Side dish: a smokin' list of BBQ joints outside downtown

Michael Symon's Mabel's BBQ has smoked up plenty of press since the much anticipated meat emporium opened its doors on East Fourth Street last year. Mabel's may be Cleveland's go-to barbecue joint at the moment, but the city boasts a growing list of savory options for folks seeking to satisfy their carnivorous cravings. Fresh Water is happy to deliver the deliciousness with these BBQ hot spots at points across the 216.

Barabicu Smokehouse
5767 Ridge Road, Parma

Smoked pulled pork, beef and kielbasa served alongside zesty sauces are the orders of the day at Barabicu Smokehouse, a Parma meat purveyor located near the intersection of Ridge and Snow roads. The goods are cooked in a humungous wood-fueled smoker out back that owner Jon Ashton and his staff run 24 hours a day. "Barabicu" means "sacred fire pit" in the language of the Taino people of the Caribbean, a perfect symbol for a food preparation approach that millions of hungry people worship without apology. Barabicu's closes when they sell out, often before 5 p.m., so it's best to call ahead. This is our editor's favorite go-to for the smoked goods. Her pix? The chicken cupcake and smoked meatloaf (when they have it).

The Proper Pig Smokehouse
17100 Detroit Road, Lakewood

The Proper Pig Smokehouse started with two life-long friends, Shane Vidovic and Ted Dupaski, who ambled around Cleveland in a food truck-cum-rolling smoker they built themselves. Their restaurant debuted in April 2016, and has since offered up Texas-style 'cue in the form of 1 1/2-to 2-pound ribs, pork shoulders, brisket and more. Business has boomed enough for Proper Pig to expand to Mentor with daily lunch and dinner service. Don't miss: the smoked turkey and Proper Slopper.
The Rib Cage Smokehouse and Bar
Cleveland Heights

The Rib Cage creates its "smoked masterpieces" from a cozy, saloon-style venue on Lee Road. The farm-to-table establishment features locally-sourced pork, beef and poultry cooked up on an outdoor smoker. The staff smokes all its meats at least three times a week, according to owner Robert Hill. Menu must-haves include the delectable turkey ribs, served for $19 with two sides, corn bread and your choice of sauce. Looking for a sammie? Try the Not So Philly Cheese Steak made with smoked brisket and topped off with nontraditional homemade brie sauce.

Hot Sauce Williams
7815 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland

We'll end this list with a classic Cleveland institution and one that Mabel's proprietor Michael Symon reveres so much so that he took Anthony Bourdain there for an episode of "No Reservations." That's not to say Hot Sauce Williams wasn't well known before being placed under a cable television spotlight. The little purple-and-pink restaurant serves up heaping helpings of ribs, shrimp, catfish and fried chicken. Nor should visitors miss the Polish Boy, a kielbasa sausage covered in fries and slaw, stuffed in a bun, and doused in spicy barbecue sauce. It's so messy some diners opt to eat it with (gasp!) a knife and fork.


Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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