Best BBQ Spots in the Good Ol’ USA
By: Inna Shamis
Barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, Bar-B-Q… whichever way you spell it, this word brings to mind all-things-summer, ribs, burgers and social gatherings. Whether you prefer the sauce on the meat or on the side, tangy or sweet, light or heavy – BBQ seems to be a culinary delight for all. And, talk about the quintessential American cultural phenomenon!
If you are really into BBQ, try to find a local contest in your area. The World Championships of BBQ in Memphis each year in May are quite a show and they allow visitors to taste the goods! We have judged quite a few contests including Memphis, so we do know a thing or two about BBQ. Here are our journeyPod picks (in no particular order) of the best BBQ joints - including some of those that can ship the barbecued goods to you (just in case you can’t make it into town).
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ (New York, NY) – More than just another BBQ restaurant, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ has been a “Big Apple” legend for over fifteen years (and several locations later), with a slogan that says it all, “Put the South in yo’ Mouth!” The entire barbecue here is slow smoked in-house over hickory wood and features ribs in three varieties: Northern (sweet), Southern (spicy) and dry rub. In case you’re in the mood for something else, go for the Pulled Pork and hush puppies – just some of the signature items they serve.
Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que (Memphis & Nashville, TN) – Recognized as the “Best Place in America for a pork BBQ sandwich” by USA Today and ranked #2 in USA’s top 10 Barbecue by People Magazine, you’ll find it hard to find authentic Memphis-style BBQ better than at Neely’s. Serving BBQ for over 40 years, make sure to check out the award-winning ribs and the BBQ nachos (our favorite)!
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (Miami, FL) – An indoor/outdoor contemporary American Bistro that’s unpretentious and downright delicious! Boasting one of Miami’s most popular and respected chefs (Michael Schwartz), this place serves an amazing selection of BBQ dishes, some of which include: the wood-roasted black grouper and the slow-roasted pork with cheese grits!
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q (Decatur, AL) – What began as a backyard barbecue feast in the 20’s, has led to this local hotspot widely recognized as the best barbecue east of the Mississippi. Opened in 1925 by “Big Bob” Gibson, today the restaurant’s two locations are run by grandson Don McLemore. All of the barbecued meat is prepared in the restaurant’s own sauces, including Big Bob’s famous creamy white sauce and. This restaurant’s sauces have also been ranked “Best Sauce on the Planet”! Go for the barbecued pork shoulder – a dish that has won the place numerous national barbecue championships year after year.
The BBQ Shop (Memphis, TN) – Another BBQ staple in TN, this is where you should come for a taste of a real pit barbecue. Using the same recipe for more than 5 decades, The BBQ Shop is a down-home spot that doesn’t disappoint! Go for our favorite – the BBQ Sandwich.
The Salt Lick (Austin, TX) – Opened in 1969, Thurman Roberts Sr. and his wife Hisako started the sucessful BBQ restaurant to spread the joy and flavors of Texan BBQ. A favorite among locals, the “Family Style” platter includes all meats and side dishes that you could hope for. Make sure you save room for the Peach Cobbler – an absolute delight!! Thanks to Tyler Rudd for sharing his BBQ knowledge with us!
Dreamland Bar-B-Que (Birmingham, AL) – Don’t’ be discouraged by the ramshackle building, because the sign you’ll see out front which reads “Ain’t Nothing Like ‘Em – - Nowhere!” tells you all you need to know! Served with bread, chips, a beverage, Dreamland’s special secret barbecue sauce (so good, you’ll want to drink it) and a roll of paper towels (talk about down-home!), you’ll have your choice of half-slab, full slab or in a sandwich - ribs that is!
Q4U (West Valley City, UT) - Are you a fan of melt-in-your-mouth brisket or piled high pulled pork sandwiches? Q4U is the place for you! Serving delicious and award-winning ribs and traditional favorites like hot links and catfish, Q4U is simply one of the best!
Lexington Barbecue (Lexington, NC) - The Mayor of Lexington calls this place, “Pure heaven. The Nirvana of pig-meat. The apotheosis of pork.” Need we say more? Oh, and you’ll have the choice of having it sliced, chopped, coarse chopped, or outside chopped.
OId Glory BBQ (Washington, DC) - Serving up some of the most sought ought and authentic all-American barbeque (and over 80 varieties of bourbon). Trust us: go for the moist and oh-so juicy pulled pork. Your only dilemma will be which sauce: Memphis or Savannah, Carolina or Kansas City, etc., etc., etc. One thing for sure, make sure to try the baked potato topped with chopped brisket and cheese.
Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que (Orlando, FL) – With locations in Winter Park, UCF, Altamonte Springs and Orlando – you’ll recognize the place alone by the logo (ever see the three pigs in sunglasses happily dancing through deadly flames?). Try the pork platter or one of the barbecued pork sandwiches – tender and juicy with just the right amount of smoky flavor. If you’re in the mood for something different, go for one of their other Southern specialties like the Brunswick stew. Here’s one tip: if you’re new to the world of sauces, check out Bubbalou’s mild option before deciding on thewattage most appropriate for your palette.
Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que - Boasting more than 125 locations, 200 awards – among them “Best Ribs” and “Best Sauce in America”, and known as the “Home of the Big Slab” – what else do you need to know?!