SELECTING THE BEST places come eat barbecue in America has constantly been a monumentally daunting task, but it’s even much more so now, thanks to a new generation the pitmasters that’s merged with a tho crafty old safety to make the landscape much more meat-packed than ever. However just since something is a difficulty doesn’t average you shouldn’t try. So we ate exhilaration meat. We talked to human being who eat and also smoke meat. We engaged in both aggressive and also passive wild arguments about smoked meat. In the end, we cleared up on this 33 BBQ joints the are proceeding America’s grand heritages while likewise pushing them in exciting brand-new directions. Happy arguing, but much more importantly, happy eating.

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COURTESY that 17TH STREET BARBECUE17TH STREET BARBECUE

MURPHYSBORO, ILLINOIS

Few numbers in barbecue are as revered as Mike Mills and as respected as his daughter Amy, the driving pressures behind 17th Street BBQ. Due to the fact that the at an early stage ’90s, Mike’s cherry and applewood-smoked, magic-dusted baby earlier ribs have actually been winning human being championships accolades and also breaking vain circuit records. World travel from throughout the nation to the small town of Murphysboro to devour them, and budding pitmasters deserve to leave with an ext than just leftovers many thanks to a collection of cooking workshops native Mike and business classes from his daughter, who also recently penned a tell-all book. And also for those that can’t do the journey, they even ship your meat overnight. — Dan Gentile


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B’S CRACKLIN’ BBQB’S CRACKLIN’ BBQ

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Pitmaster Bryan Furman to know pork, and not just just how to chef it. Raised in the Carolinas through a grandfather who bred hogs and butchered castle on one-of-a-kind occasions, Furman adhered to in his household footsteps by beginning a heritage each other pig farm yard that currently supplies his restaurants in Savannah and Georgia. Carolina-style chopped pork is the key course, with a buffet of sauce on the next that permit diners come dress their meat to regional tastes, but don’t miss out on the brisket — it just might be the best in the state the Georgia. — DG


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CLAUS PEUCKERTBIG BOB GIBSON BAR-B-QUE

DECATUR, ALABAMA

On the one hand, the BBQ boom has actually fueled enough interest in local variations the it’s no remotely unusual anymore to go into a newly opened BBQ establishment anywhere in the country and encounter the distinctive vinegary, mayo-based sauce the Bob Gibson first created generations ago. Top top the various other hand, friend haven’t REALLY knowledgeable it until you’ve made the pilgrimage to Decatur, eaten your weight in hickory-smoked chicken, and experienced that bright, peppery tang best there in ~ the source. — Matt Lynch


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FLICKR/JOSHUA BOUSELBLACK’S BARBECUE

LOCKHART, TEXAS

Lockhart long claimed the location of barbecue resources of Texas, and although the rest of the state has caught up end the years, that still house to 3 of the many legendary restaurants in the state. A visit come the tiny town 45 minutes outside of Austin nearly demands a bang bang, yet for normal-sized stomachs, the best all-around meal originates from Black’s. Smell the history in the long skinny hallway leading up to the butcher, and don’t miss out on out top top the beef rib — they insurance claim to it is in the ones that popularized it. — DG


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SHANA ANDERSON/THRILLISTCATTLEACK BBQ

DALLAS, TEXAS

There’s a details charm to barbecue shacks situated in the middle of nowhere, but Cattleack proves that operating out of a wrong bungalow isn’t a requisite for good meat, any old strip mall will carry out for the ideal pitmaster. Skyrocketing to No. 3 on Texas Monthly’s always exhaustive power ranking, Cattleack is just one that several locations raising Dallas’s barbecue file to complete on destination. And in enhancement to several of the best-tasting, fattiest brisket in the state, there’s few bites the meat in the barbecue civilization as indulgent together their intensely-marbled Akaushi beef ribs. — DG


CENTRAL BBQCENTRAL BBQ

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

There deserve to be a tricky relationship in between a BBQ outfit widening to multiple locations and still retaining the fervent following that made claimed expansion feasible in the very first place, but central and its 3 Memphis outposts still inspire just as much regional love together they ever before did. The probably has actually something to execute with the reality that the 14-plus-hour exhilaration pork shoulders quiet yield some of the juiciest chopped pork sandwiches around. It also has other to execute with ribs that proceed to be mandatory in any discussion of Memphis’ best. — ML


CENTRAL CITY BBQCENTRAL CITY BBQ

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

There was lot anticipation among NOLA exhilaration meat aficionados leading up to the so late 2016 debut of main City BBQ, a share effort in between chef Aaron Burgau the Patois and celebrated pitmaster plunder Bechtold the dearly departed NOLA Smokehouse. Return Bechtold left the procedure several months in, it had currently separated itself from the regional barbecue pack, and it hasn’t slowed down since. The exciting salty, pepper-barked brisket and burnt ends would make any kind of Texas smokehouse proud, when specialties like smoked boudin leaving no doubt regarding what city you’re in. Oh, and also don’t miss a next of the sweet corn spoonbread. That would be a mistake. — ML


COURTESY the FRANKLIN BARBECUEFRANKLIN BARBECUE

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Is the finest brisket of her life worth a three-hour wait? What about five hours? They’re personal questions, and although the moment it take away to relocate 100 meter to chopping block takes about the same amount that time the takes to fly to Austin from brand-new York City, it’s quiet a journey numerous barbecue obsessives happily make. The prize for that patience is a sample bite at the front of the line, which after the lengthy wait, is as close as it comes to barbecue nirvana, i beg your pardon is why, despite a terrible fire that put the restaurant the end of commission, it needs to be on the list, particularly when Aaron Franklin is throwing pop-ups because that Harvey relief even together he make the efforts to acquire his own business re-opened, which is expected to occur soon. — DG


COURTESY of GATLIN’S BBQGATLIN’S BBQ

HOUSTON, TEXAS

It’s easy for a barbecue share to simply churn out a basic potato salad, boil part beans, and call it their side menu, however truly excellent barbecue joints differentiate themselves not simply by meat, however a signature side the ties every little thing together. For Gatlin’s, who brisket is together smokey and also gluttonous together it comes and also beef rib is large enough come feed, well, a cow, the genuine must-order is in which method the dirty rice: a Creole staple of the Gatlin’s household that’s worth the visit alone. And also hey, Houston might use her business. — DG


GERMANTOWN COMMISSARYGERMANTOWN COMMISSARY

GERMANTOWN, TENNESSEE

In 1981, pedestrian Taylor to buy a tiny country save in Germantown, just exterior Memphis, and turned it right into a BBQ joint named after a small country store. The decision confirmed apt, and also Germantown Commissary occurred into one of the most beloved and celebrated spots for smoked meat in one area through no shortage of them. Acquire yourself a combo key so girlfriend don’t need to choose between the hickory smoked ribs or the chopped pork, evaluate the deviled egg the comes with it, and also then acquire the banana pudding since even though having actually room for dessert is no guarantee after a bowl of BBQ, it’s a must. — ML


COLE SALADINO/THRILLISTHOMETOWN BAR-B-QUE

BROOKLYN, brand-new YORK

In the past decade brand-new York City has actually become a bona fide barbecue destination, with smokey cuisine from phibìc Carolina come Texas make appearances in the big Apple. There’s plenty of remarkable bites to it is in had, but Hometown is the restaurant that ideal combines authentic method with a neighborhood melting pot mentality. Mentorship from Wayne Mueller drive pitmaster Billy Durney’s mastery of the beef rib (look come his lower ankle because that a tattoo to express his TX love), however what yes, really sets the apart is incorporating ethnic flavors widespread in his Red Hook neighborhood into dishes favor the Jamaican jerk baby earlier ribs, Oaxacan wood-fired chicken, and Vietnamese warm wings. — DG


SHANLEY COX/THRILLISTJOE’S KANSAS CITY BBQ

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS

The story behind exactly how the ideal barbecue joint in Kansas City happened named ~ the state the Oklahoma, then changed the name come reflect geographical realities, has a couple of twists and turns (and we have the right to probably stop stating at this point, deep down it’s always just to be “Joe’s” come locals) yet the usual denominator at this barbecue landmark is the ribs that reason all go of life to heat up external an old gas station for life-changing ribs, charred ends worth their weight in gold (and only available Monday & Saturday lunchtime, add to Wednesday dinner), and a sandwich that seems to break the rules (provolone on brisket?) but somehow works. Thanks Z-man. — ML


DAN GENTILE/THRILLISTLA BARBECUE

AUSTIN, TEXAS

For every young total in the Texas barbecue world, yes sir an old hat descended indigenous a lengthy line that pitmasters through salt and pepper in your veins. LeAnn Mueller has actually such a lineage. She flourished up busing tables in ~ Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor and now helms one of Austin’s best barbecue operations, i m sorry after a vagabond trailer journey from 4 separate locations finally landed in, of all places, a convenience store. Best believe you’ll never ever taste a far better slice the brisket just a few feet far from a frozen fridge stocked through Gatorade and Monster energy drinks. — DG


SHANLEY COX/THRILLISTLC’S BAR-B-Q

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

LC’s doesn’t have actually the national profile the Joe’s or a name that’s thoroughly entrenched in KC BBQ lore like Arthur Bryant or George Gates, however what L.C. Richardson’s no-frills establishment does have is several of the many consistently outstanding charred ends in Kansas City, and also therefore several of the most consistently outstanding charred ends ~ above the planet. The sandwich you’ll be eat is only a “sandwich” in the sense that there space two pieces of bread present, but the truth is you’ll be choose up juicy, fatty, crusty protein bits off her plate with your ceiling hands prior to you understand it. There are plenty of file towels nearby, and also they space necessary. — ML


JIM VONDRUSKA/THRILLISTLEM’S BAR-B-Q

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

The legacy of Chicago barbecue (yes, it’s a thing) lost one the its titans a pair of years earlier when longtime Lem’s owner and operator James lemon passed away, the critical survivor the a group of brothers that made a note on the Chicago meat map the goes ago to the 1940s. Nonetheless, Lem’s remains an essential destination for anyone looking come dig into a heap of rib advice — the gloriously gelatinous, slightly cumbersome but worth-the-trouble staple of the Chicago barbecue scene. And also if picking your way through bits of bone and also cartilage isn’t her thing, don’t worry, the straight-up spare ribs are plenty legendary in their very own right. — ML


COURTESY that LEWIS BBQLEWIS BARBECUE

CHARLESTON, south CAROLINA

The Carolinas may be pork country, yet Texas indigenous (and Franklin and also la Barbecue alum) john Lewis is placing Charleston’s barbecue scene firmly on the nationwide map, selling brisket that took a decade to perfect in smokers he custom-built because that the task. Somehow stated brisket isn’t the most exclusive beef top top the menu — massive, beefy short ribs are offered strictly on Saturdays. And also don’t worry, Lewis does plenty the justice come the porcine pursuits favor pulled pork and also spare ribs — this is, after all, quiet Carolina. — ML


COURTESY the LEXINGTON travellers CENTERLEXINGTON BARBECUE

LEXINGTON, north CAROLINA

As the tiny city of Lexington thrived in barbecue can (it boasts more than 20 joints with a population of less than 20,000), the Piedmont school of Carolina barbecue, with its vinegary red sauce , became known together Lexington-style, and also a huge reason a tiny town serves together a was standing in because that a an ar is the Monk family members behind (what else?) Lexington BBQ. It’s tho pretty much the exact same drill it’s to be for years — pork shoulders obtain 10 hours over mainly oak coals and transform into pork perfection. Well, wait — add some of that slaw. Now it’s perfect. — ML


COURTESY OF tiny MISS BBQLITTLE miss BBQ

PHOENIX, ARIZONA

When the temperature exterior cracks 120, it takes a saint to stand in front of a warm smoker. As such, Phoenix residents have practically canonized the people from little Miss, that toil with the warm to bring main Texas format barbecue to folks hungry enough to heat up because that an hour to add in the blistering sun. Favor so many restaurants ~ above this list, the brisket can’t be ignored, but arrangement a visit wisely, as the day-to-day specials favor pastrami worthy a place on any combo plate. — DG


COURTESY the LOUIE MUELLER BBQLOUIE MUELLER BARBECUE

TAYLOR, TEXAS

What is there to say the hasn’t been said about Louie Mueller Barbecue? The Taylor, Texas temple to smoked beef has earned permanent legend status due to the fact that opening in 1949, and also although they scored a James mustache America’s standards award back in 2006, lock a rare tradition restaurant that’s not only kept up with the times, however evolved with them. Current 3rd generation Wayne Mueller is thought about the Socrates the barbecue, and also his brisket and beef ribs might just be the platonic best of the food. Sound prefer Greek to you? make the pilgrimage and also become a believer. — DG


MOONLITE BAR BBQMOONLITE BAR-B-Q INN

OWENSBORO, KENTUCKY

With the surge in interest in regional barbecue formats in recent years, exactly how come mutton hasn’t captured on? world in Kentucky need to be wondering that, particularly of they’ve been to Owensboro because that a trip to Moonlite and also taken a pilgrimage through their legend barbecue buffet, a setup that just works since it’s virtually always sufficiently crowded for the hickory-smoked meats to be cycling through constantly. And sure, you’ll also find chopped pork and ribs and also chicken on said buffet, and they space good, however mutton is certainly the juicy heart and also flavorful soul here. There’s gonna be a mutton boom in 2018. Friend heard it here first. Sheep, beware. — ML


COURTESY of SWLOUIS PHOTOGRAPHY through SCOTT LOUISPAPPY’S SMOKEHOUSE

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

In 2008, Mike Emerson and company wowed St. Louis with a Memphis-channeling barbecue joint that might make also a Tennessee transplant nod his head in begrudging approval prior to asking for another slab of ribs. Almost 10 years in, Emerson has quietly stepped back from the day-to-day business operations, yet thankfully the noises the client make when tearing right into Pappy’s very closely rubbed, apple-and-cherrywood-smoked ribs stay anything however quiet. If you have actually a craving because that something a little bit different, and also room ~ the ribs, you can acquire yourself a Frito pie augmented with the protein of your choice. — ML


SARAH ROSSI-SÉLAVIE PHOTOGRAPHY/THRILLISTPAYNE’S BAR-B-QUE

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

In middle-of-nowhere Memphis, Payne’s serves one of the many revelatory sandwiches in the world. That’s tall talk, yet the dim church rec room vibe contrasts a bite the meat so bright that a die-hard mustard hater couldn’t help but savor every bite of the yellow slaw piled atop scoops the dripping pork. Actually, no location with a sandwich prefer this have the right to possibly it is in the middle of nowhere. Rather it’s the specific place you desire to be. — DG


ROBERT STRICKLANDPECAN LODGE

DALLAS, TEXAS

Spud dishes in ~ barbecue joints commonly skew toward cold potato salad, however Pecan Lodge alters the video game with their warm Mess, a sea-salted baked potato stuffed through barbacoa, chipotle cream, cheese, butter, and green onions. They additionally happen to cook one of the smokiest briskets in the country, pack so lot mesquite flavor that each bite that you’ll need a minute to write yourself before biting into an additional explosion of beef dripping with fat. Pro tip: lug a crew and also order the Trough, a 5-pound bounty of their best cuts. — DG


COURTESY the PEG leg PORKERPEG foot PORKER

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

A lifelong Tennessean and longtime vain circuit regular, Casey Bringle walk brick-and-mortar in 2013 v Peg foot Porker, the name being a nod to the truth that Bringle lost a leg to bone cancer therapies at the age of 17. Fortunately for Nashville residents, Bringle’s knack because that smoked meat is simply as solid as is persevering feeling of humor. As soon as you bite right into one the his dry-rubbed ribs, his through even more of his signature 16-ingredient, chili and paprika-forward obstacle after gift pulled the end of the smoker glistening v fat, you’ll be smiling, too. — ML


RED BRIDGESRED BRIDGES BARBECUE LODGE

SHELBY, north CAROLINA

First off: Red Bridges was a guy, not a series of things you drive over. Moreover, he to be a male who learned the finer point out of Carolina barbecue from legend Wayne Stamey prior to striking the end on his very own to open his namesake restaurant with his wife, Lyttle, in 1949. Red passed far in 1966, leaving Lyttle to run the service into her 80s (their daughter now runs the show, Lyttle passed in 2008). That’s a rich history, sure, yet how’s that Carolina pit barbecue? 10s of thousands of Thrillist BBQ Bracket voters couldn’t be wrong. You know what would certainly be wrong? Leaving there is no sampling a small of Mama B’s pimento cheese if you’re there. — ML


DAN GENTILE/THRILLISTPICNIC

DURHAM, north CAROLINA

To find a pitmaster upending phibìc Carolina’s totality hog tradition, simply drive 10 mile from downtown Durham to Picnic. Pitmaster Wyatt Dickson left turned native a legislation career come hog butchery, utilizing old-school smoking approaches on new-school heritage each other pigs, climate hand-pulling it right into a sweet, savory, chewy mess of pork. Yet unlike many Spartan Carolina joints, they increase the ante on sides through kale salad, fried green tomatoes, and also Brunswick stew. And even if you’re no the swine-loving type, Picnic’s precious a visit for few of the juiciest and also flakiest smoked buttermilk fried chicken top top the planet. — DG


Q39Q39

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

The recent entrant into Kansas City’s pantheon of standout barbecue establishments, Q39 is the brainchild of rob McGee, a Culinary academy of America grad who additionally presided end a much-decorated compete BBQ team, and the dual respect because that the respective arts of cigarette smoking meat and also running a restaurant kitchen shines through. Acquire the judges plate with honey-glazed preventive ribs, brisket, chicken and also a sausage link and you won’t it is in disappointed (especially through some assist from their brightly acidic apple-enhanced slaw). That course, they’re no afraid to push limits here, and it results in magic like a scorched end burger, special ground increase hunks that crusty brisket that make because that a mouthwatering patty topped v — even more burnt end (!) and also a spicy pickle slaw. Sometimes change is good. — ML


FLICKR/EUGENE MAHSCOTT’S BAR-B-QUE

HEMINGWAY, south CAROLINA

Sure, Rodney Scott currently presides end a red-hot namesake restaurant in Charleston the opened previously this year (combining with John Lewis’ joint to make Charleston the existing talk the the barbecue world), yet Hemingway is where it all began — and also where a catastrophic 2013 fire practically put may be the nation’s singular totality hog barbecue operation out the commission prior to a fundraising tour got it earlier on its feet. And also make no mistake, Scott’s doing his typical excellent pork-related job-related at his new place, however there’s miscellaneous special about making the trek the end to Hemingway and polishing turn off a piled-high pork plate v beans and slaw. The journey feels even an ext special if you gain extra pork skins. — ML


DAN GENTILE/THRILLISTSKYLIGHT INN BBQ

AYDEN, phibìc CAROLINA

The native “Mecca” it s okay thrown about a lot in the barbecue world, and Skylight Inn is among those pilgrimages it is a requisite for any kind of serious barbecue lover. Follow me the way to the tiny North Carolina city of Ayden, you’ll happen dozens of exit barns, and it’s no stretch that the creativity to say the those farmers that long since passed ate plenty of a chopped pork sandwich for lunch. Even today after ~ 70 year in the business, the whole town watch lines as much as eat on a everyday basis. If you’re quiet hungry after ~ devouring those quite perhaps the many iconic pork sandwich in the country, it’s likewise worth the trek 8 mile North come pitmaster Sam Jones’ new joint v an increased menu and also a selection of neighborhood draft beers. — DG


FLICKR/PIERLUIGI MIRAGLIASNOW’S BBQ

LEXINGTON, TEXAS

Women don’t get sufficient love in the barbecue industry, but one lady pitmaster v an unparalleled rep is Tootsie Tomanetz in ~ Snow’s in Lexington, Texas. At this point it’s virtually considered gospel that her food is the best in the state (and Texans will certainly tell you, that way the best in the world). 5 days a week she works maintenance at a regional high school, but on Saturday mornings the 82-year-old Texas legend turns into a barbecue Superwoman. The line starts moving at 8am, however if friend think that’s early, think about that Tootsie beginning shoveling coals come prepare about 2am. — DG


THE SHEDTHE melted BARBEQUE & BLUES JOINT

OCEAN SPRINGS, MISSISSIPPI

Competition circuit phenoms and also Food Network truth stars the Orrisons paint the snapshot of the appropriate barbecue family. Everyone chips in, with Daddy-O do the sauce, Brad controlling the pits, Mom managing the marketing, and also Brooke making certain the ship doesn’t sink. Entirety hog is your award-winning specialty in ~ competitions, however at the ramshackle ocean Springs restaurant, you can’t walk wrong with any type of order. And the meat tastes even far better with a next of live music. — DG




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KIMBERLY MURRAY/THRILLISTTHE better GOOD

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Already at 3 locations and growing after simply four short years in business, Atlanta’s The Greater great still manages to feel an ext like an unassuming community joint than a burgeoning empire. The barbecue, however, does anything yet fly under the radar. Soft baby ago ribs, smoked chicken, and also pulled pork all do for fine selections if you’re right into platter construction but — and also this is seldom said in ~ barbecue joints — don’t skip the appetizers. If you do, you’ll be missing out ~ above liberally rubbed exhilaration chicken wings and pimento BBQ potato skin that obtain topped v your choice of pork or brisket (or both?). Your move, TGI Friday’s. — ML


TRUTH BBQTRUTH BBQ

BRENHAM, TEXAS

Cracking Texas Monthly’s canonic perform of best barbecue is an accomplishment for any pitmaster. Doing it within two years of opening is nearly unheard of. The guys at truth pulled it off, landing at No. 10 for their perfect execution of traditional Texas barbecue. They’re right now expanding native a tiny shack in Brenham to the large leagues that Houston, a relocate that’s sure to shake up the city’s barbecue hierarchy. When you’ve got to the former of the line (expect a manageable wait roughly an hour), the brisket’s a must, but the jalapeño cheddar sausage place Texas’s legacy cased meat purveyors to shame. There might be no juicier connect in the state. Bonus points for their meticulous plating, which is guarantee to rack increase the Instagram likes. — ML