Michael Symon says it's the most important restaurant he's ever done.
Mabel's BBQ, which opens today on East 4th Street in Cleveland—next door to Symon's flagship Lola Bistro, where he won F&W Best New Chef in 1998—is a barbecue spot. But it's not just any barbecue spot: At Mabel's, Symon is making a claim on Cleveland-styled barbecue. The Chew's beloved co-host was born and raised in Cleveland; he's one of the city's biggest boosters. He's also an avid barbecue fan and a big meat guy (he shouts out the sustainably raised kind). In the vast brick-walled space, Symon has installed two beautiful, custom-built J&R smokers, 100 seats, and a neon sign that says Eat More Meat.
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But what's really great about Mabel's BBQ is the Cleveland-boosting menu. "Eastern European butchers are the original BBQ masters," says Symon. Instead of hot links, he's serving kielbasa; in fact, there's a ton of excellent local kielbasa on the menu. Meats by the half pound list brisket, pork belly and J& J Kielbasa (hot with cheese or classic); sandwiches include the chopped pork Big Pig, the chopped brisket Mr. Beef and the Polish Girl—kielbasa or chopped pork and coleslaw on a roll. He's making barbecue sauce with local favorite Stadium mustard.