I don’t have a lot of experience or expertise with Texas-style barbecue, but I know what I like and I really like J&J Bar-B-Que. J&J recently opened in 2016 at 193 Baldwin Street in Kensington Market in Toronto. It is a Central Texas-style smokehouse from Chefs Jay Moore and Jon Lucas, hence naming it, “J&J”. They are dishing up some pretty amazing barbecue. Because of them, I might become a convert to this style of cooking, or even an addict!
The two chefs have a wide range of experience. They both opened the now closed Ursa. Moore was a sous chef at Momofuku Ko in New York and has also made sushi at my favourite spot, Sushi Kaji in Etobicoke. Lucas cooked at the Harbord room. They apparently love barbecue and did their research visiting Texas. They cook their meat on two custom-built smokers, using no gas or electricity. You can see all the wood piled up when you walk in their restaurant. I called it a restaurant but really there are no seats or table service here. Instead, you walk to the back, place your order and grab a spot at one of the long counters. If standing up to eat your food is not your thing, you can do take out. The meat is cooked overnight and served from 11am until they run out. They carve out all the meat by weight. The menu includes things like brisket, which is especially good, as is the pork spare ribs, which are very meaty with a dry rub. They aren’t the fall off the bone kind but are firm, chewy and delicious. I am not a sausage fan, but they have a nice variety, all homemade. There are also beef ribs, brined turkey, pulled pork and sandwiches. I would like to try the smoked beef on a pretzel bun next time. There are sides such as creamy coleslaw, macaroni and bacon, potato salad, charred cabbage and pinto beans loaded with brisket and pork. There is a counter with help yourself condiments, and all the sauces such as vinegar, hot sauce and bbq sauce are all made in house.
There is also a refrigerated case where you can take home various types of charcuterie as well. I thought the slab of buttery, jalapeño corn bread was rather tasty too. For dessert, we tried the pretzel fluff bar which is similar to a rice krispy bar. They import Big Red soda from the States and even make freezies.
I predict this will become crazy busy as they deliver a high-quality product, and right now Toronto is having a love affair with smoked meat. Their meats have light rubs, minimal sauce and lots of wood smoke flavour. They are opened six days a week and are closed on Mondays.