Judging by the proliferation of barbecue restaurants which have sprung up in the last 10 years there can be no doubt that Americans love the taste of succulent meats cooked to perfection over a wood fire. The tradition of slow cooking meat over an indirect pit fire goes back to the early days of colonization, and as migrants moved across the country they brought with them their particular style of sauces and rubs. These days each state will offer a slightly different style of barbecue, but all the best BBQ restaurants serve traditional slow-cooked brisket, pork, and ribs. More modern additions include chicken, turkey and sausage and sides are becoming more innovative. The oldest traditional American barbecue restaurants are located in Texas and New Orleans, but some of their modern counterparts are providing stiff competition.
1.Hometown Bar-B-Que, Brooklyn
© Hometown Bar-B-Que
Established in Red Hill Brooklyn in 2013, Hometown Bar=B=Que has built a reliable following of barbecue enthusiasts. Hometown offers a relaxed and laid-back dining experience where you place your order at the counter and hope that you got there early enough to still find a generous helping of your favorite meat. Quality cuts of meat are prepared the Southern way – dry-rubbed and pit smoked over oak for extra flavor. Meals are served on metal trays covered with butcher’s paper and you can order a variety of sides to balance your meal. There are cold beers on tap and a small selection of desserts.
Hometown Bar-B- Que, 454 van Brunt St, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY 11231, Phone: 347-294-4644
2.Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
© Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Having won a string of trophy’s at the most prestigious barbecue championships in the country, it is hardly surprising that barbecue-enthusiasts Jeff and Joy Stehney were eager to open their own barbecue restaurant in Kansas City. Their first restaurant opened in an unassuming gas station location and the rest is history. Today you will find 3 branches of Joe’s in Kansas, as well as a catering/function room and the food is still just as good as ever. The menu features everyone’s favorite barbecue sandwiches and dinners as well as a larger-than-average selection of sides and specialties. There is a kids menu (for under 12’s) and you will always find a seasonal dessert to temp your sweet tooth.
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, 3002 West 47th Ave, Kansas City, KS 66103, Phone: 913-722-3366
3.SAW’s BBQ, Homewood, AL
© SAW’s BBQ
There may be many barbecue restaurants dotted around the US but you can never claim to have experienced the true essence of barbecue until you visit a real Southern BBQ restaurant like SAW’s. In the South, where barbecue was born and perfected, the emphasis is on offering honest to goodness great soul food flavors and value without all the frills. On the menu you will find Southern staples like pulled pork alongside mouth-watering smoked chicken sandwiches with a distinctive while barbecue sauce. There are melt-in-the-mouth ribs, huge baked potatoes topped with barbecue meat of your choice and a whole lot more. Round it all off with the house specialty banana pudding.
SAW’s BBQ, 1008 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood, Al 35209, Phone: 205-879-1937
4.Smoque BBQ, Chicago
© Smoque BBQ
Unafraid to go up against some of the best BBQ restaurants in the country, Smoque BBQ in Chicago has won multiple awards both locally and nationally for their very special brand of barbecue. They believe that their success lies in the details – their meat cuts are carefully selected and their sauces and rubs are made in-house from the best available ingredients. After being hand-rubbed they meat is then masterfully cooked to perfection over specially selected wood. Sandwiches, platters, ribs and brisket by the pound are accompanied by your choice of sides and salads. Smoque also offers a catering service for your next event.
Smoque BBQ, 3800 N. Pulaski, Chicago, IL 60641, Phone: 773-545-7427
5.Ace Biscuit and Barbecue, Charlottesville
© Ace Biscuit and Barbecue
At Ace Biscuit and Barbecue the emphasis is on offering customers the tastiest and best-ever traditional American barbecue favorites. The restaurant operates out of a no-frills location with limited seating, but what it lacks in amenities is made up for by great tasting food and a welcoming atmosphere. The menu is chalked up on the wall and offers tempting favorites with a great flavor twist accomplished by house-made sauces. The pulled pork is easily the most popular item on the menu closely followed by the succulent buttermilk fried chicken. Breakfasts are also rumored to be wonderful – try the fried green tomato sandwich with bacon for a feast of flavor.
600 Concord Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22903, Phone: 434-202-1403
6.Bogart’s Smokehouse, St. Louis
© Bogart’s Smokehouse
There is something truly special about a great cut of meat which has been skillfully barbecued. At Bogart’s, the team are dedicated to raising the bar with their particular take on a traditional American barbecue. Finger-licking pork ribs are dry rubbed and slow smoked over apple and cherry wood until the succulent meat is about to fall off the bone. If you are not a rib fan you can try pulled pork, pastrami, apricot-glazed beef ribs or even turkey, perfectly prepared and served with your choice of sides. If you just can’t decide which to choose you can order a combo plate of your favorites.
Bogart’s Smokehouse, 1627 S. 9th Street, St. Louis MO 63103, Phone: 314-621-3107
7.Burn Co. BBQ, Tulsa
© Burn Co. BBQ
Burn Co. BBQ is a popular barbecue restaurant group which currently operates out of three locations in Tulsa. What makes them special is that they use the very best quality cuts of meat and cook them to perfection over Hasty Bake Charcoal Ovens (which are made in Tulsa). There are no short-cuts when it comes to cooking a perfect piece of meat and the pit-masters at Burn Co. have perfected the art. Their menu features ribs, brisket, pulled pork and their signature house-made sausages. Meat portions come in three sizes so that you only pay for the amount you know you can eat. Meat combos are available if you would like to try more than one cut.
Burn Co. BBQ, 1738 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74119, Phone: 918-574-2777
8.Central BBQ, Memphis
© Central BBQ
Central BBQ has 4 branches in Memphis and another in Nashville, which goes to show just how much Tennessee locals love a traditional American barbecue. A winning combination of hickory and pecan wood fires, a sensational dry rub and a lot of patience goes into crafting the mouth-watering meats that arrive on your plate. The founders of Central BBQ met on the barbecue competition circuit back in the 1980’s, and their particular brand of delicious BBQ food has gone from strength to strength. Choice cuts of meat are dry-rubbed and marinated for 24 hours to ensure succulence and flavor and served as plates or sandwiches with your choice of sides.
Central BBQ, 2249 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104, Phone: 901-272-9377
9.Chap’s Pit Beef, Baltimore
© Chap’s Pit Beef
Chap’s Pit Beef is so popular in Maryland that they now have four franchise branches serving delicious Baltimore-style barbecue dinners. The restaurants all have slightly different menus, but at the core of each you will find the very best cuts of beef, pork, turkey, ribs and chicken, all cooked to perfection over real fire pits. You can order your pork ribs by the pound or enjoy a selection of your favorite meats on a platter with sides of your choice. There are also a variety of delicious specialty sandwiches and subs which feature combos of perfectly cooked meats with cheese, pickles, sauces and more.
Chaps’ Pit Beef, 5801 Pulaski Highway, Baltimore, MD, Phone: 410-483-2379
, Michigan beaches
© Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Boasting no fewer than 6 branches throughout New York State, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que have been cooking authentic American barbecue dinners since 2012. The menus feature all your barbecue favorites including mouth-watering St. Louis pork ribs which have been dry rubbed and cooked to perfection, served with your choice of sides and home-style cornbread. If you are undecided about which delicious meat to choose you can order a combo plate with up three different delectable meats. Their great value Family Barbecue includes a whole chicken, a side of ribs, pulled pork or brisket and your choice of sides and is easily enough to feed 4 to 6. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 604 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215, Phone: 347-429-7030
11.Eli's BBQ, Cincinnati
© Eli’s BBQ
Eli started off selling hickory smoked pulled pork sandwiches from a stand on Fountain Square. His sandwiches were so mouth-wateringly delicious that they attracted a large following of fans and he now operates six popular BBQ restaurants. Eli’s restaurants aim to offer authentic American barbecued meats served the traditional way in a pleasant and welcoming environment. All the branches still serve Eli’s flagship pulled pork sandwiches but these days you can choose a turkey alternative or opt for sausages instead. The ribs are legendary and you can order just as many as you like – do not underestimate how delicious they are going to be. All the usual sides are available and you can choose the take out option if you prefer.
Eli’s BBQ, 3313 Riverside Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45226, Phone: 513-533-1957
12.Fette Sau, Brooklyn
© Fette Sau
The emphasis at Fette Sau is on combining two of the world’s greatest delights – a well cooked piece of meat and a perfectly brewed craft beer. What makes this barbecue restaurant stand out from the crowd is the fact that all their meat is naturally raised on small-scale farms and contains zero antibiotics or hormones. You can order your barbecued meats by weight along with some delicious healthy side dishes – try a few different options to find your favorite. To wash it all down you can choose from around a dozen craft beers on tap or try one of their artisanal American rye whiskeys.
If you are wondering about the name of this barbecue restaurant is aptly translates as Fat Pig.
Fette Sau, 354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211, Phone: 718-963-3404
13.Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Atlanta
© Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
Growing up in Texas, the Fox brothers were accustomed to enjoying lip-smacking bold Texan BBQ flavors. After failing to find something similar in Atlanta, they decided to open a restaurant so that they could introduce Atlanta locals to the tastes they loved. Not only do they offer customers a delicious take on the Great American Barbecue, but they also make it easy for you to try their dishes at home by selling their terrific dry rubs and sauces. Menu favorites include smoked brisket, pulled pork, juicy chicken wings and a good selection of sides. Look out for their vendor truck inside the Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, 1238 DeKalb Ave, NE Atlanta, GA 30307, Phone: 404-577-4030
14.J R’s Rhodehouse Barbecue Pit, Summerset, SD
© J R’s Rhodehouse Barbecue Pit
During his stint at Texas AM University, Justin Rhodes developed a love of authentic Texan-style barbecue which led him to open his distinctive J R’s Rhodehouse eatery in Piedmont in 2013. Justin claims that there is nothing fancy about his restaurant – just excellent quality meat cooked to perfection by experienced and dedicated pit masters. Alongside the meat you will find a selection of tasty sides, including his signature Smokehouse Beans. You can stick with the popular brisket or try some of his other delicious barbecue staples like sausage links, smoked turkey breast and pulled pork. Be sure to arrive early as some choices may run out.
J R’s Rhodehouse Barbecue Pit, 7201 Infinity Dr, Summerset, Piedmont, SD 57718, Phone: 605-787-7070
15.JR's Barbecue, Culver City
© JR’s Barbecue
Mesquite, white oak and pecan woods are partially to blame for the excellent Memphis-style barbecue you will find at JR’s in Culver City. These particular woods are chosen for the great aromas and flavors they contribute while prime dry-rubbed meats are slowly cooked to perfection over their embers. The menu at JR’s includes a good selection of barbecue sandwiches, all served with a side of your choice. The barbecue dinners are served with two sides and a dinner roll. You can also chose a combo dinner if you would like to try two or three different meats. The restaurant offers a welcoming atmosphere and great local art on the walls.
JR’s Barbecue, 3055 S La Cienega Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232, Phone: 310-837-6838
16.Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix
© Little Miss BBQ
After practicing the intricate art of barbecue cooking at a succession of BBQ competitions, the owners of Little Miss BBQ were completely hooked and determined to open their own barbecue restaurant. Drawing inspiration from many good examples in Texas, Little Miss BBQ uses a custom-built smoker and a constantly evolving selection of home-made rubs and sauces to prepare what many customers believe is the best barbecue dinner in Arizona. All their mouth-watering meats are served by weight and some specialties are only available on certain days of the week. Sandwiches, sides and delectable sauces are available and you can pre-book your favorite selections.
Little Miss BBQ, 8901 N 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85020, Phone: 602-314-6922
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17.Prohibition Pig, Waterbury, VT
© Prohibition Pig
Part barbecue restaurant, part up-scale craft brewery, the Prohibition Pig serves your favorite meats and brews under one roof. The restaurant menu offers a choice of tasty starters as well as barbecued and smoked meats of your choice including beef, pork and chicken (and vegetarian options for non-carnivores). Other choices include their grass-fed beef burgers, salads, sides and desserts. On the brewery side you can look forward to sampling a large variety of house and guest draught selections as well as wine by the glass and cocktails. The Prohibition Pig opens from 4pm to 10pm on weeknights and from 11am to 11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Prohibition Pig, 23 S Main Street, Waterbury Village Historic District, VT 05676, Phone: 802-244-4120
18.Rayray's Hog Pit, Ohio
© Rayray’s Hog Pit
Imagine taking the time to cook your dinner for 14 to 16 hours. That is exactly what you will need to do to achieve the awesome tenderness and flavor that customers at Rayray’s Hog Pit have come to love and expect. The great tasting food on your plate starts with selecting the best quality cuts of meat. Then they have to be thoroughly rubbed with a dry rub made from choice herbs and spices before they find their way to the hardwood smoker that will cook them to perfection. Finally, they are sliced and teamed with a perfect sweet or spicy sauce and your choice of sides. Complete barbecue perfection awaits you.
Rayray’s Hog Pit, 5755 Maxtown Rd, Westerville, OH 43082, Phone: 614-329-6654
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19.Slow's Bar-B- Que, Detroit
© Slow’s Bar-B- Que
Offering their own unique take on traditional Southern barbecue fare, served up alongside a selection of up to 36 craft beers on tap, Slow’s Bar-B-Que has been spicing up Detroit taste-buds since 2005. What started it all was a perfectly constructed barbecue sandwich – perfect smoked pulled pork piled onto a bun and covered with coleslaw and pickles, and the Slow’s team has never looked back. Today you can still order the original pulled pork sandwich to experiment with one of the other award-winning combinations on the menu. If you can do without the bun you can choose your barbecued meats by weight and team them up with sides of your choice.
Slow’s Bar-B-Que, 2138 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48216, Phone: 313-962-9828
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20.The Smokin' Pig Barbecue, SC
© The Smokin’ Pig Barbecue
The folks in South Carolina simply cannot resist the delicious flavors and aromas of a genuine Southern barbecue, which is why The Smokin’ Pig Barbecue has no fewer than four branches located in Pendleton, Easley, Williamston and Anderson. Although their smoked brisket is by far the most popular item on the menu, the ribs and pulled pork are also rumored to be delicious. You can order them in sandwich form with one side or order a barbecue plate which comes with two sides and a roll. If you are undecided, a combi platter of two meats, two sides and a roll is a good choice.
The Smokin’ Pig Barbecue, 1696 Evergreen Rd, Anderson, SC 29621, Phone: 864-356-2277
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21.Squealers Barbecue, Indiana
© Squealers Barbecue
Squealers Barbecue currently operates out of two Indiana venues in Mooresville and Indianapolis. Not content with simply pleasing their large following of customers, Squealers are always pushing the boundaries by taking part in a host of barbecue championships and bringing home the bacon (medals). Like many other barbecue restaurants they take care to select the finest cuts of beef, pork and turkey, season them to perfection and then slow-smoke them for at least 14 hours on their Southern Pride Smoking Pit. The result is a selection of melt-in-the-mouth succulent meats including brisket, ribs, pulled pork and rib tips. They also serve a good selection of starters and sides.
Squealers Barbecue, 390 East High Street, Mooresville, IN 46159, Phone: 317-834-8888
22.Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue, Tyler
© Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue
If you want to taste the difference that 50 years of experience can make, you need to take a trip to Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler, Texas. Stanley’s has been keeping Texas barbecue addicts happy for decades, and is the longest-established restaurant of its kind. These days, to keep up with the times, you will find a few vegetarian dishes alongside their famous brisket, ribs, turkey and pulled-pork staples. There is a pleasant covered patio where you can enjoy live music as you feast on a magical Texas barbecue. They also offer over 70 American Whiskeys, bourbons and ryes. Everything is freshly prepared on a daily basis so get there early before the favorites run out.
Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue, 525 S Beckham Ave, Tyler, TX 75702, Phone: 903-593-0311
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23.Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, Philadelphia
© Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse
Offering authentic hickory-smoked barbecue favorites to eat in or take home, Sweet Lucy’s is your go-to restaurant when only a barbecued dinner will do. Every item on the menu at Sweet Lucy’s is freshly prepared from scratch every day. Meats are slow smoked for around 14 hours until they reach succulent, fall-off-the-bone tenderness. You can order your favorites served as a delicious sandwich, on a platter with 3 sides of your choice and bread or just go the whole hog and get a platter of barbecued meat served by the pound. Sides are plentiful and come in 4 different sizes to suit all appetites or for family meals. On Monday nights you can eat as much as you like at their popular Monday Barbecue Buffet.
Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, 7500 State Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19136, Phone: 215-333-9663
24.The Joint, New Orleans
© The Joint
There is always something smoking at The Joint, one of New Orleans most revered barbecue restaurants. Having won several awards for their delicious American barbecue favorites, The Joint has also featured on TV programs like “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. The menu is substantial and you can choose several ways to enjoy your succulent meats. Besides offering slow smoked brisket and pork, the Joint also makes their own spicy sausages and unforgettable ribs. There are a selection of sides and a pie of the day to round off your meal. The Joint serves craft beers as well as a full bar and the ambiance is laid-back and welcoming.
The Joint, 701 Mazant St, New Orleans, LA 70117-5433, Phone: 504-949-3232
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25.The Salt Lick, Texas
© The Salt Lick
The original Salt Lick was started back in 1967 by an everyday working man trying to support his family using his love and knowledge of barbecue (and a few treasured family recipes). Since then the Salt Lick has become a Texas barbecue legend. For a taste of true Texas barbecue tradition you have to try the amazing slow smoked (up to 24 hours) brisket. Other equally tasty and succulent dishes include pork, beef and bison ribs, turkey, sausages and pulled pork. You can eat it straight (like old man Thurman) when you order Thurman’s Choice – a platter of brisket, ribs and sausages – or add on all your favorite sides. Smaller portions are available for children.
The Salt Lick, 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619, Phone: 512-858-4959
25 Best Barbecue Restaurants in the United States
- Hometown Bar-B-Que, Brooklyn, Photo: Hometown Bar-B-Que
- Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Photo: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
- SAW’s BBQ, Homewood, AL, Photo: SAW’s BBQ
- Smoque BBQ, Chicago, Photo: Smoque BBQ
- Ace Biscuit and Barbecue, Charlottesville, Photo: Ace Biscuit and Barbecue
- Bogart’s Smokehouse, St. Louis, Photo: Bogart’s Smokehouse
- Burn Co. BBQ, Tulsa, Photo: Burn Co. BBQ
- Central BBQ, Memphis, Photo: Central BBQ
- Chap’s Pit Beef, Baltimore, Photo: Chap’s Pit Beef
- Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Photo: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
- Eli's BBQ, Cincinnati, Photo: Eli’s BBQ
- Fette Sau, Brooklyn, Photo: Fette Sau
- Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Atlanta, Photo: Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
- J R’s Rhodehouse Barbecue Pit, Summerset, SD, Photo: J R’s Rhodehouse Barbecue Pit
- JR's Barbecue, Culver City, Photo: JR’s Barbecue
- Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix, Photo: Little Miss BBQ
- Prohibition Pig, Waterbury, VT, Photo: Prohibition Pig
- Rayray's Hog Pit, Ohio, Photo: Rayray’s Hog Pit
- Slow's Bar-B- Que, Detroit, Photo: Slow’s Bar-B- Que
- The Smokin' Pig Barbecue, SC, Photo: The Smokin’ Pig Barbecue
- Squealers Barbecue, Indiana, Photo: Squealers Barbecue
- Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue, Tyler, Photo: Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue
- Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, Philadelphia, Photo: Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse
- The Joint, New Orleans, Photo: The Joint
- The Salt Lick, Texas, Photo: The Salt Lick
- Cover Photo: fahrwasser/stock.adobe.com