When I think America, one of the first things I think of is BBQ. And six times out of ten, when I watch any show related to food, one thing shows up without fail: barbeque. Juicy, moist, and succulent, delicious BBQ meats like ribs, brisket, and pulled pork tease me while I just sit there watching. Why did all those yummy places have to be so far away from where I was? But never mind. I soon found out that I can get a share of those delicious goodies nearby.
Soul Fire is a barbeque restaurant on Harvard Ave, extensive in menu selection. It has a lively vibe and can get a little loud, but it matches the food and the feel of the restaurant. When entering, the friendly staff greets you and asks you to take a seat wherever you wish.
Each table has six different kinds of sweet to spicy sauces in a six-pack, which I thought was pretty creative. Although I’m not much of a sauce person and I tend to appreciate the natural flavors from the ingredients more, it was nice to be offered so many choices to try out with the meats (which I did).
The menu is very old school: colored paper, ink, and plastic slip-ins. When I opened it, I was amazed by how many choices the restaurant offered: anything from a single spare rib and salad to the famous Pitboss Sampler, which had a little bit of everything on the menu, basically. And guess what we got? I think you already know. (Hint: I always have trouble deciding on which one thing to get)
But we can’t start of a meal without appetizer! As soon as I saw chili cheese fries on the menu, I knew I had to get it; I had been craving them for days. The fries came hot and crisp, just like how good fries should be. The chili and the cheese, however, were disappointing. The chili was good, but barely any was on the fries. We got mostly beans without much of the soupy goodness. The cheese was too watery for my taste, and I felt like they did not make much difference, except for making the crispy fries soggy as time went by. Although the fries were good, my craving for chili cheese fries wasn’t quite satisfied.
Don’t like making decisions? You should go with a friend or two and order the Pitboss Sampler. It comes with basically everything and anything you could ask for: 1/2 rack of baby back ribs, 2 spare ribs, pulled pork on bread, chopped brisket, spicy honey wings, southern fried wings, hot link, cole slaw, potato salad, mac & cheese, collard greens, rice & beans, and corn bread.
When the waiter came with two trays loaded with food, we could not hide our amazement at the heaps of food that were getting laid before our eyes. The pile of meat almost seemed to call out to my carnivore instincts. It was meat heaven.
We started with the wings, which were fantastic. Both the spicy honey wings and the southern fried wings were super good, but I liked the fried wings more. It was so crunchy outside and deliciously moist inside – I loved it!
The meats, which were supposed to be highlight of the meal, however, were not as good as I thought they would be. The ribs were too tough for my taste; I like my ribs very tender and almost falling off the bones. The restaurant claims that it’s a misconception that meat should fall off the bone because it loses flavor, but I wish they had made it a little tenderer.
The pulled pork was pretty good but also salty, and the brisket was not memorable. I did like the hot link, though – it was very flavorful.
The second favorite things from the whole sampler (after the wings) were the sides. I especially liked the cornbread, which was dense but soft. My friend relished the baked beans and the collard greens. These were on the sweet side, but because everything else was savory, it was nice to get a break.
In general, the food was good and enjoyable, but I could not see why so many people were raving about the meats. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal choice. I did love, however, the wings, especially the fried ones. I thought, if I return, I will return only for these.
…And I did!
A week later, P and I wanted to grab a bite nearby, so we went to Allston. Because he had not tried Soul Fire, so I decided to take him there, not for anything, but for the wings.
P saw the corndog on the menu and ordered it after some contemplation, saying “I mean, it’s childhood… right?” He seemed to be pretty excited to have the snack from his childhood, but his expectation was not met. I almost felt bad for him as he ate half of the corndog and slowly put it down. He said that it was mediocre at best.
At least the wings were just as good as last time! Although we complained that the BBQ Jumbo Wings were too salty, we finished everything on the trays (except for the half-eaten lonely corndog). P agreed that the Southern Fried Wings were excellent.
For its prices and friendly service, Soul Fire is a place I know I will return to, although nowhere as many times as I do to Le’s or to Fish Market, both of which are in Allston, steps away. Even though they may not be the best, the ribs were still pretty decent and the sides fantastic. I’m glad I found a place I can visit to satiate my
wings BBQ cravings.
182 Harvard Ave
Allston, MA 02134