The 75 Best Barbecue Joints In America
Barbecue is an iconic American tradition, with plenty of regional variations. Whether it's whole hog in South Carolina, mesquite smoked brisket in southern Texas or smoked pulled pork in Memphis, all of the barbecue joints on our list have one thing in common; bags and bags of flavor.
Some of the names on our list keep things beautifully simple with a light rub and not a lot else, while some focus on great quality sauce and sides. Some keep things true to the traditions of the region and some mix it up, combining the best of barbecue from multiple cities.
Whatever your preference, you're sure to find something you love.
Franklin Barbecue, Austin, Texas
Aaron and Stacey Franklin setup a barbecue trailer in Austin back in 2009, and the business has not stopped growing. Aaron Franklin is by far the best-known pit master in the US, and has inspored countless others to try their hand at barbecue. As well as winning a range of awards, including Best BBQ joint in Texas and Best Barbecue in America, Aaron is also co-author of 'Franklin Barbecue, A Meat-Smoking Manifesto', a New York Times best seller. As if that wasn’t enough, Franklin also features in a web series ‘BBQ with Franklin’ produced by KLRU-TV. You can even buy your own Franklin Barbecue pit and try and replicate the flavours at home, or order meats from Franklin for shipping throughout the US.
On to the food. Texas Monthly described Franklins as ‘Serving the best barbecue in the known universe’, and their customers agree, with dining on site or kerb side pickup (you’ll need to pre-order). Brisket is the most popular item, or choose from turkey, ribs, pork or sausage. You can also go for a whole unsliced 5lb hot brisket to take home, slice, and enjoy.
Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Kansas City, Kansas
Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que began life in 1990, when Jeff and Joy Stehney attended their first barbecue contest. From there they bought a smoker and began competing themselves. Over the next few years, their team, ‘The Slaughterhouse Five’ that they formed with friends won a raft of competitions, including the American Royal Open and the American Royal Invitational. After meeting Joe Don Davidson, founder and owner of the Oklahoma Joe's Smoker Company, the pair opened their first restaurant in 1996 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The brand now operates 3 restaurants as well as an events space, and they ship their meats nationwide.
The menu features smokehouse classics, such as pulled pork and smoked brisket, as well as full rib dinners, sandwiches, smoked meat sandwiches and meat sold by the pound.
The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint, Ocean Springs, Mississippi
The Shed is a fun, community spirited barbecue joint where families come to eat great barbecue, sit around the campfire, and listen to live music.
They serve 7 slow smoked meats, all sold by the pound, as well as jumbo plates of ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and sausage. For a lighter option, a range of sandwiches are available, and customers rave about Mama Mia’s Mac Salad sold by the pint or quart. The Shed hosts the BBQ Dual steak showdown in April, where 200 teams compete to produce the best BBQ.
SLOWS Bar-B-Q, Michigan
Slows opened in Detroit in 2005, providing a gourmet take on barbecue food, before expanding in 2013 to keep up with demand, adding additional floor space. They now operate locations in Midtown, Corktown and Grand Rapids, as well as a food truck and concessions in Ford Field.
Slows has appeared on Man Vs Food, where Adam Richman tried the Triple Threat Pork. Their pulled chicken sandwich was featured on Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America, being declared the best sandwich in the Great Lakes. Richman described wating at Slows as “a truly life-changing experience”. What more can we say!
4 Rivers Smokehouse, Orlando, Florida
John Rivers spent 20 years perfecting the signature dry rub before opening 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park in 2009. As well as perfect smoked meat, 4 rivers work hard to ensure top quality sides and freshly bakes its own bread to complement the meat. 4 Rivers has grown to 13 locations across Florida, as well as shipping nationwide.
As well as perfect slow smoked brisket, the restaurant specialises in an Orlando classic, Santa Maria tri-tip, with a crisp outer and tender pink middle. They also offer plant-based options, including Beyond Burnt Ends sandwiches, roasted in a vegan barbecue sauce. 4 Rivers has won a host of awards, including the South’s best barbecue joint 2020 by Southern Living.
Puckett's Grocery, Franklin, Tennessee
The Puckett’s brand history stretches back to the 1950’s, though it was the early 2000’s before Andy Marshall began smoking in the Puckett’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork. They are famed for offering not just great southern barbecue, but quality live music to match. In 2004 they expanded do downtown Franklin, and Puckett’s now operates 7 locations across Tennessee.
The extensive menu starts with hearty breakfast dishes, including a smoked brisket hash, and fried chicken with apple jacks, through to omelettes, pancakes, and of course the classic steamed meats, served with 1, 2, or 3 sides. You can also get shrimp and grits, burgers, and some amazing sharer deserts.
Pappy's Smokehouse, St. Louis, Missouri
The Food Network have named Pappy’s the best ribs in America, the meats are smoked over 24 hours, always fresh and never reheated. They served over 3 million people in their first 10 years, and they get top marks from locals and visitors. They operate 2 locations in St Louis and St Peters, as well as a food truck, Pappy's Rollin’ Smoke.
B.T.'s Smokehouse, Sturbridge, Massachusetts
B’T’s smoke their dry rubbed meats for 14 hours, using local apple and hickory wood. Starting from a trailer and expanding to locations in Sturbridge and Worcester as well as a mobile food truck. Proprietor Brian Treitman likes to cook tender, succulent meat with sweet, spiced sauce.
Black's Barbecue, Lockhart, Texas
Black’s is the oldest smokehouse in Texas, the same family has owned and operated the smokehouse since 1932. They are now in 4 locations and they offer outside event catering. They use local Post Oak Wood and just a little dry rub to get the same flavour and texture today as they did 90 years ago. Choose from a classic meat selection, as well as home made sausage, sandwiches, and sides.
Snow’s BBQ, Lexington, Texas
Saturday barbecue has been a tradition in Lexington for as long as anyone can remember. Snow’s began in 2002 and quickly gained a huge local following, when owner Kerry Bexley teamed up with pit master Tootsie Tomantez. They were named best barbecue in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2008 and have continually produced the best quality barbecue in the state. They only open on Saturday, starting at 8am and carrying on until it’s all sold out. When it’s gone, it’s gone!
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Ribs, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Dreamland began in 1958, when John ‘Big Daddy’ Bishop opened the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa. Soon, people flocked from across Alabama to try the hickory smoked ribs. The ribs are grilled over a hickory wood fired pit and basted with signature barbecue sauce. They operate 9 locations across Alabama, Florida & Georgia, but they keep still keep things simple, and cook the same way they did 6 decades ago.
La Barbecue, Austin, Texas
La Barbecue is owned by LeAnn Mueller, cooking up savoury recipes honoring her German heritage. The meat is cooked over Texas post oak for 16 hours, with grass fed, hormone free beef sourced from a local ranch.
Hoodoo Brown, Connecticut
Hoodoo Brown was a bank robber, cattle herder, moonshiner and cook. Started by Cody Sperry, Hoodoo Brown was inspired after a trip to Austin, and opened Hoodoo Brown in May 2015. The menu features all the great barbecue you’d expect, as well as some awesome alternatives, like the Texas Poutine, with hand cut fries, gravy brisket debris and cheese curds, BBQ Nachos, and blackened Catfish.
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que, Decatur, Alabama
Champions of the 2017 world barbecue championship, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que is one of the oldest and most prestigious barbecue joints in the world. Founded in 1925, they have won 15 world championships across 5 generations of pit masters. Famous not just for the smoked meat, but also their BBQ white sauce, they have 2 locations, both in the same town they started.
Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, Georgia
After honing their skills at cookouts and pop-up barbecue stalls, twin brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox opened Fox Bros in Candler Park in 2007 along with their partner Beau Nolen. They have since been featured on ‘Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern’, the Today Show, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. They have outlets in the Mercedes Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park
Beast Craft Barbecue Belleville, Illinois
Pit Master David Sandusky opened Beast Craft Barbecue in 2014, with a simple philosophy ‘All Killer. No Filler’. Beast Craft has won a host of awards for it’s ‘craft barbecue’, offering top quality St Louis style pork & ribs, as well as smoked meats in a sandwich, plated or by the lb.
Homegrown Smoker, Portland, Oregon
Homegrown Smoker is somewhat unique in our list as it is 100% vegan. They offer the classic smoky barbecue flavours food you’d expect, just without the meat. Pork Ribs are substituted for Seitan rib tips, chicken wings become buffalo soy wings, as well as smoked and grilled veg. They have built up a very loyal following and while not what you might expect from a traditional barbecue restaurant, Homegrown Smoker offers a great vegetarian alternative.
Eli’s BBQ, Ohio
Eli’s barbecue began in 2011 with Eli serving up hickory smoked pork sandwiches in Fountain Square, before opening up the first store in Cincinnati’s East End. They now have 5 locations in Cincinnati, Newport, and Liberty Township, offering the same pulled pork sandwiches, as well as a range of barbecue classics.
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn: Owensboro, Kentucky
Catherine and Pappy Bosley bought Moonlite Bar-B-Q in 1963 and has grown over 60 years as a family business, to a 350-seat restaurant, as well as catering and wholesale operations. They’ve won a range of awards, including best barbecue in Kentucky and they offer online ordering ad nationwide delivery.
Jethro’s BBQ, Iowa
Jethro’s BBQ opened in 2008, gaining national fame almost instantly. They have featured on Man Vs Food, with the Adam Emmenecker Challenge, a sandwich created by former Drake basketball player, comprising entirely of his favourite items from the menu.
Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix, Arizona
Little Miss BBQ started out life as a competitive barbecue team, before setting up in Phoenix, with locations in Sunnyslope and E. University Drive. They specialise in central Texas style barbecue, with meats smoked over Arizona white oak, pecan, pistachio, and mesquite firewood, in smokers designed and constructed with meticulous attention to detail. They source prime beef from a single ranch, so they can be sure of the quality, and they use a simple seasoning blend, so the main flavours come from the meat itself. Meat is served market style, order as much or as little as you like, along with sides, sauce, and desserts.
Lewis Barbecue, Charleston, South Carolina
Pit master John Lewis has a cult like following and is seriously devoted to his tradecraft. Starting the day at 4am to prime his hand welded smokers, this is serious dedication and it’s no wonder people flock from across the state and beyond to queue to get a taste of the end product. Before starting Lewis Barbecue, john already had a history of successful smokehouse under his belt, helping Aaron Franklin to open Franklin Barbecue, and partnering with LeAnn Meuller to open LA Barbecue. He started Lewis Barbecue in 2016, and it has grown in a short space if time to be considered among the best in the country.
17th Street Barbecue, Murphysboro, Illinois
World Champion pitmaster Mike “The Legend Mills and his daughter, Amy, built the 17th Street Barbecue restaurant in Murphysboro, Illinois, and Amy continues to helm the powerhouse after Mike’s passing in 2020.
With a host of awards and championship prizes under their belts, including a Pioneer of Barbecue award, and a National Barbecue Association Award of Excellence. Mike was even been inducted into the barbecue hall of fame. 17th Street Barbecue offer a full menu from their locations in Murphysboro and Marion.
City Butcher and Barbecue, Springfield, Missouri
City butchers have 2 locations offering classic Texas style barbecue in the Springfield, offering meat by the pound, as well as sausages and sandwiches.
Red Bridges BBQ Lodge, North Carolina
Red Bridges has been serving up award winning barbecue in Shelby, North Carolina since 1946. Meat is served by the pound, and they offer sandwiches and sides, as well as bulk deals for 4, 6, 10, or 20.
The Shaved Duck, St. Louis
The Shaved Duck in, St. Louis offers up great barbecue along with southern specialities and an extensive selection of American craft beers. In a departure from traditional barbecue joints, The Shaved Duck offers a fine dining twist on classic southern barbecue, with slow smoked meats joining hand rolled flatbread, chili, and gumbo and from scratch barbecue sauces. They also offer barbecue classes, giving you the chance to learn how to cook up some great southern barbecue at home.
Smoque BBQ, Chicago
Smoque opened in Chicago in 2006, quickly becoming a firm local favorite. They have two locations in Chicago and offer outside catering.
Jones Bar-B-Q, Kansas City, Kansas
Sisters Deborah and Mary Jones are carrying on a family tradition passed down from their father Leavy B. Jones Sr, producing great smoked meats and the family’s secret recipe barbecue sauce from their restaurant in Kansas City. All of the food is prepared fresh every day, never reheated and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Gates Bar-B-Q, Kansas City, Missouri
Gates began life as Gates Ol’ Kentucky in 1946. A second restaurant was opened in 1954, and they changed their name in 1956 to Gates & Son’s Bar-B-Q. More restaurants followed into the 70’s, and Gates BBQ sauce began appearing in supermarkets across Missouri. Today, Gates Bar-B-Q is still a family run business, with 6 locations and their barbecue sauces available throughout America and beyond. Customers can expect barbecue classics as well as specials including chili, party trays and of course, Gates original barbecue sauce.
The Joint, Louisiana
The Joint opened in New Orleans in 2004 and gained national recognition when it featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives in 2008. Moving up the street in 2012, The Joint continues to serve great barbecue today.
Bombers BBQ, Indiana
Bombers BBQ in Munster, Indiana offers great quality barbecue, alongside fresh seafood, and craft beers. The meat is smoked for 16 hours, and the sides are cooked from scratch every day. They offer some great items on the menu that you won’t find in most barbecue joints, including brisket poutine, bang-bang shrimp, and bacon jalapeno bombs.
GQue Championship BBQ, Colorado
GQue BBQ are true BBQ champions, competing in competitive barbecue competitions across the country, and winning awards time after time. They are consistently rated among the best barbecue restaurants in the country, and they even have their own YouTube channel, offering up tips to replicate their award-winning barbecue flavours.
Skylight Inn BBQ, Ayden, North Carolina
Skylight Inn is known locally as Pete Jones BBQ and has been cooking whole hogs since 1947. In 2003 they were given the James Beard ‘American Classics’ award. They still specialise in whole hog barbecue, offering it in a sandwich, by the plate of by the pound.
Hometown Bar-B-Que, Brooklyn, New York
Hometown Bar-B-Que have two locations in Brooklyn and one in Miami. Created by restauranteur Billy Durney. They offer smoked meats, wings, and ribs, as well as tacos, sandwiched and a number of vegetarian options, including smoked cauliflower wings, mushroom tacos and vegetarian banh mi.
Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor, Texas
Louie Mueller Barbecue has been known as the ‘temple of smoke’ since opening its doors in 1949. Now operated by the third generation of the Mueller family, the restaurant still serves up the same great barbecue today as it did back in the forties.
Laughing Sun Brewing, North Dakota
Laughing Sun Brewing offers great barbecue, beer and live music in Bismarck, North Dakota. The smoked meat is accompanied by sandwiches and sides, as well as soups and chili. Entertainment ranges from Jazz, blues, rock, country, folk, and pop, (and everything else!). You cou can even try your hand at axe throwing!
MAD Jack’s, New Mexico
Mad Jacks is open Thursday to Sunday from 11am until there’s nothing left. This is a true barbecue joint, offering southern classics, as well as homemade pies, sides, and cobblers.
Cattleack BBQ, Dallas, Texas
Cattleack is open every Thursday & Friday from 10.30 am. Founded in 2010 by Todd David, the restaurants have gained a loyal local following, and the line usually starts well before 10.30. The first Saturday of the month is also ‘whole hog day’. As well as great quality barbecue classics, try ‘The Toddfather’, comprised of brisket, pulled pork, sausage, and homemade slaw, all topped off with barbecue sauce.
Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, Texas
Smitty’s market was started in 148 by Edgar A. Schmidt, and the family still run the same firepit in the same location to this day. This is a true piece of Texas history, and somewhere you definitely need to try out if you’re stopping by Lockhart. As well as brisket, prime rib, and turkey, they also have a good selection of smoked sausage, and a fresh meat department so you can grab some to take home to cook.
Truth BBQ, Brenham, Texas
Truth Barbecue was born in Brenham in 2015, in a small building beside highway 290. Truth has built up a loyal following over the years, and today people travel from all over Texas to enjoy the brisket, beef ribs and homemade sausage. Pit Master Leonard Botello is heavily influenced by Aaron Franklin and John Lewis, two legends of the barbecue scene, and his attention to detail is paying off with the rave reviews coming in thick and fast.
Heirloom Market BBQ, Atlanta, Georgia
Heirloom Market was created by chefs Cody and Jiyeon, who wanted to create fresh, simple classic BBQ food. Jiyeon brings a wealth of culinary training, rooted with south east Asian influences, while Cody has lived and breathed classic southern barbecue his whole life. Heirloom market serves classic southern barbecue, sandwiches, platters, ribs, and wings, as well, as sides with a Korean influence, including kimchi slaw and Korean sweet potatoes.
Bogart's Smokehouse, St. Louis
Bogart’s opened in 2011 with an ambition to create great tasting barbecue. Part of the Pappy’s Smokehouse family, the restaurant serves the same great quality southern barbecue as the rest of the chain, with some unique menu additions, including smoked tri-tip sirloin, pastrami, and apricot glazed ribs.
Central BBQ, Memphis, Tennessee
Central BBQ was created in 2002 by Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp and is among the best in Memphis. Craig and Roger went from friends to business partners after competing in local barbecue competitions. Central use hickory and pecan wood, along with a flavoursome dry rub to create melt in the mouth meat that falls straight from the bone. They encourage guests to unwind and get messy. Central barbecue now has four locations in Memphis ad one in Nashville.
Ray’s BBQ Shack, Texas
Ray’s is a real local favorite in Houston, as well a s great barbecue they serve burgers, soups, fish, and shrimp dinners. Pit master Ray S. Busch is at the heart of the operation, honing his skills from a food truck in the third ward, before taking the leap to a bricks and mortar location. Co-owners Maxine Davis and son Herb Taylor run the business and marketing side of the business, which grows in popularity week by week.
Buxton Hall Barbecue, Asheville, North Carolina
Elliott Moss and Meherwan Irani met in 2013, and opened Buxton Hall in 2015. Elliot was already a successful chef, opening the Admiral restaurant in 2007. Meherwan, also a successful chef and restauranteur, opened Chai Pani, an Indian street food joint in Asheville in 2009. The building they chose for Buxton hall was once a wood floored roller rink, as well as being a boat showroom and auto shop. Buxton Hall is a whole hog barbecue joint, cooking Eastern Carolina style. You can also pick up their cookbook if you want to try out, he recipes at home.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Llano, Texas
Coopers operate six locations cross Texas and is home of the ‘big chop’. Family owned and operated by the Wootan family; coopers is ‘all about the meat’. Opened by Tommy Cooper in 1962, they serve a range of classic barbecue dishes, and Ribeye’s are available after 5 Thurs – Sat. Coopers is different to other Texas barbecue joints. They don’t use post oak, instead opting for mesquite branches, mesquite burned to embers, with the meat placed directly on top. This method is called ‘cowboy style’ reflecting the style used on cattle drives in the past. The ‘big chop’ is seasoned simply with salt and pepper, before sitting over hit fire to sear for an hour, then slow cooking in a cooler part of the pit.
ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque, Richmond, Virginia
ZZQ combines the classic Texan flavors with influences from central Virginia, to produce and authentic barbecue experience. Pit masters Chris Fultz and Alex Graf founded ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque in 2013. They open Wed – Sun from 11am and carry on until the meat is all gone.
Gatlin’s BBQ, Houston, Texas
Gatlin‘s BBQ is a family-owned BBQ joint, located in Oak Forest, Houston. They opened in 2010 and has quickly become a local favorite. As well as traditional barbecue, they serve breakfast from 7am, offering good hearty breakfast food, like shrimp and grits, wings and waffles, and chicken biscuits. The barbecue menu features meats by the pound as well as succulent beef ribs on Friday and Saturday.
Iron Grate BBQ, Wisconsin
Iron Grate serves Milwaukee Style BBQ, from their custom designed and built smoker. ‘Edna’. chef Aaron Patin opened Iron Grate in 2016. The restaurant seats 30 inside and more on the terrace. As well as great classic barbecue, the sides include smoked tomato macaroni and cheese, smothered greens and corn, and stone-ground grits. If you fancy something a bit different, the links and curds combine hot links, bake cheese curds SA Braai chutney and pickled onions.
Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue, Maryland
Barbecue has been traditional in the Nelson family for over 100 years, so it’s no wonder Andy Nelson’s is considered the best barbecue in Maryland. They smoke the meat slow over hickory logs and simmer it down in their own signature heirloom sauce. Everything is made from scratch, by hand, producing the same great taste today as they did a century ago.
Sin City Smokers, Henderson, Nevada
Located just a few miles outside downtown Las Vegas, there are certainly worse locations in the USA for a BBQ joint. Sin City Smokers are both a restaurant and catering company, treating diners to all manner of delicious BBQ dishes or providing the food at large events and functions, including private weddings. Their spare ribs, BBQ chicken, southern fried catfish and “Badass” loaded fries are just some of the options on their extensive menu, which also includes a range of signature sandwiches and burgers. The restaurant is small and bright, with traditional wood paneling, and there is a takeaway service if you’d prefer to take your food away with you, or have it dropped right at your door.
R&R BBQ, Salt Lake City, Utah
There’s no secret ingredients, no pretence with R&R BBQ, Salt Lake City, Utah. In their own words, it’s “just some smoke, fire and a little patience”. Simplicity is often the key to success, and this is evident at R&R BBQ, which produces some of the tastiest BBQ dishes you’re ever likely to taste. People obviously agree with me, because the company’s success has seen it grow, with nine restaurants now located across Utah and one in Meridian, Idaho. The award-winning chain has a delightful menu, with highlights including their $15.99 three meat plate, a $25 full rack of ribs and their range of pulled pork, beef brisket and BBQ chicken sandwiches. You can also feed the entire family with their takeaway BBQ pack, feeding up to eight people.
Local Smoke BBQ, New Jersey
Boasting six restaurants across New Jersey, Local Smoke BBQ must be doing something right. Chicken wings are their specialty, but the menu is extensive, with seasonal specials and all-year round favourites such as their Texas brisket sandwich, pulled pork platter and huge selection of sides and salads meaning there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. Interestingly, the chain has recently branched into the growing CBD market, and sells its own range of CBD oil instore and on their online shop. Local Smoke also offer catering services to private parties, corporate events and more.
Blue Ribbon BBQ, Massachusetts
One of Massachusetts’ favourite BBQ chains, Blue Ribbon BBQ now operate three restaurants across the state, in Arlington, Dedham and West Newton. Their food and restaurants are inspired by the classic roadside BBQ joints which can be commonly found in the southern states, bringing classic Texas BBQ to the east coast. Their meat is cooked slowly at low temperatures over oak and hickory hardwoods, helping to preserve the flavour often lost in the modern era of fast food. Their range of sandwiches, platters and side dishes are all packed with flavour, and although menus vary slightly by restaurant, the essence remains the same whichever store you visit.
LC’s Bar-B-Q, Kansas City, Missouri
An award-winning, stand-along restaurant in Kansas City, LC’s Bar-B-Q stands out on this list for its small size. The restaurant itself is nothing to shout about, with a simple interior and basic furnishings. But it’s all about the food at LC’s. Barbecued meat is served by the pound, alongside a range of sandwiches and sides. That’s about it for the menu, simple but delicious. If you’re after fancier BBQ food then you’re better to head elsewhere, but if you want an explosion of flavour then look no further than LC’s. The restaurant has been so successful that it even has a range of merchandise, which can be purchased online.
Cozy Corner BBQ, Memphis, Tennessee
As well as great food, Cozy Corner advertises itself as a great place to experience some authentic Memphis culture. And as far as BBQ goes, Cozy Corner excels. Prices are excellent, with a rack of ribs costing just $20 and a sandwich and two sides costing diners as little as $5, representing excellent value. Their dinner plates are probably the best way to sample the menu – bread and two side dishes are included alongside your choice of ribs, wings, or a mixture of the two. Like many of the establishments in this article, Cozy Corner also cater to private events.
Jeff’s Texas Style BBQ, Marysville, Washington
Jeff Knoch knows BBQ. Entirely self-taught, with methods learned through years of trial and error, his small, independent Washington eatery is now regarded as one of the finest BBQ joints in the entire USA. There are no secrets, your meal will be sliced up right in front of you, getting your mouth watering as the smells waft your way. The menu includes classics such as spare ribs and brisket, pulled pork, pork belly and turkey served by the pound. Sandwiches and sides are also in plentiful supply, and Kim’s Pecan Pie is the perfect way to found off your meal. Jeff still does virtually everything himself and is known to take customers into the kitchen to show them how things are done – he’ll even share his recipes with diners!
Goody Coles, Brentwood, New Hampshire
Frequently rated as the best BBQ joint in New Hampshire and having won numerous regional awards, Goody Coles is certainly worth a visit to anyone, local or otherwise, who has some time in the area. Founded in 2003, it is the realization of a dream for the husband and wife team who left careers in the corporate world to start Goody Coles. Housing one of the world’s largest smokers, the Oyler Barbecue Pit, the smell of smoked hickory wood is evident as soon as you pull up in the parking lot. All their meat is smoked for a minimum of 12 hours, packing it with incredible flavour and tenderness which isn’t a guarantee at all US BBQ joints.
J.R.'s Rhodehouse BBQ Pit, Piedmont, South Dakota
Founded in 2013 and specializing in Texas-style BBQ meat, J.R.’s Rhodehouse BBQ Pit is one of a select few establishments on this list to boat a five star rating on TripAdvisor, testament to the quality of food and service on offer. Sandwiches, meat platters, nachos and a host of sides make up the menu, which also features Saturday specials on a rotational basis. Closing time on their website is listed as 19:30, but it is not unusual for them to close early due to being entirely sold out! As well as the popular dine in restaurant, the company also offers a catering service for private events.
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, Marianna, Arkansas
Founded way back in 1910, with generations of Joneses passing down the recipes for their classic BBQ dishes. The diner is one of the most popular eateries in Arkansas, opening at 6am six days every week and closing whenever they sell out, which is often as early as 11am. A classic menu of BBQ meat is on offer, and hunters can even bring their game into the restaurant to be smoked, helping to establish the business as a cornerstone of the local community. In 2017, a second branch opened in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
HQ Southern BBQ, Evansville, Wyoming
A small, unassuming diner in Evansville, Wyoming, HQ Southern BBQ is a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of establishment. But it’s the pride and joy of the local community, and has featured in numerous local restaurant publications, testament to the great quality of its BBQ meat, ribs, sandwiches, burgers, rotisserie chicken and more. Reasonable prices and top quality service only add to the appeal, with some diners on TripAdvisor commenting that they have travelled for two hours or more specially to visit this fabulous establishment. You won’t regret popping in for a meal!
Matt’s BBQ, Portland, Oregon
Since opening its doors in 2015, Matt’s BBQ has gone from strength to strength, specializing in Texas-style BBQ meat. There is no restaurant as such, food is served from a fixed-location food truck, complete with some outdoor seating. All of Matt’s BBQ meat is cooked on a smoker using oak wood and they often have to shut up shop early due to being sold out, testament to their popularity. They have a great range of BBQ meat tacos, as well as all the classics – think sliced brisket, pork belly, ribs, and turkey. Matt’s BBQ will also cater your private event on request.
Lem's Bar-B-Q, Chicago, Illinois
The brainchild of brothers Bruce and Myles Lemon, Lem’s Bar-B-Q opened its first restaurant on Chicago’s south side back in 1954, serving a range of BBQ ribs, chicken wings, hot links and more. Famed for chef Myles’s original secret tangy Bar-B-Q sauce, the punters were soon rolling in. 14 years later a second branch was opened by a third Lemon brother, James, in the historic neighbourhood of Chatham. There are also several Lem’s Bar-B-Q franchises, helping more and more people to access the delicious food and secret sauce of the original establishment. Although the Lemon brothers have now passed, their legacy lives on across Chicago.
Herman's Ribhouse, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Feeding the Arkansas town of Fayetteville since 1964, Herman’s Ribhouse is a pillar of the local community. It just so happens that it also serves some of the finest BBQ food in the whole of the USA. There have been numerous owners and changes to the restaurant, such as the addition of an outdoor decked seating area and the expansion of the menu to include baby back ribs and shrimp remoulade. But some things have stayed the same, namely the friendly atmosphere and great tasting food on offer. The restaurant is currently working on a chain of merchandise, which is launching soon!
Mike’s Barbecue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
After years of catering for his friends and family, Mike finally took the plunge and established his BBQ business. Mike’s Barbecue is primarily a pop-up store, he caters festivals, local bars, and all sorts of events across Philadelphia. He also runs a bricks and mortar store on 11th Street, where every cut of meat is locally sourced, organic, and smoked on the day in an old school Lang Smoker. Freshness is guaranteed. Items on the menu include prime brisket, pulled pork, full spareribs, and Lancaster chicken wings, as well as homemade sausage and a variety of sides.
Noble Barbecue, Portland, Maine
Boasting a good sized restaurant, background music and a sprawling outdoor courtyard, Noble Barbecue is a great environment in which to enjoy a meal and possibly even a few drinks. Their extensive range of “proper sandwiches” and smoked meats is mouthwateringly delicious. The brisket in particular, comes strongly recommended. Noble Barbecue also serve a range of chicken platters and Detroit-style pan pizza, which can be washed down with a local craft beer or fresh, homemade cocktail. The perfect setting for a meal out with friends of family, Noble Barbecue are also able to cater your private events and functions.
Harp Barbecue, Raytown, Missouri
Perhaps the first thing to note about Harp Barbecue is that it shares its catering space with the Crane Brewing warehouse, meaning you can sip on a delicious local craft beer whilst waiting for your food. Harp is only open on Saturdays, there is normally a line, and they tend to sell out by mid-afternoon, so make sure to get there early! All of this effort makes the reward much sweeter if you manage to grab an order. Brisket, rack of ribs, pork belly by the pound and diverse meat platters are just some of the options. Prices are on the higher end of the scale, but the effort and money is worth it when you tuck into that first mouthful of succulent BBQ meat.
Grady’s Barbecue, Dudley, North Carolina
It seems that the best BBQ restaurants often don’t have websites, and Grady’s Barbecue is another of these hidden gems. Rated with five stars on TripAdvisor, the small, diner style restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, and the interior is nothing to shout about either. But once your meal arrives at your table, you’ll understand why the restaurant is rated so highly. Some diners report having driven 300 miles just for a taste of “North Carolina’s best BBQ”. The food is traditional but done properly. Pulled pork baps, friend chicken, ribs and a selection of fresh vegetables are some of the favourites on the menu.
Arrogant Swine, Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn food scene is competitive, to say the least. You need to stand out from the crowd if you want to be successful. Arrogant Swine has gone about achieving this success by becoming the only venue in New York where diners can enjoy a whole hog BBQ. Entire pigs are smoked slowly over live embers and served in a grand beer hall. The 44 foot long bar serves 20 different beers on draft, more than 40 different bottled beers and a range of wines, soft drinks and more. There’s a Vegan menu, 3,000 square foot beer garden and even games, such as Jenga. Perfect for a fun-filled night out, you won’t find anything else like Arrogant Swine in New York.
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, Owensboro, Kentucky
Mutton is the specialty at Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, which has been cooking this slightly unusual meat for more than 100 years, since 1918. Established in its current form in 1954, the restaurant maintains decades old practices to ensure the food remains of the highest quality. Meat is cooked exclusively with hickory wood and the restaurant continues to use its own blend of barbecue sauce, the recipe for which remains secret. Though mutton is what sets this place apart from rivals, there is plenty else to snare diners. Pork ribs, chicken, fresh catfish, and a range of sandwiches are offered, as well as a good variety of soups, sides, and salads.
BBQ4Life, Boise, Idaho
BBQ4Life began its journey as a food truck in April 2013. As things started to take off, they realized they needed a bricks and mortar store, which is how they ended up in Boise’s Vista Village. Serving a range of traditional BBQ food, smoked with pecan wood, they also have a great variety of smoked vegan dishes, prepared separately to meat options. Best sellers include their meat sampler platter, BBQ nachos, pulled pork sandwich and Vegaloaf (vegan meatloaf). Their bright and modern restaurant also serves a fine selection of beers and wines to accompany your meal.
Feges BBQ, Houston, Texas
Iraq war veteran Patrick Feges caught the BBQ bug during his rehabilitation from injuries sustained during combat. Alongside his wife Erin and having educated himself at The Texas Culinary Academy, Patrick opened Feges BBQ in Houston in 2018. They’ve already been recognised in local publications such as “Texas Monthly” and have started selling a range of merch online. The restaurant is takeaway only, but there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy your meal in the Greenway Plaza district where the restaurant is housed. Weekly events including Fish Taco Fridays and special events for veterans to eat free only add to the appeal of this restaurant.
Kerlin BBQ, Austin, Texas
Kerlin BBQ is a fixed catering truck serving delicious BBQ food to residents of Austin, Texas. The simple menu is packed with classic dishes, such as Prime Angus brisket, Beef hot links, pork shoulder sandwich and a range of sides, from blue cheese coleslaw to jalapeno dill potato salad. Food is served for takeaway only but there is some outdoor seating available. The company can also cater your private event, on site or for pick up, whichever option is preferable for you. Texas is the home of BBQ and Kerlin BBQ is up there in the rankings of the best BBQ in Texas.
Mike’s Huli Chicken, Kahuku, Hawaii
With 40 years of food experience behind them, the folks at Mike’s Huli Chicken know what they’re doing. Mike Fuse is Hawaiian born and bred, and all of his meat is cooked over native Kiawe wood and flavored with traditional Hawaiian salt, giving the produce a distinct flavour. Mike’s Huli Chicken is now in its 11th year and continues growing from strength to strength. Like several establishments on this list, the business operates out of a food truck, serving delicious BBQ meat to diners, who can then take a seat at one of the numerous picnic benches available.
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