Oak and Embers found its barbecue voice in Carolina tradition: Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest

August 2, 2018

Oak and Embers found its barbecue voice in Carolina tradition: Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest

CHESTERLAND, Ohio – Cleveland’s Best team has hit the road to visit each of the Top 20 finalists in Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest. Each of these establishments was nominated, and then voted into the finals, by our readers.

First stop on the tour was the Oak and Embers Tavern in Chesterland. Scroll down to see our taste test review of its foods.

One bite of Oak and Embers’ barbecue meats will transport any barbecue aficionado to the Carolinas.

Readers may vote for their favorite BBQ joint once each day. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the poll to submit your vote.

Oak and Embers co-owner Gretchen Garfoli so loved the barbecued meats she enjoys while vacationing in North Carolina, she wanted her Ohio friends and family to share the experience. So she, and husband, Marc, along with friend and partner Chris McCauley, studied with some of the south’s best pit masters they could find.

Though they have tweaked the recipes to make it their own, their fare remains true to its southern roots, right down to the sides -- which include fresh succotash and grits.

Oak and Embers Tavern

Address: 8003 Mayfield Road, Chesterland.

Phone: 440–729-4030.

Website: oakandembers.com.

Social media

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OakAndEmbersTavern/?ref=br_rs

Twitter: twitter.com/OakandEmbers

Instagram: www.instagram.com/oak_and_embers_tavern/

Cleveland’s Best reporters Yadi Rodriguez, Kristen Davis and Brenda Cain, along with host/comedian Mike Polk, visited Oak and Embers on Monday.


At each of the finalist restaurants, we’re sampling all kinds of barbecue, including ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken -- as well as many sides and a dish the restaurant is very proud of and wants us to sample.

Taste Test Review

Pork Ribs: Polk called the baby back ribs “life-changing. Perfectly cooked, buttery and fall-off-the-bone tender.”

Davis said “the ribs were tender, with a great smoky flavor. Hardly any fat.”

Pulled Pork: Cain called this meat “remarkably tender” and “had a great smoky flavor. The Carolina sauce was the perfect complement to this meat.”

Rodriguez said the “meat was moist and tender with hardly any fat. Very tasty.”

Chicken: “This was some of the best and juiciest chicken I have had anywhere!” Rodriguez said.

“This chicken was moist and had a good flavor, but it was still just chicken,” Cain said.

Brisket: Davis said the brisket was cooked to perfection, “slightly dry, which is a good thing because it worked well with the bourbon sauce.”

“The slice is substantial and the char on the outside was bliss,” Polk said.

Burnt Ends: “These were the living end. I want to name my kids after them!” Polk said.

Rodriguez said “Deliciousness! A great balance between crunchy and chewy.”

Why not join us in our quest to find Cleveland’s Best Barbecue? The schedule for our visits is posted here.

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