London's Best Barbecue Joints
Lighting up a barbie with a cold beer in your hand is one of the most satisfying experiences that life can offer. Eating half-cooked, Encona-slathered chicken thighs and trying to prevent your tin foil grill from being extinguished by the rain is, on the other hand, one of the least satisfying experiences that life can offer. Barbecues in the UK can be brilliant but they can also be incredibly inconvenient and a massive pain in the arse. Smoking meat for hours so that it falls apart and develops that much-sought-after smoke ring of flavour requires a lot of time, space, and patience that a lot of us simply do not have. That’s why barbecue restaurants are so great. They’re meat-packed havens that you can visit and get your fill of smoked meats without so much as touching a bag of charcoal.
It goes without saying that the international barbecue scene is obviously streets ahead of the UK. Countries like the United States, Argentina, Brazil, the Philippines, and countless others have barbecues ingrained as a part of their food culture. Us Brits, on the other hand, have got burnt Richmonds and gristly supermarket burgers.
Thankfully, there’s a load of pitmasters in the UK who are looking to change the way that we eat barbecue. London, in particular, is a city that’s now home to some expert grill masters and a heap of barbecue joints that are actually really, really good. This is a list of those places.
Now, it’s important to note that I’ve excluded many of the big smoke’s wonderful Korean BBQ joints; Turkish, Greek, and Cypriot grill restaurants; West African suya spots; Caribbean jerk traders; and Thai grill experts from this list. Why? Because those cuisines are so rich and rewarding to explore that they all deserve a list of their own. Instead, this guide focuses on the restaurants doing more American-inspired barbecue. The spots where you can find Texas-style, Flinstone-esque short ribs of beef and brisket with more bark than Battersea Dog Home.
These are the best barbecue joints in London, MOB. Check them out if you’re ready for the meat sweats.
From The Ashes BBQ
Frank Fellows, Martin Anderson, and Curtis Bell are the beautiful boys behind From The Ashes BBQ. After they were left unemployed thanks to lockdown, the trio decided to take matters into their own hands and open up a lovely meat hatch in Hackney Wick. I’m very glad they did. Head to From The Ashes anytime between midday and 8pm to get your hands on some of the very best barbecue in London. Seriously. All of it is top, top stuff. The smoked beef is excellent in the nude but also fares well when joined by smoked chilli mayo, onion, and pickled chilli in a squishy bun. As for the ‘Nduja 'Del Piero' Doughnut’? Well, it’s as fucking off-the-wall as it sounds. In a good way. It’s a handmade doughnut that’s filled with smoked pork shoulder, Duchy charcuterie ‘nduja, and chilli jam. Yeah. Go get one. Now.
Unit 19, 10 Stour Road, Bow, E3 2NT
David Carter’s Smokestak is a barbecue restaurant that takes a good deal of its inspiration from Carter’s Barbadian upbringing. Barbecues are a big thing in Barbados and Carter intended to bring some of that grill culture over to the capital when he opened his Shoreditch meat temple in 2016. Native breed pulled pork, crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo, and taut, spicy lamb merguez are just a few of the animalistically divine dishes on offer. The brisket bun, which you’ll likely recognise from your Instagram feed, is a deserved London icon and worth the hype; a generous portion of deep and uncompromisingly fatty beef that lays itself down to rest in a buttery brioche bun. Smokestak is a place of decadence, MOB. You won’t find any George Foreman’d chicken breasts here.
35 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, E1 6LB
Prairie Fire’s chef and pitmaster, Michael Gratz, is a Kansas City native and has made it his mission to introduce Londoners to Kansas City-style barbecue, one smoky haunch of certified USDA black Angus beef at a time. The BBQ sandwiches at Praire Fire are a real highlight of the menu and underline the attention to detail that’s gone into every plate of food. The charred and smoky brisket, for example, is oak-smoked for 16 hours before being served in a toasted bun. The pulled pork is smoked for 14 hours over applewood. No, Prairie Fire doesn’t take any shortcuts when it comes to filling you with barbecued goodness. Make sure you don’t leave without ordering the meat sampler, though, MOB. It’s a smoky, meaty smörgåsbord that really shows off Gratz’s range.
Arches 88/89 Wood Lane Arches, Wood Lane, W12 7LH
Not to be confused with the clothing brand touted by skaters and social media managers, Dickie’s is the latest pivot from meat man Richard Turner. Delivery-only barbecue might sound like a pretty niche idea but there’s absolutely nothing niche about how delicious burgers made using prime steak cuts and bone marrow are. As well as beef and pork burgers (the Dickie’s piggy option comes with sausage, bacon and smoked pigs jowl, naturally), you can also find ribs, lamb cutlets, and chipotle wings on the menu at Dickie’s alongside some brilliant support acts and sides. Fondant onions that have been slow-cooked in butter until they’re soft as the flesh on the inside of your cheek definitely count as one of your five-a-day, right?
Temper does things big, MOB. So be prepared for big cuts of cow, big ass flavours, and big, brash wines that are capable of standing up to the brunt of Maillarded meat. Temper’s City outpost even boasts one of the world’s biggest restaurant fire-pits where you can watch your steak supper be slapped about and charred before your eyes. Like I said: big. Buying most of their meat from small UK farms that employ high-welfare practices, the team at Temper also butcher everything in-house to ensure it’s all up to standard. There’s no mass-produced meat or fish knocking about these smokehouses. Provenance shines through in everything from the T-bone to the wood-roasted sea bass.
British-Afghan barbecue specialist Cue Point has quickly made a name for itself as one of the best halal barbecue options in London. In fact, I’d argue it might just be the best place for halal barbecue in London, full stop. And that’s no mean feat considering the range of excellent halal restaurants and grills doing their business in the city. The Afghan heritage of Cue Points’ director, Mursal Saiq, is smeared like CP’s vibrant green chutney throughout everything the sublime and smoky company does with dishes like borani kadoo showing off what the region’s vegetable-focussed ‘cue is capable of. Combine that with head chef Joshua Moroneys’ extensive experience in the world of smoked meats and you’ve got a recipe for success. Cue Point is one of the best barbecue joints in London. Fact.
The Chiswick Pavillion, Cricket Ground, Riverside Dr, W4 2SP
Eliot Cunningham's Lagom is currently on hiatus and seeking a new home but that shouldn’t stop you from being aware of its presence. They’re currently fundraising to keep the fires burning and you should really support them in that mission. Because the second that Lagom starts slinging out its signature barbecue buns – we’re talking 10-hour oak-smoked beef featherblade that’s almost liquid in its consistency and gorgeous Dexter beef brisket marbled with fat – once again, Lagom is taking back its title as one of the best barbecue joints in London. Mark my words, MOB.
17 Bohemia Place, E8 1DU
Berber & Q Grill House
Grilled and smoked meats cooked over charcoal? Yep, that sounds like barbecue to me. Berber & Q Grill House is an excellent spot in Haggerston to overshoot your daily protein intake via the consumption of hot-smoked merguez sausages, coffee-rubbed pork belly, and fall-apart lamb mechoui. Impressive vegetarian options like wood-roasted Imam Bayildi and smoked pit beans with crispy shallots also make this a spot that’s surprisingly kind to those who don’t eat meat. Check them out if you’re in the area and craving something smoky.
338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA
Yes, it’s got a name that reminds you of the halcyon days of putting a sock over the fire alarm in your poky university halls and hoping for the best but Hotbox also does some pretty serviceable barbecue, too. Kiln-dried hickory and oak are what the Hotbox honchos toss into their on-tonne rotisserie smoker and that woody flavour seeps into every piece of dry-rubbed meat that comes out of it on the other side. The tacos and burgers are a lot of fun but the ‘Smoked Selection’ comprised of pork ribs, jalapeño chicken thighs, pulled pork, sliced brisket and a hotlink sausage is the best way to experience all that Hotbox has got to offer.
46-48 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LT
Smokehouse prides itself on using the best possible produce and ingredients it can. That means that the fish is delivered daily from Cornish markets and caught on day boats; the meat changes weekly with carcases arriving from the best farms in the UK; the fruit and vegetables arrive fresh from Natoora; and they grill all that lovely lot over charcoal and roast and smoke using sustainably sourced English oak. Not only is there a lot of good thought behind the barbecue at Smokehouse but the delivery is pretty on-point, too. The 21-day dry aged Gloucester porkchop is a reminder of what pork should actually taste like with the burnt apple purée and black pudding sauce it comes accompanied with only furthering Smokehouse’s cause. Yep, this is barbecue so good it’ll make all others seem a bit naff in comparison.
63-69 Canonbury Road, Islington, N1 2DG
Smoke and Bones
Texas-style barbecue isn’t all that easy to find in London but Smoke and Bones are looking to change that with their online barbecue delivery service. The S&B team offer fully-cooked BBQ meals that are ready for you to reheat and serve at home, smoking your meat in the morning and dispatching it you the following day. You might think that sounds a bit harried but time is really of the essence at Smoke and Bones. The Aberdeen Angus beef short ribs are cooked for 8 hours over aged oak. The Texas sausage is meticulously stuffed with jalapeño and cheddar. The USDA Prime Angus brisket is smoked for 12 hours. And as for the burnt ends? They take about two seconds to eat. They’re just straight-up delicious, MOB. Check them out at Seven Dials Market to "meat" them in person.
35 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LD
Texas Joe’s is all about slow-cooked meats and honky-tonk attitude. Head to their SE1 barbecue joint to get your fill of brisket, ribs, and a host of other tender, fall-apart hunks of meat. You should pay them a visit for some great Texan barbecue. Texas Joe’s Adobe, on the other hand, is TJ’s sister restaurant that specialises in Tex Mex cuisine. And boy do they do it right. Jalapeño buttermilk biscuits and Texas-sized tacos are the name of the game at Adobe. The tacos are Texas-sized because they come on a 15cm tortilla and, as someone who has never been to Texas before, I can attest to that being a very Texan thing to do. The buttermilk biscuits – which are typically utiilised by pitmasters as a hefty, meat juice-soaking side – are split in twain and used as the richest, butteriest burger buns you’ll ever eat. Mesquite smoked pork shoulder, house-cured pickles, aioli and zippy salsa verde layered up in a freshly baked jalapeño biscuit? Yes. Oh, God yes.
8-9 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, SE1 3SU
New-season British spring lamb that’s been smoked for 10 hours over hickory wood? A spatchcocked chicken that’s been dry brined with spice, smoked to perfection, and finished with a sweet and sour chipotle lime and honey glaze? USDA prime grain-fed brisket that’s been smoked low and slow for 14 hours until it’s formed a beautiful bark rich with deep, meaty flavour? Yep, you can get your chops around all that (and more) at Charred. The meats are obviously the star of the show but this Spitalfields barbecue outfit’s sides are equally deserving of the limelight. Charred’s home-made pickles, sauces and chutneys all add an essential lift to the smokiness of their meats. The fermented garlic and chilli sauce – which is made from a mixture of fermented scotch bonnets, jalapeño, red Thai chilli and garlic – is the absolute one, MOB. Slather your brisket in that sauce and throw it in a pillowy flatbread for lip-ripping ecstasy.
Lamb Street, Spitalfields, E1 6EA