Real Southern BBQ in New England

  • 01 of 05

    Savor the Smoky Goodness at B.T.'s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, MA

    B.T.'s Smokehouse
    © 2012 Kim Knox Beckius

    Perhaps you've had your fill of lobster and clam chowder. Maybe you find yourself in New England craving authentic southern BBQ. You know: dry-rubbed, slow-smoked beef brisket; ribs so tender the meat melts off the bone; pulled pork that's satisfyingly tangy and sweet; and buttery corn bread that makes you murmur, "Mmm."

    Good news: You don't need to settle for sub-par barbecue fare when you're in Yankee country. At B.T.'s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, we discovered some of the best BBQ New England can claim. That is, once we found the place.

    B.T.'s Smokehouse is just off I-84 near the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line at 392 Main Street in Sturbridge, right on Route 20 in the heart of town near popular attraction Old Sturbridge Village. Driving west on Route 20, though, we initially missed this unassuming little BBQ joint (seating was expanded in 2013), which is tucked back off the road a bit: Watch for the outdoor tables and enormous smokers.

    We were on the way home to Connecticut from Hampton Beach in August 2012, and after days spent eating seafood--even lobster for breakfast--we were in the mood for meat. I read rave reviews of B.T.'s on my cell phone as we approached, but when we ordered at the counter and took a table inside, my expectations were still moderate.

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  • 02 of 05

    Loosen Your Belt, But Not Your Wallet

    B.T.'s Smokehouse Rib Platter
    © 2012 Kim Knox Beckius

    Turns out, B.T.'s Smokehouse is definitely one of the best places to lick your fingers in all of New England. You can taste chef owner Brian Treitman's passion for BBQ in every flavorful morsel. Although Treitman is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who cut his chops at fine dining restaurants, B.T.'s Smokehouse is utterly informal, and diners wrestling ribs with plastic forks seemed universally in a lively, upbeat mood when we visited.

    At B.T.'s, you won't find fancy china or high prices: A single-meat platter (ribs, brisket, pulled pork or pulled chicken) with two sides and corn bread is just $10.50 as of 2014. My husband couldn't resist adding cornmeal-battered Andouille sausage bites for an additional $4.50. And no, he couldn't finish, nor understand how anyone can hack the three-meat platter ($21).

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  • 03 of 05

    Reviews Are Right

    Mini Pulled Pork Sandwich at B.T.'s Smokehouse
    © 2012 Kim Knox Beckius
    I was glad I'd read in reviews that B.T.'s portion sizes are generous. I ordered the Mini Sandwich, which was exploding with pulled pork. For just $4 as of 2014--about the cost of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese--this slow-food alternative features a quarter-pound of meat that's been smoked for as long as 14 hours over a locally harvested apple and hickory wood fire. The Big Sandwich--with three times the meat (brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken or deli-style smoked turkey)--won't cost you three times the price: It's just $9. There's a half-pound Regular Sandwich option for $7, too, and Chef Treitman also offers a line-up of creative sandwiches, like the popular Brisket Reuben.
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  • 04 of 05

    Save Room for Dessert

    Pecan Pie at B.T.'s Smokehouse
    © 2012 Kim Knox Beckius
    My reason for opting for the Mini Sandwich had nothing to do with lack of appetite or frugality. I was simply saving room for my favorite southern treat, and B.T.'s Smokehouse didn't disappoint. The pecan pie was the best I've tasted since the last time I was in New Orleans.
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  • 05 of 05

    A Fun Place to Go

    B.T.'s Smokehouse Chalkboard Bathroom
    © 2012 Kim Knox Beckius

    My 10-year-old keeps asking when we're going back to B.T.'s Smokehouse, and it's not because this top-notch BBQ spot has delicious ribs, which she loved. At B.T.'s, we also stumbled upon one of the coolest restaurant restrooms in New England. The walls are painted with chalkboard paint, and there's a bin of chalk on the back of the toilet so that visitors of all ages can harmlessly unleash their inner poetic vandal. I imagine the jottings aren't always kid-appropriate, so parents may want to duck in first before turning their little artists loose.

    If you're going...

    B.T.'s Smokehouse at 392 Main Street in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is open every day except Monday year-round. Visit their Web site for current hours and the menu, and find specials and events that B.T.'s is attending on the restaurant's Facebook page. For more information, call 508-347-3188.

    A few tips...

    • B.T.'s Smokehouse is BYOB, so feel free to bring along your favorite beer, wine or other spirited beverage to complement your BBQ feast. Forgot to pack a bottle or six-pack? Yankee Spirits, one of the largest liquor stores in New England, is practically next door at 376 Main Street in Sturbridge.
    • From meats by the pound to side dishes to desserts, B.T.'s Smokehouse serves up all of its southern cuisine to-go, so you may want to bring along a cooler and share a treat with BBQ lovers back home (or at least save the leftovers if you were bold enough to tackle the three-meat platter).
    • B.T.'s Smokehouse can cater your pig roast or barbecue in New England. Call 617-251-6398 for details.
    • Want to enjoy a southern-style Thanksgiving in New England? Order a 12- to 14-pound natural smoked turkey from B.T.'s Smokehouse ($80 in 2014) or an entire Thanksgiving Dinner for 10 to 12 people including turkey, bacon jalapeño stuffing, gravy, cranberry chutney and a choice of collards or mac and cheese ($160). Place your order by calling 508-347-3188.