BBQ and American go together like cheese and crackers. Even though the 4th of July is over, there are plenty of other reasons to embrace your inner American. If you’re new to barbecue, let us hook you up with our kickass BBQ guide. Once you’ve understood the basics, head to one of these Spoon approved BBQ restaurants.
Horse Thief (Los Angeles, California)
Who knew that there was good BBQ in Los Angeles? Located in Grand Central Market, Horse Thief brings BBQ with a modern twist. It’s got an Instagram-worthy atmosphere, so remember to charge your phone before arriving.
Fat Matt’s Rib Shack (Atlanta, Georgia)
Located next to a MARTA station, people come into Fat Matt’s Rib Shack by accident, intrigued by the line outside. Once they bite into their first set of spare ribs, they understand the hype. Even though there’s a long line, it moves quickly and there’s live music to make the wait more enjoyable. But it doesn’t matter – their ribs are worth waiting forever for.
Smoque BBQ (Chicago, Illinois)
Smoque brings BBQ to Chicago with St. Louis style ribs, Memphis style rubs, and Texas sausage under one roof. Smoque has huge serving sizes and cheap prices – no wonder Guy Fieri covered it on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
The Joint (New Orleans, Louisiana)
The Joint is a barbecue shack that doesn’t skimp on the details (read: the sides). They always have a batch of mac & cheese and baked beans ready to serve with their homemade ribs. Don’t let their hipster, hole-in-the-wall look fool you, they can cook barbecue better than anyone else, Ron Swanson style.
Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque (Kansas City, Missouri)
Arthur Bryant’s sandwiches are overflowing with meat (the meat to sandwich ratio is around 10:1), so if you really love barbecue, there’s nowhere else to go. Make sure to try their burnt ends sandwich, aka the best item on their menu. They’re not big on presentation here, but more about taste and humongous serving sizes. Bonus: Obama went here once.
Allen & Son Bar-B-Q (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Next to University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Allen & Son Bar-B-Q serves the best comfort food for a low price. Though it’s located in North Carolina, their barbecue is a blend of Kentucky and North Carolina barbecue (best of both worlds). If you decide to stop by, don’t forget to grab dessert, which is just as good as their pulled pork.
B’s Barbecue (Greenville, North Carolina)
You know a restaurant is great when the road it’s on is named after it. B’s Barbecue started in the late 1970’s and has kept up with the North Carolina barbecue tradition – it’s one of the stops of The NC Barbecue Society’s Historic Trail, the best meat trail in the nation. Unfortunately, with barbecue this good, it tends to sell out on a daily basis, so get there early.
Eli’s BBQ (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Eli’s BBQ brings the approachability and warmth of a backyard barbecue with all the benefits of a restaurant (guaranteed good food, not having to clean up, being served, etc.). Go here for good food, good music, and good company.
Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que (Holly Hill, South Carolina)
What happens when barbecue meets (meats?) all-you-can-eat? All-you-can-imagine for $15. For those unsure what to order, the buffet style takes away the anxiety. Eat a little of (or a lot of) everything on the menu. The buffet only opens on Fridays and Saturdays since good meat needs time to cook.
Central BBQ (Memphis, Tennessee)
To satisfy all of Memphis’ demand for good ribs, Central BBQ opened up 3 locations after their first one became a hit. Get your ribs wet or dry and your barbecue Tennessee-style. For those non-Tennesseans, they also have shipments of ribs to order all around the States (it’s like delivery). For those into DIY, they also sell their secret sauces and seasonings.
Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous (Memphis, Tennessee)
If you’re looking for charcoal ribs, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous is where to get them. Instead of hiding the meat flavor in a pool of barbecue sauce, Charlie’s meat flavor is complemented by their smoky dry rub and tender just-about-to-fall-off-the-bone texture. Aside from ribs, they have cole slaw that will make anyone doubt that they ever hated it.
Franklin Barbecue (Austin, Texas)
You know a restaurant is good when there’s a long line on a Wednesday afternoon. Franklin Barbecue opens only for lunch, and they sell out almost everyday. Trust us, it’s well worth the 2-hour wait just to get a bite of their brisket. And they’re so good at barbecue they literally wrote a bestselling book on it.
Killen’s Barbecue (Pearland, Texas)
There’s a reason it’s called Killen’s Barbecue – it’s because they’re seriously killin’ the BBQ game. A 30-minute drive from Houston, Killen’s Barbecue is all about the meat. They skip the veggies and go straight into comfort food in their world renowned beef ribs and their meat platters. #KillenIt
HogsHead Cafe (Richmond, Virginia)
At HogsHead Cafe there is no such thing as too much. This place does it all: hog dogs wrapped in bacon topped with brisket and ribs, fried pickles, and hog burgers. Besides their over-the-top dishes, their serving sizes are made for sharing (or to be eaten Thanksgiving-style).