The Most Beloved BBQ Joint in Every State (Get There Early for #43!)

From smoky brisket to tangy ribs, explore the ultimate BBQ destinations nationwide.
Updated May 8, 2024
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When you think of the best BBQ, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a local joint with a family secret recipe spice rub or where they slow-cook it for hours overnight and run out halfway through the dinner rush the next day.

Succulent BBQ requires a good sauce, the best atmosphere, and the perfect selection of sides. While every region has its own unique taste, only a few can rise to the top of the pack.

If you’re looking to step up your travel game and visit the best BBQ joints in the U.S., these are some of the most popular from coast to coast.

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Alabama: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q (Decatur)

fahrwasser/Adobe grilled pork baby ribs with sauce

The pitmasters at Big Bob Gibson have more than 90 years of experience, offering an original BBQ white sauce known worldwide. It’s so good they ship their BBQ around the country.

From pork to tender brisket, this BBQ joint in Decatur is a must for those looking for award-winning meats and options like smoked chicken wings and Brunswick stew.

Alaska: Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria (Anchorage)

Nelea Reazanteva/Adobe grilled pork ribs caramelized in honey

For the best BBQ in Anchorage, in pizza form, head to Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, a location built on the owners’ love for music, beer, and BBQ.

Here, you can grab some good food — like their mouthwatering Buffalo Chicken BBQ pizza — and listen to local bands on a Friday night.

You may also be tempted by their full menu, with options like smoked salmon sockeye spread or the Amazing Apricot pizza.

Arizona: Little Miss BBQ-University (Phoenix)

Brent Hofacker/Adobe bbq pulled pork sandwich with fries

The beef rib, one of the biggest and juiciest options on the menu, is just the start of what’s available at Little Miss BBQ-University. The brisket is sliced thin and simply falls apart in your mouth.

With a retro vibe, it’s not very big and definitely not a fancy location, but the food stands out, making it a superb location.

The Central Texas-style BBQ on the menu allows you to choose food by the plate, tray, or pound, but you absolutely have to save room for Bekke’s Smoked Pecan Pie, a personal-sized pecan pie with a smooth, smokey taste.

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Arkansas: Jones Bar-B-Q Diner (Marianna)

littleny/Adobe pulled pork sandwich coleslaw and pickle

Jones Bar-B-Q Diner is a small location, one of the region’s more historic restaurants, but the big, bold flavors make it a favorite of many.

It doesn’t look like a whole lot, and it is certainly a no-frills type of BBQ joint, but that’s what makes it special and the fact that it’s won a James Beard Award.

As the oldest black-owned BBQ restaurant in the country, having been established in 1910, it’s certainly worth stopping in for the range of pork options on the menu.

California: Bludso's Bar & Que (Los Angeles)

Wagner/Adobe kansas city bbq steak platter

Buldso’s Bar & Que in Los Angeles is the creation of Kevin Bludso, a TV personality and James Bard Award Winner.

Make sure you try the LA Rib Tips for an app. Then, dive into the 14-hour slow-roasted meats, including brisket, pork rib tips, Texas red Hot, or even jackfruit.

Colorado: Smokin Yard’s BBQ (Denver)

OPPERMAN/Adobe delicious north carolina bbq platter

Enjoy a few hours at Smokin Yard’s BBQ, and you’re sure to go home stuffed. Called “high elevation BBQ,” the menu here is exceptional, with a fantastic blend of spices.

As for what to enjoy, you could choose the smoked hot wings or the smoked chicken. For those looking for their tried-and-true best dish on the menu, go with the pulled pork.

Connecticut: Hoodoo Brown BBQ (Ridgefield)

Joshua Resnick/Adobe texas style bbq smoked brisket tray

When in Connecticut but looking for an authentic Texas BBQ, there’s no better place to go than Hoodoo Brown BBQ, especially if you want a few craft beers and cocktails to go with it.

With an Old West theme throughout, the only thing better than the smoked turkey and sausage here is the Texas poutine, with layers of fries, gravy, brisket, and cheese curds.

Delaware: Bethany Blues BBQ (Lewes)

GrayFrog/Adobe texas burger with brisket and pickles

Bethany Blues BBQ is the best Lewes BBQ place for a family-friendly, comfort meal. Defined by the southern roots of the chefs here, the menu is robust and packed with flavor.

Check out t their casual platters menu with pasta, sandwiches, and salads, along with options like Sage Rubbed Delmarva chicken BBQ and Fiery Pigs on the Wing ribs.

Florida: 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Orlando)

fahrwasser/Adobe grilled and smoked ribs with chicken

For many, 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Orlando is a tradition when visiting on vacation. It’s easy to see why this family-owned BBQ and its slow-smoked meats are good enough to come back to.

The huge menu has plenty of options, but the Happy Herd could be the best since it lets you sample four meats, two sides, and get four pieces of bread for a family of four.

The menu includes smoked turkey, pulled chicken, Texas sausage, and even vegan burnt ends.

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Georgia: Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q (Atlanta)

Pete/Adobe bbq meat platter with different sauces

The best BBQ in Atlanta has to be at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q.

The location offers Texas-style style smoked goodness, including pulled pork, beef brisket, and Big Texas — a slice of fatty Prime Certified Angus Beef brisket that comes with a layer of mustard, pickets, and onions on Texas Toast.

Don’t overlook the other goodies like a smokey chicken salad and jalapeno cheddar sausage sold by the link.

Hawaii: L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (Honolulu)

Brent Hofacker/Adobe homemade hawaiian huli chicken dish

L&L; Hawaiian Barbecue is very different than what you’ll find anywhere else, but it has everything you could want, including a BBQ Beef Bowl and Barbecue Chicken with a Hawaiian-inspired sauce.

However, L&L; offers much more than that, including kalua pork and chicken katsu. That’s good when not everyone in your party is into BBQ.

Idaho: Goodwood Barbecue Company (Boise)

fadi/Adobe smoked prime rib on dark background

A BBQ joint that specializes in pit-smoked pork and beef, Goodwood Barbecue Company is an easy choice when you’re in Boise.

You’ll find the menu is packed with scratch-made goodness. Choose the Smoked Prime Rib for a special treat.

Illinois: Smoque BBQ (Chicago)

micky22/Adobe bbq ribs and sliders with sauce

At Smoque BBQ, you’ll find five guys who love BBQ cooking up a storm, including pulled pork, ribs, and brisket, all served in a community table-like setting.

They have all of the favorites, just better, and incredible treats like salmon as well.

Indiana: Hawg Heaven (Kokomo)

Alfazet Chronicles/Adobe bbq pulled pork sliders with fries

A small, hole-in-the-wall type of location, Hawg Heaven is a true treasure with its baby back ribs and pulled pork.

You won’t find a lot of frills here, but with the rich, homemade sauce and slow-cooked meats, you will not miss them either.

Iowa: Jethro's BBQ (Des Moines)

Joshua Resnick/Adobe chicken wings with ranch dressing

Jethro’s BBQ in Des Moines is one of seven locations frequented by BBQ lovers for its intensely flavored menu of good food cooked from scratch.

The menu is huge, but some favorites include slow-smoked wings and the slow-smoked baby back pork ribs. Other options, like the Red Beans and Nice Rice and Smokehouse Jambalaya, are the filling meals you need after a long day.

Kansas: Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que (Kansas City)

altitudevisual/Adobe barbecue turkey sandwich with parsley leaf

Once just a gas station, today, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que is a local favorite with award-winning BBQ. The menu is impressively long, making the choices hard.

Popular options include The Hogomaniac (two ribs, pulled pork, and sausage served with a side and Texas toast) and the Open-Face Lean ‘n’ Mean (a smoked turkey sandwich with spiced coleslaw).

Or, save money buying meat by the pound using a top cash back credit card; they’ll even tell you how to reheat it to perfection.

Kentucky: Feast BBQ (Louisville)

Joshua Resnick/Adobe pulled pork with sides and tea

Founded by a team passionate about the craft of BBQ, Feast BBQ in Louisville has a packed menu of slow-cooked foods.

Start with the Pork Cakes or the Crispy Mac & Cheeseballs. Then get serious with tacos, sandwiches, or a plate of brisket, pulled pork, chopped chicken, crispy smoked tofu, or smoked sausage.

Louisiana: The Joint (New Orleans)

iwaart/Adobe texas style barbecue meal with fixings

Located in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, The Joint is a popular meeting place. From fantastic cocktails and a brew lineup that’s impressive in its own right, the meals here are slow-cooked.

Try the pork sausage or beef brisket on a sandwich. You could choose a healthier option like a salad with pork, chicken, or brisket on top.

Maine: Salvage BBQ (Portland)

valya82/Adobe pork ribs with sauce and salad

With a rustic feel, Salvage BBQ is a fantastic Portland BBQ joint and a simple destination focused on its meats.

Choose from pork, brisket, sausage, or chicken in sandwiches or stacked high on a tray. Finish your meal with sides like collard greens, mac n cheese, and baked beans. It’s classic goodness.

Maryland: Chaps Pit Beef (Baltimore)

Ezume Images/Adobe pulled pork burger with cheese

For the best BBQ in Baltimore, check out Chaps Pit Beef. Mostly known for its BBQ beef, turkey, and pork, the chicken is pretty good, too.

Platter or sandwich, you can’t go wrong with options like the Beef Platter served with open-faced beef with fries and gravy or beef sandwich.

Massachusetts: The Smoke Shop BBQ (Boston)

DAVID/Adobe barbecue rib tips with sauce

The Smoke Shop BBQ is the creation of Andy Husbands, who has over 20 years on the competitive BBQ circuit to show off.

If you can’t choose from the massive menu, aim for the Texas-style brisket, burnt ends, or the first-place ribs they’ve won with in numerous competitions.

Michigan: Slows Bar BQ (Detroit)

paulzhuk/Adobe pulled pork coleslaw jalapeno and bread

Slows Bar BQ is a fun location initially noted for its craft beer and rustic style. The slow-cooked meats, though, make it a must-stop.

Start with some Slows Pork Rinds and then enjoy The Reason, the sandwich of smoked pork butt with a North Carolina sauce and topped with dill pickles and coleslaw. It’s the sandwich they say started the entire menu.

Minnesota: Revival Smoked Meats (Minneapolis)

Sławomir Fajer/Adobe fried kentucky chicken legs with fries

If you want more than just BBQ, consider Revival Smoked Meats in Minneapolis. It’s known for its southern comfort foods, including fried chicken.

For BBQ lovers, though, pair the drop biscuits with the pork shoulder, brisket, or ribs.

Mississippi: The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint (Ocean Springs)

David Henry/Adobe southern barbecue cuisine platter at restaurant

The Shed BBQ & Blues is just that, a local favorite that combines the best of BBQ with the Blues.

A fun night is sure to be a top priority here, at least after enjoying the pecan wood-smoked BBQ, which could include the 16-hour cooked brisket, the locally made sausage, or meaty ribs.

Missouri: Pappy's Smokehouse (St. Louis)

fkruger/Adobe barbecue pork rib on french fries

For Memphis-style BBQ in St. Louis, visit Pappy’s Smokehouse, a counter-order, tried-and-true location known for its wood-smoked goodness.

Everything is made low-and-slow, fresh, with sauce on the side because they have nothing to hide. They are easily known for having the best ribs in Missouri.

Montana: Notorious P.I.G. BBQ (Missoula)

kenwnj/Adobe delicious bbq pulled pork platter

The Notorious P.I.G. BBQ uses proprietary methods to smoke their meat, which they begin cooking every day at 4 in the morning.

The menu of scratch-made items is made every day, and once they run out of that smoked turkey, pulled pork, or ribs, they have no more. Get there early.

Nebraska: Phat Jack's BBQ (Lincoln)

digidreamgrafix/Adobe hoagie roll with caramelized pull pork

Phat Jack’s BBQ is a counter-service BBQ joint serving Kansas City-style BBQ. You just can’t go wrong with the big portions of pork ribs.

The sandwiches are where the flavor is at, though, including the Briskey & Red Hot Sandwich or the Cornhusker Sandwich, which is topped with slaw.

Nevada: Rollin Smoke Barbeque (Las Vegas)

Brent Hofacker/Adobe homemade barbecue platter with ribs

In Vegas, the best BBQ is at Rolling Smoke Barbecue, noted not just for its World Famous Beef Ribs and Smoked Chicken.

You can also buy sides by the gallon if you need them, including Kick’N BBQ Beans and Bacon Potato Salad. For a recommendation, choose the all-you-can-eat menu, which gives you anything you want from the menu.

New Hampshire: Goody Coles Smokehouse (Brentwood)

Joshua Resnick/Adobe texas style bbq with smoked brisket

A tried-and-true establishment serving authentic BBQ for more than a decade, Goody Coles Smokehouse is consistently noted for its high-quality, traditional menu.

The pork ribs are made with a dry seasoned rub that’s a secret recipe and then slow smoked with hickory to create a deep, rich flavor.

New Jersey: Local Smoke BBQ (Neptune City)

Darwin Brandis/Adobe eastern nc style bbq plate

The cornbread and mac ‘n’ cheese are made fresh daily at Local Smoke BBQ, but the start of the show is the pulled pork. Choose from the standard or the buffalo version.

Up your game with a multiple-meat platter so you can try out the BBQ chicken, ribs, or beef brisket.

New Mexico: Whole Hog Café (Albuquerque)

GrayFrog/Adobe texas style bbq meat pickles sauces

With 25 years of experience, 46 awards, and seven exceptional sauces, the BBQ at Whole Hog Café is easily the best in the state.

They offer Memphis-style BBQ, including the Whole Hob Platter, which offers a combination of pulled pork, beef brisket, baby back ribs, beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and a roll to finish it off.

New York: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Syracuse)

pavel siamionov/Adobe ribeye steak with potato gratin salad

While it’s in New York, the menu at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is all Southern-style foods and craft brews to match.

The live music, rustic feel in a building that dates back to the 1920s, and the menu that includes everything from fried green tomatoes to Creole deviled eggs is worth the trip to Syracuse.

The BBQ makes it even better, including the prime brisket with jalapenos, ribs, and whole chicken.

North Carolina: Skylight Inn BBQ (Ayden)

will milne/Adobe bbq with pickles and onions

Skylight Inn BBQ is a no-frills joint with a downhome location. Established in 1947, it’s North Carolina’s best BBQ joint for several reasons.

The family-centric atmosphere is exceptional, but the food is even better. Choose from pig or yard bird (or a combination of both), a slice of cornbread, and some baked beans to go with it.

North Dakota: Spitfire Bar & Grill (West Fargo)

Acker/Adobe brisket ribs and sausage with macaroni

Spitfire Bar & Grill is the place to go for a sangria or martini, along with wood-grilled meats. Everything is smoked fresh daily.

This award-winning destination has a range of options, including spit-roasted chicken and pit-smoked ribs, but they also offer wood-fired fish that’s the best in the area.

Ohio: Eli's BBQ (Cincinnati)

Joshua Resnick/Adobe assorted trays of texas bbq

Eli’s BBQ in Cincinnati is the place to go every week for a meal because it’s just that good. With two locations (one on Riverside and another on West Elder St.), there’s plenty of opportunity.

Choose from pulled pork, smoked turkey, all-beef dogs, wings, and more all hickory smoked. Couple that with some Creamy Southern Cole Slaw or Jalapeno Cheddar Grits.

Oklahoma: Burn Co. Barbecue (Tulsa)

HN Works/Adobe texas bbq platter on wooden table

Burn Co. Barbecue makes what they call “real” food without any shortcuts in the grilling and smoking process. Their mustard BBQ sauce is one of their claims to fame.

Choose from a wide range of options, including the smoked pork chop or burned ends. There’s often a special of the day giving you even more reason to visit.

Oregon: Podnah's Pit Barbecue (Portland)

rebecca/Adobe mac and cheese with bbq platter

Podnah’s Pit Barbecue offers original craft, Texas-style barbecue in a rustic, wooden-table, cabin-like atmosphere. The owner’s grandfather, Podnah, was a butcher and passed his skills and methods down through the generations.

Some of the best options here include the smoked brisket, chicken, or gringo, a classic crispy shell beef taco.

Pennsylvania: Fette Sau (Philadelphia)

rebecca/Adobe pork sausages with broccoli and fries

The dry rub at Fette Sau makes this a fantastic option for those looking for a hearty, flavor-packed bike of smoked goodness (go for the ribs).

They’re also known for their large beer and whiskey menu and industry-style layout. Even better, they locally source as much as possible, including all their meats.

Rhode Island: Becky's BBQ (Middletown)

rebecca/Adobe bbq platter with mac n cheese

Becky’s BBQ is a welcoming, country-style destination that offers surprisingly good hickory smoked BBQ, including smoked pork, chicken, and beef.

Promising 100% Southern smoked meats, the destination provides outstanding lunch and dinner plates. Don’t forget the sides like cornbread, potato salad, or Becky’s baked beans.

South Carolina: Rodney Scott's BBQ (Charleston)

Brent Hofacker/Adobe fresh barbecue brisket and ribs platter

Stop in at Rodney Scott’s BBQ for a counter-service, low country-style menu built by a chef who cooked his first hog at just 11 years of age.

It’s Rodney Scott’s passion that makes this location so vibrant. That, along with a huge selection of options ranging from the Whole Hog Pork Plate to the Smoked Chicken Wings and Catfish King Platter.

South Dakota: Big J's Roadhouse BBQ (Sturgis)

micky22/Adobe smoked saucy ribs and french fries

Big J’s Roadhouse BBQ is a family-friendly destination offering lunch and dinner specials, including smoked ribs and pork sandwiches, along with ice-cold beer to go with it.

This location has plenty to offer, with big portions and lots of outdoor seating.

Tennessee: Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint (Nashville)

Pete/Adobe bbq platter with mac and cheese

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint has a lot to live up to in Nashville, but it does a fine job, as it smokes its meat over hickory wood for as long as 24 hours.

They believe BBQ is an extreme craft here, and everything, from the sauces to each side, is scratch-made daily. If you’re looking for something unique, try the Big Ole Smoked Bologna, but the ribs and brisket are the best around.

Texas: Franklin Barbecue (Austin)

Joshua Resnick/Adobe bbq ribs with brisket fried okra

As the best BBQ in Texas, Franklin Barbecue has it all, including brisket and pulled pork, so head straight here to avoid wasting money on lesser Texas BBQ.

However, you'll miss out if you don’t get there early. You may have to wait an hour in line only to be told they’re sold out.

Everything on the menu is worth the wait, though, from the pork and beef ribs to the turkey. And don’t forget to order a slice of Bourbon Banana Pie for dessert.

Utah: R&R Barbecue (Salt Lake City)

Pete/Adobe delicious bbq platter with bread

For the best BBQ in Salt Lake City, check out R&R; Barbecue, known for its big portions and the best competition BBQ recipes out there.

If you can’t wait until lunch, they also offer a breakfast menu here, a unique option for many BBQ joints.

Vermont: Taste of Texas BBQ VT (Cambridge)

Wagner/Adobe southern barbecue joint with smoky brisket

Fall-off-the-bone ribs with a warm, thick sauce make Taste of Texas BBQ VT the best in the state. One of the best options on the menu is the Sam Huston brisket sandwich.

The friendly people and huge portions make this a destination to stop at when you’re in the city.

Virginia: ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque (Richmond)

Pete/Adobe delicious bbq platter with bread

A cool, relaxed vibe, an open patio, and an industrial setting with garage doors definitely make ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque the place to be. The food is next level.

The beef brisket is tender and juicy, while the prime rib, pastrami, and bacon ribs, served just one day a week, are the stuff you’ll write home about.

Washington: Jack's BBQ (Seattle)

Ukrainian Food Photo/Adobe pork steak ribs sausages and kebabs

In Seattle, Jack’s BBQ offers what it calls “soul-warming BBQ,” and it’s easy to see why. This Tex-Mex location features recipes that began in butcher shops in the 1800s.

The menu’s best options include brisket, port spare ribs, and both beef and pork sausage. Sides like buttermilk hushpuppies make this a full meal.

West Virginia: Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill (Martinsburg)

Sławomir Fajer/Adobe spicy bbq pork ribs with sauce

Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill is the best place to find pulled pork, grilled chicken, and ribs in West Virginia.

The menu has incredible options right off the grill, including pulled pork, ribs, and brisket. Authentic collards, sweet potato casserole, and cabbage are also always on the menu.

Wisconsin: Smoke Shack (Milwaukee)

HeyPhoto/Adobe smoked brisket and ribs with corn

For award-winning BBQ in Milwaukee, check out Smoke Shake, which slowly smokes meats in small batches throughout the day.

They are known to sell out of their slow-smoked, dry-rubbed meats, with options including pulled chicken and pork, smoked pork belly, and brisket.

Wyoming: HQ BBQ (Evansville)

Brent Hofacker/Adobe homemade barbecue platter with ribs

In Wyoming, visit HQ BBQ, a location that’s rather low-key when it comes to the atmosphere but big and bold in the flavor department.

The menu offers it all, including rotisserie, smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket, along with options like shrimp po’boys, chili dogs, and grilled chicken.

Bottom line

puhhha/Adobe man eating barbecue meat with beer

Finding great BBQ joints in the U.S. is easy, but it’s often the small, local establishments that are capable of offering the best combination of scratch-made foods and outstanding hospitality.

So, grab your best travel credit cards and hit the road for a tour of the nation’s best barbeque so you can decide which state has the best BBQ for your taste buds. 

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