During the last five years, Toronto has seen a barbecue boom, with new joints seemingly opening every other week.
Launched in 2012, serving Central Texas-style barbecue, Triple A Bar has grown to three Toronto locations: the original, on Adelaide Street East, and one each on Queen Street East and Gerrard Street East.
The Adelaide Street East location feels so authentic it could be attached to a gas station in Austin, Texas. It’s a dimly lit room that is ramshackle in all the right ways — barnboard floors, long wooden benches, Edison bulbs, wall-mounted Texas-themed memorabilia, including a steer skull complete with longhorns. Greasy rock and blues play on the PA system. The space sets the perfect mood for barbecue.
The Gerrard location smokes all the meats (locally sourced and hormone-free) for Triple A’s three restaurants. First and foremost, I judge a barbecue restaurant on its ribs, and Triple A’s certainly make the grade. In the Texas style, the pitmaster seasons pork side ribs simply, with dry rub. These ribs are meaty and carry good smoky flavour.
Adorned with slaw, pulled pork makes for a hearty sandwich. Also impressive is the smoked sausage. It’s stuffed with slightly spicy, rich and supremely juicy ground pork speckled with (real!) cheddar and wrapped in casing that snaps when you bite into it.
Barbecue is as much about the sides as the meats, and at Triple A, go-withs include slaw done two ways: traditional cabbage, spiked with mayo, and a slightly spicy version based on red cabbage. Both versions are crisp and accentuate the meats perfectly. Baked beans carry the sweet tinge of maple.
All of the meat dishes are served in plastic trays lined with butcher paper and garnished with sliced white bread, further adding to the authentic barbecue-joint feel.
All three locations can host groups as small as 10 people. There is no ‘room charge’ fee.
The Adelaide and Gerrard restaurants can accommodate 100 people, while the Queen location can host 30.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.