Deep in East Vancouver, a humble barbecue joint is serving up some of the city’s best smoked meat.
Whiskey Six BBQ, at Renfrew at Adanac, might not be located in one of Vancouver’s foodie hubs—but barbecue fans are sure to make the pilgrimage east of Commercial for this sumptuous meat, which owner Marc D. Wicks has dubbed “West Coast barbecue.”
Wicks owned a barbecue joint in Calgary, and knew he wanted to open one here when he relocated. “When I moved to Vancouver I wanted to take things to the next level,” he says, lit from behind by the soft sunlight that is streaming into his small restaurant—a no-frills space dotted with a few taxidermy animals. That next level means, in Wick’s mind, a focus on meat that is organic and sourced locally from ethical farms. “People in Vancouver care about what they eat, and want to know where their food comes from,” he reasons. So, Whiskey Six works with native producers and purveyors including Windsor Meats, Cioffi’s, Farmcrest, and Blue Goose Cattle Co. And that homegrown community extends beyond the meat, of course, with bread from Fife Bakery and East Village Bakery, pickles by Barrelhouse Brine, craft beer including Bomber and 33 Acres, spirits from the likes of Longtable and Odd Society, and Rocky Point Ice Cream.
“We’re all about supporting local,” says chef Josh McWilliams, as he points to a small bowl on the table that is filled with creamy coleslaw. “We thought that should be true for the dishware too, so these are from Barter Design Co.” McWilliams also took the “West Coast barbecue” philosophy into the rest of his menu, meaning sauces aren’t comprised of high-fructose corn syrup or other unsavoury ingredients that food-aware Vancouverites tend to avoid. “Healthy barbecue—it doesn’t sound real, but that’s what we’re trying to do,” he says. Many items are made in-house, including the grainy mustard, the tangy hot sauce, and, of course, the barbecue sauce. And the juicy meats, of course, they smoke themselves: there is pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked chicken, sausage, and back ribs; go for a platter, which gives a choice of meat and two sides, which can include salty fries, smoky beans, crispy chicken wings, and warm biscuits.
Whiskey Six began as a catering company, and that arm of the business is still going strong—after all, what says “team bonding” better than a deliciously messy pulled pork sandwich? But now, thanks to this brick-and-mortar, Whiskey Six can be enjoyed without having to pre-order extra coleslaw for your boss. And while it might be a little out of the way, it will prove worth the effort.