Michael Symon knows meat. In fact, he wrote the book on it when Carnivore came out a few years back. So if anybody could lend credence to the concept of Cleveland-style barbecue, it's Symon, who also happens to be a great student of all regional forms of barbecue. Thanks to the low-and-slow 'cue at this East Fourth Street hotspot, Cleveland finally has earned its way onto the national barbecue scene (what's up, Memphis!). The food at Mabel's might come out lunch-counter quick, but take a bite of that juicy brisket or meaty ribs and you'll taste the long hours of work that go into them. Smoke, heat, spice and time elevate the meat, transforming it from rough cuts to perfectly textured masterpieces. Keep your bottles of thick, sweet sauce away from the meats; this stuff needs nothing more than a squirt of kicky mustard-based elixir to really shine. Welcome to Cleveland, Mabel's.
2050 East Fourth St., 216-417-8823, mabelsbbq.com.