When it comes to the American culinary tradition, certain dishes probably come to mind: hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, pizza, et cetera. But pizza comes from Italy. Hamburgers and hot dogs are originally from Germany, and French fries are Belgian. Arguably, the most American culinary tradition is barbecue. There are numerous regional varieties of the art of American smoked meat, but here is a list of the 10 best barbecue joints around the country.
Franklin BBQ (Austin, TX): If you ever go to Franklin BBQ, you might be discouraged by the massive line outside, which typically takes three to four hours to get through. But oh is it worth it. Praised as the best barbecue in the country, Aaron Franklin’s brisket is like a dream come true, with caramelized candy fat, crispy salt-and-pepper-rubbed bark and tender smoked meat.
Fette Sau (Brooklyn, NY): While the Northeast isn’t terribly well known for its barbecue, Fette Sau is the main exception to this. Located in an old garage in the Williamsburg neighborhood, patrons sit down on picnic tables to enjoy this place’s exceptional treats. The pork belly, for instance, is one of the most delicious things in New York (a place known for its good food), and the beef ribs are just as delicious as they are massive.
Central BBQ (Memphis, TN): When it comes to Memphis barbecue, Central is pretty new to the game, but they’ve quickly earned a reputation as one of the city’s best. The servers in tie-dyed shirts and the hip outdoor deck might make you think you’ve walked into a tourist trap, but Central is anything but, and you’d be hard-pressed to find more authentic Memphis barbecue.
Payne’s (Memphis, TN): Payne’s sketchy location and less-than-fancy decor might deter some, but they more than make up for it with their delicious barbecue sandwiches. Try some of their chopped pork sandwiches, or maybe some barbecue bologna. You won’t be disappointed.
Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO): Before serving his meat, Mike Emerson slow smokes his meats over apple and cherry wood for 14 hours. However, if you don’t get there early, you won’t get to try it, since Pappy’s sells out faster than they can cook. If you do get a chance, though, get the ribs and burnt ends.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Syracuse, NY): Originally a biker bar in upstate New York, Dinosaur has earned a loyal following throughout the Northeast for their exceptional ribs. They now have multiple locations, but the Syracuse one is where you get the true Dinosaur experience, with Harleys dotting the parking lot and biker-girl waitresses who chat you up before they take your order.
Oklahoma Joe’s (Kansas City, MO): Back in the 90s, this place earned its stripes as an award-winning competitive barbecue team. Since then, they’ve grown into a Kansas City institution, known far and wide for their ribs and burnt ends. They also have a great Z-man sandwich (smoked provolone, sliced brisket and thick onion rings on a kaiser roll).
Big Bob Gibson’s (Decatur, AL): Since 1925, the team at Big Bob Gibson’s has been serving barbecue in the unique north Alabama style: chicken slathered in Alabama’s signature mayo-based “white sauce”.
Scott’s Bar-B-Que (Hemingway, SC): Scott’s pitmaster, Rodney, has developed a cult following due to his pork, cooked over wood that he chops himself, making his restaurant (established by his parents in 1972) a spot of pilgrimage for barbecue aficionados across the country. The fried skins are also extremely tasty.
Black’s Barbecue (Lockhart, TX): Black’s, located in the legendary barbecue city of Lockhart, has been operated by the same family for four generations, bringing out legendary brisket and ribs since 1932.