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Toronto’s five best restaurants for smoky, tender, chin-dribbling barbecue

Barque’s baby backs. (Image: John Cullen)
No. 1
Tom Davis of The Stockyards loads up his smoker with pork butts, beef brisket, bacon, whole chickens and salty-sweet pork ribs. It all emerges perfectly tender—heavenly with his vinegary sauce. 699 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-658-9666.

No. 2
Barque’s wood-burning Southern Pride smoker turns out moist, full-flavoured chickens, fine peppercorn-rubbed brisket, creamy beef ribs and tender baby backs (shown above). 299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-532-7700.

No. 3
In a Newmarket strip mall, Big Bone BBQ and Wicked Wings makes the best chicken wings in the GTA—skinless, marinated, smoked, then finished on the grill—along with candy-crunchy pork ribs. 207 Eagle St., Newmarket, 905-853-9888.

No. 4
Family-run Paul and Sandy’s Real Barbecue is the spot for superior pulled pork: it’s fatty and dribbly, with a good caramelized crust and a choice of two vinegary, tomato-based hot sauces. 4925 Dundas St. W., 416-233-7032.

No. 5
Despite its location in an industrial mall next to a power plant in Whitby, Buster Rhino’s Southern BBQ offers excellent pulled pork, beef brisket and baby-back ribs slow-smoked over real maple wood. 2001 Thickson Rd. S., Unit 7, Whitby, 905-436-6986.

(Image: John Cullen)


    Been to them all.
    The only one worthy of a return visit is the least expensive and best by far. That is Buster Rhinos. Unfortunately it is 30 km from the house. But well worth the drive to Whitby. EH!

  • D

    Good to see Toronto has some other great BBQ. Barque is really good and the chef/owner always comes to our table to chat, he is really cute.

  • dazzlechild

    OK, just a bit of a nitpick, but Newmarket and Whitby are not technically in Toronto…

  • hop

    Skinless chicken wings?

  • parkdaleeater

    we only include others in the GTA when its convenient…other than that they are the inconvenient 905ers

  • Havingalook

    Well the meat may still be OK at The Stockyards, the place and the rest of it for that matter just isn’t the same since the brilliant young chef – Rachel Pellet left. The biscuits, the coleslaw, etc., none are the same since she left. When they say the chef makes the place they are right.

  • Marian

    You missed Smokin Hicks at 3342 Danforth Ave at Danforth Rd. The price is right – the meat succulent. The pulled pork sandwich with home made slaw and great buns can’t be beat – and the ribs with a bunch of different sauces. DOn’t miss it.

  • Weez

    Newmarket is not in Toronto. Whitby is not in Toronto.

    The article is called “Toronto’s Five Best…” but you only have 3 from this city.

    What about Phil’s Original Barbecue (the original Southern-style in this city), Back Alley Woodfire or Lou Dawg’s Southern… all located in Toronto?

    Lou Dawg’s does great chicken wings (dry rubbed), while Phils does classic pulled pork and smokey beef brisket.

  • Mr Weber

    Went to Barque’s last night. Waiter was surly. BBQ was quite average. Fries limp. Don’t need to go back. Too intense. Not laid back like a good BBQ joint should be.

  • Chloe

    It’s damn far from Toronto, but has anyone been to Pig Iron Barbecue in Gananoque (the Thousand Islands)?! It is sooooooo good! We stop in every other weekend, when visiting relatives in the area. Best pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs and the chicken is to die for! Amazing side dishes, too. Creamed corn with shallots, and the brussel sprouts with bacon are out of this world! Very cool decor, super friendly service, the chef is a peach!

  • DavidL

    Don’t even mention Phil’s Original Barbecue in this post. I have been to Phil’s twice, the first time was average the second time I ordered a full rack of ribs, and let me say it was the worst ribs I have tasted in my life. The ribs were bone dry and the outer crust was burnt. It was like eating bark off a burnt log. Thanks for the above list. I’ll definitely check them out. I have been to Lou Dawg’s, all I remember was that the portion sizes (full rack of ribs) were massive.

  • Jason

    Toronto is not GTA. Suburban restaurants are just that.

  • backyardcoffee

    Toronto is severely lacking any decent bbq. Stockyards is fine, maybe the best in T.O but that doesn’t say much. Barque is not good at all. The ribs were over cooked and dry and the brisket had no flavor. All smoke and no fire. If you want bbq go south.

  • Sean

    There is one major oversite in this top 5 list! Southern Rub Smokehouse!!! It’s better than all of the top 5′s on this list. Yes it’s not in ‘Toronto’ but neither is memphis smokehouse or buster rhino’s. Southern Rub has the best BBQ out there, and I’ve tried all top 5 joints.

  • howard smith

    Couldnt agree more with Davidl……..Phils is awfull…..ribs are dry people are really moody.Grosley overated

  • howard smith

    Took a trip to Buster Rhinos, and am sorry to say the ribs and pulled pork were drier than Phils. Unless your cooking them yourself the best yet are at Cayseys Roadhouse.

  • Eric

    Barque is overrated. It’s pretty awful. Phil’s is not great and the ribs are disappointing but has taken so much flack in the last two years that it may now be underrated. The ribs at Stockyards are good but it is all relative. The Toronto BBQ scene is poor.

  • Pat

    Big Bone also has a location in Barrie. I’m tellin you, it a is fantastic place, the ribs and pulled pork are to die for. I know it isn’t Toronto, but how many people head up north and are looking for a place to stop on the way. My husband and I just happened on it – WOW!

  • Joan woods

    New BBQ opening at 1108 st. clair avenue.

  • elie

    New BBQ opening at 291 Harbord St. called “SMOKE”
    Should be up and running December 2012.
    See you there!!!