The Absolute Best Coleslaw In The US, According To Customer Reviews

Crunchy and cooling, coleslaw is a staple at delis, diners, fast food restaurants, and barbecue joints. It's a refreshing side dish that helps cut the fattiness of meats and the saltiness of fried foods. It also works beautifully in sandwiches to provide a touch of tang and texture. A traditional coleslaw recipe typically includes shredded cabbage and carrots in a vinegar and mayonnaise dressing. However, some cooks omit the mayo in favor of a more vinegar-based slaw.

The history of coleslaw dates as far back as ancient Rome, in which the ancient Romans ate a dish of cabbage with vinegar, eggs, and spices. However, the Dutch gave us the modern version. The word coleslaw comes from the Dutch "koolsla." "Kool" means cabbage in Dutch and "sla" means salad. Over the centuries, the dish and the name evolved into the coleslaw we know today. Now you can find countless variations of the dish across the United States.

If you're a coleslaw fanatic, you may be wondering where to find the absolute best version of this simple, but satisfying side dish and sandwich topper. To help you get your fix, we've rounded up the very best coleslaw in the United States based on customer reviews. But don't expect your middle-of-the-road fast food coleslaw. According to diners, these versions are worth traveling for.

Sarge's Delicatessan & Diner, New York City, NY

Sarge's Delicatessen & Diner is one of the oldest delis in New York City and is renowned for its classic Jewish fare. The menu is massive and features diner favorites like pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, matzo ball soup, and cold-cut platters. Every order comes with complimentary pickles and coleslaw. You might think that free coleslaw would be a forgettable side note to your meal, but that's where you'd be wrong. Many diners rave about Sarge's coleslaw, with several saying it was some of the best they've ever had.

Sarge's take on the side dish is a classic New York deli coleslaw with julienned cabbage and carrots in a tangy mayo-based dressing. One Yelp reviewer described the coleslaw as having "the right amount of sweetness and creaminess — chopped well, not too fine." Others love the touch of tang, the crunchiness, and the fact that the dressing is light and not overloaded with mayo. It's a dish that has even won over diners who aren't typically fans of coleslaw. You can enjoy it as an appetizer, side dish, or as an extra element to take your sandwich to the next level.

Paia Fish Market, multiple locations

Paia Fish Market opened its doors in 1989 in the sleep fishing and surfing town of Paia on Maui. It was and still is a place for locals and visitors to gather over drinks and good food. There are now three locations on Maui and two on Oahu. The menus focus on fresh seafood with dishes like blackened sashimi, fish tacos, and grilled mahi-mahi. Nearly every dish comes with Paia Fish Market's crunchy house coleslaw.

If you're used to the mushy mess that so many chain restaurants pass off as coleslaw, you might be pleasantly surprised by Paia Fish Market's version. The cabbage is hand-chopped, making it chunkier than your average coleslaw. The dressing is creamy, but light and has a tangy taste that many liken to tartar sauce. Diners have great things to say about the dish. One customer said on Yelp, "The coleslaw had some good sized pieces to it and the perfect touch of dill." Another said on Tripadvisor, "Coleslaw and tartar are just [the] right flavors and strength for the delicate flavors of the fish." 

Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, multiple locations

You might not expect to find amazing food at a gas station, but that's exactly what you get at Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que. It all started when couple Jeff and Joy Stehney formed a barbecue team called Slaughterhouse Five and began taking home trophies from multiple barbecue competitions. When a gas station came up for sale, they knew it was their opportunity to share their award-winning barbecue from a stationary location. There are now several Joe's Kansas City Barb-B-Que locations, each serving up smoky, succulent meats with enticing sides like the creamy coleslaw.

Joe's spokesman Eric Tadda told The Kansas City Star that the chain puts a great deal of time into research and development to make sure that the sides are top-notch quality. That effort seems to have paid off, as most diners have nothing but good things to say about the creamy, refreshing coleslaw. Many reviewers commented on how it's a great palate cleanser that helps balance out the meal. As one Google reviewer said, "It wasn't drenched in mayo and had a nice piquant taste and good crunch." Joe's also has a spicy slaw on offer that diners highly recommend.

Langer's Delicatessen, Los Angeles, CA

Langer's Delicatessen in Los Angeles is lauded for having some of the best pastrami in the U.S. Acclaimed writer and director Nora Ephron wrote an ode to Langer's pastrami sandwich in the New Yorker, calling it "the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world." While the sandwich has earned multiple accolades and contributed to the deli earning a James Beard Foundation Award, many say the side dishes at Langer's are just as delicious. The coleslaw in particular gets glowing reviews.

The coleslaw at Langer's consists of shredded cabbage, julienned carrot, and julienned red pepper tossed in a dressing of mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and sugar. It's tangy and creamy with just a touch of sweetness. Many diners say it's the perfect addition to the pastrami sandwich because it complements the saltiness of the meat. As one customer said on Yelp, "Coleslaw was slightly sweet and the cabbage crisp, not soggy. Everything paired perfectly with the succulent pastrami." Another Yelp reviewer said, "Honestly the star of the show was the side of coleslaw."

Huck Finn's Catfish, Pigeon Forge, TN

It's all about Southern comfort food at Huck Finn's Catfish in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Step inside the wooden building and settle yourself at one of the tables and the servers will set you up with some "vittles," which are essentially side dishes like creamy coleslaw, hush puppies, and white beans with turkey ham. Main dishes include fried catfish, country fried steak, and gator tail. You can opt for an all-you-can-eat meal or order dishes à la carte. Either way, you can get unlimited refills of vittles.

Customers love that the coleslaw is made fresh in-house daily and that it tastes unique thanks to Huck Finn's secret dressing. The restaurant doesn't disclose what's in the dressing, but one diner on Tripadvisor speculated that there may be a touch of horseradish in there. Whatever is in the dressing it impresses diners, including customers who are particularly picky about their coleslaw. One Yelp reviewer even went so far as to say it was the best they have ever had.

The Salt Lick BBQ, Driftwood, TX

The Salt Lick BBQ is considered one of the best barbecue restaurants in Texas thanks to its succulent, smoky meats that are cooked using family recipes that date back generations. Hearty meats like brisket, pork ribs, and bison ribs are seared and then slow-cooked over an open fire pit. And like any Texas barbecue joint worth its salt, there are simple but delicious sides to accompany the generously sized plates. The meats may be the main stars, but many say the coleslaw is also to die for.

If you find mayo-based coleslaw a bit too creamy for your tastes, you'll be happy to know that The Salt Lick's version is vinegar-based. "The coleslaw has a nice bite of vinegar, not as sweet as coleslaw usually is," said one Yelp reviewer. It also gets hints of flavor from celery seeds, toasted sesame seeds, and white pepper. The acidity from the vinegar and the spices pair perfectly with fattier meats like the sausages and ribs. Round off your meal with a glass of sweet tea and you're good to go.

Beasley's Chicken & Honey, Raleigh, NC

As you can probably guess from the name, Beasley's Chicken & Honey makes a mean fried chicken drizzled with honey. You can get by the piece, in a sandwich, or on top of waffles. The menu also features an array of Southern dishes like the crispy Carolina catfish, pork shoulder meatloaf, and cheesy grit fries. There is also a substantial selection of sides, including the much-lauded green cabbage slaw with cider aioli and roasted tomatoes.

Beasley's chef and owner Ashley Christian is somewhat of a culinary celebrity in Raleigh, having opened numerous restaurants in the city. She's also been nominated for and won several James Beard Foundation awards. It should come as no surprise then that her green cabbage slaw is creative, flavorful, and beloved by many diners. The cider aioli gives it a hit of acidity and creaminess, while the roasted tomatoes add a richness you don't often get in regular coleslaw. One Tripadvisor reviewer summed it up by saying, "Better than mine, best I've ever eaten. Period. Not sweet. Hallelujah!"

Pappy's Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO

If you're in St. Louis and craving some Memphis-style barbecue, Pappy's Smokehouse has you covered. The specialty of the house is the ribs, which were named some of the best ribs in America by the Food Network. The ribs are dry rubbed and slowly smoked over cherry and apple wood. Other popular dishes on the menu include the brisket, pulled pork sandwich, and the burnt ends. If you've never been before, diners highly recommend the tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs paired with Pappy's tangy vinegar-based slaw.

Diners say the slaw at Pappy's is crisp and refreshing with a sweet finish. One Google reviewer said, "The vinegar slaw isn't too tart, but works well with the ribs, cutting through the sweet and the richness of the meat." A Yelp reviewer also commented on the pairing of the slaw and the meat, saying, "Note the coleslaw is not a creamy slaw but a vinegar slaw which I think tastes great with BBQ. It's got a nice clean taste that helps cut the richness."

Eppes Essen, Livingston, NJ

New York City may have some of the best delis in the U.S., but there are also some pretty stellar spots in neighboring New Jersey. Take Eppes Essen for example, a classic Jewish-style deli that has been satisfying hungry customers since 1956. The menu has everything you would expect from an old-school deli, including cheese blintzes, matzo ball soup, and corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. Every table also gets complimentary pickles and coleslaw.

Eppes Essen has some unique ways to add more flavor to coleslaw. Manager Jeff Lajqi told Taste that the cooks brine the cabbage for four days, then add mayonnaise and strain out the excess liquid. The result is a lightly dressed coleslaw that's not too watery or gloppy, but still loaded with flavor. A diner on Yelp described it as having "A tangy sweet taste that complimented the light saltiness of the pastrami perfectly. Add a layer to the pastrami sandwich like my wife does, and it's a delicious bite."

Jack's Cosmic Dogs, Mount Pleasant, SC

There's nothing new about putting coleslaw on a hot dog. But a hot dog with blue cheese coleslaw? That's a whole other story. Jack's Cosmic Dogs has been serving up gourmet hot dogs in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, for nearly 25 years. Founder Jack Hurley told the Charleston City Paper that he wanted to do something different from the typical chili and sauerkraut toppings. His solution was the Blue Galactic dog with chili, cheese, blue cheese coleslaw, and the house sweet potato mustard.

Blue cheese coleslaw might sound like an odd concoction, but give it a try and you might just think you've been eating coleslaw wrong this whole time. The blue cheese adds richness and depth to the creamy coleslaw. It's zesty, bright, and a bit funky, and it melds beautifully with the flavor of the meat. Take it from a Google reviewer who said, "My world was changed for the better with the discovery of Blue Cheese Coleslaw and then to have it placed on a delicious hot dog... it was so good!"

Joe's Stone Crab, Miami, FL

You may know Joe's Stone Crab as Miami Beach's most famous crab restaurant. Many people also consider it one of the best places to get crab legs in the U.S. While the stone crabs at Joe's are an absolute must during a visit to the restaurant, Joe's Cole Slaw makes for a pretty stellar side. The dish features thinly shredded cabbage that's been marinated in a sweet cider vinegar. It's served with thick slices of tomato on the side and topped with mayonnaise and sweet relish.

To be fair, Joe's Cole Slaw is more like a salad than your typical side dish coleslaw that you might scoop up with some seafood or pile into a sandwich or burger. It's a dish that's worthy of standing on its own as a refreshing interlude between bites of sweet crab meat. Customers can't get enough of it. As one Yelp reviewer said, "Be sure to try the coleslaw, it's sweet, tangy, and will be in your thoughts and prayers long after you've left Joe's." 

Bobby Q, multiple locations, AZ

Bobby Q is a small chain of restaurants in Arizona that specializes in barbecue meats that are smoked in-house for up to 24 hours and finished on a wood-fired grill. It also does a fabulous Southern-style fried chicken that earned the chain a spot on our list of the best fried chicken in every state. All of the barbecue and steak dishes are served with your choice of two sides. According to many diners, one of those sides should definitely be the pecan coleslaw.

Bobby Q puts a unique twist on its coleslaw by adding chopped pecans to the dish. The crunchiness of the nuts adds texture to the thinly sliced cabbage in a tangy sauce. Diners love that the dish is creamy without drowning in dressing and that the slaw is cool and crisp. In a Google review, one diner described it as, "Refreshing, touch of sweetness, and not soaked in mayo." Another diner on Yelp commented, "Bobby Q's coleslaw is unbeatable for freshness, flavor, and texture."

Dave's BBQ, Virginia Beach, VA

Dave's BBQ is everything you could want in a barbecue joint — casual, unpretentious, and exuding passion for good meat. Owner Dave says on the restaurant's website, "I do it the simple way at Dave's BBQ. Wood, meat, fire!" All the meats are cooked in wood smokers and everything is homemade, from the sauces to the rubs and the sides. There are several sides to accompany the meats, including two types of slaws. Purists can go for the classic creamy slaw, while adventurous types can opt for the EZ Chipotle Slaw.

The creamy coleslaw at Dave's BBQ gets great reviews, but many diners say the spicy slaw is hands-down the best out of the two. Ally Voner of Good Bites & Glass Pints said, "This coleslaw was interesting and deliciously complex, it's tangy, savory, a little smokey, and just when you think you've sorted out all the flavors, this wave of spiciness gently washes over your palette." If you can handle the heat, many diners say the spicy slaw is an absolute game changer.

Mel-O-Dee Restaurant, New Carlisle, OH

Mel-O-Dee has been an institution in New Carlisle, Ohio, since 1965. The friendly, family-run spot serves homey fare like country-fried steak, pork chops, and broasted chicken. For those who don't know, broasted chicken is chicken pressure-cooked in hot oil. Most meals come with fresh bread and your choice of two sides. There is only one side on the menu that's labeled "world famous" and that's the Mel-O-Dee coleslaw. According to the majority of customers, the coleslaw is worthy of its title.

Imagine the coleslaw you might get from an old-school diner that makes everything from scratch, and that's what you can expect at Mel-O-Dee. The cabbage is thinly sliced and tossed in a creamy sauce that has a pleasant sweetness to it. Many diners love that it's more on the sweet side as opposed to vinegary like some other slaws. You can get it as a single serving or by the pint, half-gallon, or gallon. As one Google reviewer said, "Cole Slaw, Cole Slaw, that's all you have to say. It's the best you will ever eat."


Choosing the best coleslaw in America is no easy feat, so we went to the people who know best — customers. We pored over countless reviews on food blogs and platforms like Yelp and Tripadvisor to uncover which restaurants serve spectacular versions of this popular side dish. We took into account several elements, including the freshness of the ingredients, the flavor of the dressing, and whether the dishes had the right balance of crunchy, sweet, and tangy. The coleslaws in this list got the highest ratings from diners around the country.