Barbecue Bliss

Billygoats in Dennis serves traditional Southwestern-style food in a rustic setting

By Lisa Leigh Connors

When it comes to authentic, quality barbecue restaurants on the Cape, you might have to drive a distance to get to one. In Wellfleet, there’s Russ & Marie’s Marconi Beach BBQ & Seafood. In Orleans, you’ll find Big Dogs BBQ inside Orleans Bowling Center. But good news for barbecue fans, there’s now another option: Billygoats BBQ and Grill in Dennis.

Owner Tim O’Meara looked around and discovered that no one in the area was offering traditional, Southwestern-style barbecue food. “I wanted to put something on the Mid-Cape that wasn’t really being done,” says O’Meara, who previously owned a Mexican restaurant in Keene, N.H. O’Meara chose Dennis because he is a passionate kite surfer who fell in love with nearby West Dennis Beach.

Located in a charming new shopping center on Route 28 (the former location of Christine’s), which also includes a home interior design store and a pasta and cheese shop, Billygoats is 100 percent pure barbecue from the décor to the menu. When you step inside the rustic new space, you feel as if you’ve been transported to South Carolina or Georgia, or maybe even Maine. Wagon wheels with white lights hang from the ceiling and booths made of saddle leather are embossed with Texas stars. Dark wood tables contrast nicely with knotty pine walls sporting signs sourced from local antique stores. The tables in the back are moved around to accommodate live bands throughout the year.

The one-page menu is simple, but diverse, featuring everything from pulled pork and chicken, smoked beef brisket, St. Louis-style ribs and BBQ by the pound—perfect if you are dining with a large group. The focus is mainly barbecue food, of course, but there are also weekly seafood specials, such as skewered BBQ shrimp over dirty rice and pan-seared scallops. Billygoats also makes their own delicious pickled cucumbers and onions, as well as vinegar-based sauces. Although they serve the typical barbecue fare of fried green tomatoes and hush puppies, they also offer unique dishes such as redneck nachos—homemade brisket chili on top of crispy tater tots. For the health conscious, there’s lettuce cups filled with pulled chicken or pulled pork.

When I visited recently with two dining companions, we sampled the half rack of ribs with two sides—the jicama slaw and fire and ice salad (red onions, celery and bell peppers in a spicy apple vinaigrette). O’Meara takes pride in serving quality food and says he uses commercial smokers and three different woods to smoke the meats: Apple, mesquite and hickory. The ribs were tender, flavorful and juicy and the salads were a healthy complement. We loved the casual presentation of the entrée: the food arrives on an aluminum baker’s tray lined with parchment paper, and the sides are served in colorful camping mugs, which conveniently enables one to scoop out every last bite!

The desserts are all made in-house, and we couldn’t resist trying their most popular option: blueberry mango crumble with pecan oats and brown sugar, topped with vanilla ice cream. It was everything we had hoped for—the right proportions of sweet and crunchy. The drink menu is equally satisfying as it features local craft beers: Cape Cod Beer, Wachusett Blueberry, Mayflower and Whale’s Tale. There’s also several Kentucky bourbons, and fun, signature drinks called Cinnamon Texas Toast, Billygoats Green Tea and Honey Badger.

“I think people were waiting so long to find out what we were going to do,” says O’Meara. “When they found out it was barbecue, they welcomed us with open arms.”

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BILLYGOATS
BBQ AND GRILL
581 Main St.
West Dennis
508-619-3821
billygoatsbbq.com
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