Much favor a an excellent sauce, the exact origins of the word “barbecue” room storied and also messy. Words “barbacoa” is can be traced earlier to what the Spanish dubbed the indigenous peoples’ means of cooking meats over a wooden platform. And also there have actually been generations the debate around what meat, method, marinade, and municipality renders for the “best” barbecue in this country. What is undeniable, however, is that the cuisine’s an extremely existence have the right to be attributed to America’s native people and also enslaved Africans. And, choose a brand-new Netflix documentary, we want to provide credit wherein credit is due.

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From your typical barbecue fundings like Texas, the Carolinas, Memphis, Kansas City, and also St. Louis come some unanticipated joints in Phoenix, Richmond, Brooklyn, and Portland, the following 41 spots have actually been vetted by a team that writers, testers, and also pitmasters. Some have actually survived because that generations, even opening up second locations, rebounding after ~ fires, and, that course, withstanding the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The result is a varied list the pitmasters that mirrors who is really sweating over smokers while daunting the condition quo.

So read on to discover out our favorite barbecue joints in America to get tender brisket bark, sticky glazed ribs, juicy exhilaration pork, heaping jalapeño mac and cheese, honey-laced cornbread, and a gooey slice of triple coco cake for dessert. We know your mouth is watering already.


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Courtesy that Lexington travellers Center

Lexington Barbecue


Lexington, north CarolinaAs the small city that Lexington grew in barbecue might (it boasts more than 20 joints regardless of a populace of much less than 20,000), the Piedmont college of Carolina barbecue, v its vinegar-ketchup sauce, came to be known as Lexington-style, and also a huge reason a small town serves together a stand in for a region is the Monk family behind Lexington BBQ. It"s quiet pretty much the very same drill it"s been for decades—pork shoulders gain 10 hours over mostly oak coals and also transform into pork perfection. Add some of the slaw (which, yes, additionally has the ketchup sauce) and also it’s perfection. Yes sir a reason Wayne Monk was newly inducted into the American royal Association’s Barbecue hall of Fame.


Phoenix, ArizonaWhen the temperature external cracks 120, that takes a saint to was standing in former of a hot smoker. Together such, Phoenix occupants have practically canonized the folks from tiny Miss, who toil through the heat to bring central Texas-style barbecue come folks hungry sufficient to line up for an hour plus in the blistering sun. Even if it is you stop right into the Sunnyslope place or the original on university Drive, the brisket can’t be ignored, but arrangement a visit wisely, as the daily specials favor pastrami worthy a place on any combo plate.


Taylor, TexasWhat is over there to say that hasn’t to be said about Louie Mueller Barbecue? The Taylor, Texas, holy place to exhilaration beef has actually earned irreversible legend status due to the fact that opening in 1949, and although they score a James mustache America"s classics award ago in 2006, castle a rare heritage restaurant it is not just kept up v the times, but evolved with them. Existing third-generation boss Wayne Mueller is thought about the Socrates of barbecue, and also his brisket and beef ribs could just it is in the platonic ideal of the food. Sound like Greek to you? do the pilgrimage and become a believer.


Portland, OregonNever mind the pitmaster Matt Vicedomini thrived up on long Island and also learned his handmade in Australia. Ever due to the fact that he very first fired up his counter smoker in a pawn shop parking many in 2015, Vicedomini has been cigarette smoking ’cue that can make a Texan weep when they need to go back home. His soft brisket’s bark comes with a perfect love bite that salt and also pepper, the white-oak-smoked ribs look favor a Platonic ideal and also taste of pure soul, and also the cheese and jalapeño warm links room West-coast legend. Vicedomini is slowly structure a barbecue realm in Portland, through an Austin-style brisket taco cart. However come come the initial Matt’s BBQ trailer in phibìc Portland because that straight-ahead Texas barbecue as great as you"ll discover it everywhere in the country, certified together “rad” by Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. A tip, though? Pre-order your food online, which deserve to be placed both the very same day or 48 hrs in advance.


Owensboro, KentuckyDebates have raged because that years about what’s the superior regional barbecue style—is it Memphis or Kansas City? Alabama or eastern Texas? folks in western Kentucky have actually a fully different dog in that fight. Special, the city the Owensboro is kind of the de facto resources of mutton barbecue—that’s a layout of barbecue make from the meat of an adult sheep, if you scoring in ~ home. Moonlite BBQ is a regional destination for its barbecue buffet through signature political parties and, the course, a emphasis on mutton (some Kentuckians choose cross-town competitor Old Hickory Bar-B-Que, however that’s part of the fun). Chopped or sliced, mutton is similar to traditional brisket, if a bit richer in flavor, and also it holds increase to everything kind the sauce you desire to litter its way. Once in Kentucky, do time for some Moonlite mutton.


St. Louis, MissouriIn 2008, Mike Emerson and firm wowed St. Louis with a Memphis-channeling barbecue joint that can make even a Tennessee transplant nod his head in begrudging approval prior to asking for one more slab the ribs. Ten year in, Emerson has quietly stepped ago from the day-to-day company operations, however thankfully the noises the customers make as soon as tearing into Pappy"s closely rubbed, apple-and-cherrywood-smoked ribs continue to be anything however quiet. If you have a craving because that something a little bit different, and room ~ the ribs, girlfriend can get yourself a Frito pie augmented with the protein of your choice. Pappy’s opened a 2nd location in St. Peters in the loss of 2020 v a very comparable menu sans fried food. But, nothing worry, you can still acquire sides favor cornbread and also a baked potato.


Memphis, TennesseeDriving down Lamar Avenue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a hand-drawn authorize on the former door of Payne’s that review “Please open.” three generations that Paynes have actually kept this usual cinder block structure with a recessed pit set into the wall surface full the hickory coals walk for four decades—and that reopened in June that 2020. Payne’s serves among the most revelatory sandwiches in the world. That’s tall talk, however the dim church rec room vibe contrasts a bite of meat therefore bright that a die-hard mustard hater couldn’t aid but savor every bite that the yellow slaw piled atop scoops the dripping pork.


Los Angeles, CaliforniaLos Angeles doesn’t have actually a barbecue style to contact its own, but few American cities have actually a street food culture as vibrant. That led pitmasters to require to the streets, or rather, your front yards. Ragtop Fern no your timeless barbecue restaurant, yet rather a weekend pop-up on the stoop that the self-taught pitmaster’s home. The attend to is retained secret, yet the tales of his barbecue have spread far and also wide, through a brisket and also beef ribs that would certainly make Texas proud, as well as finger-licking pork ribs, every cooked ~ above a smoker that the owner welded himself. That a warm operation, all tucked under one tiny tent, but the cramped soldier make it most likely that another patron will have an extra beer to share (naturally, that BYOB). Curious to shot it yourself? The only method is to make like a millennial and slide into those Instagram DMs to location an order.


Charleston, south CarolinaFew have done more to celebrate whole-hog barbecue 보다 James mustache Award-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott (who simply came out with his first cookbook in March). In 2016, after years of discovering his handmade at his family"s barbecue restaurant in surrounding Hemingway, Scott opened up his restaurant in Charleston. In enhancement to the traditional vinegary chopped pork, Scott BBQ supplies fried catfish and also pit-smoked and spice-rubbed chicken, turkey, and also steak. The exceptionally smoky and also slightly sweet pork spareribs are likewise a nice surprise on the menu. Don"t miss out on the house-made sides, especially the peppery and also creamy coleslaw and the velvety collard greens seasoned v pork. If you still have room, Ella’s Banana Puddin’ is a sweetly satisfying means to end up your feast.


Raleigh, phibìc CarolinaSam Jones, third-generation pitmaster, bring a glimpse of east North Carolina barbecue to Raleigh—his very first venture right into a city— by means of Sam Jones BBQ. Jones, who spent his teens working in ~ Skylight Inn alongside his family, in Ayden, where the menu concentrated on entirety hog barbecue, coleslaw, and also cornbread. Jones opened up the an initial Sam Jones BBQ place in Winterville v a simple menu and also a emphasis on barbecue pork. The Raleigh location attributes a replica food selection of its sister spot, together Jones is a for sure believer in difficult to what the team does well: whole hog barbecue. The hogs room cooked ~ above a wood-fired pit for hours, in the smokehouse on site, till crisped to perfection—and chopped, never pulled. The best way to acquire a full taste of the college is by method of the Jones family members Original BBQ Tray, finish with above barbecue pork, cornbread, and also a side. The BBQ sandwich through slaw (an original recipe, with lots of sugar) v baked beans, whereby ground beef plays an essential taste variable role, are not to it is in missed. On any given day, the place is pack so plan accordingly.


Lexington, TennesseeFirst around the convoluted name of this West Tennessee barbecue institution: This isn"t some odd Ruth’s chris Steak home situation. This share is therefore old school that once Ricky Parker purchase the business that B.E. “Early” Scott began in 1960, he didn’t even include his own name come the sign for two decades. Now Ricky’s son Zach carries on the tradition of totality hog barbecue, muscling large pigs onto grates collection atop cinderblock pits stoked through shovelfuls of glowing embers to administer the heat and also the flavor. The pits room then covered with sheets the cardboard come insulate the hogs while lock take their 24-hour smoke nap. You’re guaranteed to gain a very delicious bite the an nearly bygone piece of barbecue history. However get over there early, because when they run out of whole hog, lock close for the day till the following round of pigs emerge from the pits tomorrow.


Ocean Springs, MississippiCompetition circuit phenoms and Food Network fact stars the Orrisons paint the photo of the appropriate barbecue family. Everyone chips in, with Daddy-O making the sauce, Brad controlling the pits, Mom dealing with the marketing, and also Brooke making sure the ship doesn’t sink. Whole hog is your award-winning specialty in ~ competitions, however at the ramshackle s Springs restaurant, you can’t go wrong with any order. And also the meat tastes even far better with a side of live music.


Ayden, north CarolinaThe indigenous “pilgrimage” it s okay tossed roughly a lot in BBQ circles, however Skylight Inn is one of those destinations that’s a requisite for any serious barbecue lover. Along the means to the small North Carolina city of Ayden, you’ll happen dozens of abandoned barns, and it’s no stretch that the creative thinking to say the those farmers, who long because passed, ate numerous a chopped pork sandwich because that lunch. Also today after ~ 70-plus years in the business, Skylight Inn look at seemingly the whole town line as much as eat top top a everyday basis. If you’re still hungry after devouring what’s quite probably the many iconic pork sandwich in the country, it’s also worth the trek 8 mile North come pitmaster Sam Jones’ other joint with an increased menu and a an option of regional draft beers.


Lockhart, TexasWalking right into Smitty’s, you understand you room in because that a treat as soon as you need to walk right past the fire the heats the brick pits. Black soot covers the inside public foyer and also pit room native the years of food preparation inside a building. The pit room and line to purchase meat space not separate. Texas BBQ is many famously recognized today for its indirect smoking approach to cooking meat—it"s perfection at Smitty’s. The brisket, jalapeño sausage, and pork ribs space cooked and served fresh off the pit ~ they walk to the massive wooden chopping block behind the cash it is registered to her plate. If you are a Texas BBQ enthusiast, every roads need to go v Lockhart.


Lexington, TexasWomen don’t get sufficient love in the barbecue industry, but one lady pitmaster with an unrivaled rep is Tootsie Tomanetz (who you can recognize indigenous Netflix’s Chef’s Table). At this allude it’s virtually considered gospel the her food is the ideal in the state—and Texans will certainly tell you, that means the finest in the world. 5 days a week she works maintenance in ~ a local high school, yet on Saturday mornings the octangerian Texas legend turns right into a barbecue Superwoman. The line starts relocating at 8 am, but if girlfriend think it is early, consider that Tootsie beginning shoveling coals come prepare roughly 2 am.


Charlotte, phibìc CarolinaLewis Donald jumped top top the barbecue scene in the Belmont ar of Charlotte, a city not commonly known for its barbecue heritages like the pork shoulders that Lexington call or the totality hog more east. Sweet Lew’s resides inside one old company station in a historically working-class neighborhood, and also it’s specifically what a barbecue joint must be—unfussy and also homey, with casual respond to service and also a concise menu of chopped-pork sandwiches with Lexington-style slaw, barbecue preventive ribs, exhilaration chicken, and classic sides (don’t sleep ~ above the boiled potatoes) along with a rotating list of everyday specials. Much more than that, Sweet Lew’s has actually done something distinct in a city where fast growth and also shiny brand-new concepts have often done more harm than great to that is longtime residents—it’s become component of the neighborhood, and also quick.


Brenham, TexasCracking Texas Monthly’s canonic perform of best barbecue is an achievement for any pitmaster. Doing the within 2 years of opened is nearly unheard of. The guys at truth pulled it off. In 2019, they increased from a small shack in Brenham to the big leagues of Houston, a relocate that surely shook up the city’s barbecue hierarchy. When you’ve got to the former of the heat (expect a controlled wait roughly an hour), the brisket is a must, however the jalapeño cheddar sausage puts Texas’s legacy cased meat purveyors to shame. There may be no juicier attach in the state. Bonus points for meticulous plating, i beg your pardon is guaranteed to rack increase the Instagram likes, and also a killer triple-chocolate cake for dessert.

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Richmond, VirginiaYou recognize the old saying: You can take the Texan out of Texas... The Lone Star State’s barbecue style is probably the most exported the any an ar so it’s organic to be hesitant of imitators, however Richmond’s ZZQ is the genuine deal, began by a native Austinite (raised in Mesquite), who honors his house state by food preparation some of the best brisket you’ll uncover outside the boundaries. The three, 1,000-gallon counter pits room imported native Austin acting Works and also burn local white oak (traditional article oak would certainly be “inauthentic to the region”). The brisket rub is spiked with a couple of other herbs, however it doesn’t deviate too far from the coarse black color pepper and also salt standard. Still, this is Virginia, therefore the pulled pork shoulder is finished v an eastern North Carolina/Southern Virginia vinegar sauce, and also sides encompass tomato pie and also Cajun creamed corn that use develop from surrounding farms.


Editors: James Chrisman, Kelly Dobkin, daniel Dorsey, Jess Mayhugh, Meredith Heil, and also Tae Yoon

Writers: Kristen Adaway, chris Chamberlain, boy name Cizmar, Howard Conyers, Dan Gentile, Kevin Gibson, Stacey Greenberg, Matthew Korfhage, Steven Lindsey, Matt Lynch, Keia Mastrianni, Adrian Miller, JennRice, Lizbeth Scordo, Nicole A. Taylor, Anastacia Uriegas, and Brooke Viggiano