By Anna Ing
Boston is home to a few token BBQ places and the newest entry that joined last November has taken the city by storm. Helmed by Season One finalist of the popular Bravo TV Reality show “Top Chef” Tiffani Faison, barbecue fans are in for a treat. After the South End Italian restaurant Rocca closed its doors, Tiffani decided our fair city needed a new place that served Texas style BBQ. After some serious road tripping throughout Texas trying out the different barbecue, they came back and to our great fortune, Sweet Cheeks (1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 266-1300) was born.
On a recent busy Friday night, one could barely hear themselves in this big room with a mix of seating that consisted of some communal tables. Water is served out of Mason jars (usually used for canning foods) and the condiments – BBQ sauce (big bottle), Hot Sauce (smallest bottle), and vinegary North Carolina sauce (middle sized bottle) – are all at your fingertips. Sweet Cheeks doesn’t mess around with the BBQ meats as the emphasis is on pulled chicken, pulled pork, pork belly, brisket and ribs. All their meats are natural, no hormones and local. The BBQ is served on metal trays and the choice of three meats, aka Fat Cheeks which cost $26, came along with white bread, house made pickles, onions with a choice of one scoop each of a hot and cold side. Cold sides included potato salad, farm salad, carrot raisin salad and cole slaw. The hot side options had Tiffani’s mom’s mac’n’cheese, collard greens, black eyed peas, cita’s broccoli cheese casserole, and heirloom bbq beans.
Our Fat Cheeks tray had the brisket, pork ribs, and pork belly was chosen along with the mac’n’cheese and carrot raisin salad which had yummy nuts, raisins, and carrots. The added tang surprise came from blue cheese, making it a winner. Served in a cup, the mac’n’cheese was nice and creamy. The cheesy sauce was delicious and satisfying as a comfort food. The meats are smoked on the premises and were simply works of art. First the four pork ribs, two big slices of flavorful lean and fatty brisket as well as the three smallish pieces of succulent pork belly were delicious. I was a fan of the nice sweet BBQ sauce. The North Carolina sauce served a nice vinegary tang if that is your speed. The hot sauce was avoided though.
The other tray was the Berkshire pulled pork ($17) and the two sides chosen were the collard greens and farm salad. The collard greens were lovely with bits of meat and vinegary sauce that kept it interesting. The farm salad consisted of brussel sprouts (wild cabbage with edible buds), parmesan cheese, candied hazelnuts, faro (popular Italian grain) and arugula fulfilled the veggie component of the meal. The pulled pork was like threads of pork that were easy to eat and delicious. The house made pickles were light and refreshing.
Our Fried Green Tomatoes ($7) were outstanding! We liked the textures of the batter versus the green tomato. We found the portions to be abundant that we had no room for dessert and had leftovers for another meal. Unfortunately, we had to skip ordering desserts. The prices are a little on the pricier side, service was efficient and knowledgeable. While there are other barbecue places in town, Sweet Cheeks is worthy of a look.