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Southern style: Let's meat (and eat) at Brisbane’s best American barbecue restaurants

The Weekend Edition

Apologies in advance to all plant-based eaters out there – this round-up is strictly for the carnivores. This time around, we’re checking out the finest hunks of meat available around town.

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No, we’re not talking about Aussie Thunder Male Revue. We’re talking about barbecue – American barbecue, to be precise. Brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausages – if it’s smoky, saucy and meaty, it’s exactly what we’re after.

We’ve assembled a list of some of the best bricks-and-mortar barbecue locations in Brisbane. Be wary of reading while hungry – this list will get the salivary glands working overtime.

 

Barbecue Mafia, Coorparoo: Looking for some of the most authentic, finger-lickin’ American barbecue in Brisbane? Let the mafia handle it. From humble beginnings as a market and pop-up operation, Barbecue Mafia has partnered with the suburban sports club scene to set up a permanent location at Coorparoo Senior AFC. Genius! Drool over the gang’s lovingly smoked brisket, pulled pork, lamb shanks, smoked pastrami Reuben, smash cheeseburgers or its hugely popular birria tacos. These bad boys are filled with 48-hour smoked, then braised, beef – served with cheese, onion, coriander and a scoop of broth for dipping.

Frankie’s Smokehouse, Woolloongabba: Brother-sister duo Tristan and Tamika Borgo established Frankie’s Smokehouse in 2021, blowing the socks of barbecue aficionados with a range of morsels cooked in an eight-and-a-half-metre long custom smoker called Frankenstein, made from an empty LPG gas tank. Now one of Brisbane’s most popular low ’n’ slow joints, Frankie’s frequently packs out with feverish fanatics eager for a taste of Tristan’s menu, which follows a less-is-more approach. Highlights include 12-hour smoked JBS Pure Prime brisket, beef short rib, pulled Northern Rivers pork, and pork ribs, available alongside smoked wings, loaded fries, onion rings, hot links and Frankie’s zesty corn.

Phat Boyz Smokehouse & Kitchen, Walloon: The talented pit masters behind competitive barbecue team turned low ’n’ slow institution Phat Boyz opened a flagship restaurant at Waterlea in Walloon in June 2021, wowing locals and barbecue die-hards with its massive operation. A five-metre, two-tonne ironbark-fuelled smoker La Loco Moonshine Express handles 300 kilograms of meat per cook, and is tasked with executing a menu of Texas and Carolina-style barbecue that has been accented by South American and Japanese influences. Traditional low ’n’ slow eats such as brisket (seasoned only with salt, pepper and garlic), pork ribs, pulled pork are joined by experimental options like smoked-brisket ramen noodles, smoked-beef lasagne, brisket and pulled-pork tacos. Meanwhile, a custom-built suspended bird cage handles the asado-style barbecuing of whole chickens and mouth-watering tomahawk steaks.

Bluegrass Barbeque, Albion, New Farm and Eatons Hill: The accomplished smoke wranglers behind Bluegradd Barbecue are responsible for some of the best barbecue in town, with three locations dishing up some of the most succulent meats available. The team operates the kitchen at New Farm institution The Smoke, Albion locale Hudson Corner and its own Eatons Hill smokehouse, punching out platters of North Carolina-style pulled pork, Memphis country-style pork belly, bourbon lamb ribs, Kansas City-style pork ribs and fried chicken. You’ll also find burgers, subs and sandwiches, brisket-loaded dirty fries, wings and and steaks – just the right amount of protein for any carnivore.

Proof BBQ & Booze, Toowoomba: This pit-master’s paradise is hailed as one of Queensland’s best, earning name for itself amongst Brisbane’s brisket-loving diners. Though Proof’s Windsor spot is out of action in the wake of the floods, fans can head up the range to Toowoomba, where Proof’s diverse mix of meaty morsels is available. The menu specialises in a by-the-pound meat selection that includes beef brisket and short rib, pulled pork, pork ribs, hot links and smoked chickens, accompanied by extras such as taxi fries (deep-fried chicken skin), sweet smoked pecan wings, double beef-and-cheese smash burger, barbecue-shrimp grits, mac’n’cheese, a 50-ounce tomahawk to share, and smoked watermelon with prosciutto and gorgonzola.

Smokey Moo, Newstead: Formerly an East Brisbane operation, Gasworks is now where you can find one of Brisbane’s most dedicated barbecue outlets. Shalom and Wensley Bitton are dishing up straightforward meals their charming barbecue nook Smokey Moo. Woods such as black wattle, Australian oak, macadamia wood and pecan chips are used to smoked the likes of brisket, ribs, beef cheeks and house-cured pastrami, all of which are dreamily succulent and flavoursome.

Meat Me BBQ, Brendale: Meat Me BBQ dishes up a diverse selection of meaty morsels inspired by American, Brazilian and South Korean barbecue styles. Barbecue honey sesame wings, sweet-and-spicy slow-smoked wings and honey mustard salmon wings make way for smoked Texan beef chilli dogs, beef-and-bacon cheeseburgers, beef-shin tacos and a smoked brat of the day – and that’s not even the main event. House-smoked beef brisket, smoked pork cutlets, lamb shoulder and Carolina mustard-basted salmon are the showstoppers, best followed by a wedge of cheesecake or pie.

Bare Knuckles BBQ, Salisbury: A local favourite on the southside, Bare Knuckles cooks its free-range grass-fed protein in a woodfired Radar Hill Smoker called Bertha. What results is a menu filled with sublimely succulent morsels, including rolls filled with beef brisket and mac ’n’ cheese, pork ribs with apple slaw, brisket-topped nachos, brisket smash burgers, and giant share boxes filled with pulled pork, cheese kransky, chicken wings and brisket.

Big Roddy’s Rippin’ Rib Shack, South Brisbane and Fortitude Valley: After honing his secret rib recipe in the Brisbane market scene, Rod Saba of Big Roddy’s Rippin’ Rib Shack teamed up with pal David Kempnich to open a rib joint in Fish Lane – and they followed it up with a second location in the heart of The Valley. At this rib shack patrons can choose either baby back pork or beef short ribs, smothered in one of Big Roddy’s secret sauces. If getting your hands dirty with a rack of ribs isn’t enough, you can also devour Roddy’s signature ribwich, buffalo wings, poutine and corn on the cob.

Sugar Creek Smokehouse, Eagleby: Down at Distillery Road Market (DRM), Sugar Creek Smokehouse is utilising Texas-style barbecue methods – as well as its own marinades, sauces and rubs – to seduce the tastebuds of locals. Owner Keaton Campbell uses a five-foot rotisserie smoker (featuring up to 12 rotisserie racks and three grilling grates) to cook paddock-to-plate proteins, resulting in mouth-watering mouthfuls like Sugar Creek’s hickory-smoked brisket, smoked collar butt pulled pork, pork ribs lathered in Sugar Creek’s own Sweet Heat rub, brisket poutine burger, Smokehouse Cubano sandwich and signature Phat Fries.

Billy’s Backyard BBQ, Mount Cotton: This family-owned and operated barbecue joint is a specialist in Texas-style slow cooking. The team here lovingly tend to the flames in order to cook its product to perfection – we’re talking brisket burgers, Nashville fried-chicken burgers, loaded fries, sliced and pulled meats ordered by weight, racks of ribs and a selection of boxes filled with everything from smoked beef brisket and collar butt pulled pork to jalapeno and cheddar sausages, and buffalo wings.

Buffalo Bar, Brisbane City: Inner-city dwellers aren’t bereft of USA-style barbecue, especially as long as Buffalo Bar keeps it on the menu. If tucking into a platter loaded with sliced brisket, smoked pork ribs, chorizo sausage, barbecue beans, chips and slaw, or a stack of buffalo chicken wings, sounds like a good time to you, then Buffalo Bar is one good spot to do it.

Twelve Boar, North Lakes: This long-running barbecue concept started out in Brisbane’s bayside, but can now be found in the northern suburbs. The menu is all about slow-cooked magic – think six-hour smoked pork and beef ribs, 12-hour smoked pulled pork and beef brisket burgers, saucy buffalo wings, barbecue wings, loaded fries, hot dogs and more.

Are you a budding barbecue master or have a smoking-hot set-up at home? We suggest popping into Ironwood Barbecue in Coopers Plains or Low and Slow Meat Co. in Morningside for all of your meat, heat and smoke needs.

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