Blue Ribbon BBQ

Worth a detour

There’s good BBQ, and then there’s the imitators. The most popular American epicenters focus on a specialty, like beef brisket and hot links in Texas Hill Country; burnt ends in Kansas City; ribs in Memphis; and chopped pork in the Carolinas. These inevitably set the standard for the rest of the country, and often BBQ restaurants outside of those locales attempt to cook some or all of the items, with varying results. Though there are plenty of said shacks all across New England, few are worthy of a return trip—and even fewer deserve a mention here.

When our very first friend, pjagger, mentioned Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Q to us several years ago, we were initially excited yet hesitant. It took us a very long time to try Blue Ribbon, and now we admit that our skepticism was unfounded. Blue Ribbon does indeed serve great BBQ in various styles, most of them remarkably so, and their sides and sauces have no peer in the northern states.

Their North Carolina pulled pork, favoring bigger hunks of meats over the almost minced varieties found down South, is quite excellent, and their housemade sauces (their vinegar version nails it, though their spicy chipotle mustard is divine) are especially great when used sparingly. We’d skip the smoked sausages and the Texas beef brisket (which are both fine, though we’re spoiled for the real deal) in favor of the Kansas City burnt ends and the Memphis dry-rubbed ribs. Coupled with the sauces, these items are superb and make you long for the same from their respective birthplaces. A brilliant special is the West Virginia chow-chow pork sandwich, which substitutes sweet vinegar slaw for their usual mayo-based cole slaw, and we’re also quite fond of their Cuban sandwich, made with house-smoked ham and homemade pickles.

Side dishes are not at all an afterthought at Blue Ribbon, and their creative twists on tried-and-true staples are noteworthy. Cheese grits are particularly creamy, and the black-eyed corn is tangy and toothsome. The skins-on potato salad is fresh and chunky, and the collard greens are best when drizzled with their jalapeño vinegar. Cornbread, slightly sweet and not cakey, is also significant. Blue Ribbon runs a second store at 908 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington and also a catering service with portable smokers for large parties. Blue Ribbon is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What to Eat
Blue Ribbon BBQ, Burnt Ends
Burnt Ends
If there are any of these smoky burnt ends leftover, they make wonderful hash for breakfast the next day. Also pictured is Blue Ribbon’s red hot smoked sausage.
Carnitas Burrito
Pulled pork sandwich
Potato Salad
Collard greens
Cuban sandwich
Directions and Hours
Open Today
Sunday11 am - 8 pm
Monday11 am - 9 pm
Tuesday11 am - 9 pm
Wednesday11 am - 9 pm
Thursday11 am - 9 pm
Friday11 am - 9 pm
Saturday11 am - 9 pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Turtle Alley

    Gloucester, Massachusetts

    Turtle Alley’s various chocolate turtles are inventive & delicious. The delightful Gloucester, Massachusetts store makes a full range of barks & bon bons.

  • Kelly’s Roast Beef

    Revere, Massachusetts

    Kelly’s roast beef — soft, pink, piled high on a butter-toasted bun — is a legend north of Boston. The Revere Beach location is a happy waterside picnic.

  • Wright’s Farm

    Burrillville, Rhode Island

    One of the biggest restaurants on earth, Wright’s Farm serves a classic Rhode Island Blackstone Valley chicken dinner with fixin’s, all-you-can-eat.

  • Liberal Club

    Fall River, Massachusetts

    Located in a vintage Fall River social club, the Liberal Club restaurant offers a roster of New England / Portuguese seafood at its best.

  • Santarpio’s Pizza

    Boston, Massachusetts

    Santarpio’s thin-crust pizza is a long-standing Boston highlight. Also on the menu: BBQ, which actually is charcoal-cooked sausage and lamb. Delicious!

  • All Star Sandwich Bar

    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    All Star is a casual shop serving all-American sandwiches from Buffalo beef on weck to a New Orleans muffaletta. French fries are great, too.