The Best BBQ Joint in Every State
Pack some wet-naps and hit the road for a state-by-state tour of the best BBQ this country has to offer.
Alabama: Saw’s BBQ, Homewood and Birmingham
This hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint makes some of the most delicious ribs and pulled meat in the country. While their pork products have made them popular, their pulled chicken with white sauce is not to be missed. Be prepared to wait in line! Not in the mood for BBQ? Go out for the one food you have to try from every state instead.
Alaska: Black Jaxx BBQ, Soldotna
Though this restaurant is only open from April to September (the owners, perhaps wisely, spend the harsher months in Oklahoma), Alaskans know they’ll find amazing Southern-style barbecue here. They offer the typical fare as well as smoked bologna and stellar baked beans.
Arizona: Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix
This is another small but superb place serving barbecue in the style of Central Texas, and you’ll want to get there early for their masterful pulled pork, buttery brisket, and smoked turkey. Don’t forget dessert—the smoked pecan pie is unique and delicious!
Arkansas: Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, Marianna
James Beard awards aren’t handed out willy-nilly, so the fact that this diner earned one back in 2012 says a lot about its quality. Their famous pork sandwiches are dressed with a tangy vinegar-based sauce, and a light, mustardy slaw can be added as the perfect accompaniment.
California: Copper Top BBQ, Big Pine
This tiny establishment was named America’s Best Restaurant by Yelpers in 2015, and that many peer reviewers can’t be wrong! Things have only gotten better since then; tri-tip is the star of Copper Top’s show, and they’ve mastered ribs, pulled pork, and chicken, too.
Colorado: GQue BBQ, Westminster
Only open since late 2015, the cleverly named GQue BBQ has already garnered a lot of attention and numerous awards. They take pride in their carefully sourced hickory-smoked fare, which includes everything from wings to brisket to jalapeno cheddar sausage. Rather not leave Denver? Try heading to Colorado’s selection from our list of the most iconic diners in every state.
Connecticut: Hoodoo Brown BBQ, Ridgefield
Named for the leader of the notorious Dodge City Gang of Las Vegas in the late 1800s, this restaurant serves a mixture of various barbecue styles from around the country (appropriately dubbed “outlaw barbecue”). Their pork belly is next to none, with crispy skin and a rich, juicy bite.
Delaware: Fat Daddy’s BBQ, Georgetown
You’ll find this place not far from Delaware Tech, and their spicy barbecue, outstanding brisket and unique corn pone (basically unleavened cornbread) appeal to college kids and mature adults alike. Portions are generous, and the price is right.
Florida: Shiver’s Bar-B-Q, Homestead
Owned and operated by the same family for more than 60 years, it’s no surprise the barbecued offerings at this restaurant are excellent. In addition to great food, you’ll also experience wonderful hospitality. For something different, try the fluffy and fantastic cornbread souffle.
Georgia: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, Atlanta
As the name suggests, two Texan brothers run this joint in northeast Atlanta. They serve plenty of pork, but since they are from Texas, beef is the star. You can even get a huge beef rib that was named one of Atlanta’s iconic dishes by Eater in 2015.
Hawaii: Bob’s Bar-B-Que, Kalihi
Bob’s serves up barbecue with a serious Hawaiian twist and influences from all over the world. They offer kalbi ribs (Korean-style beef short ribs) and chicken katsu (Japanese-style breaded chicken), and they make their own teriyaki that can be used to sauce any meat. While you’re on the best food road trip, try out the best hot dog in every state, too.
Idaho: Goodwood Barbecue Company, Boise
Meats get fancy in this establishment! In addition to staples like brisket, ribs and burnt ends, Goodwood also offers deluxe options like smoked prime rib and mopped Delmonico steak. Enjoy your barbecued feast surrounded by woodsy decor, just as their name suggests.
Illinois: 17th Street Barbecue, Murphysboro
Featured on Food Network and Travel Channel and the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, 17th Street Barbecue is a landmark establishment. One thing that makes them stand out among barbecue restaurants is their use of their trademarked “magic dust” rub, which you can purchase in their shop.
Indiana: Bombers BBQ, Munster
Burnt ends are the specialty of this barbecue joint, which boasts that all of their meats are smoked a minimum of 15 hours. The staff is particularly friendly, and visitors should be prepared to be bombarded with military paraphernalia—it’s their entire motif.
Iowa: Smokey D’s BBQ, Des Moines
Choices abound at Smokey D’s—their championship-level meat offerings include chopped pork, pulled chicken, pit ham and burnt ends, among others. If you doubt their accomplishments, look no further than their huge (and full!) trophy case for affirmation.
Kansas: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Kansas City
Consistently on “best of” lists and often at the top, this establishment was originally a gas station. That doesn’t slow them down at all, as you’ll find world-famous ribs and brisket that always meet high standards. They’ve even earned Anthony Bourdain’s seal of approval, but they don’t come close to Bourdain’s surprising favorite fried chicken joint.
Kentucky: Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, Owensboro
Mutton is on the menu at this revered Kentucky restaurant. They’ve been serving it, along with more typical barbecue fare, for over 60 years, and to say that they’ve mastered its proper preparation would be quite the understatement.
Louisiana: The Joint, New Orleans
This place pays homage to its location with chaurice sausage, a classic Creole pork sausage seasoned with fresh vegetables. Since opening in 2004, their meats, smoked on-site, have only gotten better and more popular. Smoke is so important to these folks that even the salad comes with a smoked dressing.
Maine: Salvage BBQ, Portland
Delicious meats of all kinds are served at this hip Maine restaurant. As a bonus, they offer beef fat fries, stellar mac and cheese and hush puppies that you won’t soon forget! For those who don’t mind sharing, the Meat Coma is a great option—it includes 1/4 rack of ribs, 1/3 pound of brisket and chopped pork, plus a cup of chili.
Massachusetts: B.T.’s Smokehouse, Sturbridge
This small-town joint specializes in slow-smoked and dry-rubbed barbecue. Their brisket is thought by many to be the best in all of New England. Thousands of pounds of meat are smoked for their customers each week! While you’re visiting each state for their BBQ, be sure to take home the best souvenir from each state to remember the road trip by!
Michigan: Slows Bar BQ, Detroit
Slows offers a little bit of everything, including brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked turkey and jambalaya. They have several noteworthy sandwiches, the best of which might be the Triple Threat, consisting of generous portions of applewood smoked bacon, pulled pork and ham.
Minnesota: Q Fanatic BBQ & Grill, Champlin
This popular restaurant doles out favorites like tender ribs, sliced brisket, grilled slab bacon, and corn fritters. They have 10 homemade sauces from which to choose, though the hickory-smoked flavor of the meat needs no enhancement.
Mississippi: The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint, Ocean Springs
As their name implies, this place is a must-visit for all lovers of barbecued meat and blues. They often feature live music to accompany their deliciously smoked baby back and spare ribs, which you can enjoy seated on picnic tables beneath string lights.
Missouri: Pappy’s Smokehouse, St. Louis
Pappy’s is the go-to barbecue joint in St. Louis. They favor Memphis-style barbecue, focusing on dry-rubbed ribs sprinkled with brown sugar and cooked low and slow over apple and cherry wood. The resulting meat has a delicious blend of smoky and sweet flavors. Giving Pappy’s Smokehouse the title of best BBQ in Missouri is saying something because in terms of each state’s signature dish barbecue takes the cake in Missouri.
Montana: The Notorious P.I.G., Missoula
A clever name isn’t the only thing this restaurant has going for it. They serve impressively barbecued meats inspired by St. Louis methods and flavors, including pastrami and tri-tip sirloin, which aren’t often seen on a tour of the best barbecue restaurants.
Nebraska: Phat Jack’s BBQ, Lincoln
Burnt ends and brisket are the shining stars of this surprisingly modern place, which has been serving Kansas City-style barbecue since 2006. The portions are generous, the flavors are memorable and the freshly prepared meat goes fast!
Nevada: John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill Grill, Las Vegas
As you might expect, John Mull’s Meats dishes out some interesting fare. In addition to staples like brisket and ribs, you can also visit their market and walk away with goat, frog legs and buffalo burgers, among other unique selections.
New Hampshire: Goody Cole’s Smokehouse, Brentwood
The menu is small at this joint, but that means they’re focusing on quality over quantity. The brisket is not to be missed, and the cornbread receives rave reviews. They use all hickory wood in the smoker, a fact made evident with one whiff of the air around the restaurant.
New Jersey: Red White and Que Smokehouse, Kearny
This patriotic establishment is working hard to engender a spirit of camaraderie, slow-cooking their meats to perfection and creating really tasty sides from scratch. The BBQ Sundae stands out on their menu, consisting of meat and smoked baked beans topped with coleslaw and pickles and served in a Mason jar.
New Mexico: Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue, Cloudcroft
You can’t be a restaurant in New Mexico and avoid green chiles, and this well-loved, homey barbecue place makes an excellent green chile stew. Be on the lookout for their massive and meaty beef ribs, too! Be sure to check out the most popular tourist attractions in each state, too!
North Carolina: Skylight Inn BBQ, Ayden
Unless you prefer Lexington-style barbecue (red sauce on pork shoulder only), Skylight Inn is the place to go in North Carolina. They favor the Eastern style—they use the whole hog, and they’ve been using it very well since 1947. They also serve a plain and simply perfect vinegar sauce.
North Dakota: Spitfire Bar & Grill, West Fargo
Spit-roasted chicken and pit-smoked ribs bring folks to this restaurant, though they offer much more, including wood-fired steaks, burgers, and fish. One intriguing selection is the gourmet raspberry ribs, finished with a savory raspberry glaze.
Oklahoma: Burn Co Barbecue, Tulsa
The owners of this place say Oklahoma BBQ is a blend of Texans’ love for beef and the sweet sauces and pork dishes of Kansas. They use the unique Tulsa-made Hasty Bake charcoal oven to grill and smoke their meats and some of their sides. Just be sure you aren’t caught breaking the strangest food law in Oklahoma (or any of the other states for that matter) while you’re there!
Oregon: Podnah’s Pit, Portland
Central Texas-style barbecue is on the menu at this popular establishment with a spacious dining area. The dry-rubbed brisket and ribs both have a bark that’s simultaneously light, crispy, smoky and just fatty enough to please the palate.
Pennsylvania: Shakedown BBQ, Grantville
You can truly personalize your plate at this restaurant—pick a meat, a size and a style. Their meats include brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken, and their styles range from Alabama BBQ (white sauce) to Barn Burner (ghost pepper slaw and “hell in a bucket” sauce).
Rhode Island: Becky’s BBQ, Middletown
Dishing out sauced meat in the styles of both Carolina and Kansas City, Becky’s has low-and-slow down to an art form. Their plates have been satisfying everyone from kids to senior citizens since 1994.
South Carolina: Carolina BBQ, Spartanburg
Lexington-style barbecue is on the menu of this cozy restaurant. The ribs leave visitors wanting more and keep the locals coming back time and time again. They even serve homemade Brunswick stew, which is a barbecue classic that needs a comeback.
South Dakota: Big Rig BBQ, Sioux Falls
Another young establishment, Big Rig is so proud of their tender, juicy meat that they serve it as is, with the sauce optional. Everything possible is made from scratch and served by hard-working, friendly people. If you’re traveling to get your hands on the best BBQ in each state, be sure to stay at each state’s best hotel according to customers.
Tennessee: Peg Leg Porker, Nashville
There’s a story behind the fun name of this joint—the owner lost his leg to bone cancer, but obviously came through it with a sense of humor and a desire to serve great barbecue. Their dry-rubbed ribs are a must-try.
Texas: Franklin BBQ, Austin
Even if you don’t give a hoot about barbecue, you’ve probably heard of this place. People wait hours for a taste of their award-winning brisket, and their pulled pork, turkey and sausage are notable, too. Simply put, it’s barbecue bliss!
Vermont: Bluebird Barbecue, Burlington
This casual and eclectic eatery serves ribs and, surprisingly, ramen. They even have barbecued seitan for any vegetarians who find themselves in a meat-eater’s paradise. You’d better stop in at Bluebird Barbecue for your dinner, because in terms of what each state is best—and worst—at, Vermont has the lowest number of fast-food joints per capita, so you won’t be too likely to find a happy meal anywhere else.
Virginia: HogsHead Cafe, Henrico
Though they do offer ribs, pulled pork and chicken, the customer favorite on this joint’s menu seems to be the gluttonous Hog Dog, a bacon-wrapped jumbo beef hot dog that’s deep-fried and topped with pulled pork, sauce, and coleslaw.
Washington: Jack’s BBQ, Seattle
This is another Northwest restaurant focusing on Central Texas-style barbecue. The brisket is remarkably tender and flavorful and requires no sauce whatsoever, and Frito pie, a beloved Texas classic, is even on their expansive and straightforward menu.
West Virginia: Ridge View BBQ, Dunbar
Two couples run this casual and well-liked establishment, and they smoke and serve all the barbecue staples. They even notably make pork rinds in-house. West Virginia State University is right across the street, making its location ideal.
Wisconsin: Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ, Dodgeville
You’ll find all the typical barbecue fare at this funky place, including smoked pork chops. Since Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland and famous for its cheeses, you’d be remiss if you left without trying the battered cheese curds.
Wyoming: HQ Southern BBQ, Evansville
HQ Southern BBQ smokes its meat daily, and the ribs and pulled pork are both worth a try. But people really seem to love the Epic Mac-n-Cheese, made with a rich three-cheese and cream combination. Heading to a backyard BBQ instead? Just be sure not to eat any of the worst foods to eat at Barbecue.