We Americans can’t help it. We love barbecue!!! It’s just too damn good. And it’s as American as baseball and apple pie. But with so many BBQ joints out there, it’s hard to know which ones are actually worth it. Well, not anymore. Here, now, are the absolute best BBQ spots in the country. Enjoy!
South Carolina barbecue takes a slow-cook approach, but they’re all about the sauce. Specifically, the question of which one to use! There are four common sauces in South Carolina: light tomato, heavy tomato, vinegar and pepper, and mustard. So might as well try all four by visiting Q2U Pitt and Catering, Besieger’s BBQ, or Sticky Fingers.
Naturally, Memphis made its way on this list. They have some of the best BBQ ribs in the world in Memphis. You can get them dry, meaning the pork is given a spice rub before the cook, or wet, involving a delicious sauce being applied to the ribs before, during, and after the cook! The best spots in Memphis are definitely The Bar-B-Q Shop, Leonard’s Pit Barbecue, and Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous.
Alabama’s claim to barbecue fame lies in their introduction of the first white sauce. The man that invented it, “Big” Bob Gibson, didn’t like the way typical vinegar-based sauces paired with his chicken. So he developed a tangy mayonnaise variety that fans have been loving ever since. Dreamland Bar-B-Que locations are all across the state and worth a stop, and Golden Rule and Full Moon BBQ are the other can’t miss joints.
TEXAS IN GENERAL
Naturally, Texas has some of the best barbecue in the country. There are different styles throughout the state, from slow-cooked, mesquite style of Central Texas, to the barbacoa Mexican-style of South Texas, to the extremely slow-cooked style of East Texas. Some of the best spots include Snow’s BBQ, Lamberts, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Franklin Barbecue, and Iron Works BBQ.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
St. Louis takes barbecue so seriously it has its own style. It revolves around grilling the meat and then applying some delicious sauce after the cook. The sauce is typically tomato based and has a sweetness to it. The best BBQ spots in St. Louis are Salt + Smoke and SugarFire Smokehouse.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Just like it’s friends over in St. Louis, Kansas City has a BBQ style all their own. They like to prepare the meat with a spice rub, slow-cook it over various woods, and then douse it in some tomato-based sauce. The best spots in Kansas City are probably Car Bar, Jack Stack BBQ, Gates Bar-B-Q, Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, LC’s Bar-BQ, Q39, and Plowboys Barbecue.
SANTA MARIA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
The central coast area of California has a rich history of Spanish-style barbecue, which involves the meat being rolled in salt and pepper based rub and cooked over a red-oak fire. It’s also usually accompanied with some salsa, beans, and bread. The best spots in the area are The Hitching Post, Far Western Tavern, and Shaw’s Steakhouse.
In North Carolina, it’s all about smoking pork over hardwood coals. They have two different styles in the state. First, the Eastern style prefers to slow-cook an entire pig, while the Lexington style involves simply smoking just the pork shoulder. The best spots in the state are Skylight Inn BBQ, Sam Jones BBQ, Lexington Barbecue, and Buxton Hall Barbecue.
The thing that makes barbecue from Western Kentucky so unique is their use of a rarely used meat: mutton. Kentucky has always had a large sheep population, so it makes sense that they’ve used the meat for so long. They also tend to use a more vinegary sauce than other areas. The spots you have to hit if you find yourself in Western Kentucky are Old Hickory Bar-B-Que, Ole South Bar-B-Q, and Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn.