The Absolute Best 13 Barbecue Restaurants In The U.S.

There's no denying the fact that one of the most filling and satisfying meals out there is barbecue. As long as you aren't vegan or vegetarian, you can pretty much count on getting a wonderfully complete meal when you head to a barbecue joint. And, in the best places, those meals aren't the meat offerings (though that's typically the focus of the operation and rave reviews), but also the wealth of sides. From baked beans to creamed corn, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and more, most barbecue places have a great selection of hearty sides to fill out your plate of smoked, grilled, and barbecued meats. 

Whether you're a brisket fan, a pulled pork lover, or maybe tend to lean towards sausage, there's something out there for you. And if you happen to be planning a cross-country trip and want to know where to go next, or else could use a hint to find some excellent barbecue in your own state or region, you're in luck. Read on for the absolute best barbecue restaurants in the U.S.

Buxton Hall Barbecue - Asheville, North Carolina

Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, North Carolina is definitely one of the best barbecue joints in the region. As any barbecue aficionado can tell you, the barbecue in each different state tends to vary in terms of flavors, spices, cooking methods, and sauce. For North Carolina's distinct style and its nearby cousin of South Carolina barbecue, that's all about the pork and a uniquely vinegar-heavy sauce.

Of course, as much as we're excited to chow down on whole-hog barbecue, you can't have a good and truly complete barbecue meal without the sides. That's something Buxton Hall doesn't neglect. Reviews of the establishment make that pretty darn clear. "The sides were outstanding," one reviewer wrote. "We had the beans, coleslaw, collards, hash, and hush puppies. The range of sauces were also delightful." And if that's not enough to entice you, another reviewer raved about the meat as well. "Food was soo good i had smoked chicken and my husband had pulled pork we where both happy," they wrote.

Central BBQ - Memphis

Another location that's widely known for its barbecue style is Memphis, Tennessee. Like so many other southern states, Tennessee barbecue is especially beloved by those who are from Tennessee, and of course, diners in Memphis are primed to pump it up. But if you're from out of town, finding the perfect example of Memphis barbecue can be daunting. If you've only got the capacity to only check out one barbecue joint, then let it be Central BBQ.

The barbecue at Central BBQ is especially delicious, with tender meat, savory side dishes, and flavors so memorable you'll be thinking about it for days afterward. Reviews of Central BBQ speak for themselves. "Meat is so beautifully smoked, it has enough flavor without sauce," one reviewer wrote. "The pulled pork with the mustard sauce is magic! Mac and cheese, BBQ beans, delish!" another added. Clearly, the ribs, pulled port, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese are what you should order at Central BBQ, so definitely try it out if you can.

Franklin Barbecue - Austin

Let's just get one thing straight: the state of Texas is one of the biggest barbecue states in America. And though it's offered at darn near every barbecue joint you could visit, smoked brisket is arguably what Texas barbecue is best known for, according to Epicurious. In Austin, Texas, there is one location known for its amazing brisket (and other meats, too). For its take on the classic smoked brisket, Franklin Barbecue is pretty legendary. It's such a big deal that you might have heard of it even if you're not from Texas.

Reviews of Franklin Barbecue agree with the hype. "Just perfect brisket. Just amazing smokiness, char and tenderness," one person wrote. "In the end, the brisket is the far and away star of the show. It is so ridiculously moist and flavorful, I'm sure it will never be matched. It's worth the whole trip," another added. 

But if, for some reason, you need another sort of barbecue meat, don't worry. You'll soon learn that the brisket isn't the only delicious offering you'll find at Franklin Barbecue. Reviewers also rave about the pulled pork at this joint, reserving special accolades for its perfect level of tenderness. All told, it sure seems like Franklin Barbecue is famous for a reason, so definitely check it out when you're in Austin.

Harp Barbecue - Raytown, Missouri

Harp Barbecue in Raytown, Missouri is certainly the sort of barbecue joint that can surprise you in more ways than one. Not only does the location change depending on where Harp Barbecue is able to pop up that day, but so does their menu. Basically, this is a truly authentic barbecue experience, with a down-home flair and some incredible meats in the lineup (no matter what version of the menu you get on your visit).

If you're still a bit unsure about heading on over, check out the reviews of Harp Barbecue and you'll be a convert soon enough. Just be forewarned that, because the restaurant is so popular, you'll likely be waiting in a pretty long line to get your food. Still, it's sure to be worth it. "If you're a brisket lover, this is your place! They have some of the best brisket in town. My other two favorite items were the jalapeño sausage and the cheesy corn," one reviewer stated. 

Basically, Harp Barbecue is the barbecue to beat in Raytown, Missouri. You can pretty much guarantee you'll get full and satisfied when you dine there.

Hometown Bar-B-Que - New York City

When you think of good barbecue, you probably think of southern states, a bunch of big pits filled with wood and meat smoking all day long, and an assortment of side dishes that just scream "comfort food." You probably don't think of New York City, that's for sure. But don't let the Big Apple fool you. Amongst the many, many wonderful foods that can be had in New York City, there's also some amazing barbecue. To that end, Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn, New York might just convince you with its southern-style barbecue.

Reviews of Hometown Bar-B-Que certainly shore up that reputation. Of the brisket, one reviewer wrote, "If there was one reason to come here, it's this (and the cornbread). Love the fatty bits, so tender and lovingly smoked. Goes perfectly with the bbq and hot sauce, both a bit sweet, flavorful, nothing like the typical bottled versions." If you're worried you won't be able to find good barbecue in New York City, worry not. Hometown Bar-B-Que has you covered.

4 Rivers Smokehouse - Winter Park, Florida

While Florida is definitely a southern state, it's not exactly the kind of folksy southern state that pop culture stereotypes have engrained into many peoples' minds. Though it may or may not be a rightful reputation, the truth is that Florida isn't often known for the same sort of hospitality, charm, and comfort food as Georgia, Alabama, and Texas are. That said, it's still home to excellent barbecue in the form of 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park. The food is absolutely delicious, with traditional barbecue offerings that will leave you utterly satisfied.

One review of 4 Rivers Smokehouse will convince you to stop in the next time you're in Winter Park. "Simply everything is amazing!!!" it raves. "Everything from pork to brisket to chicken to all of the sides! Meats are always tender, well-seasoned, with the right kick of smoke [...] Even the sauces are pleasantly surprising!"

Herman's Ribhouse - Fayetteville, Arkansas

If you ask most people, the sorts of barbecue joints that are worth their weight in gold are the ones that are most casual. These are the places where you order at the counter, get your meat by the pound, and wipe your face with paper towels instead of some highfalutin' cloth napkins. But that doesn't mean every barbecue spot has to be utterly grubby. Herman's Ribhouse in Fayetteville, Arkansas is a sit-down restaurant with more than just BBQ on the menu, so you might not expect it to be on this list. But because of one very special menu item, it more than deserves a spot.

As its name would imply, the ribs at Herman's Ribhouse are simply out of this world. Take a look at these reviews, if you need some convincing. "Certainly a must when visiting Fayetteville ... Ribs are the bomb !!! They prepare the Prime Rib different than anyone else ( I won't give away their secret ) and its phenomenal !!" one diner wrote. So, while, Herman's Ribhouse might not be your standard BBQ joint, don't let that turn you away from its clearly delicious barbecue offerings.

Skylight Inn BBQ - Ayden, North Carolina

Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, North Carolina is, to the minds of many of its devoted fans, a stupendously good North Carolina barbecue joint. When it comes to regional styles, North Carolina is known for having a typically acidic vinegar-based barbecue sauce served with its meat, and that's just what Skylight Inn BBQ offers up alongside its savory selection. If you're looking for the epitome of North Carolina barbeque, then this might just be it.

A review of the Skylight Inn mentions that not only is the meat on point, but so are the sides. "The coleslaw is light and a little sweet," they said. And don't be afraid to let some of the menu items on your plate touch each other, either. "Eat it with the pork — it's a great combo. We don't usually love potato salad, but we really enjoyed their mustard base. Like others have said, the cornbread is very dense and we really liked the flavor." 

Kerlin BBQ - Austin

Obviously, Franklin Barbecue is extremely famous and beloved in Texas, especially among Austinites, but there are other barbecue joints in Austin that are just as delicious. So if you can't make it to Franklin Barbecue, wish to try something new, or just don't want to brave the epically long wait times, then head on over to Kerlin BBQ. The Austin, Texas barbecue joint has many of the same, standard barbecue offerings, and their meats are seriously tasty. Not only that but the side dishes, like Kerlin's blue cheese coleslaw or the jalapeno dill potato salad, have got people going wild as well.

The reviews of Kerlin BBQ certainly back us up. "The brisket was super tender, some of the best I've had in Austin: well balanced (not too salty), with the fat rendered just right and a great smoky flavor," one read. "The brisket was pretty amazing," another wrote. "However, the beef sausage was the show-stealer. The kolaches were pretty darn good as well."

Bogart's Smokehouse - St. Louis

When you think of Missouri barbecue, you might think of the style that's now enshrined in culinary lore as Kansas City barbecue. But there's one St. Louis joint that really knows what it's doing when it comes to delicious smoked meats, savory sides, and a great dining experience. That would be one Bogart's Smokehouse, a pretty popular joint that should be on your must-dine list the next time you visit the Gateway to the West.

Reviews of Bogart's Smokehouse prove that it might just be the best barbecue joint in t. Louis, Missouri. "Delicious ribs with yummy sauce served on the side. The ribs were tender, flavorful, and had great bark on the outside," one person wrote of their experience at Bogart's. And the sides are especially good, which is pretty impressive considering the meats that they have to go up against. "I don't usually even like potato salad or baked beans but I would go here just to eat them w/o the meat they are that good!" another added. 

Dreamland BBQ - Tuscaloosa, Alabama

It's no secret that just about every southern state has some excellent barbecue restaurants to choose from, not to mention a variety of different regional styles. And, naturally enough, Alabama is no exception. Specifically, one Alabama barbecue establishment is dishing up some pretty incredible eats. Dreamland BBQ, based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has everything you would want to eat, as well as some unique menu items like homemade potato chips that are perfect on the side of a savory, sauce-heavy barbecue sandwich.

Dreamland BBQ might really be what dreams are made of, as the reviews of its southside Birmingham location state. "Fresh made potato chips were as good as you can get. The rib sandwich was great," one stated. "We enjoyed the fried okra appetizer, my husband and I had the BBQ pork sandwiches, and my kids ordered the ribs with sauce. It was all delicious!" another said. For a true Alabama barbecue experience, it's clear that Dreamland is where it's at.

B.T.'s Smokehouse - Sturbridge, Massachusetts

B.T.'s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, Massachusetts offers a ton of different meats and side dishes, some of which you might not have ever associated with a barbecue restaurant before. And because B.T.'s Smokehouse isn't in the south, you might be worried that the meat isn't as good as you might find in well-known barbecue stalwarts like Texas, Kansas, or other states. Fortunately for travelers and anyone living on the east coast, that couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, you can travel to Massachusetts and still get some genuinely jaw-dropping barbecue.

Reviews of B.T.'s Smokehouse rave about the flavors in the meat and sides from the barbecue restaurant. "Really good real southern bbq. The best I've had this side of Tennessee! Skip the beans and get the onion rings! Lots of sauces to choose from but good even without sauce!" one person wrote. B.T.'s Smokehouse truly might be the best barbecue in Massachusetts, so if you find yourself on the east coast in need of some delicious barbecue, check it out.

JR's Rhodehouse BBQ PIT - Summerset, South Dakota

Now, if you're traveling around in the Mount Rushmore State, you may not expect to find an astonishingly good barbecue place waiting for you. But, thankfully, you'd be very, very wrong. JR's Rhodehouse BBQ PIT in Summerset, South Dakota will truly shock you with how authentic, flavorful, and ultimately satisfying its offerings are. The menu, with its Texas-style offerings, is delightfully expansive. What's more fans will tell you that just about everything on it is perfect. It's clear that JR's Rhodehouse BBQ PIT can prove even the biggest naysayers wrong. 

And reviews agree. "The brisket was perfect Texas style as it should be. No need to cover it up with sauce. The pulled pork was excellent and so were the sides," one review stated. Another added that "The turkey was some of the best smoked turkey we have ever had, the Brisket was very very good and the ribs were just right."