When talking North American BBQ in Berlin, there is just no way around Big Stuff BBQ in the Markthalle Neun. Big Stuff lighted the fire behind today's massive demand for smoked meats and the iconic eatery is always, regardless of the time of day, a splendid idea for a meal.
Big Stuff BBQ was founded by Tobias Bürger and Anna Lai, a tailor and a journalist, respectively, who really had no extensive, prior experience in the restaurant business. They did, however, both spend some time in New York where they fell in love with U.S. BBQ culture and one day they decided it was time for someone to do BBQ in Berlin. And that someone was them. The timing of their idea was pretty damn good since it coincided with the relaunch of the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg by a group of people who were looking for entrepreneurial tenants. And since Toby and Anna needed a massive venue for their car-sized smoker they just imported from the U.S., they gladly accepted to become one of the first fixed food stalls in the Markthalle Neun.
“ This tray not only looks amazing, it's pretty much also every smoked meat lover's dream come true.
This was early 2013 and ever since that day Big Stuff BBQ has been smoking copious amounts of meats on a daily basis, first only during regular market hall hours and nowadays also for events like Street Food Thursday, The Breakfast Market and any other event in the Markthalle. The food at Big Stuff is obviously all about meat and during regular opening hours you have the choice between pulled pork, pork belly, beef short ribs and beef brisket. If you have the opportunity though, I would however strongly recommend not subjecting yourself to the element of choice, but to go for the Big Stuff Tray, a sample platter that will allow you to try the full offering of this eatery. If you go for the massive 16€ platter (enough for two), you will get a selection of the day's juicy, smoked meats along with smoked potatoes, cole slaw, salad and the three BBQ sauces (classic, spicy and steak). This tray not only looks amazing, it's pretty much also every smoked meat lover's dream come true.
“ The insanely juicy meat falls apart and literally melts in your mouth
The standout meat at Big Stuff is the pulled pork and the pork belly, these guys source premium Duroc pork from southern Germany and nobody does wet pork BBQ in Berlin like Big Stuff. The insanely juicy meat falls apart and literally melts in your mouth and you will laugh in the face of any WHO reports on the dangers of processed meats. That's right. The beef is also great, and if they are available you should get the fatty and tasty short ribs. The condiments are always spot on and and very fresh, a fact I love. The smoked potatoes for example are always a perfect combination to the fatty meat and I actually love the fact that Big Stuff refrains from serving greasy fries and similar sides. All the focus is on the meat. And if all of this meat frenzy isn't enough, nowadays you can also enjoy killer cocktails and beers and the Big Stuff bar across from the food stand.
“ Big Stuff is truly the papa bear of the Berlin BBQ scene and these guys have done a lot for the city's smoked meat scene
The signature dish of Big Stuff is not the tasting tray though. You have to sink your teeth into something else here, I'm talking about the pulled pork sandwich. This heavenly creation, originally conceptualized for Street Food Thursday, consists out of freshly pulled pork right in front of your eyes, salad leafs, BBQ green apples and a BBQ sauce of your choice on a Sironi bread bun. I've had more of these sandwiches than I can count and it is hands down the best BBQ sandwich you can get in Berlin. Neither Pignut, Chicago Williams or The Pit can compete with it in any way. And if visit the Markthalle on any third Sunday of the month, you will be able to taste the very limited breakfast version of this sandwich with a poached egg. And let me tell you, that's just a whole new level of pleasure.
Big Stuff is truly the papa bear of the Berlin BBQ scene and these guys have done a lot for the city's smoked meat scene. Despite pushing vast quantities of food at events like Street Food Thursday, these guys never compromise when it comes to quality and the 428th sandwich is as good as the first one. The slightly modern touch they put on the BBQ concept with the condiments and sandwich varieties is very fresh and keeps things interesting and it also keeps them ahead of the competition. In the end, the only smokery in Berlin that really can can rival Big Stuff in terms of overall quality is Pignut BBQ, especially when it comes to ribs and sauces. But Big Stuff will due its quality approach, its location in the culinary epicentre of the urban food movement in Berlin and its extraordinarily friendly crew running it, always have a very special place in my heart.