Three housemade sauces grace each of the dark wood tables: sweet-smoky all-purpose; tangy North Carolina–style vinegar; and hot and fruity habanero.
One of their most popular menu items—and for good reason. An 18-hour stint in “Tootsie,” the 4,700-pound J&R smoker, gives the fatty, salt-and-pepper-rubbed meat pronounced smokiness, an impressive smoke ring, and a thick, dark crust.
Pork Belly ($19/pound)
Inch-thick slabs of cured, brined, and smoked Berkshire belly meat are shingled on a half sheet pan alongside shaved white onion and housemade pickle chips.
Short Rib ($27)
This Flintstone-sized slab spans the entire length of the sheet pan it’s served on. Faison's model for the impressively charred crust and pronounced smokiness: Black’s Barbecue, one of the famed Texas smokehouses she visited before opening Sweet Cheeks.
Bucket of Biscuits ($8)
Four tall, craggy biscuits arrive warm in an oversized coffee tin with a side of soft, salted honey-butter.
Fried Okra ($7)
After a dunk in buttermilk, the okra spears are dredged in a flour-panko mix, fried, and lightly sprinkled with salt. Don't look for a side of dipping sauce—there isn't any—but if you like, splash them with the vinegar mop.
Farm Salad ($6/small; $9/large)
As a nod to her Rocca fans, Faison brought this salad with her to Sweet Cheeks. With a double dose of Brussels sprouts (raw and roasted) plus arugula, red grapes, toasted hazelnuts, farro, and a honey-shallot vinaigrette, this salad is anything but your ordinary bowl of mixed greens.
Giant Nutter Butter ($6)
“Giant” is right. Faison's whimsical take on the Nabisco classic features two thin, crisp cookies—each about 6 inches from edge to edge—flecked with coarse sea salt and sandwiching an ultra-creamy peanut butter filling.
For Top Chef fans, the open kitchen provides the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Faison in action.
The bowling alley planks-turned-communal tabletops gleam in the natural light.
The all-American beer list is drawn from coast to coast—a gesture Faison hopes will make members of Boston's transient community feel at home. The whiskey and craft cocktail rosters are both lengthy, too.