North is the New South: BBQ Restaurants North of the Mason-Dixon Line

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

One of things I love most about living in Kentucky is the food. Since moving here, I have fallen in love with Southern staples like shrimp n’ grits, fried green tomatoes, and barbeque. Folks north of the Mason-Dixon Line have discovered what they are missing out on and Southern-style restaurants are popping up all over the place. Toronto is never too far behind the trends, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that over half a dozen barbeque joints have opened up there in the last few months.

Electric Mud BBQ

As much as I like to eat global specialties that are not available in Louisville when I come home, it was impossible to resist trying the Canadian version of my beloved Southern cuisine on a recent visit. So I headed to Electric Mud BBQ, which has captured the aesthetic of a proper hole-in-the wall.

Menu at Parkdale's Electric MudMenu

Patrons crowd around a few small picnic tables or belly up to the bar to enjoy the small menu of smoked and fried delights. The small menu over the open kitchen displays both the expected (ribs, collard greens, coleslaw) and the exotic (duck ham!); a small, handwritten card offers even more Southern delights.


On this visit I stuck to the basics, starting out with an order of hushpuppies. Growing up, spring breaks were spent in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I developed an addiction to these little cornbread fritters. Electric Mud’s are even better than I those I remember, light and fluffy on the inside and delightfully crunchy on the outside. And the spicy horseraddish remoulade that they come with adds a whole new dimension to these little bites.

Crack Rolls at new BBQ joint Electric Mud in ParkdaleCrack Rolls

Who can resist something called Crack Rolls? Remeniscent of Parker rolls, these buns have a slightly more toothsome crust and a sprinkle of sesame seeds but what really makes them addictive is the compound butter made with spring onions and meat drippings. I would buy this spread by the bucket-full if I could.

Parkdale's new BBQ restaurant Electric Mud's RibsRibs

Electric Mud provides more twists on the classics- perfectly cooked ribs (tender meat that is not so overdone as to fall off the bone) are coated with a spicy-sweet sauce but then covered in a healthy dose of crushed peanuts and spring onions. I honestly don’t know why no one in the South has thought to do this before- the contrast of textures is out of this world!

BBQ Pork Belly at Electric MudPork Belly

While many variations of pork are standard barbeque fare, belly is a recent addition to Southern menus and Electric Mud’s take easily outshines those that I have tried back home. Presented as a variation of the pulled pork sandwich, slabs of the tender, slightly fatty flesh are served on toasted white bread with a pickle on the side. The accompanying sauce is somewhere between a Carolina mustard-based bbq sauce and the traditional brown sugar and mustard glaze used to top an Easter ham. Whatever the inspiration, it’s delicious.

Porch Crawler Drink at the Electric Mud in Parkdale TorontoPorch Crawler Cocktail

All this meat can make a girl thirsty. Here Miller Lite longnecks and cans of PBR are replaced with a selection from local brew pubs as well as a few cocktails. The Porch Crawler, which combines Thai basil, gin, and watermelon lemonade might just become my new summer tipple.

Bourbon Selection at Electric Mud in Toronto's ParkdaleBourbon Selection

I’m always aghast at the paltry selection of bourbons available at Ontario liquor stores but Electric Mud has three shelves of the stuff! And their Clydesdale cocktail, a bourbon-based margarita of sorts, is lip-smackingly good.

The Clydesdale at Toronto's Electric Mud in ParkdaleClydesdale

I was almost too full to try dessert but who can pass up banana cream pie?

Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie for dessert at the Electric Mud in TorontoDeconstructed Banana Cream Pie

Served in a mini Mason jar, this version layers graham cracker crumbs, custard, bruléed bananas, and a dollop of whipped cream. It’s light enough to justify a few bites after a big meal.

Toothpicks To Go at Electric Mud in Toronto's ParkdaleToothpicks To Go

I am thrilled to see that my hometown has not only embraced the barbeque tradition but made it its own. I hope y’all get out to try it!

Posted in Culture, Food

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