, but don’t forget to order a side of pickled green tomatoes and charred broccoli salad with red eye gravy for something a little less conventional.
Hogtown Smoke (Toronto, ON)
With a bricks and mortar location on Queen Street East, as well as a food truck by the same name roaming the streets, chances are you’ve stumbled by Hogtown more than once this summer. While the food truck can only offer so much on the menu, look to the restaurant to get a more intense barbecue fix with dishes like the Jack Daniels pulled pork grilled cheese, brisket and pulled pork chili and gigantic beef ribs.
Le Boucan Smokehouse (Montreal, QC)
If you find yourself in Montreal and craving some smoked meat (not the deli kind that the city is famous for) and whisky, then Le Boucan should be on your dining agenda. Expect to be served fairly traditional barbecue in a hipster-chic environment, with a nice selection of whiskies and bourbons to choose from.
Lovey’s BBQ (Winnipeg, MB)
Head to Lovey’s for a casual meal or grab some barbecue to take home for the family. The smoked chicken wings, brisket, pulled pork, farmer’s sausage and “burnt ends” (essentially the really crispy bits found on the edges of a well-smoked brisket), are all available by the pound to go.
Meat (Edmonton, AB)
Located just off of the busy strip that is Whyte Avenue, this slightly upscale meat-centric restaurant (if the name didn’t tip you off) serves up those big, smoky flavours of the south in a slick-looking room. No matter what you decide to eat, make sure to slather it in their house-made sauces, and wrap your meal up with one of Meat’s popular Bourbon Banana Splits.
Memphis Blues Barbeque House (Kelowna, BC)
Okanagan wineries may steal the limelight in this area of the country, but downtown Kelowna has got some gems too. Just a few blocks from the water, you’ll find this busy establishment serving up their take on Southern barbecue with big, messy brisket and pulled pork sandwiches with sides of pit beans. Grab some food to go and enjoy the sunshine on the beach — but remember to bring some napkins with you!
Re-Up BBQ (New Westminster, BC)
Originally a food cart in downtown Vancouver, Re-up BBQ made quite the name for itself before relocating and upgrading to a food counter/commissary outside of the city centre. Pop by for a big bucket of fried chicken, some Southern sweet tea, house-made cola (say, what?) and much more.
Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack (Saskatoon, SK)
You’ll have to drive through the North industrial area of the city to enjoy these barbecued goods, but once you arrive, you’ll see it was worth the journey. Find anything to fit your appetite here, from pulled pork to smoked chicken and everything in-between, including their signature Schryer’s Fries that are topped with smoked meat, barbecue sauce and slaw.
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.