When it comes to BBQ joints, we have sampled the traditional and now feel that it is time to move onto a saucier affair. Introducing the top alternative BBQ Joints in London…
(Feature Image- Rudie’s, Dalston)
If your idea of BBQ food is all Braai and Pulled Pork let us introduce you to Rudies, Jamaican BBQ in the heart of trendy Dalston. Simply kitted out, Rudie’s makes the most of its small space, and doesn’t skimp on what’s important, with the largest collection of Rum we’ve ever seen stacked neatly behind the bar. Priding themselves on real Jamaican food made using recipes mined from hours spent sampling fare all over the paradise island, you can trust that they know what they’re doing when it comes to jerk. Rudie’s marinades their meat for a minimum of 24 hours over coal in jerk drums to achieve a tangy smoky flavour connoisseurs will recognise as truly Jamaican.
We start things off with a cocktail – punchy, citrusy and very strong, it’s important to remember that a swanky London cocktail bar Rudie’s isn’t, but for a stiff island drink, it’s not a bad start. The menu is more varied than the traditional BBQ joints and we welcome the sight of fish and vegetables on the menu alongside the usual meats. We like to think that the starter is where we want to be adventurous in our choices before moving onto a more ‘tried and tested’ main. In keeping with this philosophy don’t miss the opportunity to try dishes such as Ackee & Saltcod (a strangely delicious mixture of fruit and fish) or Jerk Calamari (a spicy mess of entangled, battered heaven). What we love about Rudie’s is that they let you choose how spicy you want your food, providing three levels of heat: Jerk Ketchup, Banana Pepper, and Papaya. For lovers of all things hot, the Papaya sauce is a wonderful companion to most of the menu and would be suitable for most people that love a bit of spice.
For mains you can’t do much better than the slow roasted Pork Shoulder which pulls apart juicily from it’s pretty wooden serving board, ready to be smothered in a sauce of your choosing and accompanied by sweet potato fries and fresh slaw. If you fancy something a little out of the ordinary, try the Festivals – a sweet/savoury type of breadstick shaped fried dumpling. The standout dish of the menu in our opinion however is the Swordfish Steak. Light, tangy and delicious with no accompaniments, this dish encompasses everything we want out of an alternative BBQ dish. Served with a fresh salad with cherry tomatoes and avocados, the Swordfish Steak has island Jerk culture stamped all over it.
For dessert we can’t think of anything better than tucking into a warm rum cake with ice cream. Slightly crispy, gooey in the middle, and served with a caramel sauce you’ll want to drizzle on everything you eat from then on, this Jamaican ring cake is the perfect end to a sizzling dinner for two. As far as alternative BBQ joints go, Rudie’s Jamaican offering is top of our list of laid-back date night ideas. With a relaxed island vibe and smoky jerk cooking, they’ve convinced us to make Jamaica our next foodie holiday destination!
For something a little outside the ordinary, Shotgun serves great American BBQ from a New Orleans style cocktail lounge, with equal focus on the quality food and high-end drinks. A perfect brunch spot, Shotgun provides an upmarket, alternative twist on the usual favourites such as Truffled Jimmy Red Grits, Ox Tongue Reuben and Brisket with Green Tomato Jam. The comfortable bar-side booth seating and wood panel detailing transport you straight to the Deep South, but luckily you won’t have to contend with mozzies and swamp creatures to get your brunch on. Order the house Bloody Mary and you’ve got yourself the perfect weekend recovery cure.
For a midweek date, Shotgun’s open plan dining room is both spacious and romantic – which is no mean feat. With a menu featuring starters of Pigs Ear & Sour Pancakes, Hot Tamales, and Boiled Peanuts, you know this is going to be no ordinary meal. The meaty main attraction is served in three portion sizes – 150g, half or full, and with a range of sourceable meats including Middle White Suckling Pig, Pork Belly, and Jacobs Ladder which, if you’re anything like us, may result in a ‘go big or go home’ scenario. To avoid the agonising decisions process, we recommend getting the Combination Plate, which does what it says on the tin and provides a mix of three delicious meats and two sides of your choice. With sides like Sweet Potato Fondant and BBQ Baked Beans, if it’s a feast you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
All good meals must end in dessert, and there’s plenty to choose from at Shotgun. Pick a classic Pecan Brownie paired with a cafetiere made using coffee blended and ground specially for Shotgun – delicious! Open until midnight, there’s no better place to wind down, enjoy a tipple and some intelligent, alternative BBQ in beautiful surroundings.
Walter & Monty, The City
Another success story from London’s street food scene, Walter & Monty has finally opened the doors to its first ever bricks and mortar restaurant in the capital. Famed for their Eastern inspired charcoal smoked dishes, Walter & Monty are currently serving lunch only, with breakfast and dinner menus to arrive soon. If you’re lucky enough to catch them during their 3 hour daily window, you will be able to sample delights such as grilled Beef Picanha and Boneless Leg of Lamb all served on a flatbread with rice and vegetables, or a Mixed Salad Box with your choice of meat and sauce.
Sourcing all their produce from Farringdon’s famous Smithfield Market, Walter & Monty pride themselves on the quality and taste of the meats they use to create simple but stunning dishes. With an ever changing menu based on the freshness of the ingredients available to them, Walter & Monty have managed to fuse traditional BBQ smoking methods with a taste and look of the Middle East to create a truly exciting street food experience that finally has fixed roots. Worth making the pilgrimage for if you can, an alternative BBQ lunch always does the trick for a weekday pick-me-up. We can’t wait to make this our new favourite breakfast spot as soon as the menu launches, but for now, tantalizing images of sourdough topped with steak and fried eggs on their website will tide us over.
We love pairing perfectly pink Lamb with salad and the tangy, salty goodness of their Garlic and Feta sauce for an epic flavour explosion. Casual, messy and romantic, Walter & Monty’s passion for delicious, quality food has us hooked, and something tells us that this alternative BBQ joint will be a laid-back date spot favourite for many a Hero & Leander couple.
Duke’s Brew & Que, Haggerston
Already a firm favourite with East London beer lovers, Duke’s Brew & Que is located on the site where Brewery of the moment, Beavertown, first brewed their much-loved cold ones. Even though the Brewery itself has moved onto pastures new, Duke’s Brew & Que hasn’t rested on its laurels, instead having created one of London’s best BBQ joints. Serving American style brunch at the weekends and a whole host of BBQ goodies on school nights, there’s really no excuse not to go. It might be some people’s idea of a nightmare first date (saucy ribs will never not get all over your face), but we can’t think of anything more fun than a sharing platter and a ‘who can eat the most’-off. Luckily, the Duke’s Greatest Hits platter provides everything required for a suitably messy and delicious evening.
Tables for two can be rather cosy, so don’t be alarmed if you need to place your jug of water elsewhere and eat straight from the tray, it all adds to the charm. The portions are generous so don’t worry about ‘under-ordering’, it’ll almost certainly save you from falling asleep on the tube on the way home. By the time our platter arrived, we were suitably hungry and proceeded to tuck into the hunk of beef rib, pork rib and pulled pork on our giant tray. The pulled pork, being one of the best we’d tried, was tangy, smoky and incredibly moreish. Twinned with a hefty serving of bacon macaroni cheese, we knew we were onto a winner. If you thought that would be all, you’d be very wrong. We were also served home style slaw, Texas garlic toast, pickled red onions and a whole host of BBQ sauces. The sheer scale of the portions as well as the beer pairing offered with each of their dishes easily makes Duke’s Brew & Que stand out from the crowd (we highly recommend the Beavertown Gamma Ray Pale Ale or a zesty Margarita to complement the quality meats on offer).
If sharing isn’t really your thing, treat yourself to a humongous Duke’s burger served with all the trimmings and perfectly seasoned skinny fries – just divine. For a slightly less full-on experience, the Steak salad is not to be sniffed at – with succulent strips of sirloin, a tangy salad sauce and plenty of leafy salad goodness, you certainly won’t feel like you’ve missed out. If you have room for dessert (and you should really make sure you do) don’t miss out on trying the Sticky Toffee Pudding (one between two is more than enough, trust us). Better than your Grandma’s, it’s pure unadulterated indulgence and we loved every single bite. Don’t worry if you can’t finish it all, the extremely lovely Duke’s staff will happily wrap any leftovers up for you to take home. Waste not want not and all that.
Undoubtedly some of the best BBQ out there, don’t be put off if you’re not a beer lover. Duke’s Brew & Que have worked hard to make their dishes as great as they are, and deserve their place at the top with London’s BBQ elite.
Berber & Q Grill House
Situated under the railway arches in Haggerston sits Berber & Q, a Middle Eastern and North African grill house, which takes inspiration for its menu from the grills and kebab houses in Istanbul as well as New York City’s BBQ joints. With the open mangal, charcoal grill and smoker at the centre of the offering, the menu is ‘Meat’, ‘Pickles’, ‘Mezze’, ’ and ‘Sweets’, and is served on communal mess trays. Signature barbecue ‘Meats’ include hand pulled lamb shawarma; smoked pork belly pomegranate molasses BBQ sauce and Cauliflower shawarma for a vegetarian twist! Following its huge success, founders Josh Katz and Mattia Bianchi are opening their second restaurant, Berber & Q Shawarma Bar this Summer. Expect a similar BBQ menu with slow-cooked lamb and chicken shawarma, roasted on a spit over hot coals alongside Middle Eastern cocktails and Pitas inspired by the markets of Tel-Aviv.
Thai barbecue restaurant in Soho, Smoking Goat, focuses on an offering of wood-ember barbecue with Thai flavours, specialising in rare breed meats and fish. Barbecue favourites on the menu include Smoked Lamb Ribs with gapi glaze & pickles, Barbecue Five Spice Pork Belly with Nam Prik Som, Barbecue Aged Beef Shortrib with massaman & pickles and Smoked Goat Shoulder & Thai Herbs (for two).
HotBox in Spitalfields serves up some of the finest smoked meats in the capital. Having started on the London street food scene in 2013, HotBox has developed a reputation for being BBQ innovators, using different smoking techniques and combinations of spices to create their own unique style. Make sure to try their BBQ Jumbo Prawn and Beef Short Rib.
Gunpowder is a home style Indian Kitchen in Spitalfields. Secret family recipes and vibrant confident flavours makes Gunpowder’s menu a must try. BBQ favourites on the menu include the Whole Baby Chicken, chargrilled in tandoori spices and the “show stopping” sigree mustard broccoli. If you are looking for a twist on a classic BBQ then Gunpowder is truly the place to be.
Looking for classic BBQ Joints? Check out our selection here hero-and-leander.com/top-classic-bbq-joints-in-london