While those from Tennessee or Texas may claim coal crown, when it comes to BBQ, up here in Canada, we know good grill when we taste it! As a testament to that claim, here’s a list of the best cities for BBQ in Canada where you can find the tenderest brisket, the juiciest pulled pork, and the most lip-smacking ribs north of the border.
To help us narrow down our list of where to go for some charcoal-cooking goodness, we selected cities that had both the most BBQ restaurants and the best BBQ restaurants. If you’re the kind of place that knows your way around a smoker, bets are on that you’re on this list.
Now, let’s fire up the grill and get cooking with the 10 best cities for BBQ in Canada.
10. Gibsons, British Columbia
Let’s face it, BBQ with a view is always better. Which is why the town of Gibsons, on West Coast’s iconic Vancouver Island, made it to the No. 10 spot on our list. The place to get BBQ in this seaside city is Smoke On The Water. One meal here and you’ll realize why this establishment is single-handedly bringing BBQ to the West Coast. Sitting right on the Shoal Channel, this restaurant offers amazing pulled pork, as well as brisket sandwiches, served with a side of cowboy beans. Enjoy all of this while taking in the extraordinary harbour views.
9. London, Ontario
It might not look it but the city of London in the province of Ontario is quite capable of playing with the big boys when it comes to being a top BBQ city. One establishment helped put this city on our map. Shmokey Rob and Son’s is an off-the-beaten-path BBQ resto that brings people from far and wide and cooks up some of the best BBQ in the country. If you do end up here, make sure you try their award-winning pulled pork sandwich.
8. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
If you’re in Saskatoon, make your way to Schryers Smoke BBQ Shack. The place offers big, tasty portions and the slow-cooked ribs come in four different sauces. If you want to taste it all, treat yourself to a sampler platter that lets you try all the specialities: chicken, ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket.
7. Halifax, Nova Scotia
While it might seem like blasphemy not to have lobster on the menu in Nova Scotia, there are places cooking up more than just the city’s fresh fish. For great BBQ in the young, hip city of Halifax try Boneheads BBQ. The establishment offers up the standard ribs, chicken, and brisket but their speciality is their burnt-end poutine.
6. Bonnyville, Alberta
For a little of the beaten path magic, head to Bonnyville, Alberta. You’ll need to stay alert, however, as the best BBQ spot is actually Bushmen’s Smokehouse mobile food truck. Not only is this an on-the-go operation, but it’s known for its absolutely delicious BBQ fare. Just find them early, before the ribs sell out!
5. Vancouver, British Columbia
Although most people wouldn’t normally associate Lotusland with the smoky flavours of BBQ, turns out Vancouver has some of the best smoke and slow-cook inspired restaurants. Thanks to their proximity to the Prairies, they always have grade-A meats that are perfect for smoking and grilling. There is also an exciting amount of growth and development here, where new restaurants like Re-Up BBQ can easily thrive. One dish to try is the full Barnyard platter at Re-Up BBQ order authentic Southern sweet tea to wash this smoked goodness down.
4. Montreal, Quebec
Ah, Montreal, the land of smoked meat. For the barbecue-variety of smoke, check out either The Icehouse, the Le Boucan Smokehouse or Bofinger Smokehouse. For those craving deep south BBQ, try Le Boucan Smokehouse’s Alabama-style chicken sandwich.
3. Hamilton, Ontario
Known as Steel City to some, Hamilton is a burgeoning scene for delicious BBQ. Right in the heart of the city, you have places like Saltlick Smokehouse and Rolly Rocket’s BBQ. In nearby Stoney Creek, you also have the Memphis Fire Barbeque Company. Just keep in mind, you may need more than a meal in this area to really get the BBQ flavour. If you end up here for the day, spend your lunch and dinner at Memphis Fire and Saltlick and save your late night feed for Rolly Rocket’s, which serves up a tasty corn dog, some hush puppies, and a big ol’ platter of dry-rubbed riblets to satisfy those midnight munchies.
2. Calgary, Alberta
Probably no one is surprised that the land of cowboys and horse rustlers ranks high on our 10 best cities for BBQ. Calgary can lay claim to having two of the best BBQ joints in the nation: Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse and Bookers Barbecue + Crab Shack. Big T’s was featured on the TV show You Gotta Eat Here and is known for their smoked meats, and their iconic dish, the Gutbuster Sandwich that includes sliced brisket, pulled pork and andouille sausage! For a slightly different take, head to Bookers, which specializes in BBQ-style surf and turf with the go-to-dish a mix of steamed crab and a rack of ribs. Eat up!
1. Toronto, Ontario
Toronto gets on this list due to the sheer amount of quality BBQ joints in the city. You can venture to Barque Smokehouse in Roncesvalles—one of Canada’s most iconic spots, or try one of the newer and trendier spots like Electric Mud, nearby in the hip Parkdale neighbourhood. There’s also the Stockyards, which real locals will tell you is the absolute best, particularly the ‘5 bones’ of St. Louis cut ribs that offer the classic flavour choice of Barque Rack O’Bama.
Looking for a lip-smacking good time at one of these restaurants? You need to plan a trip right now! Learn a little bit more about what makes these cities special, beyond just the BBQ, so that you can have a full adventure before you chow down on a full rack of ribs or a chicken sandwich, after all, it’s true what they say, adventure makes the stomach grow hungrier.