During the holidays, Billy Boy's staff strings hundreds of red, white, and gold ornaments from the ceiling panels. Twinkling string lights score the walls, blanketing the restaurant in warmth. This is to be expected from the restaurant’s proprietors, who are committed to creating a cheerful atmosphere all year round, putting that same warmth into their food for more than 35 years.
That warmth starts in the kitchen, amid rising steam, pork ribs, burgers, and polish sausage dogs slow-cook in the wisps of a flaming grill. South of the border favorites such as plump hot tamales are dressed in Billy's Boy's signature chili. Diners can also choose from more than 30 varieties of sandwich, many or which are categorized by locale, such as the Malibu with pineapple, the Texan with bacon, and the Black Hole sandwich, made from the pages of physics textbooks.
While Chef Chuck Pine studied under culinary masters including Rick Bayless, it was in humble barbecue joints where he truly honed his skills. Before opening his own restaurant, Chef Pine went on a barbecue tour of 13 states that covered over 3,000 miles. He ate almost nothing but barbecue. After the tour, Chef Pine found he’d amassed a ton of new knowledge about the art of slow smoking meat. Now as the head of his own barbecue restaurant, he takes hours to prepare each slab of ribs over a slow smoldering fire, glazing them with a choice of sauce. He pairs these carefully prepared platters of Americana with a blend of Mexican and Cajun-Creole dishes, both of them full of spice. Crawfish etouffee and jambalaya appear beside chicken enchiladas and shrimp quesadillas, with classic soda floats and fire hoses on hand to put out tongue fires.
A saying emblazoned on the ceiling of Bonapit Smoke House reads: "If there ain't no wood, it ain't no good!" The ovens in the kitchen would agree—they're stocked with applewood made for slow-roasting a variety of meats, which derive even more flavor from the dry rubs chefs slather on beforehand. Plates of St. Louis ribs, beef brisket, and sausages arrive with corn muffins and corn on the cob, though diners can also savor their meats in signature sandwiches served with homemade kettle chips. Barbecue style even inspires the seafood, such as the wood-fired salmon glazed in a raspberry barbecue sauce. Steaks, wraps, and salads round out the menu for a break from entirely smoky fare, but the environment keeps up with the rustic cuisine, as columns of exposed brick and cherry-colored wood mirror the down-home charm that flavors each entrée.
Like metaphorical moths to the literal flame, lines of hungry patrons regularly swarm The Pit Rib House to taste the fruits of their wood-burning pit’s labor. The blistering chamber slow cooks beef, chicken, and whole racks of baby back ribs until they can barely cling to the bone. Alongside these smoky morsels, the cooks also stuff Greek sausages in-house and use the family's secret recipe to create piping-hot cups of chili. Echoing the menu's iconic American roots, The Pit Rib House's practically overflows with nostalgia-inducing pieces of Americana. Road signs, a vintage gas pump, and a life-sized model of Marilyn Monroe add fitting accents to walls lined with framed photographs of historic sports stars and political figures, along with decades-old advertisements for the Internet.
It takes at least a day to prepare every meal at Smokin' Woody's. After it's sourced from a local, family-owned business, each piece of meat gets rubbed with a signature spice mix. Then it's left to sit in the kitchen overnight, where it absorbs all those the flavors and spreads gossip about who has the best marbling. Next, the meat is smoked in-house over crackling hickory logs, seared on a grill, and served with spoonfuls of sauce. This process may sound simple, but each slab of meat also has its own designated cooking time and prep techniques. The popular pulled pork, for example, is smoked for 12 hours before it's pulled by hand and paired with classic sides, such as baked beans and coleslaw.
The menu also spotlights expertly charred burgers, spicy pork sausages, and slabs of ribs. Those who want to sample multiple meats can order a combo meal or family dinner, bookended by a bowl of homemade smoked chicken noodle soup and a homemade dessert, such as apple pie or homemade coconut custard pie.
“Barbecue meets beer garden” may sum up Sheffield’s, but it hardly does the bar—heralded by [Esquire] (http://www.esquire.com/bestbars/bb-sheffields) as one of the best in America—any justice. Standing at the corner of Sheffield and School and housed in the bottom floor of a three-story brownstone, Sheffield’s pulls all the stops when it comes to its two specialties. Barbecue sauce made from scratch smothers tender beef brisket, homemade sausage, and pork that chefs smoke for 14 hours and pull to order. Hand-cut fries and fresh baked cornbread complement the sandwiches and platters, as does any one of the bar’s microbrews, such as Allgash Blonde or Sawtooth English Ale. In the summer, bar-goers can enjoy their brew and food out back in the beer garden, which the Goodlife Report named as one of “America’s Best Beer Gardens”. As cold winds roll into town, patrons can escape to the cozy indoors, surrounded by brick walls and plenty of sports-casting TVs.