My cousin Niki moved to Boston (and the States in general) from the Philippines in January, and I’m thrilled beyond the gills that she is obsessed with food, just like me. We’ve gone out twice now and have plans to keep doing so; unsurprisingly, most of our schemes involve eating.
Last night Keith and I took her to Red Bones, a barbecue joint in our old neighborhood. When we lived within walking distance we used to go down quite frequently; now that we’ve moved away it’s not nearly as easy to meander down the bike path for some ribs and pulled pork. When we have friends visiting from out of town — or relatives who are new to town — we almost always bring them to Red Bones. In fact, Keith first took me years ago, before I had memorized the subway system. That was my introduction to barbecue; I come from Armenian/Lebanese/Filipino/Asian stock, and the only barbecue I knew prior involved potato chips. (For the record, I only like Wise.)
For me, Red Bones is all about two things: corn fritters and barbecue hash. Dense and chewy, the corn fritters arrive in a bowl of maple syrup and are absolutely delicious. How could they be otherwise, with their pool of syrup? The hash has no syrup, but it does have a fantastic texture and an even better combinations of flavors — tangy, vinegary, spicy. I order both fritters and hash, in appetizer sizes, and make my meal out of that, without fail. Last night we also shared some hush puppies; whenever I eat these puffy cornmeal balls, I’m always surprised by how strangely well the taste goes with the sour vinegar dipping sauce.
Part of what makes Red Bones so fantastic is the atmosphere; it is laid-back and convivial to such an extent that it’s no wonder that the bar, upstairs dining room and downstairs space is always busy. On Monday night, every table in the black-walled basement was taken. And why shouldn’t it be thus? The cornbread is freshly baked, the beverages are served in Mason jars, the beer selection remains impressively diverse, and the barbecue is literally finger-licking good.
55 Chester Street
Somerville, Massachusetts 02144