While we would never claim to be Southern gals, we’re not immune to the occasional hankering for some rich Southern comfort food. When our cravings recently hit with full-force, we headed to Sweet Cheeks BBQ near Fenway Park – the best barbecue place in town.
Chef and owner Tiffani Faison (who was also the Top Chef runner-up from season one) opened this comfort food mecca back in 2011. We can now safely say she has realized her dream of creating a casual, warm place where you can enjoy great company and eat delicious, local, responsibly sourced food. All while experiencing that one of a kind Southern hospitality.
To prepare for the feast of meats that awaited us, we ordered a Dollywood cocktail. This refreshing drink made with limoncello and vodka was served in a mason jar, and after one sip, we were hooked. Even more impressive was their extensive drink menu, which, in addition to including a wide selection of beer, also offered a “bucket o’ beers” and “scorpion balls” for groups. Like we said, this is the kind of place that wants you to enjoy yourself.
After glancing over at a neighbor’s table and spotting a massive biscuit on their tray, we knew what we needed next. Our large, lone appetizer biscuit arrived soft and warm, with fluffy layers destined to absorb a thick smear of sweet whipped honey butter. Biscuit nirvana was reached that day, my friends.
We also needed something fried, so we opted for a healthy option: fried green tomatoes. The fried tomatoes were a delicious balance between textures and flavors. The outside was perfectly crusty and golden and the inside was succulent and sweet; the salty exterior really pulled the sweetness out from the tomatoes. The creamy dipping sauce was the icing on the cake.
Because we couldn’t decide on which meats to order, we decided to go all out and get a “Fat Cheeks Tray”: three different meats, two sides, served alongside pickles and onions. We’ve always been a little too in love with pork, and today was no exception. Our tray consisted of heritage breed pulled pork, all natural pork belly, and St. Louis pork ribs. Pork cubed, if you will.
We almost didn’t get the pork ribs, but we thought, what the heck. If you’re gonna have barbecue, it’s unreasonable not to have ribs at the meal. The ribs were packed tightly with flavor, a serious punch of meat and smokiness in every bite. Even the bones were irresistable.
If you haven’t realized our love of pork belly at this point, then now you know. We had no choice but to order this delicious cut of meat. Guys, it was heavenly and completely drool-worthy. The pork belly was smoky, rich, and just melted in our mouths. It was one of the highlights of the visit.
And unsurprisingly, the pulled pork was equally delicious. It was tender, juicy, and sweetly savory – everything we could ever ask for from barbecue pulled pork, and the only thing we ever want it to be from now on.
For our cold side dish, we heard lots of rave reviews for the farm salad so we figured we couldn’t go wrong with it. Not to exaggerate, it was truly one of the best salads ever conceived. The farm salad’s got arugula, Brussels sprouts, grapes, barley, and grated cheese. It was fresh and light and helped to reset our palate throughout the meal.
For our hot side dish, we opted for the mac and cheese. Served in a homey mug, this gooey deliciousness was creamy, salty, and the epitome of comfort. And man was it rich. This was the dish that put us over the edge, and ultimately proved to us that while our efforts were valiant, we were simply far too meat drunk to finish the job. Luckily for us, doggy bags are a thing. Sweet Cheeks is also big on take-out, for those “I-need-pork-on-the-run” days. (We’ve all been there.)
A few doors down, you’ll find Faison’s newest restaurant, Tiger Mama. Ever since it opened in early December of 2015, we’ve been itching to fill our bellies with Tiger Mama’s Southeast Asian-inspired fare. Oh, and there’s a Tiki bar. So that’s happening.