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The Ten Best Barbecue Spots in Sydney

The best barbecued bits, from brisket to beef tongue to Brazilian pork belly.
By Marissa Ciampi
March 03, 2016
By Marissa Ciampi
March 03, 2016


The best barbecued bits, from brisket to beef tongue to Brazilian pork belly.

Australian barbecue is a big deal, and Sydney's restaurant scene wouldn't be the same without it. Though Aussies may be known for their BBQ, we by no means limit ourselves to the standard backyard barbecue nosh. Sydneysiders are lucky enough to have barbecue joints from around the world at their disposal, from slow-cooked Texan barbecue to self-cooked to Japanese yakitori to Brazilian churrasco — you name it, we've got it. We've put together a list of the best barbecue spots, spanning across all the different cuisines, continents and condiment reccommendations. So get your appetites ready — you're gonna need 'em.

Top image: Papi Chulo.

  • 10

    Vic’s Meat Market barbecue kings Wes Griffith and Anton Hughes recently opened this joint venture to a standing ovation. It’s here at Bovine & Swine that their love of Texan-style barbecue shines — a passion you can visibly see as the juicy meat is cut right in front of your eyes. The brisket is the way to go here; the salt and pepper-rubbed Angus beef is slow-smoked for 12 hours over local ironbark wood.  They’re even doing legit American sides, including smoked mac ‘n’ cheese, house-made pickles, smoky bacon beans and slaw ($5 each). The massive plate for one — 200g of any two meats and one side ($35) — is an undertaking in itself, and is sure to result in a hefty food coma.

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  • 9
    Braza Churrascaria - CLOSED

    This may be a chain, but it sure is a damn good one. Skip the Darling Harbour tourist trap for the Leichhardt restaurant, a more relaxed, local environment. It’s an all you can eat affair served rodizio (tapas) style. For $49 per person, their skewers cross a wide range of ingredients, from haloumi to chicken hearts. The pork belly and pineapple skewers should be ordered together, along with the panko-crumbed garlic prawns that you’ll fight over. Braza also offers an impressive list of vegetarian churrasco, a thoughtful, conscious nod from this self-professed “meat-lovers house”. Not sure what a ‘tri tip’ is? Well, don’t be too embarrassed to ask. The different cuts are explained, with a diagram, on the menu, and the meat is all Australian sourced.

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  • 8

    Who knew this once topless bar would someday turn out some of the best barbecue in Sydney? Well, you can thank Drink ‘n’ Dine hospitality group for that, who installed the smoker at The Oxford Tavern back in 2014. Modelled after the American style of “cooked slow and low”, the wagyu beef brisket is extra juicy — because it is literally injected with beef broth. The lamb ribs fall off the bone and are a contender for the best in the city. Even down to the burnt-end beans ($6), it’s a true American barbecue spot. The Black Betty smoker only operates on Fridays from 6pm and Saturday and Sundays from midday though, so best to get in before they inevitably run out. They also smoke over at The Forresters on Sunday arvos in case you’re closer to Surry Hills. 

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  • 7
    Chaco Ramen

    Considering it’s in Darlinghurst, Chaco Bar is a pretty authentic Japanese experience. The yakitori is clearly emphasised here, with every table including a stick depository bin. They’re offering more than just the typical yakitori, with options like heart pipes, ox tongue, chicken tail, gristle and gizzard; if it’s edible, they’ll serve it ($4-6). For the more timid tummy, the spicy lamb shoulder and organic pork belly ($4-5) are just as tasty and less likely to turn your stomach. The chef’s selection of six ($24) is the best way to start, though we bet you’ll soon be ordering more.

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  • 6

    Tucked away down a quiet lane in Chippendale, you may need your nose to find this place. LP’s is in the smoked and cured meats business — and while the smoker may be shipped from Tennessee, the flavour is all Aussie. The reason? The meat is smoked using local woods. Owner Luke Powell (ex-Tetsuya, Mary’s) is no stranger to the Sydney restaurant scene, and this laidback joint is his best venture yet. The paprika and dill-rubbed chicken ($24-42) and smoked lamb belly stuffed with merguez ($36) are notable mentions, but it’s the beef short rib ($44) that steals the show. Their cured meats shouldn’t be overlooked, either. All made in-house, they’re packed with flavour without being overly salty.

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  • 5
    O Bal Tan

    It’s easy to pass right by this restaurant, which is hidden down a seedy CBD alley. Luckily for O Bal, its reputation precedes it — and for good reason.  The bustling, DIY Korean style barbecue is popular among all nationalities.  At the centre of each table sits a charcoal barbecue pit, perfect for cooking the selection of meats, seafood and offal that can be found on the menu. Believe it or not, the thinly sliced wagyu and the marinated king prawns go particularly well together. Expect a bit of a wait — but you’ll be seated and eating way before your counterpart at the neighbouring Madang.

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  • 4
    The Erko

    The Erskineville Hotel, re-dubbed The Erko, had a major barbecue makeover last year. While it still maintains its living room charm, the backyard smoker is a big improvement to the menu. They’re cooking up classic American baby back ribs ($26-36) and buffalo wings ($15-23) with a dietary consciousness — most of their meat dishes are gluten free. Vegetarians are welcome too; The Erko does a full vego plate of heirloom veggies, smoked corn and goats’ cheese on their smoker. All of the meat is smoked for six hours and then barbecued for another six, so you’re sure to have some juicy, melty meat on your hands.

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  • 3

    Yakitori is the name of the game in Japanese barbecue, and Tokyo Bird is doing it right alongside a seriously wide range of whiskies. The dimly-lit interior may be more bar than barbecue, but that’s all the more reason to have it on the list. Their yakitori is the traditional chicken, with choices of thigh, tsukune meatball, wing, liver, heart or skin skewers, all marinated in a sweet soy sauce and smoked over a charcoal grill ($8 each). We couldn’t imagine a better combo than whisky and yakitori — and since they have over 25 Japanese imports in-house, we recommend you make your way through a few while you chow down. 

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  • 2
    Papi Chulo - CLOSED

    This Merivale favourite is another contender for the Lamb Rib King title. The Deep South-inspired smokehouse has a menu centred on wood-smoked meats, and is lovingly designed by chefs Christopher Hogarth (El Loco) and Patrick Friesen (Ms.G’s). The aforementioned lamb ribs ($33) are spice-rubbed and served smothered in Papi’s special BBQ sauce. The smoked wagyu brisket is another speciality ($37), with the dill pickles and mustard adding a signature flavour combination. All of the meat is smoked for a minimum of six hours — and you can taste it. The recipes may originate from The States’ south, but the meat is local and Aussie as. 

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  • 1
    678 Korean BBQ

    This Chinatown spot is best known for the ridiculous amount of banchan (that is, free sides) that come with the barbecue. There’s kimchi, Korean soup, pickled radish and gochujang (a traditional fermented chilli sauce), to name a few.  The soy-marinated pork short ribs ($22) are a must-try for every palate. For the more adventurous, go for the thinly sliced beef tongue ($19) or pork neck ($20) — both specialities that taste much better than they sound. The pork belly ($20) should only be attempted by pros, though, as it is easy to end up with a tough fatty layer.  The place itself is simple with fast service that is great for groups.

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  • Reader comments...

    [email protected] - March 11, 2016

    Sorry, but any list of the best BBQ in Sydney that doesn't mention Jazz City Diner doesn't have THE best

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