From tender, juicy brisket to smoked hog that’s been drizzled and dipped in tubs of sauce the size of the Gulf of Mexico, Americans know exactly how to prepare the best BBQ. We’ve updated our annual list for 2020, so add these places to your BBQ list.
Memphis might be famous for dry ribs, the Carolinas have come up with their own succulent spices, and Texas BBQ is, well, amazing, but there are a thousand and one ways to prepare a delicious plate of BBQ.
We heard from our readers and some food experts, and then we drew from our own experience to figure out where you can find the best BBQ in the US.
Get ready to put on those eatin’ pants and dive into some delicious food – here are our top 50 list of the best BBQ in America. The No. 1 spot likely isn’t where you’d expect it to be…
Best BBQ In AmericaHow do these rankings work?
Who’d have thought that the best BBQ in Connecticut would be found in the quaint town of Ridgefield? Hoodoo Brown has been serving residents top-notch barbecue for years, and they seem to just keep getting better and better. We suggest trying their Holy Texas Trinity, which comes with a whole pound of brisket, various sausages, a rack of ribs and cornbread to top it all off.
The pulled pork at Russell’s Quality Food is easily some of the best pulled pork in America, likely due to the fact that they smoke it using three different kinds of logs – oak, hickory and cherry. It’s smoked to perfection and so delicious that you don’t even need any sauce.
You’ll actually find lots of great BBQ in Idaho, but what we love about BBQ4Life is that it caters to vegans as well as meat-eaters. Their custom smoking setup lends itself to a unique smokey taste that seeps into anything you order here, vegetarian or not. This kind of take on traditional barbecue is what makes the diversity in American BBQ so unique.
Even though you don’t typically think of true Texas BBQ when you think of Vermont, Black Diamond Barbecue is beginning to change that for locals. They serve a brisket that’s been smoked for 16 hours and they use lots of local maple woods for flavour. The local beers they sell here pair really well with whatever you order, and that’s something that other BBQ joints don’t always offer.
California is home to the best tacos in America, but when it comes to true Texas BBQ, it’s a cuisine that’s a little harder to find. That’s why the best BBQ in California isn’t in San Diego or even downtown LA, it’s in Culver City. The family-owned JR’s Barbecue serves up Memphis-style meat that practically melts in your mouth it’s so soft.
The award-winning BBQ at GQue is some of the most underrated BBQ in the entire country. We’re not quite sure why this Westminster BBQ joint isn’t ranked higher on a lot of top barbecue lists, but we are sure that they serve up quality meat that’s cooked to perfection and smothered in pretty savoury sauces.
You don’t need to head to Vegas for some of the best BBQ in America. The former competition team of Sin City Smokers serves up quality pork, BBQ chicken, and even some expertly-grilled veggies. After eating the BBQ here you won’t even have to make it out to Vegas, you’ll feel like you’ve sinned enough; it’s that good.
If you’re looking for the absolute barbecued ribs and pulled pork in Maryland, then we highly recommend Andy Nelson’s. According to travellers, they love the fact that their brisket tips are super tender. Everything here pairs well with their homemade cornbread, so make sure to save room for a piece or two.
Meat lovers rejoice – we’ve found your paradise! Sure, Noble Barbecue serves some of the most scrumptious BBQ in America, but the twin brothers behind this restaurant excel at cooking and flavouring pretty much any kind of meat. Case in point, their smoked meatloaf cheeseburger. Head there once to try the BBQ and then again for the cheeseburger. Wash it all down with one of the local craft beers on the menu.
Who’d have thought you could find true Texas BBQ on the island of Oahu? Not us. But, travellers let us in on the best-kept secret in the world of Hawaiian BBQ: Sunset Smokehouse. The man behind the pit hails from Texas, where he spent hours and hours of his formative years learning how to smoke meat in Austin. The result? Some of the best BBQ in America but in a more tropical setting than you’ll usually find.
Gotta Q pretty much dominates the BBQ scene in the small state of Rhode Island, but they’ve worked hard to earn the top spot. Their wood-smoked pulled pork is cooked to perfection and their sirloin is some of the most savoury in the region.
Fancy some of the most mouth-watering pulled pork you’ve ever tried? Head to Sioux Falls and try the pulled pork at Big Rig BBQ. However, locals seem to also love their ribs, which have won national awards for their savoury taste. You’ll want to visit this place extremely hungry, as their pork is addictive no matter how you order it.
The Lexington-style sauce and hand-chopped pork at this Shelby hotspot have been pleasing visitors from near and far since the 1940s. There’s nothing quite like the BBQ at Red Bridge, which they cook over hickory and oak wood. Then, they serve it up with some of the tastiest Southern sides you’ll find in the Carolinas. In short, it’s a full-on meal that you’ll be dreaming about for a while.
You can ask Yelp, TripAdvisor, locals, and international foodies and they’ll all tell you that the best BBQ in North Dakota is in the small town of Mandan. What was once Taylor Made BBQ is now Laughing Sun, as they’ve paired with Laughing Sun Brewing to expand their alcoholic offerings. On the BBQ side of things, they’re well-known for its ever-expanding and uniquely creative menu. Try the beef and pork ribs if you’re feeling extra hungry.
We’re not the only publication that things HQ Southern BBQ serves up some of the best-tasting BBQ in America. They’ve been featured in numerous other write-ups and review sites, and they’re well-loved by locals. Head here on the weekend to try their famous hickory-smoked prime rib.
The slogan here is “we smoke it all,” and not only do they do just that, but they do it extremely well. While there might be other places in West Virginia that have gained more notoriety, guests seem to believe that the quality of the BBQ at Rollin’ Smoke is so consistently good that it’s about to become one of the most-visited BBQ joints in America.
Looking for baby back ribs? There’s no other place in America that serves them quite like they do at Bombers BBQ. The flavour, which is a tad sweet due to the fact that they smoke them over apple and cherry wood, is second-to-none. The BBQ ribs here are definitely the best in Indiana, but they might also be the best in the entire country.
4 Rivers Smokehouse is another place that’s become so famous within its own state that any time you ask someone about the best BBQ in Florida, they automatically shout out their name. It’s become so popular that’s grown into a mini-chain of sorts, but that hasn’t affected the quality, especially when it comes to their aged brisket.
With hands down the best name for a BBQ restaurant in the entire world, The Notorious P.I.G. is just as creative with their BBQ as they are with their name. The founder, a Missouri-native, offers his guests some of the best-tasting sauce in Montana. When doused all over the perfectly-smoked ribs, it makes for easily some of the best BBQ in America.
We’re a fan of any place that perfectly combines BBQ and beer, and so are thousands of travellers who’ve made their way to SLOWS Bar-B-Q in Detroit. After expanding their restaurant space, SLOWS added 36 beer taps, and while that’s got nothing to do with the superb quality of their BBQ, we definitely feel like it adds to the overall culinary experience.
Make your way to South Philly and plop straight down at Mike’s Barbecue. The ribs here are all-you-can-eat, which is good because you’re going to literally want to eat them all. Don’t forget to try the most Philadelphian menu on the item – the famous brisket cheesesteak.
The pitmasters behind Local Smoke BBQ were part of a competition barbecue team before they decided to open their own restaurant (now with three locations). Their outstanding BBQ has earned then five NJ State BBQ Championships and numerous other awards all over the country. And, after one bite into their tender brisket, you’ll understand why.
The chef behind Ted Cook’s actually grew up in Ghana, which is where he first learned how to perfect the art of grilling. Today, he uses an open pit with hickory and cherry wood to serve some of the best BBQ in America. This is what you’re looking for if you’re looking for a truly old-school barbecue taste with absolutely no pretence.
The owners of Goody Coles are originally from Texas, which hints at just how deliciously authentic BBQ is there. The flavour, which is pretty true to Texas BBQ, comes from the 100% hickory wood that they use as they smoke the meat for 12 hours at a time. One waft of the smell at this place and you’ll be craving BBQ for months.
Numerous locals let us in on a little secret – Iron Gate BBQ is going outshine all other long-standing BBQ joints in Wisconsin to become top-dog this year. It’s likely due to their unique weekend menu offerings, such as crawfish on Fridays, or the fact that they source their meat locally.
In Austin, Texas they take BBQ very seriously, especially at the world-famous Black’s BBQ, which is where the owner and pitmaster of MAD Jack’s trained. The taste of the BBQ is equally as good as any place you’d find in Austin, but with the owner’s own unique touch. Expect to have to wait in line to sample some of the brisket and pork belly burnt ends. But, expect to feel like it was well worth the wait.
The signature sauce that Blue Ribbon BBQ uses really sets it apart from other competitors in the state. However, there’s more to the flavours here than just a special sauce. They truly know how to cook their meat to perfection, and quality service just makes the BBQ-eating experience all the more enjoyable.
Expect hearty portions of true Southern comfort food when you head to Jethro’s BBQ. Slinging meat that’s tasty enough to be considered some of the best in the Midwest, there’s a lot that Jethro’s gets right. And, really nothing that they do wrong. Perhaps their BBQ is almost too delicious?
If you’d have told us that there isn’t any great barbecue in Utah, then we might have believed you. But, we’re incredibly grateful that R&R BBQ has proved us all wrong. It doesn’t matter what you order here – pulled pork, ribs, or brisket – it’s going to taste so amazing that you’ll believe just how great the BBQ in Utah is.
The BBQ here is so good that the Seattle Seahawks contracted owner Jeff Knoch in order to cater for them once. There’s really nothing else we can say to make you believe just how mouthwateringly scrumptious BBQ here is, except that they smoke it over wood that’s imported from Texas. This gives it a taste you won’t find anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest.
This Houston favourite is home to all things barbecue. Decide between sliced brisket, Chicago style ribs, sausage and baby-back ribs all served with hushpuppies. Ray’s BBQ Shack’s meats are hickory smoked to the high heavens, and the barbecue sauce is homemade. In addition to delicious varieties of barbecue, Ray’s BBQ Shack is family owned and operated, which means you’ll always feel right at home.
Consistently ranked as one of the best BBQ restaurants in America, The Joint in New Orleans often flies under the radar because it’s not necessarily located in the BBQ Belt. The meat, which is smoked on-site, fills up the entire neighbourhood with the most savoury smell you can imagine. The taste? Even better.
Live music and BBQ go together so well that it almost feels weird chowing down on brisket and ribs without the sounds of blues in the background. The Shed is a family-owned BBQ restaurant that serves up savoury meat with a side of great vibes. Their whole hog has won more than its fair share of competitions, so whatever you get, make sure to try their pork.
Slow-smoked ribs and a special house sauce are two of the most popular items on the menu here. But, if you ask any patron they’ll likely tell you that anything they’ve ordered at Old Hickory Bar-B-Q has been fantastic. If you’re a fan of a unique BBQ sauce and high-quality meat, then this is the best place for you when it comes to BBQ in America.
The line to taste some of Eli’s famous BBQ snakes out the door many days a week. With flavours that literally seem to melt, burst, and linger in your mouth, the wait is well worth it just to try some of the best BBQ in America. Order the hickory-smoked ribs and enjoy every second of them.
Southern Living once claimed that, contrary to other top BBQ spots in the south, Burn Co. BBQ isn’t about low and slow, it’s about fast and hot. And, that kind of unique take on classic BBQ is something that visitors from near and far seem to really love. While BBQ is their speciality, you can order a lot of outstanding meat here, like bratwurst and smoked sausage.
Jones Bar-B-Q is run by fourth-generation pitmaster James Jones, and it’s clear upon the first bite just what kind of expertise he’s been passed down from his family over the past few generations. Hickory embers fuel the fires here and you can always expect the same taste each time you visit – downright delicious and perfectly tender.
It seems weird that a BBQ restaurant in New York might make the top 20 for any list of the best ‘cue in the States. But, don’t let the northern location fool you; there are some outstanding BBQ joints in New York. The best is Hometown Bar-B-Que. From smoked brisket to smoked lamb, there’s nothing on the menu that’s not absolutely delicious.
Georgia is home to lots of great BBQ, which makes finding the best BBQ a bit of a task. Locals, travellers, and food critics all agree that Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q serves some of the best in the state, if not the entire country. The patio space here truly adds to the ambience, but you’re going to want to stay for how tasty the slow-roasted ribs are.
Any BBQ expert who’s been to Illinois will tell you that Beast Craft Barbecue’s meticulous attention to detail when it comes to meat is unmatchable. The Hickory-smoked meats here are so savoury that they leave you dreaming about the taste for weeks after. If that’s not the mark of some of the best BBQ in America then we don’t know what is.
White-oak smoked spiced brisket is the hottest item on the menu at ZZQ, and it’s cooked to such perfection that you’ll wonder why you waited so long to make it out to Richmond just to try it. Even though the owner here is a Texas-native, they add a Virginian spin to all of their BBQ, creating one of the most unique, superb tastes in BBQ at the moment.
Little Miss BBQ has become quite popular in the world of BBQ over the past few years, and for a good reason. The mouth-watering true Texas BBQ is so good that it causes lines out the door just waiting for a taste. We suggest trying their brisket, which tastes truly Texan.
Once ranked as having one of the top four BBQ dishes in the entire country, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que excels at hickory-smoked chicken. But, it’s the Alabama white sauce that’s got travellers from faraway places flocking just to figure out what it is. We’ll give you a hint: it’s delicious.
What stands out as particularly impressive about Harp Barbecue is that the owner’s made it a point to travel to over 300 different BBQ restaurants in the country just to perfect his recipe and style. His dedication shows, as the brisket at Harp Barbecue is some of the best in the entire country and his sausages would hold up against any you might find in other parts of Missouri.
There’s no denying that La Barbecue is one of the best places for BBQ in Austin, Texas. So, it comes as no surprise that John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue worked there and has been able to transfer the same superior taste to residents of South Carolina. Beefy ribs are his specialty, so make sure to order a few racks.
The pitmaster here learned how to smoke meat in Australia, which isn’t something you’d particularly expect out of American BBQ. However, it works really well for him, and customers seem to find it extremely satisfying. From tender, juicy brisket to white-oak-smoked ribs, there’s nothing here that doesn’t taste absolutely delicious.
Slow and steady wins the race, which is something that the people at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que have taken to heart. The restaurant, which is located inside of a gas station, slowly cooks their tender brisket for a whopping 15 hours. Crispy and delicious, their burnt ends sandwich is some of the best BBQ in America. Others seem to think so too, which is why they wait in line for hours just to get a taste.
This downtown BBQ joint is famous near and far for being home to the best BBQ in Memphis, in part due to the sheer variety of pork they offer their guests. Choose from mouth-watering pork shoulder and ribs or chow down on what they call “dark,” the heavily smoked crust that any true BBQ lover is going to die for.
If you’re not from here, then all you need to know about true Texas BBQ is that it’s the best. Locals and out-of-staters will pretty much tell you the same thing, which is why choosing the best BBQ in Texas is pretty hard to do (touchy subject). While there are lots of different styles and flavours to choose from, Louie Mueller is currently dominating the BBQ scene. The brisket here is incredibly smokey and full of flavour. There’s not much else to say except for that it’s absolutely delicious.
After speaking with numerous locals, travellers, and barbecue experts, the conclusion is that the pork served at Skylight Inn BBQ is the No. 1 best barbecue in America. The pork sandwich has long been on any BBQ lover’s foodie bucket list in the States, but we’re looking to help it go global – it’s just that good.
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