The word barbecue has different contexts in various cultures. In the Philippines, we mostly associate it with meat, usually chicken or pork, skewered onto a stick and found in small eateries almost anywhere in the city (or, more popularly, at children’s parties on a buffet table, usually served with our signature sweet spaghetti). In Korea, barbecue is a grand past time among friends, families, or colleagues, where people come together and cook their own meat right on their tables.
Barbecue is most commonly associated with the United States, with the most common way of doing it involving a slow process of smoking the meats for several hours before serving. American barbecue restaurants are canteen-like and very family-oriented, the barbecue normally being purchased by grams. In Manila, the American barbecue trend exploded in 2016, with a considerable number of restaurants following the authentic American way abruptly popping up in various spots in the metro. Basically, it’s the new in-thing to try now.
The best part about it is that it’s an absolute necessity to enjoy barbecue with your close friends and family. And hey, what’s barbecue without the drinks?
Check out our favorite American barbecue places to dine at.
The charm of this restaurant is probably the fact that it’s built in a quaint house located in the heart of Poblacion, away from the noisy red light district and right in the middle of its residential area. The feel is similar to coming over to a neighbor’s house for some quality American barbecue. Holy Smokes is widely known for its tender, buttery meats that are slow-cooked using santol wood. Pitmaster Juano Gutierrez mentions that an indicator of authenticity is the burnt taste coming from the meats. Make sure to try out their special wagyu beef ribs, which are only served during the weekends.
This one’s for those around the Kapitolyo area. You’ve probably seen Pitmaster’s gloriously smoked ribs and briskets on Instagram, their crusts a beautiful dark brown and cooked to perfection. What’s also special about this particular smokehouse is the other dishes that they serve alongside their meats. Their Pulled Pork Rolls are deliciously crispy and served with a local twist–kesong puti. For those who want to balance with something healthier, there’s the Pit Caesar Salad, which is mixed greens tossed with egg and bacon.
An actual American franchise coming all the way from New York City, Mighty Quinn’s offers slow-smoked meats from Texas-born pitmaster Hugh Mangum. Its best-seller includes their good old brisket, which is smoked for a full 24 hours before serving. A challenge that you and your friends could probably do while dining here is to try and devour the restaurant’s Brontosaurus Rib–a giant beef rib that around 3-5 people can share (fun fact: it’s bigger than a person’s head).
The Smoking Joint is actually one of the first slow-smoked American barbecue restaurants to hit Manila before the trend exploded in 2016. This Paranaque spot is a quaintly designed place filled with cute barbecue puns and a diverse menu offering more than just plain barbecue. They’ve got flat pieces of pandesal topped with either duck, steak, or pork. Also, for those of you neat freaks like myself, The Smoking Joint offers gloves that allows you to hound onto all those ribs without getting your hands messy.
Honestly, Smoke and Barrel doesn’t get enough credit for the barbecue they’re offering. A part of The Yard over at Xavierville, Quezon City, Smoke and Barrel’s meats are super soft and juicy and worth trying out regardless of the fact that their branches are humble stalls. Many Filipinos are fans of their beef briskets mixed with their dirty rice. Their bacon skewers are also a nice snack to munch on if ever you find yourself there at The Yard of their new stall in Kapitolyo.
Photography by Patrick Segovia