The side dishes—shells and cheese enrobed in a creamy sauce, smoked green beans studded with onion and pork—are all top notch. Barbecued mutton is a delicacy found in only a few counties in northwest Kentucky, and no one serves more of it than Moonlite Inn in Owensboro. Be sure to order a bowl of peppery burgoo. In the mountains eastern Tennessee, where good barbecue joints are few and far between, the Ridgewood maintains a style all its own.
Founded in the s as a steak and beer joint, the Proffitt family converted to barbecue after the county went dry in the s. The main attraction is a platter of thin-sliced pork mounded high with thick, delicious hand-cut fries. George and Arzelia Gates opened their first restaurant in , and their son Ollie grew Gates Bar-B-Q into a local barbecue empire, with a half dozen locations now dotting the city. The sides—slow simmered greens, mac and cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs—are all delicious, and the sweet, gooey banana pudding is the perfect capper for a classic Alabama barbecue meal.
There are now three outposts of this small family-run chain, and at all three they cook half-chickens and big slabs of ribs on oak-fired open brick pits. The finished meat is served over slices of white bread and smothered in that bright yellow mustard sauce. Jackie Hite, one of the legends of South Carolina barbecue, passed away in , but his family has kept his restaurant right on going. The all-you-can eat buffet features whole-hog barbecue cooked over hickory coals on old-fashioned cinder block pits. Inside, the countermen slice smoky brisket, juicy hot sausage rings, and pork ribs to order, wrapping them in brown butcher paper the same way they have since the place opened in The brisket is moist but still has a bit of chew to it, and the hot ring sausage has a perfectly taut bite to the casing and is juicy and flavorful inside.
Juicy brisket and meaty ribs are the foundation of the menu, reflecting the Texas roots of owners Jonathan and Justin Fox, but there are plenty of other tempting options. No one leaves Fox Bros.
In , Aaron Siegel traded a career as a classically-trained chef for the smoke of the barbecue pit, and he has since built Home Team into an nascent barbecue empire, with three locations in the Charleston area and one way out in Aspen, Colorado. They cook on Lang and Oyler pits fired with red oak, taking stylistic cues from all over the South—tender pulled pork with red Georgia-style sauce, a Texas-style salt-and-pepper brisket, smoky chicken wings with Alabama white sauce. From pit-cooked prime rib to ramen with smoked shrimp, Executive Chef Taylor Garrigan turns out a steady stream of inventive specials, too.
Austin, TX Rosewood Ave. The menu blends tradition with novelty, and Texas mainstays like brisket, sausage, and ribs appear alongside like pulled lamb and strip loin of beef. It was invented by Big Bob himself, who started cooking pork shoulders and chicken in his backyard in Over the years the operation grew through a succession of ever-larger restaurants. Louis-cut ribs, beef brisket, and turkey on long brick pits fired with hickory coals. On the side, Lilly has published two books of recipes and won a parade of championship trophies on the competition circuit.
Lexington, the epicenter of the Piedmont North Carolina style, is so barbecue-dense that you can eat at one Top 50 joint and drive just five minutes and eat at another.
Their pit-cooked pork shoulder comes chopped, coarse chopped, or sliced, and you can order it on a sandwich, in a cardboard tray with red slaw and hushpuppies or rolls, or on a plate with french fries. Save a little room for the famous banana split, a towering concoction big enough for an entire family. Follow those up with a combo sandwich: tender beef and slightly salty ham piled between two slices of white bread.
With each bite, the soft bread, smoky meat, and tangy sauce meld together into a delightful whole. Open just three days a week Thursday through Saturday, they cook pork shoulders and hams, chickens, and ribs over hickory and oak coals on a big metal pit out behind the restaurant. The result is a thick yellow gravy flecked through with a generous dose of black pepper. There is no shortage of places in Texas where you can line up to order fresh-sliced barbecue by the pound, but Corkscrew stands out from most because of the quality of its meats as well as its comfortable setting.
Just north of Houston in Spring, you can enjoy a big platter of brisket and ribs at a picnic table out in the big grassy yard while freight trains rumble slowly past across the street. Bryan and Nikki Furman got off to a roller coaster start in , earning early raves for their restaurant in Savannah only to see it destroyed by fire less than a year after opening. But they bounced back, moving into new digs on White Bluff Road and then launching a second outpost in Atlanta in Both locations serve traditional wood-cooked barbecue with few distinctive twists.
Brian Furman cooks his heritage-breed hogs on metal offset pits, and—in a nod to his South Carolina roots—serves the meat with a tangy mustard-based sauce laced with peaches. The thick-sliced brisket has an impressive bark and a firm but juicy texture, while the standout ribs have a splendidly rich, smoky flavor that lingers after each bite.
Greensboro, NC W. Legendary barbecue mentor Warner Stamey taught the Lexington style to countless Piedmont cooks, and that means cooking pork shoulders on closed brick pits fired by all-hickory coals. His grandson Chip Stamey carries on the family tradition at this Greensboro institution, where they cook it slow but chop and serve it lightning fast thanks to a streamlined menu and a well-oiled operation.
Jerry Hite and his son, David, burn two cords of oak and hickory wood in the pit room behind the main building, and you can taste that wood in every smoky bite of chopped pork and ribs. Load up on the mustard sauce and grab a bag of skins if they have any left they go fast.
Founders Andrew and Rose Pollard and their family have since added two more Memphis locations, but the low brick building on Elvis Presley Boulevard is the original. Owensboro, KY Washington Ave. And if you do—or, at least, if you suspect you might—make your way straight to Old Hickory in downtown Owensboro. They serve the best barbecued mutton in all of Kentucky and therefore in all of the world.
Asheville, NC 32 Banks Ave, buxtonhall. Buxton Hall embodies the recent trend fine dining chefs turning to the barbecue pit, embracing and celebrating the old traditions of their regions but not feeling bound by them. Housed in a s-era building that was once a roller skating club, the dining room still has the original maple floorboards from the rink. A blazing fire constantly renders oak down to coals, which Moss and team shovel under whole hogs as they cook.
Equally impressive is the fried catfish, which is salt- and sugar-cured, lightly smoked, then battered and fried golden brown. The slaw and square-cut cornbread adhere to the family's original recipes, but Jones offers much more at his upscale incarnation, including fried catfish, smoked chicken wings, and craft beer on tap.
They even take credit cards. Harrison Sapp and Griffin Buffkin have transformed an old gas station on St. Just a mile off the beach, it has a laid-back coastal vibe, with long picnic tables outside under a tall metal awning, and some seriously good barbecue.
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Helen Turner runs the show at this barebones operation—shoveling coals, mixing coleslaw, and chatting up customers at the order window that separates the red-painted dining room from the kitchen. She pulls a pork shoulder off the warming pit and chops it to order, piling it high on a bun and dousing it with a fiery red sauce to create a magnificently juicy, smoky sandwich. You can smell the smoke from charcoal pits clear clear around the corner on Monroe Street. Just follow your nose down the narrow alley, then descend the narrow stairs under the old green and red awning into the cool basement dining room.
Beneath their thick, red jacket of spice, the charcoaled ribs have a chewy roasted pork texture and great pops of pit-charred flavor around the edges. Shelby NC E. Dixon Blvd. Inlaid-wood ceilings and turquoise-backed booths set a stylish stage for a sliced pork tray with red slaw and hushpuppies. Valentina started out with a single offset smoker and a barbecue trailer, and the operation bounced around various locations in Austin, winning over fans with top-notch brisket and delicious breakfast tacos.
In they put down permanent roots south of the city and are slowly transforming into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The carnita tacos wrap long, tender strands of pork in warm, soft handmade flour tortillas, while the fajitas deliver strips of smoky cerveza-marinated beef with great crisp edges, topped with creamy guacamole and sweet sauteed peppers.
On my last visit to Kreuz Market, I was shocked to find two items never before seen in this legendary Lockhart meat market: plastic forks and clear squeeze bottles of thick brown sauce. No one is required to use these things, of course, and no one really needs to. Carved from a fresh-smoked bone-in loin, the pork is so tender, smoky, and delicious you might just forget that in Texas barbecue is supposed to be beef. Not longer after he announced plans to open a second location of his much-lauded restaurant—and in Birmingham, Alabama, of all places.
He had to alter a few things to accommodate his new urban digs, like using enclosed chimneys instead of a big burn barrel and installing lidded metal pits instead of open cinderblock ones. The fundamentals, though, remain the same: burn oak down to coals, fire the pits, and cook whole hogs for 12 hours before finishing them with a fiery vinegar-pepper mop. Scott added a few menu items to please the city folks, including tasty fried catfish and a truly remarkable ribeye sandwich. Lexington, TN Highway West, You order at a small counter, choosing from slaw-topped sandwiches or barbecue by the pound, plus chips and canned sodas.
The finely-chopped pork is superbly juicy with a rich blanket of wood smoke underneath it, and the thin, bright orange sauce that awaits in squeeze bottles in the dining room is laced through with red pepper. It may be a simple combination, but when that smoky meat and spicy sauce come together, you have a barbecue meal fit for a king.
A huge pile of split oak and hickory logs sits under a tin-roofed shed behind the pit room, where Stephen Grady—now in his early 80s—cooks whole hogs and chickens overnight on open brick pits. Geri Grady still makes all the sides from scratch, too, including steamed cabbage, collards, and black-eyed peas. Dallas, TX Gamma Rd, cattleackbbq.
In , Todd and Misty David opened Cattleack Barbeque as a semi-retirement project in a small storefront on the north side of Dallas. Though open only limited hours lunchtime on Thursdays and Fridays their barbecue proved so popular that in they took over the space next door and added an extra dining room with 13 big wooden picnic tables. Todd David has become something of a barbecue ambassador for other regions, too, opening up the first Saturday of each month to cook Carolina-style whole hog alongside his superlative brisket.
Bryant himself was running the show. He passed away in The counter men carve tender folds of smoked beef on stainless steel slicers, and they pile it on brown butcher paper and slather it with sauce before slapping three or four slices of white bread down on top and wrapping it all into a big, delicious parcel.
Tomball, TX N. Elm St, tejaschocolate. Artisan chocolate, wood-cooked Texas barbecue, and local craft beers come together at this unusual "craftory" in Old Town Tomball, way up in the northern reaches of Houston. In just a few short years, the shop has been transformed into a serious barbecue destination, with a gigantic custom smoker in a shed out back and hungry diners lining up on the small front porch and out into the yard.
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