ogtown Smoke in Toronto is a food truck that just opened a brick and mortar restaurant in the city's Financial District. The 150-seat restaurant is serving BBQ and grilled meat platters out of their open kitchen, as well as Mexican-style pig's head tacos. Find it at 959 Queen St. E., 416-691-9009
Located in the historic Milburn Building – which was designed by the same acclaimed architect who brought us Casa Loma and Old City Hall – Hogtown is endowed with 14-foot ceilings and enough space to fit 150 people.
Unlike its original location in the Beaches, this Hogtown offers both BBQ and grilled meats. It also has a much bigger alcohol selection: 400 types of whiskey, bourbon, and scotch, plus a fridge of 32 craft beers held in its basement, which transforms into a speakeasy called The Joint at night.
A must-see piece of equipment is Hogtown's 8,000 pound engine-red smoker. Sourced from Mesquite, Texas, the broiler can fit up to 10 whole pigs or sheep.
To best sample the power of this Southern machinery, get a platter of meats from the smoker with portions that you can mix-and-match by the pound. While prices vary, a $70 platter should suffice for three people; one person can usually consume 0.5 to 1.5 pounds of meat.
The tequila-infused chicken ($21 for half) won't get you drunk but will definitely fill your senses with a deep, smokey flavour, and I like the way they charred the chicken skin just right.
The St. Louis cut side ribs ($18 for half a rack) are tender and easy to piece apart, and the pulled pork ($26 per pound) is locally-sourced and juicy. The accompanying home-made chips have a bit too much black pepper for me but work with the meal sans salt.
My favourite of the platter is the brisket ($36 per pound). Shipped from Montana, it has a delicious black, crusted bark with slivers of juicy fat right beneath a simple salt and pepper rub.
Supplement your platter with sides like some sweet root beer baked beans (5), purple slaw ($5) or corn bread with maple bourbon butter ($6).
Mexican-style pig's head tacos ($70) are not for the faint of heart. Served on a platter with beans, hot sauce, pickles and peppers, the head meat is carved and wrapped in purple corn tortillas.
Super fatty and juicy, this dish gets its unique flavour thanks to a secret brine. It's not all just meaty flavours: while not spicy, it definitely contains some chilli and an aromatic herb, maybe bay leaf.
The Argentinian-inspired Tira Di Asado ($32) is the one thing you must order. This strip of beef short ribs comes on a bed of fries and onions and is perfectly accompanied with a chimichurri sauce.
The blackened catfish ($26) is a recipe taken straight from the South. Super salty and with more kick than expected, this fish is served on a bed of 'dirty' rice, or rice that's been sauteed in the old oils of the catfish.
Coming in at a hulking three pounds of meat, the jerk pork hock ($26) is a mouthful. It's a little chewy but you can't beat the sauce made of rum, maple and pan jus.
If you can believe it, Hogtown also a vegetarian plate ($20) that comes with veggies like portabello mushrooms and jack fruit.