TORONTO BBQ BEEF RIB BATTLE: Adamson Barbecue vs. Beach Hill Smokehouse

Dude, is there anything better than Texas style barbecue, bro? Now, I can’t go to Texas every day (when I do, I hit up Franklin Barbecue), but there are a couple funky BBQ joints in Toronto doing it up right: Adamson Barbecue and Beach Hill Smokehouse. I’ve had a whole buncha smoked meats at both of these places, and it’s all pretty legit. But there remained one last meat kingdom to be conquered, and that’s beef ribs. So I figured, why not try them both, and see how they stack up?

Beef ribs are usually the rarest delicacy of the barbecue world–most places only offer them one or two days a week, and they sell out pretty quickly. When I went to Franklin, the guy three spots ahead of me got the last beef bone, so I can’t compare these ones to the best in the world… But what I will say is you can’t really go wrong either way.

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Adamson Barbecue

So, let’s start off in alphabetical order. The lineup outside Adamson for this Beef-Rib-Straganza started around 10:15–by 10:30, it was already a couple dozen deep. This Saturday afternoon special sells for 28 bucks a pound, and what you see above is about a pound of beef. Their meat was so juicy and fatty that they actually cut a chunk of pure fat right off it–but what was left was so tender than even the fatty bits were delicious.

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Basically, this was beef brisket on a bone, and it’s honky-tonk redonkadonk! The potato salad on the side was super fresh, and the (cold) macaroni salad added some nice little zip. Oh, and they also had burnt ends on special, seven bucks for a quarter pound. You KNOW I can’t say no to burnt ends, bro!!!!

adamson_burnt_ends (4)Mmm, meat candy…

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Beach Hill Smokehouse

Beach Hill’s beef ribs are an even rarer treat–they only serve ’em up on Thursdays. And while there was no one ahead of me when I showed up right around 11, I’m told these babies definitely don’t last until dinner. And it’s probably best to get ’em when they’re fresh. The meat you see here was melt-in-your-mouth tasty. Some of the stuff towards the back was a little tougher, maybe not as tender as Adamson, but they also didn’t need to take a big chunk of fat off, either. I think I probably got more beef for my buck at Beach Hill.

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FINAL VERDICT: This was actually a tougher call than I thought it would be. I kinda feel like if Adamson had served me up a meatier middle rib, I might be giving them the edge–but I have to judge them on the portion they provided. So that’s why I’m giving Beach Hill Smokehouse the title of best BBQ beef rib in Toronto…but you really can’t go wrong either way, unless you show up too late.

And when it comes to availability, it’s advantage Adamson. You might have to get there 45 minutes early, but you will be able to buy beef ribs on a Saturday. On the other hand, unless you live and/or work near Main and Gerrard, this blog post might be the closest you’ll ever get to a Beach Hill beef rib–unless you take a Ferris Beef-Rib’s Day Off

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A lifetime in Burgatory ain’t a bad place to be!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Burgatory, this funky little burger joint on College, just a Hell’s Bell’s chime away from the Mod Club. And this place is serving up burgers named after not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six of the seven deadly sins. There’s no Lust Burger, cuz I guess that’s what the Mod Club’s there for?

Now, I was gonna go with the Gluttony Burger–dude, this is body by gluttony!–until I saw the extra-special ingredient they’re putting on this super-slow-mo special, the Sloth Burger:

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got a nice, thick ‘n juicy patty, topped with lettuce, tomato, Velveeta and some special sauce made in house. But then they add a little extra crunch by putting Hickory Sticks on the burger. Dude, Hickory Sticks are pretty much my all-time favourite snack food, and I once made a homemade Hickory Sticks chicken sammy that sorta looked like Guy Fieri. So, it looks like I’ve got a new favourite deadly sin now…

 

This bacon-wrapped BLT dog is a slice of trailer park paradise!

Now, there’s a whole buncha country bars on Broadway, but Paradise Park Trailer Resort has gotta be the most Red-red-red-red-red-redneck of ‘em all! This place has got a hillbilly band playing on top of a muscle car, local craft beers in plastic cups—not to mention 6-dollar pitchers of Natty Light—and has all kinds of killer redneck fast food, like this culinary creation, the Paradise BLT Dog:

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Ok, so here’s the deal. They take an all-beef wiener, wrap it in bacon, and deep fry it, then serve it up in a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo. It’s like BLTs Gone Wild, bro!!!

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Of course, you can’t scarf down a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped hot dog with a side salad, so we went with the chili cheese fries. Nothing wrong with taters, meaty chili and all kinds of processed queso, bro!

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Washed it all down with a Portly Stout by local brewer Turtle Anarchy. First time I’ve ever drank a stout in a solo cup…and it was magically delicious!!!

Meat and three? Could I maybe get a three meat and one?

So, we’re hanging out at Puckett’s Grocery, this legendary local institution in the Nashville area. This place is serving up all kinds of southern comfort food, including a breakfast buffet, but they’re known for their Chalkboard Specials: One meat, 3 sides for just $10.99…but only from 11 am until 3 in the afternoon!

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They switch up their meats everyday, but this time they had a choice of pulled pork, smoked pork chop or fried chicken. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had a smoked pork chop before, so I went with turnip greens, French fries and Mac n cheese alongside. (The mac was an extra buck fiddy, but no biggie!)

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Dude, that chop was packed with super-smoky flavour in every bite. You’ve got a nice, buttery bowl of greens, and a consistently creamy mac. The fries were really nothing special, but overall, I ain’t complaining!!!

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Washed it all down with a five-dollar Mason jar of Southern Wit, a tasty local wheat beer that I first tried my last time here. All that, and it was still less than 20 bucks—that’s a Tennessee highway robbery in Flavourtown!!!!

COUNTRY SUPERSTAR BAR SHOWDOWN: Blake Shelton’s Ole Red vs Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row

Although there are plenty of classic country bars on Nashville’s Lower Broadway, like Tootsie’s, Robert’s and Nudies, there have also been a few new ones named after big time country stars, like Alan Jackson’s Good Time Bar and Jason Aldean’s Crazy Town. The latest one to hit the strip is Ole Red, which has Blake Shelton’s fingerprints, if not his name, on it.

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When I stepped in off the street, the in-house band was just finishing up a George Jones tune, which is always a good sign. Their repertoire was also heavy on George Strait and Conway Twitty, and I actually heard them play Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time” twice, which might be one of the best country-music drinking songs of the 1990’s…

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Speaking of drinking, this place has got its own signature Ole Red Ale, brewed by Nashville’s Fat Bottom Brewing. It’s a pretty mild red beer, which tastes more or less like Rickard’s Red…but it does happen to be named after a Blake Shelton hit single.

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Ole Red actually has four floors. The second floor is a little more cozy than the first, and features this bitchin’ buffalo head, along with several TV screens showing the NHL playoffs. I definitely spent some time up here, pounding Music City Light beers…

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From there I headed up to the rooftop, where the most country song on the playlist was by Taylor Swift. But it did have a pretty sweet view of Nissan Stadium, along with some tasty snacks.

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Dude, you can’t get much more country than beef jerky and corn nuts in a mason jar, bro! This jerky was nice and tender, not too hard to chew, and the chili-spiced corn nuggets added an extra kick. But the best was yet to come…

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Hot pretzels are pretty much my favourite stadium snack, bro, and this one’s the size of a Marcus Mariota TD gallop! Plus, it comes with this super-creamy queso dip… dude, I’d put that on a flip-flop!!!!

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Washed it all down with a Dogfish Head Sea Quench Ale, this super-citrusy brew from Delaware’s finest brewery. This totally took some of the heat off those corn nuts!!!!

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Now, when I walked into Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, some burly, bearded dude was singing “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain. I fucking shit you not. And while there were plenty of screens showing the basketball game, you weren’t gonna get any craft beer here—they had Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light and Michelob Ultra on ice.

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After a couple more songs, I headed up to the second floor, where an all-white band was playing Bob Marley. This floor had a slightly better beer selection—if you consider Blue Moon slightly better beer—but once the drummer started singing Stevie Wonder, I was gone, gone, gone…

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Whiskey Row claims to have the highest rooftop patio in Nashville…where a DJ was playing some crappy rap music. I don’t think I lasted more than 10 minutes!!!

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After grabbing a non-light beer on the second floor, I headed down to Floor One to hear the band play 90’s radio rock staples by Eve 6 and the Gin Blossoms, before launching into the Uncle Kracker version of “Drift Away.” (Trust me, it was the Uncle Kracker version.) But at least I hung around long enough to hear em play “Drink in My Hand,” “Friends in Low Places” and, uh, “Sweet Caroline.” This floor was definitely the lesser of three evils.

FINAL VERDICT: Even though Blake Shelton loses 500 points off the top for recording “Boys Round Here,” his bar still wins by a landslide. Dierks Bentley’s joint is so un-country, it makes “Somewhere on a Beach” sound like “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Man, I’d rather stick a pink umbrella in my drink at Florida Georgia Line’s FGL House Sundaze Brunch than go back to Whiskey Row, bro!!!!!!

Sometimes, to get the real-deal hot chicken, you gotta go to Nashville…

Happy Nashlorette Party, dudettes! So, we’re down in the Music City, hanging out at Hattie B’s, the most popular hot chicken joint in town. People line up over an hour for this stuff—and that’s just the sweaty lineup for the bathroom, bro!!!

Now me, I wanted to get Redneck Crazy with the Boys Round Here without having to Fire Away, so I just went with the medium:

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I gotta say, this is some of the crunchiest fried chicken I’ve ever had. And the chicken itself tasted like you get at the deli counter when it’s still nice and fresh. Nothing wrong with that at all! As for the heat level, I’d say it was about the same as a good Buffalo wing. You get a nice kick, but it doesn’t melt your face off, unless you decide to kick it up another notch (or three)…

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Still, to play it safe, I went with a couple of cool and creamy sides. I’d give the coleslaw an edge over the tater salad, but I wouldn’t kick either outta my picnic basket! And it’s hard to believe that all this food is just nine bucks, bro!!!

I gotta give Hattie B’s the edge when it comes to value and crunchaliciousness, but I gotta say, the best Nashville hot chicken I’ve ever had has still gotta be at Chica’s Chicken. Now, THAT bird is the word, surfer bro!!!!

Chica’s Nashville Hot Chicken is the new Toronto chicken champion!

Better put on yer boots and go honky tonkin’, cuz Nashville hot chicken is taking over Toronto, bro! A couple weeks back, we hit up Five Points Hot Chicken, this little takeout window inside a funky dive bar at Bloor and Dufferin, and that place was pretty legit. (I would know, cuz I’ve been to Nashville…) But now this new funky chicken joint just opened in The Junction, and it’s 2 Legit 2 Quit. Chica’s Nashville Hot Chicken is run by the former head pitmaster at Adamson Barbecue, the best BBQ joint in the city, and this place definitely knows what’s up!!!

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Now, some hot chicken joints use the heat to hide the meat, but that’s definitely not the case at this place. This chicken is tender, juicy, deep-fried to order so that it explodes all over your face, bro! And yeah, it just might be a little spicy. I went with the medium, which went down pretty easy, but came back to bite me the next day. The taste of love is sweet, Bro-nny Cash!!!