Eat & Drink

The 7 Best American-Style Barbecue Joints In Sydney

Finger-lickin' good.

Finger-licking, bone-gnawing, rib-sticking goodness. Smoky meats drenched in sweet and spicy sauces. Melt-in-your-mouth brisket, fall-apart short ribs and bronzed chicken wings.

It’s a food craze that’s as tough on vegetarians as it is on your arteries, but American-style barbecue isn’t going anywhere. Some of Sydney’s best chefs are turning their hands to Southern home-style cooking and it’s garnering rave reviews. The portions are big and the smiles of diners even bigger. As long as it’s cooked low and slow, keep this meat parade coming, we say.


#1 Black Betty at The Oxford Tavern

Where: 1 New Canterbury Road, Petersham

Who is Black Betty, you ask? She’s the huge black smoker producing mountains of succulent meats every weekend in the courtyard of the Oxford Tavern at Petersham.

Once a seedy bar featuring nude waitresses and jelly-wrestling, the Oxford has been given a makeover by the Drink ‘n’ Dine pub group and now features the best barbecue in the inner west. Orders are made by weight, with pulled pork and brisket among the goods heaped onto brown butchers paper, but it’s the incredible burnt-end beans mingled with smoky meat chunks you’ll be coming back for.

Coleslaw and soft white bread rolls are free with every order, so grab an oversized tray of protein and a group of mates and get stuck in.


#2 LP’s Quality Meats

Where: Unit 1, 16 Chippen Street, Chippendale

When a former Tetsuya and Mary’s chef starts smoking meats, you know it’s going to be good. Head chef Luke Powell is behind Chippendale LP’s Quality Meats and there’s some awesome stuff coming out of his kitchen.

Try some of the house-made cold cuts to start – the belly ham is soft, smoky and outrageously moreish. For mains, the six-hour smoked lamb belly stuffed with Merguez sausage is a must-try, as is the meltingly soft beef short rib. The creamy mashed potato with gravy is the perfect accompaniment to this meat fest.

And save some room for dessert – the pouding chomeur is a cross between a pudding and a cake, served drowned in vanilla ice cream.


#3 Jazz City BBQ

Where: 200 Goulburn Street, Darlinghurst

There’s blues on the record player, US craft beers are on tap, and the food is served, canteen-style, by weight. Jazz City Diner might be in Darlinghurst, but it’ll make you feel like you’re on the backstreets of Louisiana.

The chopped brisket and oh-so-fatty (but delicious) short rib are carved by chef Dan McGuirt, who recommends appropriate (ha!) portion sizes and advises on the hot sauce to match. Sides like cornbread and smoked mac-and-cheese are sensational and, if you’re feeling decadent, try one of the milkshakes – they’re like dessert in a glass.

As an added bonus, you can watch orders being assembled via a televised live-feed of the food counter – often disturbingly tempting if you’re considering going back for another smidgen of sausage…or ribs…or pulled pork.


#4 Vic’s Meat Market

Where: Sydney Fish Market, Corner Pyrmont Bridge Road and Bank Street, Pyrmont

For good quality barbecue you need good quality meat, and that’s what Vic’s Meat Market has in spades. Run by the Puharich family (who are also behind Victor Churchill, the Woollahra butcher shop that looks more like a high-end jewellery store) and with Kong the smoker churning out insanely juicy meats, carnivores can be sure they’re onto a winner.

The casual takeaway-style cafe menu is short, with brisket or pulled pork sandwiches as well as beef and pork ribs, a wagyu cheeseburger and chicken wings all up for grabs. But it’s the quality of the meats, as well as the knowledge behind their preparation, that really shines.


#5 Hurricanes

Where: 130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach (and other stores in Darling Harbour, Top Ryde and Brighton-Le-Sands as well as ‘Express Outlets’ in Chatswood, Waterloo and Bondi Beach)

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Photo: Hurricanes

Hurricanes has been serving American-style barbecue in Sydney for over a decade. It was here before the city even knew how much it was going to fall in love with smoked meats and juicy marinades. It may not be as trendy or hipster as some other establishments but, damn, they know their way around a rack of ribs.

The portion sizes are out of control and you’ll be given a bib to wear, so be warned – this is not first-date food, but it is delicious, filling and fun. Go full caveman and get a chicken and ribs combo or the barbecue meat platter, completely slathered in Hurricanes signature barbecue sauce. Best news of all? If you’re really feeling lazy, they home deliver.


#6 Surly’s

Where: 182 Campbell Street, Surry Hills

Opening a barbecue joint at the peak of Sydney’s barbecue craze is a ballsy move, but Surly’s has pulled it off. The new kid on the barbecue block does a mean fried chicken, nine different types of fries and plates of pulled pork, brisket and ribs after 6pm.

What sets this place apart is its dive-bar attitude, complete with arcade games and a shuffleboard table. There’s Young Henry’s and Melbourne Bitter served alongside Pabst Blue Ribbon and Blue Moon beers, giving this hub of authentic Americana a slightly Aussie twist. Turn up the jukebox and dig in.


#7 Papi Chulo

Where: 22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly

Can Dan Hong do no wrong? The Merivale man behind other Sydney favourites like Ms G and Mr Wong has turned his hand to barbecue and we’re stoked.

Just a ferry-ride from the Sydney CBD, you’ll smell this Manly Wharf eating house before you see it. Smoked meats are the name of the game, though you’d be mad not to try the luscious kingfish ceviche or fresh pea guacamole to start. Kick on with insanely good lamb ribs and pulled pork shoulder, or just throw caution to the wind and order the Papi Chulo barbecue platter, which comes with a bit of everything. The menu says it serves two to four people, but any more than two will find themselves fighting over the scraps.

Like most Merivale joints, the drinks list is damn fine and a cocktail or two might just help all that meat settle before the ferry ride home.

(Lead image: The Oxford Tavern/Facebook)