The first time you enter the impressive new Fatboys Southern Smokehouse in a former warehouse on Murray Street, you might believe you’ve crossed the border. It’s filled with the familiar trappings of a classic American roadhouse: bikes, babes, beer, and barbecue. There’s even some southern (style) hospitality to help hit home the fantasy that there’s a little bit of Memphis in the Byward Market. The cheeky Harley-Davidson motorcycle paraphernalia adds a certain “livin’ large” character, yet somehow all the amped-up testosterone in the air isn’t enough to distract from the main attraction: Southern American-style slow-smoked pork, beef and chicken — and it’s the real deal.
BBQ fans and aficionados who normally have to plan road trips involving passports to get their hands on some genuine ‘cue now have not one, but two, options in the Market. (The SmoQue Shack, another meaty mecca, opened its doors on York Street back in August.) While Fatboys — the brainchild of Shawn Dawson, a local entrepreneur and mountain climber, and Mike Ziola, former manager of Biagio’s Italian Kitchen — plays up that Born-in-the-USA bravado, The SmoQue Shack seems to have a more understated neighbourhood sports bar vibe.
While the menus overlap somewhat on paper — both places feature various styles of barbecue, including pulled pork, ribs, brisket etc. as well as a whack of traditional and not-so traditional sides (Fatboys has 16 to choose from!) — my first impression is that the two restaurants are very different beasts. It’s easy to see how fiery rivalries and passionate allegiances form over this kind of food. If all goes well, Ottawa will adopt some of our feisty Southern neighbours’ passion for barbecue and the opinions about who makes better ‘cue will start to fly.
I can’t wait to see this.
Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
Fatboys Southern Smokehouse, 34 Murray St., 613-695-5599.
Our “Opening” series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops. This is not a review. Ottawa Magazine’s starred reviews can be found in the Restaurant section at the back of every issue of the magazine.