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.
Who doesn’t love burgers? The soft yet crusty buns, the thick, juicy patties, the oozing, molten cheeseburgers are truly one of the greatest gifts mankind has ever received. If you live in America, you have quite a few great burger options around you. Besides the usual fast-food chains, there’s a lot of delicious burger joints spread throughout the US, and we’ve listed some of the best ones for you.
Chris Madrid’s – San Antonio, Texas
This is another burger joint that runs on tradition, and artfully so. This family-owned restaurant was founded by Chris Madrid, then a fresh college graduate, in 1977, and is now run by his family after his passing in 2012.
You have a lot of choice in Chris Madrid’s in terms of food – you can stick to the safe, popular pick of the oozing Cheddar Cheezy, or indulge in their specialty – the Tostada Burger made with homemade refried beans, chips, and onions, or go for something else as well.
Fred’s Meat & Bread – Atlanta, Georgia
The name is kind of an understatement – Fred’s Meat & Bread offers way more than just…well, “meat and bread.” This small eatery in Krog Street Market, Atlanta claims to make sandwiches, but in reality, they are mostly burgers.
The joint offers a diverse range of burgers, inspired by food from around the world, starting from Spain to Vietnam. You can choose to go for a Korean cheesesteak or an Italian grinder, or even stick with your classic Bacon Cheeseburger. Whatever you choose, Fred will not disappoint.
Bless Your Heart Burgers – Portland, Oregon
Located in Pine Street Market of Portland, Oregon – Bless Your Heart Burgers are probably one of the best joints you can visit if you want a burger with a thick, juicy patty that comes with plenty of condiments.
Their Carolina Burger is especially noteworthy, coming with chili, onions, coleslaw, yellow mustard, pure American cheese, and homemade pickles. This burger joint is one with a unique goal – they bring you classic American burgers of today but drive you back to childhood with their flavors.
BurgerFuel – Indianapolis, Indiana
If you’re a New Zealander, the name “BurgerFuel” might be familiar to you. A burger restaurant chain that began its journey in Auckland in 1995, it finally sailed across the Pacific and reached Broad Ripple Village of Indianapolis in 2017.
BurgerFuel takes pride in making gourmet burgers with natural, fresh ingredients, and it’s paying off big time. Their rich, juicy burgers come in vegan, vegetarian, non-GMO, and organic options as well, and go hand-in-hand with some cheese, shakes, and their specially-made aioli.
The Company Burger – New Orleans, Louisiana
If you’re looking for the most authentically sourced burgers in America, look no further than in the American southeast, where The Company Burger is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a burger joint that makes its own buns, pickles, and mayo, it’s no surprise that they produce one of the best burgers in the South.
They do not have a wide range of choices, providing their usual medium patties, bread-and-butter pickles, and cooked onion, but these will leave a taste on your mouth that you will remember for years.
Gabby’s Burgers & Fries – Nashville, Tennessee
If you’re ever looking for a dose of motivation, give a quick visit to Gabby’s in Tennessee, and you’ll see a man who is living his dream. The owner of Gabby’s sold his profitable business to spend more time with his wife and kids and opened this small joint in Humphreys Street in Nashville.
Their signature dish is the Gabby – two cheesy patties combined with the perfect bun. Gabby’s also has something called the “Secret Menu,” which offers special dishes that can only be unlocked through the password.
Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
It’s impressive how many hidden gems you can find in Florida’s strip malls. One of those gems is Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill in Fort Lauderdale – a small family-run eatery where the mom runs the counter and the son runs the grill. Besides burgers, you can also find homemade ribs, wings, soups, salads, and desserts there.
However, the highlight of Gilbert’s is their special burgers – “The Hottest” Burger, made with homemade hot sauce and ghost pepper, or maybe the Havarti Bacon Burger, which is served on a toasted buttered English muffin.
Kopp’s Frozen Custard – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The moniker of this joint can be misleading, but it’s only an illusion – Kopp’s can definitely offer you the best burgers in Wisconsin. This is a restaurant chain that was founded by the 109-year-old Elsa Kopp back in 1950, and it still runs strong all over Milwaukee – specializing both in delicious burgers and frozen custards!
Their menu is huge – offering a wide range of burgers, toppings, sundaes, flavors, and beverages to choose from, and their Jumbo Cheeseburger is one of their most unforgettable options.
The Stand Arcadia Burger Shoppe – Phoenix, Arizona
No, The Stand isn’t a horror-themed burger joint based on Stephen King’s 1978 novel – it’s quite the contrary. Whilst Stephen King’s novels will scare you, this burger joint in Phoenix, Arizona offers you nothing but comfort – in the form of burgers and tacos.
Their exquisite burgers are topped with lettuce, tomato, kosher dills, and their very own Stand Sauce – enough to make anyone salivate. In addition, you can ask for caramelized onions with your burgers to get a taste of what heaven feels like.
Bill’s Burgers – Los Angeles, California
In an increasing flashy and urban city like Los Angeles, it’s hard to imagine a burger joint that has managed to hold on to tradition for decades – but this is precisely what Bill’s Burgers does. The 94-year-old Bill Elwell is somewhat of a legend to his customers, flipping and grilling burgers himself in the same old joint since 1965.
The menu is simple, and the burgers comprise of lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, and cheese – but they offer mouth-watering deliciousness with their extra seasoning.
Tookie’s Hamburgers & More – Kemah, Texas
The name of the burger joint might remind you of the Tooks, but unfortunately, this joint has nothing to do with Hobbit, although their story is quite interesting as well. The founder of Tookie’s took (pun intended) inspiration from the Tooker Brother store he remembered as a child, but its real specialty comes in burgers.
They have a huge menu with a variety of items to choose from, made with freshly cut beef and locally sourced toppings that leave a delicious taste in your mouth.
Triple XXX – West Lafayette, Indiana
Triple XXX might call itself a family restaurant, but it’s much more than that – it is what makes Purdue students feel at home. The menu does its best to reflect this as well, by naming dishes after Purdue athletes – so, you can grab yourself The Bernie Flowers All-Pro or enjoy The Ashley Burkhardt.
The first drive-in restaurant in Indiana, this is a popular choice for families too – thanks to their hand-cut sirloin beef patties and amazing onion rings.
Petey’s Burger – Queens, New York
It’d be hard to find anyone in America who hasn’t heard of In-N-Out Burger. Whilst In-N-Out is exclusive to the West Coast, the East Coast also has something to boast of their own – Petey’s Burgers.
First opened in NYC in 2008, Petey’s Burgers offers thin, double-stacked patties with Russian dressing and slices of American cheese, which is complemented perfectly with a soft, moist bun. They also have a crazy special sauce that you would definitely miss out if you don’t try it.
Town Topic – Kansas City, Missouri
It was 1937 when Claude Sparks decided to open a small diner in 2442½ Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, and sell burgers for five pence each. More than eight decades later, you obviously won’t get burgers for the same price, but the taste probably remains the same.
The cozy, cramped diner is perfect to enjoy a solitary meal with a 1930s vibe around you, and their menu offers a huge list of burgers and sandwiches that you can enjoy with homemade chili or other side dishes.
Small Cheval – Chicago, Illinois
Not to be confused with the similarly named Chicago diner called Au Cheval, Small Cheval is a small, fast-paced burger joint comprising a simplistic menu – cheeseburgers, hamburgers, and fries. The burger joint also allows guests to have drinks and shakes and features an enclosed patio space during winter months.
However, their burgers, which have a likeness to their sibling Au Cheval, is what makes them so awesome – a small, juicy patty complemented with onions, pickles, and American condiments.
Cherry Cricket – Denver, Colorado
What makes Cherry Cricket special isn’t its burgers (although, they are amazing). What makes Cherry Cricket so unique is that it’s more than a burger joint – it is the heart of Denver. This is a place for friends to meet up after ages whilst munching on onion rings and playing darts.
When it comes to the food, there are no pre-arranged burgers that you might choose from. You can customize your burger any way you want, even with peanut butter – but Cherry Cricket will still deliver something marvelous.
Pie ‘n Burger – Pasadena, California
California is home to a lot of tasty burger joints, and Pie ‘n Burger is one of its most awesome ones. It was founded in 1963 in Pasadena and has had all its recipes preserved. The joint itself looks nothing special – it’s an old-fashioned eatery that specializes, as you would expect, in burgers and fruit pies.
However, all you need is a bite of a classic burger adorned with pickles, lettuce, Thousand Island dressing, and American cheese, and you’ll know what you’ve been missing out on.
White Hut – Springfield, Massachusetts
If there’s ever a restaurant that’s the perfect example of revival, it’s White Hut of Massachusetts. Originally founded in 1939, the casual, counter-serve diner closed up in February 2020, much to the dismay of food-lovers.
However, it was bought out and reopened only six months later in August, and it came back stronger than ever. That’s a good thing – it’d be a shame if their grilled onion-laden burger patties were gone forever.
Nation Kitchen & Bar – Cincinnati, Ohio
Nation probably wins the award for the “Most Humorous Establishment Name” – deriving its name from the temperance movement advocate Carrie Nation, who opposed the prevalence of intoxicating beverages, even before the Prohibition. Despite the irony, Nation offers truly some of the best drinks and burgers in America.
Their special Nation Burger is the favorite of many in Cincinnati, which comes with their six-ounce patty and smoked cheddar cheese – served with Memphis BBQ sauce, onion straws, and horseradish aioli.
Keller’s Drive-In – Dallas, Texas
Keller’s Drive-In is by no means a fancy hamburger restaurant. This is a small, old-school burger joint located in the Northwest Highway of Dallas, Texas that offers great burgers to motorcyclists and families. This is a hamburger shop that has been thriving since 1950, and yet they offer amazing burgers that start from less than two bucks!
The juicy patties are generously topped with tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, and mustard and placed inside a soft, seeded bun that would bring back the 1950s nostalgia inside you with their jukebox.
Miller’s Bar – Dearborn, Michigan
This list contains a lot of old-school burger joints, but rarely does anything match the likes of Miller’s Bar – an ancient watering hole that has been around since 1947. Although the name suggests it’s a bar, the real specialty of the place is their burgers, which has stood through the test of time.
Their prices are a little higher than most joints, but it’s definitely worthwhile! Their burgers come with a thick patty coated with onions, ketchup, pickles, and melty cheese – wrapped in just a wax paper and served instantly.
Loretta’s Northwesterner – Seattle, Washington
In a world where chain fast-food restaurants are dominating the food industry, diners like Loretta’s are a blessing. Loretta’s is a tiny dive bar located in Seattle – a simple, no-frills place that is the perfect spot for neighborhood hangouts.
Their burgers look small and modest on the outside, but with one bite of the Tavern Burger, you’ll feel the cheese oozing into your mouth along with the juicy patty, the buttered bun, and the yummy toppings. This is a burger that would leave you craving for more.
Hubcap Grill – Houston, Texas
If you ever visit Houston, there’s a high chance that you would run into at least one Hubcap Grill, with four locations around the city and one airport outpost. You would think that growing into a chain restaurant would take its toll on their burgers, but their taste hasn’t been compromised one bit.
Made of fresh chuck beef which is hand-formed into patties and homemade toasted buns, their mouthwatering burgers are definitely worth a try!
Grill Marks – Greenville, South Carolina
Grill Marks currently has three locations in South Carolina – two in Greenville, and one in Columbia, but the first one in downtown Greenville is still their best. The burger joint uses chopped certified Angus beef instead of ground, and this gives the patty a unique fuller and richer texture.
Their onion rings and fries are brilliant as well, and one that would make you want to come back to SC over and over.
Nic’s Grill – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
At first look, you might feel disappointed by Nic’s Grill. The restaurant is a small one – and you would wonder how this joint even made the list. Once you order your first half-pound, though, your opinions will start to differ.
Although the owner Nic has stopped grilling burgers at present, you would still find a delicious burger filled to the brim with cheese and toppings, and served with an overload of French fries and a fork.
Chroni’s Famous Sandwich Shop — Los Angeles, California
L.A. Times critic Jonathan Gold only had good things to say about the chiliburger at Chroni’s Famous Sandwich Shop. “Painted with yellow mustard and sliced with a meaty, emulsified chili a few degrees spicier than the rest; robust, tasting distinctly of the grill,” he wrote. “Piled high with ripe tomatoes and crisp sheaves of lettuce.”
Amazingly, this chiliburger has been a part of LA culture for about a century and Chroni’s have been serving them since the late ’40s.
Better Luck Tomorrow — Houston, Texas
When it comes to burger joints in Houston, Texas, you can do a whole lot worse than Better Luck Tomorrow. The burger of a James Beard Awarding-winning chef, this beef patty is laden with cheddar cheese, red onions and caramelized ones too.
Restaurant editor of Food & Wine Jordana Rothman claims that the patty is actually cooked in beef fat. Moreover, the burger has an umami kick to it, especially after being sandwiched between two slices of homemade bread made with Parmesan cheese.
Pizza Loves Emily — Brooklyn, New York
Emmy Burger is something that you really have to earn to make it a part of your life, truth be told. “Kindly, we decline substitutions or modiﬁcations on this item. Limited availability per night,” it says on the menu.
If you are able to make this burger your own, you will expect to get a dry-aged patty with a bunch of Grafton cheddar cheese piled on top, as well as caramelized onions and Korean chili sauce.
Pool Burger — Austin, Texas
There are plenty of awesome spots to have burgers in Austin, Texas, and Pool Burger is right at the top of the list. It seems to have a tiki bar thing going on inside the 1968 Airstream trailer that this burger joint is located in. Austin people flock from all over to try out their eight different burgers.
However, Food & Wine‘s Jordana Rothman’s favorite is definitely The Deep End. This triple-patty is made from Wagyu beef and is topped with bacon, Dijonnaise, Swiss cheese, and jalapenos.
Cecconi’s — Miami Beach, Florida
While “Dirty Burger” might not be the most appealing name for a burger, hang on as we break down why there’s nothing to worry about. Apparently, this burger has a thin patty, a “special sauce,” and is covered with lacy Parmesan cheese – which, let’s face it, are all wonderful things.
Apparently, only members of Soho Beach House can try out this burger. However, one can also try it out at the Italian restaurant in the club’s lobby from 4-7 pm.
Workingman’s Friend – Indianapolis, Indiana
In the Midwest, the “smash burger” is kind of a big deal and Workingman’s Friend in Indianapolis might be the very best at it. This dive bar, which is nearly 100 years old, is home to a truly stunning smash burger, whose cooks throw the patties into their griddle and work their magic.
The burgers are so flat and yet still extremely filling. You can buy singles, doubles and cheese-topped versions of this iconic burger. If you’re in this neck of woods, don’t miss out!
The Cozy Inn – Salina, Kansas
Sliders are a big deal in Central Kansas and this one at The Cozy Inn in Salina is up there with the very best. These small but onion-laden burgers have been in production since 1922. Amazingly, this was the same year that White Castle opened up in Wichita.
These burgers would be slid down the counter with waxed paper, ushering in the name “sliders.” What’s even more amazing is that one could buy one of these bad boys for just five cents.
4505 Burgers & BBQ Restaurant — San Francisco, California
A lot of burgers on this list have a name, not this one though. Instead, Chef Ryan Farr simply calls it the “best damn grass-fed cheeseburger” on the entire menu. Topped with onion, lettuce, a secret sauce and Gruyere cheese, this quarter-pound patty with a bun laden with scallions and sesame seeds is a real priority for any foodie who is visiting San Francisco any time soon.
“It’s always cooked to a perfectly juicy medium-rare,” Eater restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan said.
Little Jack’s Tavern — Charleston, South Carolina
If you are ever hanging out in Charleston, South Carolina, you simply have to try the Double Tavern Burger at Little Jack’s Tavern. John Amato, who is the executive chef here, doesn’t try to overcomplicate things with this burger.
Topped with seasoned mayo, American cheese and a bun laden with sesame seeds, this is as perfect as it gets. In fact, Bon Appetit editor-at-large Andrew Knowlton named Double Tavern the best burger of 2017. It can be eaten in just four bites!
Santa Fe Bite – Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico is home to some truly awesome burger joints and the Santa Fe Bite is right up with the very best. Seeing that New Mexico is a prime location for green chili cheeseburgers, you can expect to find some really good ones here. The chili peppers are usually chopped and thrown on top of the patty.
The previous owners of the once-great Bobcat Bite have since opened this awesome eatery. “The burger itself has steak-y heft,” Eater‘s Bill Addison says.
HiHo Cheeseburger – Santa Monica, California
When it comes to choices of burgers, HiHo Cheeseburger may not impress you – they have the usual classic cheeseburgers, their special HiHo cheeseburgers, and a gluten-free vegetarian option – all of which can be made spicier.
However, when it comes to taste, this hamburger restaurant from Santa Monica stands out big time. The thin, seared patties of their burgers are made of 100% grass-fed wagyu beef, which is best enjoyed with their hand-cut, twice-fried fries, and thick, creamy milkshakes.
Brooks’ Sandwich Shop – Charlotte, North Carolina
Names can be deceiving, and Brooks’ Sandwich Shop is its perfect example. Located in North Brevard Street, Charlotte, NC, this little roadside shop that only offers takeaway is the perfect place for burger lovers. The shop was founded by the twins David and Scott Brooks in 1973, and it’s still running smoothly almost half a century later.
Their menu might only boast burgers with bacon and cheese, but you can have them topped with mustard, onion, and a brilliantly smoked chili that compliments the juiciness of the patty perfectly.
White Manna – Hackensack, New Jersey
The White Manna is arguably the best burger joint in Hackensack, New Jersey, although they have a doppelganger called White Mana (with one “n”) in Jersey City. The burger joint was founded in 1939 at the World’s Fair and moved to Hackensack in 1946, where they have been serving mind-blowing burgers ever since.
Their burgers come with an oozy, gooey, juicy patty – packed with onions and meatballs, and covered perfectly with potato buns. If you want the burger of a lifetime, White Manna is the place to go.
Grind Burger Kitchen – Louisville, Kentucky
What began as a small food truck in the spring of 2012 grew into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar diner within only two years when Liz and Jesse Huot finally set up shop in East Market Street, Louisville.
Grind Burger Kitchen is known for its crispy, crusty hamburger patties, which goes hand-in-hand with its fresh buns and delicious toppings. The eatery offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options as well, so no matter what your preferences may be – Grind Burger Kitchen has your back.
Al’s Burger Shack – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Al’s Burger Shack has more than one location, but it’s their Chapel Hill joint that is the most popular and the favorite of the many Americans who have driven through North Carolina.
They are a small diner that specializes mostly in burgers and hot dogs, but one bite of Classic, Paco, or Mookie will tell you why they are considered so awesome. Besides, their potato fries are one of a kind – perfect to enjoy with a juicy patty and soft buns.