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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TEXAS STYLE BBQ SHOWDOWN: Franklin (Austin, TX) vs. Adamson (Toronto, ON)

Now, there’s no doot aboot it, Adamson Barbecue is my favourite BBQ joint in The Big Smoke. I’ve eaten every single kind of meat on the menu, and they’re all honky-tonk redonkadonk, son! I always used to say Adamson had the best beef brisket I’ve ever tried, but then I went down to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and now I’m not so sure anymore. Their brisket is so outta bounds, people line up all around the block, bro!

So now, while the taste of sweet, sweet Texas brisket is still fresh in my memory, I had to hit up Adamson again so I could figure out which was the best BBQ joint I’ve ever been to in my lifetime. We’re looking at everything from the food, to the line, to the music on the stereo. So who’s got the most bodacious, beefalicious barbecue, bro? Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape!

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COMFORT FACTOR

Location: Adamson is sorta in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t live in South Leaside, and you don’t drive, it’s about a 30-minute bus ride from the closest subway station. Now, East 11th Street in Austin isn’t Sixth Street…but it is only five streets away.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Lineup: Adamson opens at 11. I got there just after 11, and waited in line for over an hour. Franklin also opens at 11. I got there just after 9, and waited in line for over five hours!

HUGE ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Music: When you go to Franklin, you get proper Texas BBQ music–five hours of fiddle-driven classic country from the greats like Willie, Merle and Johnny. Now, the thing I always hated about Adamson’s was that they used to play really loud rap music when you were there. But today, we were greeted by tunes like “Wild Horses,” “Man in Black” and other country music classics. Sounds like somebody finally got the memo!

THIS ONE IS NOW A DRAW.

Seating: The seating at Adamson is mostly wooden chairs and picnic tables. The only picnic tables you’ll find at Franklin are outside–their indoor seating is a little more comfortable.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

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FOOD

Beef brisket: Now, it turns out that Adamson actually uses the exact same brisket from the same cows as Franklin. As their pitmaster says, if they cook it right, it should be just as good as down south. And I gotta say, it’s really, really close. These were far and away the two best briskets I’ve ever had. Maybe the only way to truly compare them would be to eat them both at the exact same time. They’re both super-tender, juicy lucy, melt-in-your mouth… Of course, you gotta order it fatty. Fatty brisket was my nickname in high school, bro! So, whose brisket is better? I might just hafta give it to Franklin, by a nose. Cuz hey, I’m pretty sure anything tastes better after lining up five hours for it!

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Pulled pork: The pulled pork at Franklin tastes how you expect pulled pork to be. Tender, succulent, and goes great with BBQ sauce. But at Adamson, their pulled pork has a nice, peppery taste so you don’t even need no sauce, bro!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Sausage: At Franklin, it seems the sausage is sort of an afterthought. It’s like “Well, you’re all sold out of ribs ‘n turkey, so I guess I’ll get some sausage?” But at Adamson, you definitely want to add a jalapeno cheddar smokie to your order–even if you’re already getting a three-meat plate!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Drinks: Franklin serves local Texas craft beer, and they’ll even sell it to you when you’re waiting in line, as long as you remain on the property. Adamson only has a soda fountain…but to their credit, you can get Big Red from it.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Dessert: Although I didn’t take it out of the package before taking that photo, the Lemon Chess pie at Franklin is pretty darn tasty. I’d say it’s fairly comparable to Adamson’s coconut cream pie, which you see above. But this one time at Adamson, I had this sweet potato pie that was shut-the-back-door bananas. So I gotta give the edge to Adamson.

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

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Now, even after all that deliberation, I’m not sure there’s a clear winner here. The fact is, both of these places are really, really good. If you only visit one BBQ joint in Toronto, it’s gotta be Adamson. There are a couple other places I’d recommend, but only if you’re down for dinner. (Adamson, not unlike most BBQ joints in Texas, only serves food until they sell out–which is usually before 3 pm.)

On the other hand, if you’re ever in Austin, you’ll have to get up really, really early to eat at Franklin. I was one of the last ones through, and I didn’t eat until 2:30. Plus, they were sold out of pork ribs, beef ribs and turkey already. Clearly, I needed to be there before 8. Now, Franklin is a total tailgate experience, like a culinary Heavy Metal Parking Lot in Flavourtown. I think it’s worth checking out at least once–just don’t be like the brosephs who got so wastey-faced that they were kicked out once they got to the front of the line and didn’t even get any brisket!!!!!!!

Eatin’ all the meats @ Adamson’s

So, a couple weeks back, we went to Adamson’s Barbecue, this real-deal, industrial-strength, Texas-style BBQ joint deep in the heart of Toronto for some super-legit turkey dinner. Now that bird WAS the word, bro! But with so many great meats on offer, you know I couldn’t eat just one, so now we’re back to try everything else on the menu. Feast your eyes on this, friends:

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Man, this plate has everything: beef brisket, pulled pork, a fall-off-the-bone rib, beans, coleslaw, white bread, pickles, onions…but of course that wasn’t quite enough food for me, so I also got a jalapeno/cheese-curd sausage on the side. Talk about an unexpectedly tasty flavour combination—turns out jalapenos and cheese curds go together like maple syrup on poutine! (Three words, bro: cabane à sucre!)

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Now, in order to find the optimal method to shovel all this grub straight down my piehole, I put together an outta-bounds double-pork slammin’ sammy. Check it out—you’ve got some pulled pork, beans and coleslaw on white bread, and then I stuck a trio of sausage slices on top for that extra kick. Now, this might get a bit messy—some of the sauce from the beans was starting to soak through the bread—but I can tell you, it definitely tastes delicious!

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What else can I possibly say about this plateful of perfection? The brisket was so tender I could cut pull it apart with a fork, the pulled pork just melts in your mouth, and that might actually have been the best rib I’ve ever had in my life—and dude, this is body by ribs, bro! Next time I go back, I might just get a whole plate of ribs…and you know, there is definitely gonna be a next time, sooner rather than later!

Now, I know what you’re asking…could he possibly eat all that meat and still have room for dessert? Clown question, bro!!!

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Say hello to my little friend sweet potato pie! This super-delish dish is like pumpkin pie on steroids—it’s Canadian Thanksgiving on a crust, son! And you wouldn’t even know from eating it that this is the same stuff they make sweet potato fries with…it tastes totally different! But hey, I would totally go for a pie made outta sweet potato fries, with a side of chocolate/peanut-butter aioli. How is this not a thing yet!?

Turkey dinner Texas style—just 15 bones—at Adamson’s, son!

Perhaps you’ve heard of the magical, mystical place that is Adamson’s Barbecue. This legit, real-deal, Texas-style joint is tucked away in an old warehouse in the industrial part of South Leaside, and the lineups are so long they often run outta food before 2 pm. And you could only get it on weekdays…until just recently, when they finally decided to open up shop on Saturday.

So, last weekend, I went down to check it out. I’ve heard they’ve got some righteous ribs and Bomb.ca brisket, but I really wanted to try the smoked turkey. I’ve seen a couple places do turkey in the smoker on Triple D, and I’ve been to a whole buncha BBQ joints here in The Big Smoke—but I had never actually seen this delish dish in the flesh until now:

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Now, I gotta say, I’m not normally a really big turkey fan. I’ll have it for Thanksgiving, but I don’t even like leftovers. I mean, I haven’t even tried the hand-carved turkey sandwich at Subway…but I’m pretty sure that Adamson’s checks that sammy hard into the boards, pulls its jersey up over its head, and punches it right in the solar plexus. This bird is super moist and tender, with a nice smoked flavour that you can’t get anywhere else. Shut the back door and buy a ticket, bro!

But of course, that’s not all. This hunka-hunka-burnin’ lunch plate comes with pickles, onions, white bread and a choice of two sides. I got some poppin’ potater salad and a nice crunchy coleslaw, which would probably taste good even on top of a Duck Dynasty burger. And can you believe that all this grub was just 15 bucks!? That’s like a highway robbery in Flavourtown, son!!!!