Few topics get travelers more heated, more protective, more spittin’ mad than barbecue. Countrywide, arguments break out over which barbecue joint is best and how it is best served. Is it burnt ends in Kansas City? Brisket in Texas? Sauce? Rub? On a bun? From a food truck? The possibilities are endless. The lists meticulous. The awards filled with more controversy than you can shake a pair of tongs at.
To bring you the best, we’ve broken down the U.S. by region and then by barbecue style, selecting a few famous examples, top performers on TripAdvisor, and restaurants that make the “best of” lists year in and year out. Hunger-inducing? Absolutely. Complete? Couldn’t even begin to try. So if you don’t see your favorite, sound off in the comments. Until then, grab a bib and start making your travel plans, because these are some of the best barbecue joints in America.
When it comes to barbecue, we’re starting big. Whether it’s bittersweet with mesquite smoke in West Texas, long-smoked with hickory in East Texas, or served barbacoa-style in that ribbon of land where the south of Texas meets Mexico, the Lone Star State earns its reputation as a barbecue mecca.
Where to Get It: Consistently claiming the top spot on “best of” lists, Franklin Barbecue in Austin has been called “barbecue nirvana” by Serious Eats for its famously tender brisket piled high on wax paper. Lines commonly wrap around the bright-blue¬-painted building by 9 a.m., so get there early and bring reading material–or a lawn chair. Overall, the Texas capital has become something of a barbecue destination, and insiders say John Mueller Meat Co. and Stubb’s, with its live indie music, are well worth visits, too. A half hour away in Lockhart, Kreuz Market, serving up sauceless barbecue, has been a favorite for some 75 years, while in Driftwood, locals and tourists crowd The Salt Lick‘s communal tables under glowing strings of festive lights for brisket and snappy sausages from a circular stone pit.