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Is there any sound more synonymous with summer than the sweet sizzle of food on a barbecue? One of the highlights of the season is the ability to fire up our barbecues and enjoy dining al fresco with our families — and now that the weather’s warming up, so too should our grills.


And because we all know that the title of grill master is earned, not given, we’re sharing five of the best grilling tools and accessories you need to elevate your grill game this summer.

KettlePizza’s Pizza Oven Insert

Anyone who’s eaten pizza fresh off an outdoor oven will no doubt remember it as one of the best slices they’ve ever indulged in. Cooking pizza in an outdoor oven is an easy way to elevate this delicious Italian dinner staple, but as they say, every rose has its thorns. Pizza ovens can be quite expensive, and they occupy their fair share of backyard real estate. Swooping in to save the say is KettlePizza’s pizza oven insert, which sits atop your grill and cooks up delicious pizza in no time.


Weber’s RapidFire Chimney Starter

If your barbecue of choice is a charcoal grill, then you’ll want to invest in this time-saving tool from Weber. With its specialized cone-shaped grate, the RapidFire Chimney Starter is designed to quickly produce hot coals for cooking (heating them in about 20 minutes), and its compact 8-inch design means it’s a great fit for most popular charcoal grills.

Bear Paws’ Shredder Claws

Originally designed to make quick work of shredding pulled pork, Bear Paws’ Shredder Claws are a versatile tool for both the grill and the kitchen, and can be used to shred or lift heavy meat, or hold meat in place while cutting or carving. This inexpensive tool is a pit-master must-have, slashing time off your prep work and leaving behind little mess.

Napoleon’s Salt Block with Pro Grill Topper

Taking a cue from infused wood plank boards is this Himalayan salt block with a pro grill topper from Napoleon. Salt blocks are rich in minerals, naturally anti-microbial and can be cooled or heated to extreme temperatures to sear meats, seafood and vegetables (and look good while doing it, too). Since the block imparts a subtle salt flavor as it heats, you’ll be able to skip adding the extra pinch of salt while prepping.

A Meat Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin

No grill master would have earned his or her stripes without cooking up some truly delicious dishes, and this best-selling cookbook makes whipping up creative barbecue dishes easy. Author Aaron Franklin is the owner of wildly popular Franklin Barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas, and this meat lover’s manifesto includes chapters on sourcing top-quality meats, customizing your own smoker, and of course, some seriously delicious barbecue recipes.

You’ve now got the tools (and the skills) to grill up something delicious, but some nights, you just want to bite into barbecue without having to do any of the prep work or cooking yourself. Not to worry — Southwestern Ontario is home to a myriad of delicious barbecue restaurants close to our communities. Check out some of our local favourites below.

Zander’s Fire Grill & Brew Lounge

15 minutes from Empire Wyndfield

Zander’s is a community staple, with steaks, seafood, ribs, wings and more on the menu. Be sure to also check out local deli Strodes for their selection of great meats and delicious hot table.

Backroad Barbecue Company

16 minutes from Empire Avalon; 19 minutes from Empire Livingston

With a focus on catering, the Backroad Barbecue Company serves up authentic Southern-style barbecue for a comfort food experience that’ll you won’t soon forget. Other local favourites include the Argyle Street Grill and meat vendor Wally Parr Sausages, the latter of which was established in 1969 and 100% Canadian made.

Premier BBQ House

6 minutes from Empire Lush & Victory

Premier BBQ House prides themselves on their ability to take their patrons on a true barbecue experience, with delicious dishes that include grilled chicken on rice and lamb shish kabob. Be sure to also visit Lucky’s BBQ on the other side of town — this smokehouse is another local must-try!

Lancaster Smoke House

9 minutes from Empire Riverland
A local favourite, the Lancaster Smoke House brings a taste of the South to Kitchener-Waterloo. With chicken, wings, pork, ribs and more on the menu, Lancaster Smoke House always serves up fresh, local and innovative dishes. Locals also love visiting for their live music nights, which have been temporarily put on hold due to restrictions.

Frontier BBQ & Smoke House

20 minutes from Empire Legacy

There’s something for everyone at Frontier BBQ & Smoke House, from countless house-seasoned smoked meats to try and an all-you-can-eat Southern-style buffet and a potato bar with over 20 topping choices.

Cherry Street BBQ

4 minutes from Empire Quay House
The GTA is home to countless great barbecue spots, but there’s a few we’ve visited that we can’t get enough of, and one of them is the Cherry Street BBQ. This counter-service spot pit-smokes their meats over white oak for a flavour profile that’s unabashedly delicious. We also love sinking our teeth into anything from the Smoque N’ Bones Barbecue + Bourbon Bar on the other side of town, close to our Empire Phoenix and Empire Maverick communities.

If your mouth is watering after reading about all these great restaurants, why not explore more great local spots? Discover local eateries near Empire Avalon, bite into more of Kitchener-Waterloo’s great eats, discover some of the best restaurants near Empire Maven on Avenue Road, or else explore the food and drink category on our blog, which is filled with great recipes and drink ideas. Bon appétit!


Images courtesy of: KettlePizza (Pizza Oven); BBQs and Outdoor (Chimney Starter); Expertly Chosen (Bear Claws); Williams-Sonoma (Salt Block); Amazon (cookbook); Uber Eats (Premier BBQ); Lancaster Smoke House (Lancaster); Frontier Grill BBQ (Frontier Grill); Toronto Life (Cherry St. BBQ).


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Nicole and Karla

New Home Specialists


Nicole and Karla

New Home Specialists


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