Whether inspired by the Carolinas, the Texas Hill Country, or just a love of ‘cue, these barbecue spots serve up some of the best smoked pork, brisket, and ribs across the United States.
Saw’s BBQ, Homewood, Alabama
The focus of Saw’s BBQ is simple—good ole Southern soul food. Pioneered by Mike Wilson, Saw’s has taken Birmingham by a smoky storm. First opening in a residential area of Homewood, the venue has expanded to three locations where they serve classic pulled pork, chicken smothered in a distinctive white sauce, and barbecue-topped baked potatoes. Dubbed an “upscale dive,” this barbecue joint is one both family and friends will enjoy.
BB’s Lawnside Blues & Barbecue, Kansas City, Missouri
If you like your barbecue with a side of blues, BB’s Lawnside is the perfect smoke pit for you. Owner Lindsay Shannon started barbecuing in 1990 when he left a job in sales to pursue his passion for slow-cooked pork. An avid supporter of blues music, Shannon naturally decided to make music a permanent menu item. Thursday through Sunday, you’ll find BB’s overflowing with delicious blues music and smoked pork smothered in a sweet tomato-based sauce.
Live Oak Barbecue, Austin, Texas
Each Saturday, this East Austin barbecue joint serves a special item not featured on the regular menu—a Saturday Special. Past specials include ribs with red wine and rosemary, Hawaiian-style pork belly, and smoked barbacoa tacos. If you’re just looking for down-home Texas barbecue though, you can’t go wrong with a plate of the dry-rubbed pork, prepared by the pound and cut to order.
Wexler’s, San Francisco, California
Located in a handsome brick firehouse, Wexler’s puts an upscale twist on a Southern tradition. Known for their funky fusions and creative toppings, this farm-to-table interpretation of barbecue is definitely an unexpected find in the City by the Bay. Using a special blend of house-made spices, all meat at Wexler’s is smoked until achieving fall-off-the-bone tenderness and piled high on a freshly baked sweet deli roll.
Pappy’s Smokehouse, Saint Louis, Missouri
Serving up plates overflowing with Memphis-style barbecue, Pappy’s Smokehouse is a Gateway City treasure. Open since 2008, Pappy’s has gained recognition for their three homemade barbecue sauces and pork smoked for up to 14 hours over an apple and cherry wood-fired oven. Be sure to try the deep-fried corn on the cob as a fun variation to a favorite barbecue side.
Skylight Inn, Ayden, North Carolina
Plain and simple, this barbecue is good. Living by the motto that quality barbecue requires no sauce, the Skylight Inn is said to have the best barbecue in eastern North Carolina. Seasoned with vinegar and hot sauce, all of Skylight’s pork is smoked on oak logs and cooked to a perfect tenderness. Along with a barbecue sandwich topped with coleslaw and wrapped in wax paper, you’ll also receive a slice of unleavened cornbread with your order.
Snow’s BBQ, Lexington, Texas
Only open Saturdays from 8 a.m. until the meat runs out, Snow’s BBQ is a Lone Star State gem that often has lines longer than a Texas mile. Owner Kerry Bexley opened the restaurant in 2003 when he teamed up with pit boss Tootsie Tomanetz and decided to start slow-smoking pork every Saturday morning. Today, you’ll find the duo serving up large portions of barbecue alongside family members who help run the business.
Feast BBQ, New Albany, Indiana
When the space now occupied by Feast BBQ first opened its doors in 1879, it was coined “The Finest Saloon in New Albany.” Selling fine wines and cigars for decades, the venue was eventually left abandoned until Ryan Rogers had the bright idea to convert it into New Albany’s finest barbecue joint. Feast gives a strong nod to its faded elegance while offering some of the best smoked meat in Indiana and the state’s largest bourbon selection.
Peg Leg Porker, Nashville, Tennessee
Coming from a long line of hog cookin’ men, Carey Bringle, owner of Peg Leg Porker, knows a thing or two about barbecue. Located in the Gulch section of Nashville, this modest venue offers slow-cooked pork smoked to perfection and covered in Memphis-style sauce. If the weather is nice, make sure to dine outside at the Porker, as the restaurant provides a great patio perfect for a night out in Music City.
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue, Manhattan, New York
Blending Carolina and Texas styles, Mighty Quinn’s created it’s own unique taste—“Texalina” barbecue. Highly regarded for its unique flavor and casual dining atmosphere, Mighty Quinn’s channels Southern charm in the midst of the busy city. Pitmaster Hugh Mangum achieves the perfect harmony of smoke and flavor by slow-cooking the meat for several hours over a wood stove.
Photos courtesy of Express Photo in Brookside, Candice L. Parker, SWLouis Photography, Robert Lerma, RIHOB Inc., and Giacomo Fortado