Favorite barbecue joints in the U.S.? Weigh in.
September 21st, 2012
01:45 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

It’s Week Three of the NFL season and Week Four of the NCAA football season, which means that everyone should be focused like a laser on their tailgate menus. And one thing most tailgaters will have learned somewhere along the road is that barbecuing is generally best not done hodgepodge in a parking lot - it should be left to the experts.

At Food & Wine, we don’t spend enough time on the barbecue trail (we also don’t spend enough time tailgating). We tapped a new BBQ authority, Tiffani Faison, the chef and owner of the terrific Sweet Cheeks in Boston, to give us a list of her go-to spots.

Faison, who’s of course a New England Patriots tailgaiter, gave us this list based on extensive research she did before she opened up Sweet Cheeks. It’s a list that’s handy whether you’re planning your next tailgate - a lot of these places have online stores - or now feeling hungry enough to plan your own barbecue road trip this fall.

Note: This list is in no particular order. Do not assume Faison thinks Lockhart, Texas, is home to the country’s number one barbecue spot.

Black's Barbecue - Lockhart, Texas
For me, Black's sets the standard for Texas barbecue, the best all around in the old-school category, and the best overall 'cue in Lockhart. I give their beef ribs a special hat tip. Smitty's and Kreuz's Market are known for their links in this town (both are nearly identical), but my preference is Black’s. They also happen to be the nicest people on earth and have no problem sharing a walk through their pits with you.

Franklin Barbecue - Austin, Texas
Aaron Franklin's brisket and links are setting the new-school barbecue standard. There's really nothing like his brisket. Period. That's all you need to know. Well, that and to bring sunscreen, because while the brisket smokes, you'll be baking outside on the line, so get there early. 
  
Snows BBQ - Lexington Texas
Tootsie Tomanetz is the pit master here (I named my 4,700 J&R smoker after her at Sweet Cheeks), and she’s been running Snows with her husband for 46 years. You’re best off getting here early on Saturday morning. And by early, I mean late Friday night, because Saturday is the only day they’re open. You'll be thrilled with everything, but I like the two-meat combo with brisket and ribs (beans are always free). Make sure you also get some of Mrs. Patschekke's homemade coleslaw and potato salad. All of their pits are outdoors and tended without thermometers. This is pit mastering at its finest. 

Meshack's Bar-B-Que - Garland, Texas
This is literally a white cinder block shack outside of Dallas with the menu painted on the outside walls. Their chicken is exceptional (and served on Wednesdays only), but anything you order here will make you happy. Their sauce was one of the best I tasted in Texas. Be ready to pop your car trunk for a picnic, as there are no seats or tables. 

Phillips Barbecue (on Crenshaw) - Inglewood, California
If you can't handle spice, don't put Phillips on your list. The hot barbecue sauce is the only way to go here; even though I’m not crazy about dousing meat in sauce, I go crazy with the sauce when I’m here. I recommend the beef links and the small ends with whatever sides you want to go with. Whatever you do, make sure you get banana pudding and pecan pie before you leave, even if you have to eat them in the morning. 

Hill Country Barbecue - New York City and Washington, DC
For a high-volume restaurant in a big city, Hill Country crushes it. The experience is fun, and the food is so consistently good. I love the beer can chicken and their brisket and could probably eat their corn pudding every day until I die. If you're feeling especially indulgent, save a little room and skip across the street to Hill Country Fried Chicken to finish your tour of gluttony with a deep-fried pimento cheese sandwich and mini pie. Lights out. 

Did Tiffani hit or miss your favorite barbecue joint? Let us know in the comments below!

More from Food & Wine:

America’s Best Bars

America’s Best Tailgating Cities

Best Burgers in the U.S.

America’s Best BBQ Cities

Ultimate Tailgating Guide

Learn so very much more about barbecue

Note - the pork pictured above is from Carter Bros. BBQ in High Point, North Carolina. It's goooood.

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Barbecue • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Tailgating


soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. Dumaguete

    Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!

    November 28, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  2. Brennan Cronin

    No lists from RI either. God help me!
    collegetailgatingtents.com

    May 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jeff Edgr

      Fresh Air BBQ in Jackson, Gs. Has been serving the best BBQ in America since 1929. It is a whole fresh ham smoked to perfection that is chopped and served with a tomato based vinega sauce

      August 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  3. Brennan Cronin

    No lists from RI either. God help me!

    http://collegetailgatingtents.com/

    May 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  4. Kathy

    One of the BEST BBQ joints in the country is located in, of all places...Philly!! FAT JACK'S BBQ, in NE Philly puts Texas, NC, KC and most other places that specialize in "Q" to shame...They serve up the best Pulled pork , ribs, and some awesome brisket....BUT they also do the most SPECTACULAR PORK BELLY I have ever tasted....nayway...give them a try when you are in Philly, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED....btw, these guys have competed around the country and have won a couple hundred awards

    October 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  5. Scott

    Really? I understand Texas, But New York?? California?? But not one KC Que joint? Obviously this author has never really experienced BBQ. Not even a nod to Memphis or North Carlina. Come to my house I'll serve you Q like you wouldn't believe.

    September 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  6. Lowcountry Boil

    Yes, she forgot Home Team BBQ in Charleston, SC

    September 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  7. Jack 1

    In the midwest most brabcue is made from beef. I was working down south and ordered a barbcue and they brought me pork barbcue. I didn't realize that most barbcue down there is pork. i prefer the beef.

    September 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Guest23

      I've been testing BBQ all over the US for about 10 years now, and the best BBQ I've ever had is Brother's Barbecue in Cornwall, NY.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  8. Confused

    What does some one from Boston know about BBQ. I agree with the others...to not have a single listing from KC, Memphis or NC shows this is a filler piece to promote this Yankees restaurant.

    September 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jud Hightower

      Duke's Bar-B-Que in Orangeburg, SC is and has always been my favorite, although I do also like Eastern NC Bar-B-Que!

      September 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • Steve Riley

        I agree with Jud. Duke's is one of the best family owned BBQ restaurants. It's a shame not a single BBQ restaurant was mentioned from TN, NC, GA, SC, or AL.

        September 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
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