Lester's Roadside BBQ, Burlington MA

for the most part I tend to steer mostly clear of BBQ in these parts, because, y’know, I wouldn’t eat clam chowder in North Carolina or Texas, either. But since I had both a meat craving and a Takata airbag recall set for Cambridge Street in Burlington last week I thought I’d give this place a whirl.

Drove by both Ritu Ki Rasoi and New Jang Su on the way out there, but I was strong and stuck to the plan. Housed in what was clearly a previous drive thru McD’s, this is a nice little spot with a friendly staff. Seems to be a sort of pan-South approach, there’s smoked chicken-brisket-wings-ribs-pulled pork etc and the sauces on the side run the gamut from vinegary to mustard based. Lots of sides, too.

Myself, I went for the pulled pork dinner with two sides and opted for mac & cheese and the “Lester’s Famous” baked beans. The pulled pork was maybe a little fatty in spots (not the worst thing) but had a great smoky flavor and was pretty moist and enjoyable. Not bad at all for the Northeast. The mac and cheese was good and the baked beans were toothsome and molasses inflected, really cooked nice. Possibly they don’t really deserve to be that famous, but they’re pretty good.

The SO’s smoked chicken sandwich tasted good in a bite and had the benefit of not being dry at all. The cornbread accompanying both of our meals was OK, splitting the difference between sweet northern and non-sweet Southern style. That’s OK, but it was maybe a little dry.

Decor here is sort of what you might expect–license plates on the walls, 80’s music on the speakers and that sort of thing. But the people are really nice! Sat on the cool patio and had the woman that took our order lament about how she was training new staff (which sort of seemed to be her kids!). But they were just fine and the vibe here is amicable and welcoming.

It’s no destination spot, and maybe if it was in the South it’d be unremarkable. But if you’re in this area of Massachusetts it’s very respectable and worth a serious look. No complaints.

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We haven’t had Lester’s in a few months, but have always enjoyed the pulled pork and baked beans. We’ve also really enjoyed the juicy brisket, which isn’t always the case in our regional BBQ. As I said, it’s been a few months, though, so hopefully the brisket is still good. The package takeout deals used to be pretty affordable.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold