Boston sizzles as barbecue hot spot

Welcome to Boston, the home of chowder, lobster and … the world’s best barbecue?

That’s right: The Hub is suddenly a hot spot for the traditional style of slow-and-low cooking most closely associated with the American South, from Carolina pulled pork to Texas beef brisket.

“We’re determined to prove to the rest of the country and the world that barbecue isn’t just in the South,” said Bill Gillespie, founder of the acclaimed barbecue team Smokin’ Hoggz of Abington. “It’s all over the world and you can come from New England and cook really great barbecue.”

Gillespie should know: Smokin’ Hoggz was named Grand Champion of the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn., on Oct. 22 — an event dubbed “the Super Bowl of Barbecue.”

Meanwhile, the Boston barbecue scene is smoking-hot: Former “Top Chef” star Tiffani Faison opens her downscale barbecue joint Sweet Cheeks in the Fenway next week. Look for great barbecue cooked in a 2,600 pound smoker paired with beer and cocktails served in Mason jars. (It’s a scientific fact that beer tastes better in Mason jars.)

Local barbecue landmark Redbones in Somerville recently expanded with its own food truck and a mobile rib shack in Cambridge. And Harpoon Brewery hosts its annual Beer-B-Q Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 13 with the New England Barbecue Society.

Most notably, though, Boston-based teams sliced a huge swath through the international barbecue scene at “The Jack” late last month.

In addition to top honors for Gillespie and his crew, I Smell Smoke!! from Malden finished eighth overall — Massachusetts was the only state with two Top 10 teams — and Lakeside Smokers of Methuen was honored for best pork ribs at the cook-off that featured 71 American and 18 international teams.

The path to Bay State barbecue glory was paved by IQue, a team run by local chefs Chris Hart and Andy Husbands (Tremont 647, Sister Sorel). They captured the Jack Daniel’s Grand Championship two years ago, a triumph that put the New England barbecue community on the global map.

Hart also smokes hundreds of pounds of whole turkeys for the Harpoon Beer-B-Q Thanksgiving dinner, a fund-raiser for the Greater Boston Food Bank (go to for more information).

Faison hopes to inject the Boston barbecue scene with even more flavor when she opens Sweet Cheeks (1381 Boylston St., Fenway, 617-266-1300, sweetcheeksq .com).

“It’s going to be the restaurant that I keep trying to find but that’s not here yet,” Faison said. “There’s not a place in Boston that feels and tastes the way I hope Sweet Cheeks does.”

Smokin’ Hoggz Pulled Pork

For the sauce:

1 18-oz. bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Barbecue Sauce
1 c. apple cider vinegar

Leave a Reply