Southerners agree that the art of making BBQ food isn’t as simple as roasting meat outdoors in charcoal. It’s all about getting it perfect. Here’s your guide to tracking the best brisket, ribs, and pulled pork every state of the country has to offer.
Hoodoo Brown BBQ – Ridgefield, Connecticut
Located into the narrow valley between Danbury and Norwalk, this barbecue place in Ridgefield is a summer treat with the sun and smoke in one. It radiates energy uncommon in a New England barbecue restaurant.
Try the beautifully barked cherry red spareribs, Texas poutine served with brisket gravy, crispy pork belly, beef ribs, pastrami, and sausages, with bacon as an appetizer, just because. People swear that it’s the best BBQ they’ve tasted that didn’t originate in Texas.
Smokey D’s – Des Moines, Iowa
Smokey D’s is the product of Darren and Sherry Warth’s hard work. The couple competed to earn accolades of about 75 state BBQ championships and nearly 800 local, regional, and national wins. The Warths overlook three Iowa places where guests can taste their dishes, which include chopped pork, pulled chicken, smoked ribs, sliced turkey and pit ham.
You will go crazy picking your favorite – smoked chicken wings glazed with your favorite BBQ or plain Kansas City-style burnt ends with Asian glaze, or Buffalo sauce.
Johnson’s Boucaniere – Lafayette, Louisiana
Louisiana is not a barbecue nation like other southern regions, but you can always locate a smokehouse full of briskets, boudin, ribs, beef jerky, tasso, pork belly, and rice sausages. Johnson’s Boucaniere takes pride in making its own variety of meat ensembles and offers other forms like country ribs, pulled pork, etc.
There is brisket on a biscuit too – a breakfast favorite. Lori Walls, the grandchild of Johnson’s Grocery owner Arnestor Johnson, reopened the smokehouse in 2008 on popular demand, using the same recipes and techniques as her ancestors.
Salvage BBQ – Portland, Maine
Established in a renovated post office building situated in Congress Street, Salvage BBQ basically specializes in two things: Texas brisket and North Carolina chopped pork. The place has smoked briskets, chicken, sausages as well as St. Louis ribs slowly-cooked over Maine’s very own red oak.
The pork butts are served with peppery vinegar sauce. There is extra vinegar sauce and light tomato-based sauce available for those who like it super spicy and saucy. They offer a variety of locally made drinks.
The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint – Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Brad Orison and his sibling, Brooke, put together used two-by-fours, some old roofing material, tin, vintage windows, and hardwood floor scraps to form this beautiful and earthly barbecue restaurant. Lovers of barbecued meat and the sound of the blues will find absolute peace here.
They offer live music to enhance their deliciously slow-smoked baby backs, chicken “wangs,” and spareribs. The place has picnic tables underneath string lights. The duo has numerous awards up their sleeves, including 2015 World Grand Champion held at Memphis in May.
Follow Yer’ Nose BBQ – Emigrant, Montana
People in Montana are very fond of smoked meat. They can hardly resist a place that is well known for best-smoked back ribs, and so Follow Yer’ Nose BBQ quickly gained popularity among locals. Though this restaurant started small, it expanded as it started to become everyone’s favorite barbecue spot.
Locals and tourists never miss this restaurant whenever they are passing by. They just simply follow their nose! After all, what can be better than having the perfectly baked baby back rib with smoky seasoning?
Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue – Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Owner Jackson achieved fame and success just a few years after opening Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue. This is because he spent quite a bit of time in Lockhart, learning how to make the perfect Texas-style barbecue.
Besides the classic chicken, hot links, pork ribs, and amazing beef briskets, the restaurant also offers a massive DINO beef rib (house special) on Saturdays and Sundays. The smoked turkey legs are quite popular too, typically running out early in the day.
Hometown Bar-B-Que – Brooklyn, New York
Hometown Bar-B-Que, opened by Billy Durney, ranks among the top five BBQ joints in New York without a question. Its beef briskets are the most popular dish because of how fresh and delicious they are. The restaurant also serves the best baby back ribs, lamb belly, and sticky ribs.
Lamb belly is one of the house specials. Its southern style barbecue technique only requires wood for cooking and adds flavors to manipulate the dish after the smoking process is complete.
Federal Hill Smokehouse – Erie, Pennsylvania
People in Pennsylvania are quite the foodies, especially when it comes to some good old barbecue. Taking that into consideration, Ryan and Autumn Atzeret decided to open their very own BBQ joint in Erie. Federal Hill Smokehouse soon became a local favorite spot.
When the brisket, deep-fried pulled pork, beef ribs, turkey, and sausage meet your tastebuds, you will have to agree that it deserves to be considered the best in town.
Johnny’s Victory Diner – Burrillville, Rhode Island
John Hanaway took many turns in his career before finally taking over Johnny’s Victory Diner. John’s wife Rhonda helped him turn this diner into one of Rhode Island’s most popular places. Since the ’30s, this place has been able to retain its original flavor and essence even today with new fancy breakfast specials included.
Besides being a top-ranked diner, it serves as a BBQ joint on Friday nights where briskets, pulled pork, and smoked ribs are the showstoppers making the custom-designed barrel smoker work nonstop all day long.
Prohibition Pig – Historic District, Vermont
Vermont is one of the most remote states in the country, which is why it isn’t easy to find good barbecue here. However, your quest will draw to an end once you dive into the whole hog basket served at Prohibition Pig.
As one of the most hectic corridors for food and drinks, Prohibition Pig knows how to engage your taste buds with the best taste you will find in Vermont. The brisket covered in barbecue sauce with the slightly tangy flavor of vinegar will make you fall in love.
Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ – Anchorage, Alaska
Jack Goodsell decided to go to Illinois to be an apprentice with pitmaster Mike Mills from renowned 17th Street Barbecue. Later, in 2010, he established his own venture in a mobile cart in Alaska. His new venturer quickly gained popularity and was voted “Best BBQ” by the residents for four years consecutively.
Goodsell specializes in the traditional Southern-style pork, ribs, chicken, and brisket. The Seafood menu is also popular. He also gave an Arctic twist on a Southern barbecue by adding smoked salmon to the smoked delights.
Little Miss BBQ – Phoenix, Arizona
Established in 2014, Scott and Bekke Holmes’ restaurant Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix is a clear winner as one of Arizona’s most reputed restaurants, even if there’s a long line to get your share of well-cooked, smoked brisket, or their special dish – smoked lamb neck, served once every week in a daze of beautiful oak smoke.
Located in the middle of Los Angeles and the Texas Hill Country, their second branch offers great ambiance while you wait for Flintstonian beef ribs or their smoked pecan pie.
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner – Marianna, Arkansas
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner is probably one of the country’s oldest Black-owned establishments. This is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for one of America’s best pork sandwiches.
The smoky flavor with the tangy kick from vinegar coupled with the flavorful bits of fat and the mustard-heavy slaw on top will never fail to take your breath away. It’s just a drive away from Memphis and the Little Rock.
Coppertop BBQ – Big Pine, California
Coppertop BBQ located in Big Pine offers ribs in St. Louis-style, but you can’t miss out on the Santa Maria Tri-tip, which is charred to beauty. Add a side order of roasted green chili with beans, and you’ll have the best barbecue meal in all of California.
Dubbed the best American restaurant by Yelpers in 2015, this place began its journey in 2014. It has been a top favorite because of the award-winning pork bellies, spare ribs, and mouth-watering briskets.
Owlbear BBQ – Denver, Colorado
The city’s amazing pit master, Karl Fallenius, received training at the Franklin Barbecue in Austin and opened Owlbear Barbecue in 2016 as a pop-up joint in a truck near a bar called Finn’s Manor.
The menu covers everything from pork belly, beef brisket, pastrami, tenderloin to even smoked jackfruit and mushrooms for your vegetarian friends. There’s no getting around this: the good stuff sells out fast, so make sure you don’t miss it.
Locale BBQ Post – Wilmington, Delaware
Chef Daniel Sheridan’s idea was to pair barbecue with pickles and so he teamed with his pals, Mike Galluccio and Justin Mason, to create this restaurant. Locale BBQ Post sold out meat by noon of the day it started its journey.
The joint still brings the crowds for its range of ’cue smoked with flavorful cherry wood. Also available across Carolina to Kansas City, the menu serves brisket, pork, bratwurst, chicken, ribs, and the best fresh-out-of-the-oven buns.
Jenkins Quality Barbecue – Jacksonville, Florida
This half-century-old family barbecue joint has three locations around Jacksonville. It came into existence in 1957. Its offerings are rustic and pleasingly simple with a heavy focus on the meat and the unique flavorful hot mustard sauce.
Rib slabs, half chickens, and pork are smoked in oak and in open brick pits, and the meat is best served with slices of white bread or seeded buns. For spice-haters, Jenkins serves a milder version of the famous mustard sauce made without the pepper.
Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q – Atlanta, Georgia
As the name suggests, two brothers from Texas own this barbecue joint in northeast Atlanta. They serve varieties of pork, but the beef is the clear winner. Dubbed one of Atlanta’s iconic meat servers by Eater in 2015, Georgia is home to many great BBQ places.
This one’s truly memorable, according to locals, travelers, food channels, and food critics. The ample patio space and the smoke from the slow-roasted ribs add to the ambiance, making it totally worth the wait and money.
Guava Smoked – Honolulu, Hawaii
Cooking an entire pig underground to bring out its flavors is the traditional Hawaiian approach to delicious barbecue, and fortunately, Guava Smoked loves all the proteins, not just pork. Their smoked duck breast is a hot favorite among barbecue lovers, but their nuggets made of smoked salmon wins hearts too.
Many foodies add their smoked fried rice or bread to the mix, slathered with layers of smoky pork for the best meal to try on a fine summer night.
Grandpa’s Southern BBQ – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Kentucky-local Lloyd Westbrook opened his very own BBQ restaurant back in the 1990s. The barbecue restaurant is thriving in Idaho Falls, attracting food-loving Southerners and excited natives from across the country.
Adjacent to a modest motel, the truck-like dining feels warm, having the Westbrook family serving the best with Grandma Loretta in the kitchen. Cherry-red baby backs are plain delightful. These are some mighty fine ribs, coming from a family that smells of home all the way.
17th Street Barbecue – Marion, Illinois
With four world championships trophies and three grand world championships up his belt, Mike Mills impressed everyone when he started 17th Street Barbecue. Featured on Food Network, 17th Street Barbecue is now a proud landmark.
The world-champion baby backs, embellished with Mills’ finest Dust rub (also available for purchase at their restaurants) and cooked slowly over apple and cherry woods are now available at his two locations in southern Illinois restaurants. His other famous selections include beef sausage links, brisket, pork shoulder, chicken, and turkey.
Hank’s Smoked Briskets – Indianapolis, Indiana
Originally a Texan, Hank Fields had been living in Indianapolis for years but dearly missed the Texan brisket. So, in 2004, he established Hank’s Smoked Briskets in Martin Luther King Jr. Drive where briskets are made over mesquite wood, procured all the way from the native state, to the joy of Indianapolis barbecue lovers.
The décor is humble – a simple waiting room – but barbecue lovers never stop coming. After Fields closed doors for a while last spring, the joyous reopening came as thrilling news to local foodies.
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, Kansas
Initially known as Oklahoma Joe’s, this is a Kansas City favorite and representative of the city’s distinctive barbecue styles. Their burnt ends are available in limited quantities just three days a week and are particularly delicious.
Crispy and mouth-watering, they have to be one of the best in America. Jeff and Joy Stephney set up their joint at a former fried chicken store-front in an old gas station, and their venture quickly became a hit for their excellent pulled pork, ribs, and brisket (slow-cooked for a whopping 15 hours).
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn – Owensboro, Kentucky
Forget the usual pork and beef, this region in Kentucky specializes in mutton cooked slowly over hickory-burning pits created by hand. Purchased by Catherine and Pappy Bosley and serving for over 60 years, they’re masters in the art of barbecue.
The renowned buffet displays its mutton, smoked slowly for 12 hours with just salt and several infusions of Moonlite’s special vinegar pit dip as well as a range of other meats and traditional sides, a salad zone, and a dessert bar consisting of a selection of homemade pies.
Chaps Pit Beef – Baltimore, Maryland
Maryland’s barbecue varies from what you would find in all the other states. They’re known for their pit beef – the highlight being a sandwich made of roast beef enriched with a smoky flavor.
In this regard, Chaps Pit Beef doesn’t disappoint, offering bottom round beef cooked over charcoal, which are cut into thin slices with a slicer and served freshly smoked with charcoal once more with the diner’s preferred temperature. The “52” Chaps Special comes as a combination of pit beef, corned beef, ham, and American cheese.
B.T.’s Smokehouse – Sturbridge, Massachusetts
Chef Brian Treitman, with the help of the famous restaurateur named Ken Oringer, set up this mobile barbecue trailer famous for brisket and pulled pork. The cart became a restaurant in 2009.
The orders for their pork, poultry, and beef dishes racked up within a week, as visitors, locals, barbecue lovers, critics, and culinary enthusiasts all relished the heavenly food. This small-town joint is a master in slow-smoked and rubbed dry barbecue. The brisket is dubbed the best in all New England.
Slows Bar BQ – Detroit, Michigan
Slows offers a wide range of meat items, including brisket, smoked turkey, ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and jambalaya. They have several finger-licking-good sandwiches, but the best is probably the Triple Threat, made of generous amounts of ham, bacon smoked in applewood, and pulled pork.
Hundreds of travelers go to Slows Bar-B-Q in Detroit for the best drink and barbecue combo. After expanding the restaurant, it has added 36 drink taps, and this definitely adds to the overall culinary charm.
Bayport BBQ – Bayport, Minnesota
Bayport BBQ offers its own style of barbecue food. It is the quaint and charming family-owned-and-operated venture with no employees other than generations of the family.
Diners wait in a buffet line that crosses through the kitchen, and they pick up smoked meats including beef, lamb, pulled pork, chicken, spare ribs, and sausage. Their Texas-style brisket is seasoned with a mix of spices and slow-cooked for 14 hours at about 250 degrees F.
Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque – Kansas City, Missouri
The original restaurant is located at 18th & Brooklyn in Kansas City but was shifted to 1727 Brooklyn in 1958. After the passing of founder Arthur Bryant, the restaurant took a two-year break before reopening. The age-old tradition changed much throughout the time.
However, the seasoned smoking barbecue is still the best in the state, as they never gave away their original barbecue sauce recipe. The place is always crowded because of their most famous brisket and unique sandwiches.
Grandpa’s Ribs and Secret Sauce – Lincoln, Nebraska
A young boy, Terry Rupert, started Grandpa’s Ribs as his side project in the early 1980s. At first, the restaurant was a small black-owned business, but it grew bigger shortly afterward. The owner named the rib joint after his neighbor, an elderly acquaintance.
The owner, Terry, is a grandpa himself now and often stays back at his home. However, you can always manage a treat from him if you catch him at the station. After all, the place is still on fire when it comes to delicious and fresh briskets.
John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill Grill – Las Vegas, Nevada
John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill Grill is both a BBQ joint and a butcher shop. The business was started by Chuck Frommer, who grew up in a ranch. Back in the days when Downtown Las Vegas had not seen any development, the Frommers opened their shop.
The business grew more well-known as time went by, but their homely ambiance remains the same even today. The third generation is now in charge of the business offering many house specials like tri-tips, burnt ends, and hot links.
Smokeshow Barbeque – Concord, New Hampshire
Matt Gfroerer, after becoming bored of selling software, wanted to start something new. He and his wife opened Smokeshow Barbecue from their love for food. Having no experience in this business, Matt had to struggle at the beginning.
Luckily, he had good mentors, and within five years, the restaurant was up and running smoothly. It is famous for the turkey and pork specials, but visitors also recommend the combo platters.
Henri’s Hotts Barbeque – Hammonton, New Jersey
In 2006, Douglas Henri used to run a small business in a food truck with his wife. Later he turned an old pizza place into a unique barbecue joint near Hammonton in 2009. Now, for more than 11 years, Henri’s Hotts Barbeque is running as a family business.
Offering the best AYCE buffet in New Jersey, it made its place in the hearts of many. The classic ribs smoked outback cooked over oak and hickory and the pulled pork are local favorites.
The Skylight Inn – Ayden, North Carolina
In 1947, a teenage boy named Pete Jones opened a barbecue shop on his family property in Ayden. The shop, called the Skylight Inn, was the first to introduce the locals and the world to the fancy brisket trays that everyone is so fond of.
A simple but beautiful arrangement of finely chopped and lightly seasoned meat with the minimalistic slice of cornbread makes for the perfect brunch or dinner. The BBQ joint still upholds the tradition and practices of the early American barbecue.
Monty’s BBQ – Minet, North Dakota
As it is the most sparsely populated state of the USA, it isn’t easy to find a good BBQ joint in North Dakota. However, the local people were welcomed to a new world of taste and flavor when Monty’s BBQ came into being – all thanks go to Daniel Montgomery, who is a native of Texas.
He opened the BBQ joint in Minot’s old camping area, offering the best sausages, briskets, and burnt ends in town.
Ray Ray’s Hog Pit – Columbus, Ohio
Having garnered high demand from foodies, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit now has four active branches, even in 2020! The best thing about the restaurant is that they allow the meat to cook slowly at low flame. It takes 12 to 16 hours in a hardwood smoker to fire up the core, the result of which is the rich, flavorful meat.
The restaurant also has its very own sauce that comes with a sweet and savory touch, which makes the barbecue food taste even better.
Jamil’s Steakhouse – Tulsa, Oklahoma
With experience of 65 years, Jamil’s Steakhouse is undoubtedly the oldest steakhouse in Tulsa. It is a Lebanese restaurant offering the best steaks, smoked bologna, hummus, cabbage rolls, and briskets. The real joy in Oklahoma lies in embracing the people and their work.
Instead of comparing themselves to the barbecue in Texas, they found their own way to make the best bologna. The bologna sandwich with a side of tabbouleh from the Jamil’s is the most popular lunch item there.
Holy Trinity Barbecue – Portland, Oregon
One of the two places for best barbecues west of the rocky mountain is Portland. The reason why Holy Trinity Barbecue is said to serve world-class barbecue is that the owner, Kyle Rensmeyer, grew up just outside Dallas, experiencing the best BBQ of Texas.
He spent a considerable amount of his time trying to master the art of making Texas-style barbecues. As a result, Holy Trinity was able to catch people’s attention in Portland quite easily. It serves the best Lockhart-style links, peppery briskets, and spare-ribs in town!
Lewis Barbecue – Charleston, South Carolina
John Lewis, a master in the art of barbecue, opened Lewis Barbecue in South Carolina in 2016, his career starting at the age of 18. The mouth-watering slow-cooked pork stew paired with white rice soon gained a lot of popularity.
The owner welded his own custom-designed smoker due to his dedication to making the most unique barbecue food. He turns on the smoker at four o’clock in the morning just so he can offer the rich taste of pork ribs smoked for over 18 hours.
J.R.’s Rhodehouse BBQ PIT – Summerset, South Dakota
Justin Rhodes opened J.R.’s Rhodehouse BBQ PIT in South Dakota back in 2013. He became passionate about barbecue when he stayed in Texas for his education. The Texas-style barbecue is, after all, nothing but a compilation of true passion, simple food ingredients, and good meat quality.
From his love for this combination, Justin put his love and labor all together to provide the best barbecue South Dakota has to offer. The Friday night beef rib specials, sausages, briskets, and sandwiches are worth every penny you spend on them.
Cozy Corner Restaurant – Memphis, Tennessee
Tennessee, as one of the many states where the regional style of barbecue is appreciated across the country, battles with the challenge of offering a BBQ joint that can really stand out in the crowd.
The owner of Cozy Corner Restaurant, Desiree Robinson, realized that but was able to figure out how to offer the best taste of Memphis culture. Opened in 1977, the restaurant offers specials that include saucy ribs and smoked Cornish hen, available even during this pandemic.
Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor, Texas
No one can leave Louie Mueller Barbecue without a pleasant smile on their faces, whether it’s because of the food or the homely environment. Wayne Mueller, the third-generation owner, is currently running the business and has been upholding the taste and culture that originally made the restaurant so popular.
You will always find enough room for a relaxing time even if the place is crowded. Besides, the classic perfectly smoked steaks along with the other barbecue dishes are massively popular too.
Torrey Grill & BBQ – Torrey, Utah
As a graduate of culinary arts with experience being an executive chef for over 20 years, Peter Cole’s restaurant Torrey Grill & BBQ quickly gained popularity after its inception. There are very few good places that serve barbecue in Utah.
So, when it comes to a good BBQ joint, Torrey Grill & BBQ undoubtedly came to win the game. The pulled chicken, spare-ribs, tri-tips, the desserts, and even the side dishes are quite popular among foodies.
ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque – Richmond, Virginia
Chris Fultz was a self-taught native Texan keen to learn the art of smoking meat. So, with the help of his wife, Alex Graf, he finally opened ZZQ Texas Craft Barbecue in 2013. Together, they gave life to the universal language of barbecue and shared their discovery with friends and family.
Their fame and recognition spread out quickly because of their fantastic quality brisket, beef ribs, and smoked prime ribs. The taste is unique, as Fultz uses local oak to spruce up the Texan recipe.
Toshi’s Teriyaki Grill – Mill Creek, Washington
Toshi Kasahara, an immigrant from a rural farming town in Japan, opened Washington’s first teriyaki restaurant. Since 1976, Toshi’s Teriyaki Grill has been Seattle’s original teriyaki shop serving the best teriyaki chicken and beef in Seattle style.
The meat is marinated in a soy-ginger mixture, chargrilled – the smokey sweet chicken and beef is served with rice and a signature sauce that is made of cabbage slaw with a tangy flavor. This soon became a local favorite. The restaurant also sells its special teriyaki sauce separately because of the public demand.
Dem 2 Brothers And A Grill BBQ – Charleston, West Virginia
Dem 2 Brothers And A Grill BBQ is well-known in all of Virginia especially because of its half rack ribs. Adrian Wright, the shop owner, is a former footballer, and he moved from Tampa Bay back to his native town in West Virginia to start a new page of his career.
As it turned out, fame followed him very closely, this time for his fantastic barbecue, though. The ribs made with a sweet and spicy touch with mustard is genuinely worth a try.
Speed Queen Bar-B-Q – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Betty Jean Gillespie, born in Mississippi, was the owner of Speed Queen Bar-B-Q for around 50 years. Her family took charge of the restaurant after she passed away in 2000. They have thrown themselves in the kitchen to retain the original taste of their finest barbecue.
The most popular dishes you will find here are the speed queen bbq, rib tips, pork ribs, and pulled pork. The sweet-savory taste of the meat with some pepper on top will give you an unforgettable experience.
Fat Rack’s BBQ – Cody, Wyoming
Mike Mitchell’s barbecue is famous from Denton all the way up to Cody. The owner has been running Fat Rack’s BBQ in a food truck since 2015. As a native Texan himself, his cart serves Texas-style barbecue. People stop by for the dry baby back ribs and delicious pulled pork.
It has also earned quite a bit of name and fame because of the smokey turkey sandwiches. As such, they have been able to draw the attention of travelers along with the locals.
Archibald’s BBQ – Northport Alabama
Pit-cooked BBQ from Alabama is Archibald’s specialty. You can order pork-belly ribs that have been slowly-smoked over a charcoal of hot hickory.
The restaurant itself gives off vibes of authenticity, especially if you’re going there from a different state and wish to enjoy a slice of native Alabaman food.