An unexpectedly sweet find.
Compared to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, Boston has a lot to offer in terms of culture, things to do, and most importantly, things to eat. In fact, I think Harvard Square alone has more diversity in fare than my homogeneous suburb of Cincinnati. However, the one category in which I’ve found the greater Boston area—and New England in general— lacking, is barbecue.
Until I found Sweet Cheeks Q.
Finally, a place where I could stuff my face with smoked meat and biscuits the size of my face – and wash it all down with a towering glass of sweet tea! At first, I will say, I was skeptical. Given the scarcity of barbecue in New England, I did not have high hopes for Sweet Cheeks. Located in Fenway, the restaurant itself seemed a bit too polished to serve truly authentic barbecue.
I was quickly proven wrong when a large bucket, overflowing with warm, fluffy, buttery biscuits was placed right in front of me, with a side of honey butter. After a 5-minute-but-felt-like-5-years walk in the 15-degree weather from the T to the restaurant, I knew for certain that there are few things better than coming in from the cold to a bucket of biscuits slathered in melted honey butter deliciousness.
Approximately two minutes elapsed until my dinner companions and I had demolished all ten of the massive buttery biscuits. Our next victim? The drinks. I should have known from the bar vibe that Sweet Cheeks gives off—think bar stools and massive TV—that they would have some damn good drinks. The legal members of my fellow diners decided to go for the John Daly Scorpion Ball. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a John Daly is the alcoholic twist of an Arnold Palmer: lemonade, sweet tea, and sweet tea vodka. When the drink finally arrived, we were in shock; the Mason jar, filled to the brim with the sweet, yet tart elixir, was truly bigger than our faces. For the under-21 crew, the non-alcoholic version of this beverage was just as tasty, and also served in an absurdly massive mason jar.
[mason jar pic]
Now, for the star of the show: the barbecue. By this point in the meal, I was already bursting with biscuits and sweet tea. Surprisingly, I managed to soldier on and ready myself for the main attraction. A friend and I decided to split the Fat Cheeks Tray, which allowed us to pick three kinds of meat, a cold side, and a hot side. We decided on pulled pork, pulled chicken, and brisket, with sides of mac n’ cheese and potato salad.
While the pulled chicken was nothing impressive, the pulled pork and brisket were everything smoked meat should be: tender, flavorful, and, well, smoky. The tangy, savory barbecue sauce went perfectly with the meat. The potato salad was crisp and fresh. Honestly, though, I think the best part of the Fat Cheeks Tray—even better than the barbecue itself— was the mac ‘n’ cheese. Not too thick, creamy, or cheesy, and covered in toasted breadcrumbs, this mac ‘n’ cheese was probably the best I’ve ever had.
[Mac n Cheese Mug Pic]
Frankly, because I am not truly from the South (although Cincinnati does share an airport with Kentucky…), I am not entirely qualified to make informed decisions and recommendations about barbecue. I am, however, a mac ‘n’ cheese expert. Rest assured, one of my friends who accompanied me to Sweet Cheeks Q hails from San Antonio, Texas, and she, too, was impressed with not only the mac ‘n’ cheese, but also the barbecue. And if a Texan likes it, you know it must be good.
Caroline Gentile ’17 wishes her cheeks were stuffed full of mac ‘n’ cheese and brisket right now.