Tis' the season for barbecuing and meat-eating. BBQs are a summer staple, but sometimes, you want to do something different while also sticking to a classic. What does that mean? I want to help you bring the average BBQ up a notch.

The purveyors of Porter Road, a high quality meat company, along with some of my own advice, have some tips on how to elevate your average backyard sesh. Co-founders James Peisker and Chris Carter work to bring their customers high quality meats and cuts, so you can be sure their advice is pretty sound. 

On the best go-to meats

James and Chris believe your best bets are spare ribs or pork steaks. As James says, "They are simple to cook and real crowd-pleasers."

When You Want to Impress Friends

According to Chris, the best choice is a Tri-Tip, which caters to the pickiest of meat-eating friends.

"The shape of the cut yields different temps. The more well done pieces are in the skinnier/thinner end and the thicker end is perfect for those who like it on the mid-rare side, The tri-tip satisfies both with one cut."

What cuts are under-rated, but great alternatives to typical burgers, steaks, ribs, etc.?

James recommends Lamb T-Bones, which he says are flavorful, tender, and easy to cook.

Another option, Chris says, is the lesser known Chuck Eye, which he deemed "prince of the grill". 

"If the Rib Eye is the king of grill, we coined this the 'prince of the grill' because it's cut from the same muscle as the Rib Eye, but there are no bones in it, it's half the price and people just don't know."

I had to ask about options for vegetarian friends...

Chris recommends hearty items like composed salads with "grains (einkorn, farro, barley), grilled seasonal vegetables and a simple vinaigrette."

And as for burgers like the Impossible Burger/Beyond Meat Burger, they believe the creators' work is good and well meaning. But for those just looking for a better solution for the planet and consumer (and not necessarily a vegetarian option only) they think their cleaner meat is also a great solve. 

"People will always want meat and the only way to supply that for future generations is by treating the animals with respect, raising them out on pasture with no antibiotics." That's the basis on which all Porter Road meats are curated.

Some extra tips:

I'm always a fan of Mary Giuliani's party-planning advice. And any gathering can be seen as a party, from BBQs to small get-togethers. She recommends down-sizing your eats and making the experience interactive.

"Small bites make people happy! I like to take comfort foods—mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, grilled cheese—and shrink them to hors d’oeuvre size. I also like to set up 'Snactivities' or food bars where guests can customize their food.” Custom hot dog station, anyone?

I also love her idea of creating small-cup-samples of any cocktail you might serve so guests can try before they buy (so to speak).

For a Change in Toppings

I recently heard of a brand called Kumana, which totally capitalized on the avocado-mania and created an avocado sauce. Different from guac, this is a smoother, Venezuelan staple that will kick up a meal, especially if you grill meats for tacos.

Trager Grills and Leinenkugel’s have also teamed up to create a Summer Shandy BBQ Sauce that's pretty interesting and citrusy. And Brown Dog makes a Spicy Honey Dijon Mustard that will make you forsake all other mustards on your hot dogs.

Armed with these new tips and tricks, you'll be sure to impress your BBQ guests with all the meats, toppings and tricks they've never seen at their average barbecue before.