Art of BBQ
Art of BBQ is a smokehouse doing southern-style barbecue and soul food. This Cliffside gem is a one-man show. Pitmaster Trevor David, who was born in Grenada but has lived in Toronto for the bulk of his life, runs Art of BBQ solo on most days.
The smokehouse has only been open since early 2020, but it feels like it has been around forever: Otis Redding on loop, old-school booth seating, walls covered in David Kibuuka art and a charming pitmaster help to give off a mainstay vibe.
David says his BBQ journey started a decade ago, when he visited his uncle John Coriol in North Carolina. John was terminally ill at the time and — to David's surprise — also happened to be a respected pitmaster in North Carolina.
He spent months learning how to smoke meats with his uncle before he passed away. Art of BBQ is an homage to his uncle, says David, as is the custom-made smoker of John's design.
You'll find it sitting outside the shop, sending clouds of smoke to Kingston Road.
It's in this smoker that David finishes off his brisket, which he smokes in a massive 15-foot-long smoker before transferring to this smaller one for two to three hours, wrapping up over 20 hours of smouldering with fragrant wood, usually apple or maple.
As far as BBQ goes, David's brisket is definitely not traditional: the secret ingredient to his marinade recipe is oyster sauce, a result of fishing around in his kitchen for that extra flavour boost.
"That's the whole point of living in a diverse city, with diverse ingredients," he says.
The Big Bang Brisket Dinner ($40) includes a pound of this flavourful, sturdy cut, mixed with onions and a Vietnamese chili pepper. It comes with a side of rice and slaw, which also has some dangerously spicy Vietnamese green pepper slices concealed within.
David swears by the wok, which I've never seen in a smokehouse kitchen before.
It's where he tosses any meat coming out of the smoker, searing the meat with his staple green herb puree (about five or six secret herbs) and BBQ sauce.
The pork butt dinner ($25) is a hit for me. The chunks of meat are ridiculously smoky, fatty and juicy.
You can get any of these meals with some southern staples, for extra, like corn bread, mac and cheese, or collard greens for $5 each. Or try the pig feet and mushrooms for $10.
You can also get all the meats by the pound, from chicken ($15/lb) to smoked quail ($30/lb).
Next time's visit will probably include the Texan sausage-and bacon-wrapped Jalapeno, dubbed the Armadillo Egg. Or maybe the cubed Soul Pork sandwich on a custom kaiser bun ($15) — David's take on a pulled pork sandwich, minus the pull.