The 11 Best BBQ Joints in America

Sauce-slathered ribs, thick scoops of mac and cheese, spicy chicken wings, refreshing sweet tea, mountains of vinegary pulled pork. They’re all part of the American BBQ experience, which at this point is a national pastime. As we warm up for BBQ season, here are several practitioners across the nation—including Texas favorite Salt Lick, above—that can’t be beat.

Bubba's BBQ, Avon, Ohio The award-winning “Bubba-Q” offered at this fine establishment has made it a regional destination. Dry-rubbed, marinated for 24 hours and then slow-smoked with Applewood, their meats are imbued with a truly authentic and unique flavor.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, Alabama, and Monroe, North Carolina You don’t win three Memphis in May grand champion trophies, as Big Bob Gibson exec chef Chris Lilly and his team have done, unless your BBQ is damn good. The establishment has also won awards for its sauces, seasonings and dry rubs, as well as “Restaurant of the Year” recognition. Try the BBQ chicken with special white BBQ sauce or a pulled pork platter with secret seasoning.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Q, various locations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Dino BBQ is all about personality. They’ve got the friendliest wait staff and bartenders, the most raucous atmosphere and some of the boldest BBQ available. Their sauces are sweet and flavorful, their ribs are succulent, their chicken is juicy, and they even do killer Southern-style picnic items like deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes.

The Salt Lick, Driftwood and Round Rock, Texas The Salt Lick is famous for its combo plates. Go for The Rancher, a $16 platter of brisket, pork ribs, sausage, turkey, potato salad, cole slaw, beans and absolutely no regrets.

Twin Anchors, Chicago, Illinois Though they’ve got great BBQ pork, chicken and baked beans, Twin Anchors’ mouth-watering ribs alone justify a trip. They also make all their own sauces: zesty BBQ, mild and the “Prohibition” sauce with brown sugar, cracked black pepper and a touch of ghost pepper.

Fette Sau, Brooklyn, New York A BBQ purveyor may not be the first thing Brooklyn brings to mind, but Fette Sau’s smoked meats and craft beers have netted it Zagat’s “Best BBQ in NYC” nod years in a row now. Choose from house-made brisket, pastrami, boneless and bone-in ribs, beef tips, pork shoulder, St. Louis pork ribs, sausage, baked beans, coleslaw and more. No sleep till Brooklyn… barbecue.

Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbeque, various locations in Kansas and Missouri Like variety? Jack Stack Barbecue offers five types of ribs, five barbecue meats, nine different sides, four barbecue sauces and endless combinations. Try the prime beef ribs or their famous lamb ribs for a barbecue experience out of the ordinary.

Angelo's Bar-B-Que, Fort Worth, Texas For over 50 years, Angelo’s has been wowing patrons with their Texas-style barbecue sandwiches, plates, seasonings and sauces. To round out all your barbecue food groups, try some of their hot links, Bar B Que Salami, a fried pie and some house-made potato salad.

The Pit, Raleigh, North Carolina Like many NC barbecue joints, they do pork here whole-hog-style with a vinegary sauce. But along with delicious pit-cooked ribs, pulled pork and brisket, the Pit also serves some less expected fare, such as fried pimento cheese with pepper jelly, pumpkin skillet cornbread with maple butter and bacon bruschetta.

Baby Blues BBQ, Venice, California Baby Blues is Southern California’s go-to spot for high-level barbecue grub. Here you can get black Angus brisket, Memphis-style pork ribs or Texas-style beef ribs, barbecue tri tip, chicken smoked rice, cornbread and a whole lot more. Californians might be laid-back, but this ’cue is intense.

The Joint, New Orleans, Louisiana The Joint is always smokin’ their beef brisket, pulled pork, Cajun sausage and chicken. After you mop up your last bit of smoky meat juice with white bread, go for their Peanut Butter Pie, made with local Creole cream cheese. Are we the only ones who kinda wanna go there right now?