Located in an intentionally anonymous storefront just around the corner from the equally hard-to-find original, the long-delayed Bar Buca (75 Portland, at King West, 416-599-2822, buca.ca, @bucatoronto) didn't so much open last Thursday as explode. By 1 pm, the 40-seat room was packed to the rafters - no surprise when much of executive chef Rob Gentile's casual all-day-till-late-night Italian carte rarely breaks 10 bucks. And, no, Bar Buca doesn't do reservations.
Over in Cabbagetown, the long-overdue 420 Smoke House (420 Parliament, at Gerrard, 416-924-5858, the420smokehouse.com, @giniray33) is finally up and running. Look for regulation racks of St. Louis-style ribs alongside specialties like smoked oysters and jerked pickerel.
'Cue hits Greenwood
Out on the Danforth, the vegetarian-friendly Greenwood Smokehouse (673 Danforth, at Pape, 416-469-2270, greenwoodsmokehouse.com, @greenwood_BBQ) has also opened for business. Pit boss Warren de Simone promises the expected brisket, ribs and pulled pork as well as mushroom burgers and vegan chili with double-smoked corn.
The curse of Restaurant Makeover strikes again: Phil's Original BBQ at College and Ossington has called it quits after a 15-year run. A success from the get-go when it opened as DiPamo's, downtown's first barbecue specialist never seemed to recover from a franchise deal gone sour that resulted in the resto's having to change its name several years ago.