BOSTON - Barbecue. You may have heard food writers refer to it as a fundamental human need, but it can be guaranteed that virtually none of its proponents happen to live in New England. This isn’t necessarily a slight. There’s probably a very good reason why you happen to have Redbone’s listed as an emergency contact but to a native Tennessean? Its very existence is a veritable blasphemy. Regions aren’t necessarily defined by food alone, but their ethos can certainly be summarized by it.
But barbecue’s never exactly been a novelty in Boston. It stands on its own, rarely informed by local interpretations but also rarely touting itself to be “Authentic Southern cooking.” That’s because no matter how deeply rooted it may be in both the Midwest and below the Mason-Dixon line, barbecue is essentially a style of cooking that’s universal in its appeal. No matter how many North Carolinians may argue, you essentially have two variations: wet or dry rub. That’s it. Not a lot of room for nuance or experimentation—and that’s kind of the point. You want to know exactly what to expect from it and you want to walk away completely satisfied; no matter how much of a public embarrassment you are, dainty fingers.
Dorchester Brewing Company’s been making a name for themselves since 2016 not solely on account of their in-house offerings, but their willingness to partner and collaborate with other independent brewers to provide a rotating on-site taste selection. It’s a model you won’t find in many local taprooms. You can’t imagine Trillium partnering with their competitors. And you can’t imagine eating barbecue without a beer.
M&M Barbecue opened this Monday on the premises of Dorchester Brewing. It’s the first brick and mortar location for the venerable food truck vendor, and it’s an ideal match. Taprooms may be a dime a dozen throughout Boston, bested only by the proliferation of food trucks; but how many food trucks can claim almost forty years of continuous operation? That’s exactly how long it’s been since Maurice and Marion Hill first started serving barbecue to Dot residents, and both their legitimately Southern roots (Alabama and North Carolina, respectively) and recipes have been passed down through generations to their grandson, Geo Lambert—the current operator of M & M.
Lambert closed the food truck operation in 2018 after a successful stint in private catering and area pop-ups. But if his recipes are an homage to his grandparent’s traditions, he’s not afraid to provide his own slant on the expected comfort food staples of pulled pork and mac and cheese. Case in point: Dorchester Dumpster Fries, a concoction of hand-cut fries, hot sauce, barbecue chicken, jalapeno, scallions and smoked cheese sauce—a local twist on the Upstate New York “must be seen to physically fathom” Garbage Plate delicacy (OK… it’s a Rochester thing. Go back to East Bridgewater.)
“I’m Boston born and bred, so I put my own spin on a lot of the old dishes that they had,” Lambert told Boston.com earlier this week. “We have a real good following in Dorchester, and I feel like we don’t have anything like this in Dorchester. Beer and barbeque just go together, and it seemed crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The addition of M&M BBQ to Dorchester Brewing isn’t the only change for the four-year-old company. The brewery debuted its expanded space earlier this month, including a rooftop greenhouse open to the public as well as a floor space featuring local art exhibits, live music and a number of classic arcade amusements including vintage pinball machines, air hockey and skee ball—all the result of a reported $3 million expansion effort.
“We’re really trying to incorporate what a brewery is all about-- which is the local community and using our own resources,” Dorchester Brewing CEO Matt Malloy told Dorchester Reporter earlier this month. “We were looking for the perfect place in Dorchester to do world-class manufacturing, but also create a space where the community could come and enjoy beer. I’ve never been happier. I see all of my neighbors, I’m part of my community and that is the thing that is just so magical to me.”
M&M BBQ is located at Dorchester Brewing Co., 1250 Massachusetts Ave in Boston. Hours are Sunday - Monday from 11:30 am - 7:30 pm, Tuesday - Thursday from 11:30 am - 9:30 pm and Friday - Saturday from 11:30 am - 10:30 pm. For more information, visit M & M BBQ or Dorchester Brewing Company.
Image via Yelp