Summer means one thing and one thing only: barbecue. Okay, it isn't the only thing we love about this time of year, but what summer activity isn't improved by a plate of tender, sauce-slathered ribs on the side?

A certain magic happens when meat meets fire, and these are the best BBQ restaurants in Toronto where you can sample the juicy, flavoursome results.

Leave the cooking to the pros and order takeout or delivery from one of these BBQ restaurants for your next backyard shindig – your guests will thank you. 

The Carbon Bar

99 Queen St. E

The best BBQ restaurants in Toronto: The Carbon Bar

Barbecue... but make it fancy-ish. The Carbon Bar raises the rustic backyard barbecue experience with leather banquettes and a mahogany interior – fitting for a space all about transformation (it used to house the Electric Circus nightclub).

The cooking stays close to its southern roots, while a wood fire pit delivers perfectly smoked meat. The signature pitmaster platter is a meat-lover’s dream with succulent pork ribs, beef brisket and buttermilk fried chicken (bib not included).

Adamson Barbeque

176 Wicksteed Ave.

They say everything is bigger in Texas and this Texas-style Leaside smokehouse sure has some big brisket energy. Adamson BBQ platters are stuffed to the brim with quarter-pounds of ribs, house-made sausage and brisket. Lifting your tray counts as exercise, right?

Barque Smokehouse

299 Roncesvalles Ave.

Barque puts southern Ontario barbecue on the map by combining classic BBQ styles with locally-sourced Ontario sugar maple wood. If you want it all, the Meet Meat Platter features six of their most popular items, like BBQ chicken and smoked pulled lamb shoulder. It’s for four people, but who’s counting?

Cherry Street Bar-B-Que

275 Cherry St.

One of Toronto’s MVPs (most valuable pitmasters), Cherry St.’s Lawrence La Pianta serves up classic southern-style smoked meat along with fun twists – hello, double-stacked cheesy mac (like a Big Mac but the patty is made fresh from brisket trimmings). The always-juicy meat selections steal the show, but the side of baked beans plays a crucial supporting role. The beans are smoked under the brisket where they collect the delightful drippings. Oh yeah.

Smoque n’ Bones

869 Queen St. W

Located next to Trinity Bellwoods Park, Smoque N’ Bones draws inspiration from four barbecue styles: Memphis, Texas, Kansas and the Carolinas. Pork ribs are served straight from the smoker with sauce and a brush for DIY rib painting, while the bar has more than 50 bourbons.

The Stockyards

699 St Clair Ave. W

The Stockyards has been putting out wood-smoked, labour-intensive, Southern-style barbecue since 2009, back when boiled ribs slathered with sauce was the norm in Toronto. Pitmaster Tom Davis is self-taught, but he spent around 15 years honing his technique before setting up shop on St. Clair West.

Nowadays there seems to be a Texas-style barbecue joint opening on every street corner, but the Stockyards still puts out some of the best ribs, brisket and griddle-smashed burgers in the city. The fried chicken, brined and marinated for 48 hours, is legendary.