Phantom Gourmet Brings the Bacon to Boston’s Backyard

Posted July 12, 2013 by Juliana Casale in Downtown Boston
BBQ Menu

I’ll admit right here and now that Boston is not known for its prowess in the smokehouse. We do beer, sports, and complaining about the Green Line really well. But when it comes to the finer points of pig roasting, our efforts are, shall we say, weak sauce. Fortunately, the Phantom Gourmet BBQ Bash comes along once a year to show us exactly what we’ve been missing.

Since 2009, the shadowy figure behind New England’s anonymous restaurant reviews has been gathering grill experts from around the country and the globe for a two-day celebration of all things meat. Originally held in Suffolk Downs, the event switched to City Hall Plaza in 2011 and has been located there ever since. This year, folks traveled from Chicago, Texas, Virginia, and as far away as Australia to share their prize-winning recipes and dauntingly hot sauces.

Phantom Gourmet

The shadowy figure behind New England’s anonymous restaurant reviews points us toward the goods. Photo credit: Juliana Casale.

As a Bostonian, you may be thinking, “What does City Hall Plaza have to do with the beach?” Usually the answer is “Nothing whatsoever,” but Phantom Gourmet got a little creative with its decorating budget, installing a sand pit and tables so that attendees could enjoy food and live music with a side of summer. While 1980s cover band Fast Times delivered sing-along hits such as “8675309/Jenny” and “You Make My Dreams Come True,” vendors worked their magic to keep dancers hydrated with water and watermelon slices. For those old enough to drink, the 21+ beer gardens on either side of the Plaza were a welcome hideout from the sizzling sun.

Between responsible swigs of H20, I gravitated toward Johnson’s Bar-B-Que for ribs. Smoked chicken, roasted corn, and brisket were popular among other festival-goers. Word to the wise for future attendees: Bring a friend so you can split samples and try more food! I regretted that I had but one stomach to devote to pulled pork, chicken fingers, sausage, and fried dough. I don’t know how the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest participants do it. Another tip: As the classic 1997 commencement speech goes, wear sunscreen; grill marks belong on burgers, not your shoulders.

After lingering to check out the awards various visitors had won and taking one last lap around the leafy refuge of the beer garden, I decided it was time to flee in favor of A/C. I left the BBQ Bash a sweaty mess, but I’d say the opportunity to check out how the rest of the world does BBQ was worth the visit. Frankly, Boston could use a little competitive inspiration to beef up its game (pun fully intended).



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