Barbecue…we think of it as American as baseball and apple pie, but BBQ’s origins are said to go back to a style of Caribbean cooking of the early 1500’s. Research tells us Spanish conquistadors learned this technique from the indigenous tribes on the island of Hispaniaola who had mastered a method of cooking meat over indirect flames they called barbacoa. The Spanish explorers who came north brought this cooking technique with them and eventually US settlers moved the technique westward across the country.

Today, barbecue has become a major thread in the fabric of American cooking with four different geographic areas laying claim to the best style of barbecue – Texas, Memphis, North Carolina and Kansas City. Each style is unique – there are sauces with base ingredients like tomato and molasses or mustard, brown sugar and vinegar. Some dry rubs and brines use garlic, salt and paprika while others are partial to something with a little more heat like chili powder. In Texas, more often than not, you’ll find beef as the main ingredient, where as in North Carolina and Memphis, pork is most common. No matter how it is prepped or what meat is used, slow-cooked barbecue, smoked with homemade rubs and sauces usually end with the same result – a full and satisfied customer.

Worcester County is no stranger to BBQ. There is pork, ribs, brisket, chicken, corn bread, collard greens and all the fixin’s all over area. In North County Dickie’s Grillen in Fitchburg has some barbecue on the menu. In Bellingham Joff’s Backyard Grill is a local favorite with outstanding barbecue ribs and pulled pork. And in Marlborough, Firefly’s has been serving authentic BBQ in a fast-paced atmosphere for over 20 years.

BBQ joints come in all shapes, sizes and styles…here are a few of our favorites. But don’t take our word for it, go out and try any one of these amazing restaurants for yourself!

Smokestack Urban Barbecue

Smokestack Urban Barbecue delivers consistent, mouth-watering barbecue, in a comfortable and casual atmosphere. Large portions of southern staples are front and center, with tons of side dishes too and, if BBQ isn’t your thing, there are lots of other comfort foods waiting in wings. In the nice weather choose to dine on the covered, outdoor patio.


Westside Steak & BBQ

One of Worcester’s true hidden gems, Westside Steak & BBQ delivers huge portions of flavorful food in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere! Find a seat in the bright, rustic dining room or sit outside in the common-area patio when Mother Nature cooperates. BYOB. And try the brisket, it is a good as it comes.

Texas Barbecue Company

It’s a little piece of Texas on Main Street in Northborough…or so they say! But if you have a hankering for real traditional, slow-cooked, pit-smoked barbecue, Texas Barbecue Company, this is the place, Everything is smoked using green hardwood (pecan, oak and hickory) for 12-18 hours. Beef Brisket, Texas-style potato salad, Beans and Cucumber Salad. Friendly attentive staff, Texas-style décor and a real nice beer selection to accompany your meal!


BT’s Smokehouse

BT’s is as well known in the area as restaurants come for barbecue, at one time because of the roadside trailer they served out of, but mostly because of the quality, consistency and excellence of the food they serve! Award-winning proprietor Brian Treitman is as passionate as a chef can be about his food and he has been known to say there is no need for napkins because you will want to lick your fingers when you are done! Outstanding value, BYOB. Voted one of the Top Ten BBQ by Boston Globe.


Added Bonus: In July, VIA is offering their twist with an Italian Pig Roast!