After spending years cooking around the country, and working under the tutelage of Chefs Dan Lewis and Charles Bailey, Leo V. Tocchini was excited to move to Windsor. After discovering that his new town didn’t boast the same high-quality, slow-roasted eats he loved most, Leo decided to open his own barbecue joint with a menu composed of family recipes he learned as a 10-year-old. Amidst grills full of patiently smoldering charcoal and pots simmering with Leo’s signature sauce, Jaded Toad BBQ & Grill was born.
Leo crafts the slow-roasted slabs of ribs, fried frog legs, and whole roasted chickens on his Louisiana-inspired menu from scratch each day, refusing to use shortcuts such as microwaves or robots trained to pull pork. He tops tables with saucy piles of meat in the dining room, front patio, or beer garden, which boasts 10 beers on tap and 16 additional bottled varieties, as well as multiple fire pits and picnic tables.
The BBQ Spot transforms regular pork, beef, and chicken into a smorgasbord of Texas– and Memphis–style barbecue. Hardworking chefs meticulously prepare feasts through traditional Southern methods⎯slowly roasting each meaty slab over a smoky fire of hickory chips and rival-college football-team memorabilia. Succulent cuts of brisket peacefully share table space with St. Louis ribs as well as tender morsels of pulled pork. A menagerie of classic barbecue sides garnishes plates or sops up leftover sauce with portions of baked beans, tangy coleslaw, and wholesome cornbread. The friendly staff delivers the protein-rich cuisine amid homey, no-frills diner décor outfitted with red-, green-, and yellow-checkered floors and surrounded by earthy pale-yellow walls. Wood chairs and tables impart a natural feel to the aesthetic, and The BBQ Spot further enriches its relationship with local diners by providing catering services for weddings, parties, and corporate events, such as CEO firings.
Big Jim’s BBQ entrances diners with a menu of tempting contemporary and barbecue cuisine arranged by chef Jim Modesitt. Like the annual westward migration of wood-smoking grills, the sauce-slathered bill of fare unites gourmet California treats with rustic southern cooking traditions, pairing juicy pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and brisket with hearty risottos, traditional cornbreads and beans, assorted cheeses, and crostinis. As clients sup on the tasty bounty or enroll in courses to learn the dark arts of cookcraft from the kitchen’s professional chefs and caterers, rich flavors and aromas lavish the nose and palate with a sensory celebration of fine food.
After walking under the turquoise awning and past the brick façade of Abby's Grill, diners can dig into grilled seafood and pork marinated in the restaurant's secret sauce. The polished surfaces of wood tables gleam in the light streaming through the eatery's tall windows, which provide opportunities to watch passersby or attempt to intimidate parking meters with icy glares.
The cooks at Smokey J's prep handmade, slow-smoked barbecue dishes, making their own sauces and sausages in-house. They rub meats with brown sugar and a secret house spice rub. Pulled pork and brisket are slow-smoked for 12 hours in a medley of maple, mesquite, and whiskey barrel wood chips, and collard greens and baked beans simmer in a chicken and pork broth. Zesty spices and sauces augment many of the meats, such as the piquant North Carolina sauce and the house dry rub.
Today, the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit sign may be a ubiquitous symbol representing good ol’ Texas barbecue, but when Travis Dickey first opened his Dallas shop in 1941, the sign had to share space with advertisements to help pay rent. In the 70 years since then, the Dickeys have done well for themselves, with their initial store spawning a slew of franchises throughout the country. Though the barbecue at each outpost is no longer under the hand of one of Dickey’s descendants, each shop still smokes their own meats in-house to create the signature Texan flavor that infuses their briskets, pulled pork, and fall-off-the-bone ribs.
Meals can come in any size, from the a la carte sandwiches to platters that incorporate a chosen number of meats with a buttery roll, pickle, ice cream, and two homestyle sides. Whether serving up their dishes in the dining room or packing them up for take-away or catering, the staff ensures that each client gets a taste of Texas home cooking without the hassle rubbing every dish on a campfire crock-pot.