Let's get this straight. When barbecues are done right, they are beyond incredible. The meat that falls apart from a low 'n' slow cook, the smokey richness from the wood chips that infiltrates deep into the meat and that amazing caramelisation that occurs from a well controlled broil; the BBQ is the pinnacle of meat-eating.
But you can't just leave it in the hands of any old mansplaining cretin with a pair of forks and a special BBQ pinny. If you want to really try BBQ food, you need to go to the experts.
Luckily, Bristol has a select few who know their stuff. They've obsessed over the type of wood chip and the quality of their meat. They've even got secret seasoning rubs and have spent thousands on the perfect equipment.
These select few are your meat messiahs, and you are about to become their disciples...
If you want to know what to expect when you head to Spitfire, their hashtag is #TrueCarnivoreFeast, they're meat loving, flame grillin', sauce drenching barbecue machines. They're proud of their homemade Pit Rub that both compliments the meat and starts to sing when its gently licked by flames and allowed to do its thing, low and slow.
Get your laughing gear around ribs, brisket, burgers and, if you're really feeling hungry, their Spitfire Monster Rib sharing board for 4 . Aye Carumba!
MEAT, MUSIC, MAYHEM!
If you can’t afford a trip to Texas, there's no need to worry - Grillstock has brought your authentic BBQ-heaven nearer home. At their smokehouses, the food is cooked low 'n' slow in their smoker over hickory and fruit woods. They source their meat locally and produce all their own range of seasonings and BBQ sauces which are used to make their BBQ unique. And boy is it fantastic - big tender piles of pulled-pork, or racks of ribs, served with skin-on-fries and dished-up directly on trays. Such is the cult following Grillstock has developed, they now even run an annual festival on Bristol's Harbourside to celebrate meat, beer and rock-music. Meaty!
Lucien Gordon of Patty and Bun fame in London has come back to Bristol and opened on Park Row. Heavy on the Bristol and South American BBQ influence, he is serving those burgers pink & juicy, using organic, high welfare beef and topped with West Country cheese.
The patties are cooked on a proper asado, or wood fired grill for that sought after, char grilled taste. Veggies are catered for too, check out their buttermilk fried pepper burger, it's something different! As a delicious added treat, they make their own habanero hot sauce and mayo in house and my goodness it's packed with flavour.
We tried to get the recipe out of Lucien but he wasn't budging.
Smoke & Glaze is a nod to shared passions for Southern American cooking, the home of damn good barbecue. All their food reflects a shared passion for cajun/creole cuisine, whilst the meat is full of flavour and falls apart with a hard stare! Their pickles, glazes and sauces are prepared from scratch to ensure their po-boys and burgers deliver a unique and irresistible flavour. No funny business and no compromises. Check out their hotwings which are smothered in a sweet and spicy hotsauce. Finger licking good.
Whilst not strictly the sort of barbecue we're used to, The Cauldron Restaurant cooks everything over open flames and we can't think of anything more BBQ than that! With those stoked fires charring burgers, steaks and even aubergines, sealing in the flavour and serving in their relaxed settings, this is a great place to feel the heat without burning the decking down
Get ready to fall in love all over again when you head to The Ox in Clifton. Bathed in natural light, unlike its darker, broodier sister in the center, they is the perfect place to get messy. Yes the steaks are cracking but for that authentic BBQ experience you need to get your mitts on the ribs and burgers. Tender ribs with that unmistakable charred taste tossed in a thick, sticky BBQ sauce to start then chase it down with one of their monster, juicy burgers, flame grilled and loaded with toppings. Barbecue never tasted so good!
We feel short of breath just looking at it...
A favourite haunt of meat-eating maniacs across the city, its wolfish menu is a thing of legends. Dry rubbed pork shoulder cooked slow and low in their own smokers then drenched in BBQ sauce, added to a flame grilled burger patty, cheese and home pickled gherkins. No way is your mate at St Andrews Park serving this up on his disposable barbie.
Really, really good jerk chicken needs time, love and hot coals. Luckily we have Agnes Spencer's Amazing Jamaican Cuisine coming to the food market near you! Named after the families Grandmother, these guys are hte go to stall if you like your meat spicy, juicy and full of flavour. Big portions served with rice, peas and coleslaw beg to be picked up and every tasty morsel stripped from the bone, the result being full bellies and sticky fingers.
You know you are going to be eating barbecue realness when part of the menu is called "Stoke di Fire". Offering jerked pork, chicken, fish and vegetables cooked over hot coals in their Stokes Croft restaurant. All served with cooling slaw , what a great way to enjoy BBQ and a few rums. "Often fiery, ALWAYS Irie!"
ENORMOUS Lebanese grill house, Lona have some of the best outdoor seating on Gloucester Road. It is a dry restaurant so their extensive menu can be washed down with fresh fruit smoothies, a real summer experience! Watch the chefs expertly grill a range of marinated meats in the large open kitchen and drool uncontrollable at the smell of lamb cooked over coals. Yum!
A 2011 road trip around the huge and iconic piece of America known as the ‘Lone Star State’ (Texas, y'all) led to the creation of Smoke Catering by husband and wife team Claire and Robyn Dacey – a Somerset local and American respectively – providing authentic Texan BBQ thanks to their original, Texan-made 12 foot smoker. Using only seasoned wood logs, they create a fire in the smoker's firebox; along it's journey through the smoker, the smoke penetrates the meat, breaking down the fats to produce a beautiful, juicy, and buttery texture. The smoke adds a subtle, but unmistakable, hint of fire and flavour.