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Eat & Drink

The top 10 under the radar BBQ restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Liora Ipsum / July 11, 2014

bbq in torontoBBQ in Toronto isn't just going down at your typical smokehouse. This is a list of unlikely sources for slow-smoked favourites: upscale restaurants, gas stations, sports bars and sandwich shops, and other places where BBQ is hardly the raison d'etre - though it just happens to be where their menus excel.

Here are my picks for 10 restaurants that do BBQ in Toronto that you might not know about.

Carbon Bar
The whole menu benefits from the wood-fired pit at this swanky Corktown bar, where you'll find burgers dressed with oak-smoked bacon, and pit-fired pork nestled into tacos. Order a la carte options like dry rubbed pork ribs ($19) or beef brisket ($19), or have them both on a Pit Master Platter ($27/person) with the addition of buttermilk fried chicken and pickles.

Universal Grill
This well-kept Hillcrest Village diner turned bistro is home to some unexpectedly good ribs. Opt for the saucy baby backs ($25) or spicy dry-rubbed ribs ($25) - both are served with yam fries on the side and will have you rolling up your sleeves to dig in.

Rally Sports Bar
Thirteen draught beers and the game in view from every angle might be reason enough to love this spot, but it's the menu devoted to slow-smoked, wood-fried meats that makes this sports bar a winning choice. Challenging the status quo of everyday pub grub, this bar does smoked wings ($12), spare ribs ($14), and saucy brisket ($13) and pulled pork sandwiches ($12).

Two Bite Saloon
Specializing in sliders, this Bloorcourt saloon offers the option to mix and match mini-sandwiches ($10/3) piled with pulled pork, Carolina mustard-sauced brisket and even smoked, fried tofu. Also on offer: smoked ribs ($17) and a smoked chicken Southwest salad ($13), plus essential soul food sides ($4-$7) like hush puppies, collard greens, cornbread muffins and buttermilk slaw.

Indie Ale House
This Junction spot is a brewpub first and foremost, though it's earned a solid reputation for house-smoked pulled pork that makes its way into dishes like the mac 'n' cheese, "Three Little Pigs pizza" and even spring rolls. Wednesday evenings (from 5pm on) are devoted to BBQ, with an ever-changing selection of meaty delicacies coming from the smoker.

Leslieville Pumps
It might look like just a gas station but locals know that this unassuming spot is home to some superbly tasty slow-smoked sandwiches. Best bets include the tender hickory smoked chicken ($7.75) and the crispy onion-topped beef brisket ($7.75) loaded onto a soft kaiser.

Locus 144
This Liberty Village lounge self-proclaims it's a southern Italian joint, though the menu, featuring smoked wings ($13), ribs ($19), and sandwiches ($12) stacked with pulled pork and smoked brisket, reveals an affinity for another kind of southern cuisine.

Aft Kitchen & Bar
At this Riverside restaurant and bar you'll find smoke-infused fare like chicken wings and ribs listed as menu staples. On weekends the kitchen embraces Southern specialties and goes all-out smokehouse by offering Texas-style brisket ($15), side ribs ($19), country sausage ($12), pulled pork ($15) and BBQ chicken ($16) with a choice of any two sides like coleslaw, roasted potato salad and cowboy baked beans.

Valdez
At this boisterous Mexican street food spot on King West, there is a dedicated BBQ menu for the the rooftop patio, where the charcoal barbecue turns out smoked and grilled selections. Expect to find beef short ribs ($9) with chimichurri, grilled quail ($6) and swordfish ($10), plus mammoth bone-in ribeye steaks ($75).

The Hogtown Cure
This deli and cafe on Dundas West isn't known for southern-style fare like some of these others, but the smoker in the back supplies the roster of sandwiches with delicious smoke-infused flavours. The BLT, made with house-smoked bacon ($10) is not to be missed - same goes for the pulled pork ($10) and pastrami ($11.50) sandwiches.

Did I miss any? Leave your favourite little-known restaurant and cafe that serves great BBQ dishes in the comments. Photo via Carbon Bar.

Discussion

30 Comments

Ray / July 11, 2014 at 01:06 am
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AGREED! Two Bite Saloon has great food.

http://www.twobitesaloon.com/
Really / July 11, 2014 at 06:59 am
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Not sure hot AFT is under the radar.

It's highly regarded as one of the best BBQ mounts in town.

Impossible to a seat most evenings and their patio us terrific.
Hmmmm replying to a comment from Really / July 11, 2014 at 08:55 am
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The owners of AFT can be a bit rude.
Missing / July 11, 2014 at 09:12 am
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Definitely missing out on 420 Smokehouse - I'm not sure I want the secret to be out but it is by far the best BBQ and Smokehouse I've tried in the city.

http://the420smokehouse.com/
mb / July 11, 2014 at 09:15 am
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AFT is SO GOOD. platter for two is pretty affordable too
Indianguy / July 11, 2014 at 09:24 am
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Yes? Hi! The New India Pub!
Tory replying to a comment from Indianguy / July 11, 2014 at 09:44 am
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Where is The New India Pub located? Is there a website?
Ford / July 11, 2014 at 10:37 am
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Steak Queen anyone?
nb / July 11, 2014 at 11:31 am
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I wouldn't call Aft and even Leslieville pumps "under the radar." I guess you would simply because they're in the east end and the general BlogTO attitude is, "Who the heck goes that far east?"

And yeah, I'm torn about Aft. The food is really great but the service can be awful. Last time I was there the hostess/server who brought our drinks was unpleasant, to say the least. The owner also served us at one point and he was just plain rude for absolutely no reason at all. The busboy was super sweet, though, and probably working harder than anyone else in the place.

I don't think I'll be going back to Aft any time soon.
JJ / July 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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Chantecler in Parkdale. Not traditional BBQ but their lettuce wrap with braised beef and slow smoked pork shoulder is ridiculous. Everything on that menu is awesome.

http://restaurantchantecler.ca/
JP / July 11, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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If you're in the north end, Stack at Yonge and Lawrence is very good

http://stackrestaurant.ca
Urban Capers Scavenger Hunts / July 11, 2014 at 01:30 pm
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The smokey charcoal-grilled jerk chicken at Rasta Pasta in Kensington Market is to die for.

http://www.urbancapers.com/event/kensington-culinary-adventure/
K@ / July 11, 2014 at 01:57 pm
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Smoke Bourbon on Harbord. A-mazing! (And chef-run!)
Jax / July 11, 2014 at 02:19 pm
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Missing Greenwood Smokehouse at Pape and Danforth. Great food, great service, great patio.
"...But that's not in Toronto!!" / July 11, 2014 at 03:01 pm
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I know it's a little (a lot) north of the city, but we went because Toronto Life had done a nice little write-up on it... If you're ever passing through Newmarket, you haaaave to try out Big Bone BBQ. Their smoked wings and brisket sammy are truly epic!!
Euge / July 11, 2014 at 03:15 pm
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check out my review of valdez on yelp.. WORST customer service ever.. http://www.yelp.ca/biz/valdez-toronto?hrid=9UpV2rTuWoLPEQc3xwrfGQ
Addison / July 11, 2014 at 03:27 pm
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I know the Islington subway stop might as well be on the moon for a lot of people, but Paul and Sandy's at Islington and Dundas is superb and extremely affordable.
Tim / July 11, 2014 at 04:35 pm
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Marky and Sparky's on Annette... They make better tasting BBQ than Barque for about half the money.
For Real replying to a comment from Addison / July 11, 2014 at 04:53 pm
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Seriously been to Locus 144 ... hands down, best BBQ in town ... hands down! You gotta try this place ... worth the trip to Liberty Village!
For Real / July 11, 2014 at 04:54 pm
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Locus 144 ... best BBQ in town ... serious smokehouse, reasonable price, great atmosphere definitely worth the trip to Liberty Village!
JS / July 11, 2014 at 05:03 pm
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STACK! Yonge, north of Lawrence.

The platter is perfect. Have done it with a group of 3 and 4 and crawled out both times with a smile.
Neil / July 11, 2014 at 05:08 pm
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Let's just keep 420 our little secret.
Viktor / July 11, 2014 at 06:07 pm
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Paul and Sandy's. Yes it is in Etobicoke (Dundas and Islington) but it's definitely worth the trip.
Gil / July 12, 2014 at 07:33 pm
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Paul and Sandy's BBQ is a nice family joint, located 5-10 minutes walk from Islington station. It's in the "Islington Village" area along Dundas, a short walk west of Islington.
Mike k / July 13, 2014 at 04:07 pm
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Not so under the radar now.
Pope / July 14, 2014 at 02:12 am
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Two Bite is rad. Everything on the menu is great.
red replying to a comment from Hmmmm / July 15, 2014 at 09:41 am
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On my first visit, maybe not rude, but pretty abrupt/short. That said, it was a busy Saturday night. But for a first visit, it does tend to leave an impression ... just say'in.
Jim / July 16, 2014 at 05:12 pm
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Wow again ignoring Marky & Sparky's I have officially have no love for BlogTO any longer... see ya.
test / July 19, 2014 at 02:15 am
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Westender / September 11, 2014 at 09:34 pm
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Marky and Sparky's at Annette & Runnymede... So good!!!

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