Road Trip: Local-Favorite Barbecue Restaurants Across America

Published in Gourmet Live 07.18.12
In our latest collaboration with BlogHer, we're turning to the local experts with a nationwide roundup of the coolest spots for the hottest 'cue
Road Trip: Local-Favorite Barbecue Restaurants Across America

Berkeley, California: Smoke Berkeley

Look no further than Smoke Berkeley in California to satisfy a craving for true Texas-style barbecue. The Bay Area eatery's menu is filled with an eclectic assortment of smoke-infused dishes, from smoked beef brisket to tea-smoked salmon, and the pulled pork is dripping with flavor and doused in a tangy, spicy vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Each main dish is served with your choice of classic sides, such as potato salad, coleslaw, or zucchini pancakes. Don't miss the sweet finale: executive chef Tina Ferguson-Riffe's famous chocolate pecan pie.

Kansas City, Missouri: Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue

Vegetarians will rejoice at Fiorellas Jack Stack in Kansas City, where fire-kissed vegetable kebabs and barbecued trout are just as tasty as the usual favorites, including burnt ends, ribs, and brisket. There are four Jack Stack locations, and each one differs in decor. However, my favorite is the one in the Freight House District, which features 20-foot ceilings and a prominent fireplace. If you cant make it to the restaurant, check out the wide array of online mail-order barbecue items that can be shipped directly to your front door for easy eating.

Kansas City, Missouri: Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue

Ask any native and they'll agree: Kansas City is synonymous with barbecue. And when you want to eat barbecue in Kansas City, there's only one place to go: Oklahoma Joe's. The restaurant, in an old gas station, is a staple in the nation's barbecue capital, serving up classics—pulled pork, smoked chicken, and baked beans—as well as specialties like the Z-Man Sandwich (slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, and crispy onion rings atop a toasted kaiser roll). You can order any sandwich Carolina style, which adds a hearty helping of homemade spicy slaw to your toasted roll.

Macedonia, Ohio: Fat Casual BBQ

Fat Casual BBQ is easily the best barbecue joint in all of Ohio. Don't miss the barbecue turkey, which is brined and smoked in-house, resulting in incredibly juicy and flavorful meat. If you want to experience Fat Casual like a local, stop by on a Friday night for the off-the-menu special: smoked prime rib. Regardless of what you order, your meal is guaranteed to be smoky, sticky, sloppy, and bold. Just the way barbecue should be.

Roanoke, Virginia: The Blues BBQ Company

Contemporary casual meets laid-back pub at the Blues BBQ Company, located in the Historic Roanoke City Market in downtown Roanoke. The barbecue is heavenly, and large portions and great prices make it the perfect spot for a relaxed meal with family or a memorable first date. Don't miss the deep-fried feast known as Mac N Puppies, which stars fried mac and cheese, homemade scallion hush puppies, and your choice of spicy dipping sauce or homemade peach butter made from locally grown peaches.

Roswell, Georgia: Spiced Right

Down-home ambience is a sure sign of killer barbecue, and Roswell's Spiced Right hits all the marks: a red building easily overlooked by the uninformed, a shiny smoker in the parking lot, hubcaps on the walls, and live blues music on the weekends. If you're like me, you're here for the sides, so don't miss the corn soufflé and okra (with honorable mention to the banana pudding). And your carnivorous side can't go wrong with tender brisket, lean pork, or fall-off-the-bone ribs. Not only are they all tasty, they're the perfect delivery vehicle for the house-made barbecue sauce.

San Diego: Phil's BBQ

In the city of fish tacos, Phil's BBQ proves pork is still king. It's not Memphis or Kansas City–style 'cue; it's "Phil's-style BBQ"—mesquite-smoked meat bathed in a secret sweet and tangy sauce. Whether you get the colossal beef ribs or the petite pork ribs, the meat is delectably charred on the outside and impossibly tender on the inside. A beer from the local Stone Brewing Co. helps pass the time while you wait for a table (at peak hours, such as 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday or Saturday nights, you may wait two hours to be seated).

Sunderland, Massachusetts: Bub's Bar-B-Q

One of the best things about summertime in this part of New England is a trip to Bub's Bar-B-Q for good, cheap, fast barbecue. Meat eaters will want to try the fried gator tail or the spare ribs, pulled pork, and kielbasa combo, while vegetarians can dig into a spicy black bean burger and hearty seasonal sides. All meals include unlimited trips to the hot-and-cold bar for favorites like barbecue Ranch beans, collard greens, orange-glazed sweet potatoes, and coleslaw. Finish the meal with a seriously sweet slice of pecan pie.

Williamsburg, Virginia: Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que

Locals and tourists alike flock to Pierce's Pitt for the best Tennessee-style barbecue in the entire state of Virginia. Pierce's has been serving tender pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, meaty ribs, classic sides, and more since 1971. Warning: Don't let the colorful, unassuming building fool you. This place is legendary, and you won't want to head home without a bottle of their original Doc Pierce's Bar-B-Que sauce as a souvenir.

Winter Park, Florida: 4Rivers Smokehouse

If low-key 'cue is what you're searching for, then look no further than 4Rivers Smokehouse, located right outside Orlando. The food is no-frills, served up cafeteria-style on trays and paper plates, and best enjoyed while seated at picnic benches outside the restaurant. My favorites are the signature Angus beef brisket, the prime rib, and the mac and cheese and cheesy biscuits. During peak times, parking is hard to come by and there's a line outside the door, so call in your order before you go.

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