Man Food: Perfectly Straightforward BBQ at SoulFire

At its new outpost in Mission Hill, the bbq restaurant's smoky, saucy ribs don't disappoint.

All photos by Katie Barszcz

The freshly painted walls might be bare, but it’s business as usual at the second outpost of this popular barbecue joint. You won’t be blinded by a celebrity chef or any glitz and glamour, and the bbq smoke seemingly drifts through the dozen or so tables here like a mystical creature, impossible to resist. The meat-slanted menu doesn’t disappoint either, with a multitude of carnivorous delights at the ready.

I opted for the half rack of spare ribs entree, which showcases SoulFire’s spectacular pork ribs alongside two sides (I went with mac and cheese and baked beans) and a slab of cornbread.  A tray of neatly glistening, neatly-arranged ribs arrives with a scoop of the mac and cheese and a small bowl of the warm baked beans—all to be covered in one of the three distinct barbecue sauces offered tableside. It’s the perfect amount of food for one or two hungry meat lovers, and for $16 it’s a virtual steal.

The ribs are as tender as they need to be, succulently falling off the bone but still with enough structural integrity to make you work for it just a bit. A great rib needs have a little resistance, and these are textbook. I usually like the nakedness of a rib or a brisket in order to truly taste the meat on its own, but like a burger with ketchup, sometimes it just needs the assistance from some bbq sauce. Of the three house-made sauces, the “Fiery” sauce hit all the right notes:  spicy, smoky and a touch of sweet to take the juicy ribs to another level.

The spare ribs are highly complemented by the sides that also share the plate. The creamy and classic mac and cheese is topped with crushed potato chips and is delicious and straightforward. The baked beans, meanwhile,  are luscious and hearty; bits of salty bacon add smoke while a heavy dose of molasses adds the necessary richness. The cornbread is also a hit. Sweet and cakey and loaded with fresh corn kernels, it’s the ideal vessel for dunking in the baked beans, getting a hit of sauce, or catching any welcome pork juices that may drip in its direction.

SoulFire is successful because it plays to its strength, which just so happen to be paying homage to all the classic barbecue preparations. There’s nothing out of the ordinary, it’s just good barbecue fare with a side of smoke and sauce, precisely the way it should be.

For more online food coverage, find us on Twitter at @ChowderBoston