The Greatest BBQ Joint in Every U.S. State
The can't-miss temples of meat-cooking perfection, from coast to coast.
Memorial Day is right around the corner, and you know what that means: BBQ. After all, nothing says summer quite like sunshine, paper plates piled high with your favorite protein, and Dixie cups spilling over with cold, watered-down beer. So we’ve scoured the country for the most bodacious barbecue restaurants for getting your fix wherever you are. These joints have the juiciest meats, the creamiest grits, the tangiest rubs, the spiciest (or mildest, whatever floats your boat, man) sauces. And if you’ve worked up a secondary appetite—for adventure, as well—consider touring the country to eat every one of these scrumptious spots. But if you’re grilling at home, don’t miss our excellent selection of marinades for elevating any cut of meat.
This joint is a no-frills, just-good-food kind of place. Head to this humble establishment for Carolina-style pulled pork, BBQ chicken, ribs and a special added bonus, a chicken sandwich slathered in white BBQ sauce. Before you go, brush up on how to eat whatever you want without gaining weight, so you can maximize your face-stuffing.
If you find yourself embarking upon a great Alaskan adventure, be sure to schedule a stop in Anchorage to visit this spot. It’s signature sandwich is called “The Boar Tide Sandwich” which will stuff you with a third of a pound of pork and bacon plank. And you can wash that sandwich down with an assortment of beer and wine options. Alaska happens to rank among the 25 adventures every man should have before he dies, so chomping down at Turnagain is a double whammy.
As true of a “Ma and pop” restaurant as you can find, McClard’s was founded by Alex and Alice McClard way back in 1928. The restaurant remains in the family to this day, and it serves delicious eats such as its plate of ribs covered in fries or its tamale plates. Visit McClard’s and then walk off all those calories with a visit to Hot Springs National Park, which is located right next to McClard’s hometown of Hot Springs. Though if walking doesn’t burn enough, get thee to a gym, stat.
With an ample amount of outdoor seating, this Phoenix-based barbecue joint is a great go-to option on a hot Arizona afternoon. The folks behind Little Miss BBQ got their start as a competitive barbecue team, and they bring that passion to every pound (seriously, they sell brisket and pulled pork by the pound) of barbecue they make. While you’re in the area, check out the Grand Canyon, one of the 8 best trips to take with your friends.
A relatively young entry on this list, this joint was created by a husband-and-wife chef duo who wanted to bring the rustic barbecue style of their youth to the Bay area. Cathead’s is full of unique menu items such as their cathead biscuits, so named because they are as big as a cat’s head, plus barbecue dishes inspired by a variety of regions. Definitely check out the brisket, as beef happens to be one of the 10 best foods for stimulating your brain.
This restaurant offers a wide variety of southern-style barbecue offerings, plus a few cajun dishes. It is a particularly great spot for beer lovers, as they regularly rotate craft beers on tap and regularly host beer tappings. And you can top off that delicious meal of beer and barbecue with some live music, as Front Range brings in hosts shows every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. With such a deep offering of beer, Front Range may be the destination after the gym, as you’ll certainly find the perfect post-workout beer.
This spot is a good option for those of you who like to live just on the other side of the law. It’s named after a notorious outlaw back from the days of the Wild West. This restaurant applies that same sense of daring and nerve to creative dishes such as barbecue nachos and, for dessert, fried Oreos and s’mores ice cream cake. Of course, if you want to be an outlaw yourself, don’t do it in real life—consider picking up a video game (it’ll make you smarter).
This is an old-timey Mom & Pop style place. The restaurant is especially proud of its “Mama Frey’s Homemade Sweet Ice Tea” and “Mama Frey’s Famous Cornpone” (cornbread, basically). That sweet tea sounds to us like a pretty great way to wash down any one of the restaurant’s delicious barbecue offerings or to just relax with on a warm summer day at one of Fat Daddy’s outdoor picnic tables. The best part? Tea happens to be one of the foods that will keep you younger forever, so start guzzling.
It’s hard to think of a more appropriate bit of scenery for a good barbecue meal than the gorgeous waterfront view offered at this locally owned, no frills Palm Coast barbecue establishment. So go for their delicious wood-smoked southern-style, and stay to enjoy your food as you look out over the Matanzas River. And since you’re in Florida, slap on one of the 25 best swimsuits for men and take a dip!
This restaurant only opened in 2007 but has managed to become an Atlanta establishment. The restaurant is run by twin brothers from Texas, who, after being let down by the barbecue joints in their adopted home of Atlanta, decided to start their own. A word of advice, however: be prepared to wait when you go. They unfortunately don’t take reservations, and barbecue this good inevitably draws quite the crowd. However, learning how to buy the best table in any restaurant might help you skip the line.
Really, what could be better than beautiful Hawaiian scenery and barbecue? This restaurant is mainly for take-out, but that’s probably all the for the best since it is located within walking distance of a beautiful Honolulu beach. Food wise, it offers some standard barbecue beef and chicken sandwiches, although you can also try some more exotic options, like seaweed soup or stir-fried squid. And for that flight out to the island, learn how to effortlessly maximize your airline miles.
This Idaho Falls joint may have an unconventional approach to capitalization, but their menu is full of all the classic tried and true midwest-style barbecue food items. Ribs, however, are this spot’s specialty, and you can cover said ribs with the restaurant’s seasoning options like Honey Bourbon Sauce (which we recommend for honey’s libido-boosting benefits) or the wonderfully named Butt Rub (hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).
The owners of this Chicago restaurant are pioneers of Chicago barbecue, and believe that Chicago barbecue can be as famous as the more well-known North Carolina or Texas styles. A lofty goal, to be sure, but Smoque is at least prepared to back up that claim, offering delicious smoked meat such as their St. Louis-cut spare ribs or juicy and tender pulled pork.
This joint was named after its owner and founder, Adam Hoffman. In addition to your classic barbecue dishes, Big Hoffa’s offers specialty dishes that sound like a food lover’s dream—such as their so-called barbecue sundae, or chicken topped with mac and cheese and barbecue sauce. Visitors will also appreciate the decor, which boasts plenty of pirate-themed decorations and a mural on one of the walls. When it comes to decorating your own walls, however, don’t take it from a restaurant—take it from Nate Berkus.
With a name like Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack, you know you’re about to step into a no-frills just good food kind of place. Jimmy Jack’s offers all the barbecue classics like ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. However, if you can only order one thing, go for an order of Jimmy Jack’s thick, juicy wings, which you can douse in one of the restaurant’s custom sauces and top off with a side of delicious corn bread.
Yes, Joe’s Kansas City is located inside an old gas station. While that may not seem like an appetizing spot for a restaurant, have no fear, the husband-and-wife duo that owns Joe’s know good barbecue; they even used to cook it competitively under the team name Slaughterhouse Five. Their menu offers all the staples of any good barbecue joint, plus chicken gumbo, but you would be wise to show up on a Monday or Saturday for lunch, or Wednesday at dinner, for the restaurant’s especially popular burnt ends.
This family-owned spot is a Kentucky landmark at this point; country legend Merle Haggard was a famous patron. It’s not hard to see why, as Moonlite offers nightly buffet options for visitors to gorge themselves full of barbecue chicken, pork, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, barbecue mutton (sheep, basically).
To add some local flavor to your barbecue, this New Orleans restaurant makes Chaurice, a thick spicy sausage that is a specialty of cajun cuisine. You can order one (or three) as the centerpiece of your meal, or as part of a combo platter of among the traditional barbecue meats. Be sure to wash all that food down with some delicious sweet tea, a southern specialty—and also one of the foods all men over 45 should consume.
The succulent, smoke-cooked barbecue of this restaurant was inspired by a road trip through the barbecue meccas of North Carolina and Texas. Those visitors who are feeling adventurous should order the Meat Coma or even the Meat Fatality. In case we didn’t have you at Meat Coma, Salvage also has craft beer, vintage arcade games, and live music every Friday and Saturday night. When you’re done, head up the street to Tempo Dulu, one of the 20 best hotel bars in America right now.
A barbecue joint with a true local flair, this Baltimore joint is owned and operated by former championship-winning Colts safety Andy Nelson. But this isn’t just any old restaurant with an athlete’s name on it, Nelson has been an avid barbecue cooker all his life and that passion is what led him to open a restaurant. So go for the various football memorabilia adorning the walls, but stay for such delicious menu items as a platter of memphis style ribs or dixie wings.
This establishment has humble origins as a roadside barbecue trailer. But chef Brian Treitman’s cooking was just too good to be confined to such a small space. These days B.T. has upgraded to a full-fledged (if decidedly on the small side of things restaurant) where he serves barbecue that is inspired by a number of different southern styles. One original, and particularly appetizing offering, is the BBQ Burrito, which we’d recommend following up with a fudge brownie.
Beer lovers should take special note of this Michigan restaurant, as it has a vast array of craft beer constantly on tap. Though of course we don’t want to overlook the barbecue, especially the selection of sandwiches-highlights include The Reason, a pork sandwich covered in delicious North Carolina barbecue sauce, or The Yardbird, a smoked chicken sandwich that boasts mushrooms and smoked bacon among the toppings. Between the beer—which is healthy now, didn’t you hear—and the tasty food, you can’t beat Slows.
This restaurant has a small, humble appearance, but don’t let that fool you. FireBox offers slow-smoked, mouth-wateringly tender meat, including ribs that fall right off the bone. Those who opt for the meal plates also get fresh toast and a choice of savory sides that includes savory mac and cheese, tasty rice or soft sweet potatoes—which happen to be one of the 10 best carbs the eat for sculpted abs.
Really, what could be a better combination than barbecue and blues? The shed promises old school southern-style barbecue, specializing particularly in making juicy, fall-off-the-bone tender baby back ribs. Patrons of this The Shed should find the decor and ambiance to be charmingly rustic, and will of course be able to enjoy live music as they chow down.
This quaint restaurant offers up Memphis-style barbecue, inspired by the head chef’s hometown. You can’t go wrong here with either the brisket or the ribs, both juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender slabs of meat, which you can cover in one of Bogart’s four custom sauces.
Honestly, the name alone makes this spot worth a visit, as we must say we’re fans of a well-played Biggie reference. Fortunately, the barbecue here is pretty great too. Notorious offers Texas-style brisket and Memphis-style ribs, and you can smother your food in sauces inspired by Kansas City and North Carolina-style barbecue.
Phat Jack’s is owned and operated by a homegrown Lincoln couple, who decided to turn their hobby of cooking competitive barbecue into a career. Tip: get there as early as you can so that you can order their burnt ends, a Phat Jack’s specialty that almost always runs out early due to such a high demand.
No, that’s not a typo, the dropped “n” there is all a part of this Las Vegas joint’s southern charm. Rollin’ Smoke offers a whole host of meats cooked southern-style, which you can cover with their homemade “Arkansauces.” Those feeling especially audacious, however, should opt for their “Outlaw” burger, which must truly be seen (and eaten) to be believed. Though if you really don’t want to go out for a burger, learn how to make the perfect burger right in your own kitchen.
K.C.’s Rib Shack has been going strong in Manchester for nearly two decades now, and it’s not hard to see why. K.C.’s offers an assortment of delicious barbecue options, including Texas brisket, Memphis-style ribs and North Carolina pulled pork. You can eat one of these savory meals inside a charmingly rustic restaurant, and finish off your meal with such delicious desert options as s’mores or deep fried cheesecake.
Come to Fink’s for the Texas Lollipop, a bacon-wrapped smoked sausage on a stick dipped in barbecue sauce. Stay for full bar and more standard—but still utterly delicious—spare ribs and pulled pork. Fink’s also has a number of tasty side items, but the corn soufflé is something of a specialty for the restaurant.
This restaurant is an interesting combination, a barbecue joint that also specializes in making espresso drinks such as their “Milky Way” or “Cosmic Blast” drinks. Perfect for an afternoon pick me up as you chow down on some savory sausage bites or a delicious brisket sandwich. Although, if you’re in the mood for something with a bit more of a local flavor, go for the green chili cheeseburger—it’s a staple of New Mexico cuisine, and few do it better than Sparky’s.
This is a great option for those who find variety to be the spice of life. In true Brooklyn-style, its menu offers such multicultural options as Vietnamese Hot Wings, Korean Sticky Ribs, and Brisket Tacos. Unfortunately, they do not accept reservations, so put that phone down. And you can wash that barbecue down with craft beers or any number of cocktails, plus weekend diners will get treated to live music.
Barbeque is a cultural trademark of North Carolina, and Allen and Son is a landmark of the region. Between the wood-paneled exterior and the checkered table cloths, visiting here feels like traveling back to a simpler time. And the food itself is timeless, so go here for a quintessential North Carolina meal of chopped pork barbecue topped with classic vinegar-based barbecue sauce, which you can complete with a delicious side of hush puppies.
NoBull is a truly local establishment, right down to the indigenous Northern Red and White Oak wood used to smoke the meats. They serve delicious, juicy barbecue fare like ribs, pulled pork and brisket all right out of the smoker. Order a sandwich for yourself or go with a group and get one of their larger meal platters that offer a sampling of every meat on the menu, all while enjoying a charming interior that is awash with soft lighting and exposed brick walls.
Barbecue is always a good call, but with all the outdoor seating available at Eli’s, it’s an especially great option for a pleasant Cincinnati day. Eli’s serves melt-in-your-mouth hickory-smoked ribs and tender pulled pork sandwiches, which you can douse in the restaurant’s signature sauce. As far as sides, go, the jalapeño cheddar grits and jalapeño cornbread seem to be especially popular options. Definitely go for these spicy treats, since kicking up the heat is one of 10 ways to keep your penis healthy for your entire life.
Iron Star is practically upscale, at least by barbecue standards-not many other places on this list offer appetizers and a salad menu. But don’t worry, this Oklahoma City restaurant is not overcompensating for anything. Iron Star offers barbecue staples such as savory sandwiches of brisket and pulled pork topped with southwest slaw, as well as St. Louis cut pork ribs, and a host of delicious side items such as their fancy mac and cheese.
There is something very “Portland” about the name “People’s Pig.” But barbecue lovers from all over will enjoy the assortment of succulent smoked meats offered at this establishment. Among their many delicious options, you can try pork shoulder served on a sourdough roll or a plate of St. Louis-style ribs, and wash it all down with a delicious cocktail or draft beer.
This restaurant has a quaint, charming interior and offers barbecue delicious enough for even the most hard-to-impress Southerner. We’d recommend you start out with an appetizer order of rich, fluffy biscuits before moving on to a pulled pork sandwich or a helping of angus beef brisket. And Percy Street has a huge array of canned craft beer available to wash your meal down with.
This humble establishment is a true old-timey mom and pop type of restaurant. Becky’s has been bringing Rhode Island delicious classic smoked pulled pork and brisket dishes (among others) for nearly 20 years. They cook their pork and beef for a whopping 18 hours, and customers can order their barbecue with either Kansas City-style or North Carolina-style sauce.
This dixie classic has been open for well over 50 years now, so you know they’re doing something right. Stop by and help yourself to a plate of Barbeque pork or ribs—or both, if you opt for their buffet deal-all prepared with D&H’s secret sauce, which is made fresh everyday.
Fittingly, given its name, Big Rig started out as a food truck. Nowadays, Big Rig is a small, humble husband and wife owned barbecue joint. Their menu is inspired by the husband’s travel throughout Texas, and offers, fresh delicious oak-wood smoked brisket, pulled pork and ribs. In fact, opening a food truck is one of the 20 best side hustles, so follow Big Rig’s lead!
Located right next to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, this restaurant has everything you could want in a barbecue joint. Central offers slow smoked, tender brisket, pulled pork, and Memphis style ribs—marinated overnight and fall-off-the-bone tender—all of which can be covered in an delightfully sweet sauce. But if you can eat nothing else, we say you should make sure to have the BBQ Nachos.
There might not be a more celebrated style of barbecue in the world than Texas barbecue (that sound you hear is my fellow North Carolina natives sharpening their knives). Founded by the daughter of legendary, award-winning barbecue chef Bobby Meuller, La Barbecue is a food truck parked in Austin that offers savory meat by the pound or a number of different sandwich options. And while any barbecue joint worth recommending in Texas is going to draw big crowds, the folks at La Barbecue are kind enough to offer free beer to those waiting in line.
Rod and Roger are two brothers who operated as a competitive barbecue duo for a time, before deciding to turn that hobby. Go for their plate meals, where you can get a sampling of different meats plus a side and either a dinner roll or hush puppies (pro tip: hush puppies are almost never the wrong choice). Or, if you have a little bit more leeway in scheduling, visit their website to decide which of their daily specials seems the most appetizing.
This restaurant has pulled inspiration from an array of regional barbecues for their menu, offering Carolina-style pulled pork, St. Louis cut ribs, and Texas-style brisket. They also offer some fairly healthy options, such as a baby Kale salad. (Go for this—as a side—since Kale happens to be one of 10 ways to painlessly upgrade your diet.) Top all these delicious eats off by washing them down with one of the regional craft beers Bluebird has available.
Buz and Ned’s has been a Richmond establishment for over two decades now. It’s a small spot, which adds to its down home old timey charm. Ned learned the art of barbecue growing up in Appalachia, and later passed his expertise on to Buz, who delights the people of Richmond with his array of smokey, tender barbecue meat. Each complete meal comes with two sides, which is nice since you may have trouble choosing between a list that includes cajun fried corn, hush puppies, and fried okra.
We vote that you kick off your meal at this homey restaurant with an order of savory brisket poutine off of their appetizers menu, although you really can’t go wrong with any of their appetizers. Generous portions of smoked juicy brisket and pork are served as either sliders or sandwiches, or you can opt for the mouth-watering BBQ Sundae and Corn Bread. Cask & Trotter also has an assortment of tasty adult beverages to accompany your meal.
Ridge View is a family-owned barbecue joint located close to West Virginia State University. But with their offerings of delicious Angus Beef brisket sandwiches or savory pulled pork sandwiches, you don’t have to be a drunk college student to enjoy this food. Supplement your dinner with some delicious sides such as macaroni and cheese or a basket of corn muffins and wash it all down with that classic southern drink sweet tea.
It’s almost impossible not to gorge yourself at this spot, where you can start with an order of hush puppies or barbecue nachos. Their meat is local and was raised without hormones or antibiotics, and slow smoked to succulent perfection. Smoke Shack also offers a number of barbecue sauces to choose from, not to mention a wide array of alcoholic beverages. And all of this can be enjoyed in a charming wooden interior.
This joint is located in an old gas station, but don’t let outside appearances deceive you. They truly live up to their name of southern barbecue, even offering sweet tea, a delicious way to wash down whichever of the savory smoked meats catches your eye. If you need help narrowing your options down, we’d say the ribs or the brisket plate make for juicy servings of meat you can’t go wrong with. Next up, food lovers, check out The Best Greasy Food Meccas to Visit Before You Die.
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