Us Aussies are all fairly accustomed to chucking a few snags, some onion and prawns on the barbie and calling it a day. But, when it comes to BBQ, the Americans really know a thing or two about Southern-style, slow-cooked, finger-lickin’ meaty goodness.
We’ve rounded up Melbourne’s best American BBQ for y’all, and luckily for us, there are more BBQ hotspots than you can shake a rib at.
Southern Grace Diner
Boasting the first American style BBQ in Melbourne, Southern Grace Diner has been serving up all things BBQ since 2011. Resident smoker Lance Rosen was trained by the best during his barbeque-dominated road trip across America, returning to his home turf in Melbourne loaded with Texan smoking knowledge.
The concept for Southern Grace Diner is simple—meat and three veg, but don’t mistake that for lacklustre. The meats are rubbed with spices and smoked on hickory pellets at low temperatures for up to 16 hours. They haven’t forgotten about the humble sandwich either; our pick is The “Zee” Man—sliced beef brisket, smoked cheese, fried onion and BBQ sauce.
San Antone is the brainchild of BBQ legend Kevin Bludso of Los Angeles institution, Bludso’s BBQ.
The menu’s smoked selection dishes up the usual fare expected from a BBQ joint—low and slow-cooked pork, beef and whole BBQ chickens. Share plates include all that plus three sides: mac & cheese, coleslaw and onion rings. If that isn’t enough to induce a food coma, there are several starters like loaded nachos and texas chilli fries which are sure to set off those meat-sweats.
Head chef Chris Terlikar has come a long way from his first smoker made out of a toolbox, dishwasher pipe and black heat-proof paint from Bunnings. Bluebonnet BBQ now boasts a smoke-guzzling machine producing 280kg of meats. Terlikar spent 12 weeks touring the deep South of the USA before taking residence at New York’s Michelin-star yielding restaurant, PUBLIC. Bringing his learnings back to the land down under has resulted in one of the best American BBQ restaurants in Melbourne.
Ironbark and oak woods are used to smoke Bluebonnet’s beef brisket that’s rubbed in nothing but salt and pepper. Classic BBQ meats like pulled pork, ribs and lamb shoulder are joined by a more modern take on BBQ, including wood-roasted & miso-glazed duck breast. Come for the mouth-watering meat, stay for the innovative sides that ooze Melbourne influence.
Fancy Hank’s takes barbecuing very, very seriously. Notice their spelling of ‘barbecue’ for instance, which is pulled from the way of the OG pitmasters back in the states. What started as a humble pop-up consisting of an open grill and a few park benches in Carlton’s Princes Park is now a Melbourne institution housed in a magnificent Art Deco building at the top of Bourke Street.
Fancy Hank’s 2-tonne smoker adequately named Puffing Billie smokes the finest quality free-range meats through a 16-hour process. The traditional Southern cooking style and fresh local product promise mouthwatering meat, and a slew of snacks and sides to round out your meal.
Le Bon Ton
This New Orleans inspired bar and smokehouse strikes an ideal balance of fresh, tender seafood (including fish from the Louisiana Gulf Coast) and glistening pit-smoked meat done the Texas-way. Think freshly shucked oysters, fight-worthy Bon Ton tacos and Berkshire pork belly with a creole honey mustard.
Le Bon Ton also has several signature cocktails featuring flavours from the South, ice-cold frothy beers, smooth whisky and complex absinthe to balance out the smoky, meat-heavy menu at this Melbourne BBQ restaurant.
Since 2015, Meatworks Co has been a pleasure palace of meaty goodness, serving up meat with both Western and Eastern flavours. While Meatworks Co knows their way around a Weber and a pair of tongs, they promise to cater to everyone with their simple yet considered dishes. Apart from the slow-roasted braised and smoked meats, there’s a range of salads, sides, seafood and vegetarian options.
Meat is Meatmaiden’s passion (shocker), and the moody dungeon in the heart of the CBD only confirms their love affair with all things smokey. Their smoker, brought over from the States and filled with ironbark from the Blue Mountains, takes centre stage alongside the dry-ageing meat cabinet that’s used to trap in as much tenderness and flavour as they can muster.
Order the must-try dry-aged O’Connor pasture-fed porterhouse or leave it up to the experts and order The Maiden’s Mood set menu to ensure you get the best of what head chef Tom Johnson and his exceptional produce has to offer.
Up In Smoke
Smoke is the name of the game at Up in Smoke, and they aren’t playing around. The centrepiece of the masculine and sleek smokehouse is their $20,000 smoker that burns throughout the night to produce a selection of bold BBQ dishes.
The food is American with a local twist. Start at the crunchy fried chicken with a Sriracha maple mayo or mozzarella sticks with plum sauce before diving into the meats and sandwiches.
Bluestone American BBQ
Bluestone BBQ’s Chef Alvaro Malel Trevisanut infuses the low and slow traditions of American BBQ with his Uruguayan heritage to create a unique take on the smokey flavours we all know and love. There's Yearling short rib with chimichurri, Cuban style pulled pork with lime mojo and sides like cornbread with aged cheddar and jalapeno butter.
If in doubt, there are a range of Pitmaster Feasts that are sure to induce an irrecoverable meat coma.
Dexter’s mantra is simple. Source the best meat, and treat it in the right way. Although this new kid on the block isn’t afraid to mix things up—the “non-traditional meatery” doesn’t just smoke their meat and slap on any old glaze. Instead, the team break down their meats in-house and sous-vide, chargrill or smoke them. First up on your order should be their caramel short rib or dry-aged cheeseburger.
Burn City Test Kitchen
Ex-sommeliers Steve Kimonides and Raphael Guthrie’s Burn City Test Kitchen takes the best of the Texan smoking techniques and mashes it with a local, Melbourne spin. Native ingredients like pepper berries and thyme impart the meat with an Aussie flavour, and of course, the wine list is top-notch—we wouldn’t expect anything less from two seasoned sommeliers.