June 10th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
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Editor's note: Nothing inflames passions quite like barbecue and we'll be breaking down the nuances of regional styles all summer long. Next week - CNN readers and staff weigh in on their favorite joints and pitmasters from all over the country.

(Travel + Leisure) - Like a lot of people, Jay Metzger draws a line when it comes to his barbecue loyalties - and for him, that line falls along the Mississippi River.

“While it’s nice to enjoy a little Memphis and Carolina barbecue, the real stuff comes from the center of the U.S.,” says the Los Angeles-based advertising executive, who favors Kansas City and Texas barbecue.

Plenty of Travel + Leisure readers agree, ranking KC and more than one Texas city in the top 10. But where there’s smoke, there’s fiery debate. As part of the America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 35 metro areas for such qualities as good-looking locals, great sports teams, and regionally distinct pizza and barbecue. To be fair, since the survey covered only 35 cities, some barbecue hot spots like Lexington, North Carolina, Lockhart, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri were not even on the table for this particular vote.

But plenty of other hot-button BBQ cities were - and one dark horse (or perhaps pig) even took the top prize. Certainly, the prevailing styles and some gourmet-friendly trends vary from city to city, from the burnt ends in Kansas City, Missouri, to the mustard-sauced pork in Charleston, South Carolina, or the piles of brisket on butcher paper in Austin, Texas - so the definition of best may depend on what you’re used to.

1. Nashville, Tennessee
It’s a Tennessee takedown: with its ever-expanding foodie scene, Music City won for compiling a greatest-hits collection of barbecue styles - from the whole-hog approach of rural Tennessee, the tomatoey sauces of Memphis, and even the mayo-and-vinegar white sauces typical of Alabama - with southern-style catfish, fried okra, and banana pudding thrown in. Alongside traditional platters, the best places in Nashville offer some cheeky twists: Martin’s Bar-B-Que has Redneck Tacos (filled with brisket or pulled pork), while Peg Leg Porker in The Gulch offers an appetizer of Memphis Sushi (cheese and sausage on saltines). At Edley’s Bar-B-Que, both in East Nashville and 12South, the Tuck Special is a brisket sandwich topped with house-made pimento cheese, an over-easy egg, red and white sauce, and pickles. In a perhaps related note, Nashville also scored near the top for its civic pride.

2. Memphis, Tennessee
Ribs and pork sandwiches are the staples of Memphis-style barbecue: dry-rubbed and smoked over hickory, and often mopped with sauce while cooking. To eat with the savviest locals, head to one of the branches of Central BBQ, which does a classic pork sandwich, pulled-pork nachos, and even a four-ounce barbecued bologna sandwich (the newest is downtown, next to the National Civil Rights Museum). Another favorite - especially with local chefs - is the Bar-B-Q Shop (“home of the Dancing Pigs BBQ sauce”), which claims to be the birthplace of another Memphis staple, sauce-coated barbecue spaghetti. And while the locals ranked at the bottom of the survey for being physically fit, Memphis impressed readers with its bluesy street performers and low-cost luxuries.

3. Kansas City, Missouri
Only within the realm of barbecue can a gas-station location boost your appeal. At least that’s the case with Oklahoma Joe’s, a relative newcomer (as in, the 1990s) to the KC barbecue scene, whose first location was inside a Diamond Shamrock. This meatpacking city - which also ranked at the top of the survey for its great burgers - is known for delectable burnt ends that come off brisket and taste great with a tomatoes-meet-molasses sauce. Two legendary places to try it are Arthur Bryant’s and Gates Bar-B-Q, which date back to the 1920s and ’40s, respectively. Readers also applauded Kansas City for its welcoming locals, solid museums, and, come December, its twinkling Christmas spirit.

4. Austin, Texas
With its emphasis on lightly seasoned brisket, German sausage, and a tomato-vinegar sauce (and sometimes even no sauce), Texas barbecue has plenty of passionate loyalists in the state capital. Iron Works and the Salt Lick are traditional favorites, but these days the lines are longest at Franklin Barbecue in East Austin, which serves meat-market-style brisket, turkey, sausage, and more on pink butcher paper, with white bread and three sauces (including an espresso-based version) on the side. The ultimate barbecue-lovers’ day trip from Austin is the little town of Lockhart, less than an hour away, where old-time classics include Smitty’s Market and Black’s. Readers also put Austin in the top five for food trucks (including another barbecue must, John Mueller Meat Co.).

5. Houston, Texas
This big-business city still likes to go old-school, ranking in the top 10 for bothantiques and messy burgers. Local stars include mom-and-pop-style Gatlin’s BBQ, in Houston Heights, and Goode Company, known for its smoked duck, jalapeño cheese bread, and rich Brazos Bottom pecan pie. To keep your blood-brisket level high - and also see why the metropolis scored well for its bars - go to Beaver’s in Memorial Park, which pairs smoked meats with creative cocktails such as the Sherry Cobbler.

6. San Antonio, Texas
Travel + Leisure readers have always loved the Alamo city’s chili-sauced Tex-Mex, but some of its emerging barbecue has a cutting-edge style. At the Granary ’Cue & Brew, within the rehabbed Pearl brewery, the menu features classic brisket and house-made sausage, along with grilled quail, root beer–sautéed scallops, and Texas toast glazed with a mixture of brisket drippings, butter, and sea salt. Just outside town, Texas Pride Barbecue keeps it classic; based in a former filling station, it offers a bikers’ night as well as a quasi-vegetarian giant baked potato (stuffed with cheese and chopped brisket).

7. Charleston, South Carolina
South Carolina may represent the most diversity among the main barbecue styles, thanks to its core of four sauces (mustard-based, vinegar-and-pepper, and two tomato-based sauces). In Charleston, which also scored well for its fine dining, the honky-tonk-themed Home Team BBQ ups the ante with six sauces (including an Alabama white) to go with your ribs, turkey, or Redneck Pot Roast (brisket). That sloppy eat-off-the-paper approach is a bit of a let-loose departure for locals; Charleston also scored near the top for its home décor shops and for feeling tidy.

8. Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas
Sonny Bryan’s in Dallas and Angelo’s in Fort Worth are longtime favorites for barbecue. But it says something about the cowboy-spirited metroplex that folks even flock to the farmers’ market for meat. Pecan Lodge, in downtown Dallas’s farmers’ market (but soon to move to the Deep Ellum neighborhood), sells Pitmaster sandwiches: a triple threat of brisket, pulled pork, and sausage. Meanwhile, in Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District, Lockhart Smokehouse is a North Texas branch of Lockhart’s legendary Kreuz Market, where you eat your brisket, sausage, and beef ribs right off the butcher paper (and sans sauce).

9. Savannah, Georgia
T+L readers embrace this Georgia city for its unpretentious charm, and the best barbecue places reflect the city’s easygoing attitude. Angel’s BBQ has the confidence to highlight a BBQ bologna sandwich on its menu, as well as a changing menu of sauces (such as Shot Gun Wedding or Voo Doo Juice) and a down-South version of poutine topped with baked beans and cheese. And tucked away in Savannah’s historic district, Wall’s Bar-B-Q is open only from noon to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; it’s famous for ribs, fried chicken, and collard greens.

10. New Orleans, Louisiana
Wedged between Texas and the Southeast, this Louisiana city landed in the top 10 by making barbecue on its own terms - like the pork-belly po’boys and sausage-filled boudin balls at uptown’s Squeal Bar-B-Q, or the Cajun chaurice sausage and spicy Creole coleslaw at Saucy’s on Magazine Street. Either way, a hearty barbecue dinner provides good fuel for a long night of partying: New Orleans ranked at the top of the survey for its wild weekend mojo, girlfriend-getaway fun, and people-watching.

Get the rest of the list at Travel + Leisure: America's Best Cities for Barbecue and weigh in for your favorites below. We'll share the most spirited responses in an upcoming story.

More From Travel + Leisure:
The Best Barbecue Restaurants in the World
America’s Best Outdoor Restaurants
America’s Best Road Trips

Make a brilliant pork butt
Five slices of barbecue wisdom
Five tips for hot dog success
How to smoke a brisket in your backyard
Rack up on rib pointers
Take a stab at a slab – an intro to ribs
Five steps to steak supremacy
Hearts afire! Liver, marrow, kidneys and more great offal for the grill
Whole hog BBQ - the Mount Everest of Meat
Five cuts of meat to buy and grill
A prime rib primer

soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. JG

    Grew up in TX, had to live in NC for a while for work. Grew up in a small town – our BBQ place was one where you went to the pit to pick your meats out, they weighed it out (sold by pound) and you ate picnic style (usually somewhere else). Brisket was always our goto, but they had pork shoulder steaks cut about 1 inch thick that were the best. In NC the gang there ranted and raved about their BBQ. Said it was the best in the country. They said it would cure my homesickness. Went to the place – it was pulled pork (I cried inside). None of these cities will ever beat picking meat from the pit and drooling as they cut it for you and weigh you out. There are loyal folks for each area – I'm glad mine was not mentioned so the lines wont get long.

    June 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
  2. teaclown

    A list that doesn't include Lexington, N.C. is ignorant and not worth reading.... Plus, where's the Rendevous Ribs mention in the Memphis caption? World-class ribs.

    June 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • James

      As a Memphian, Rendezvous is awful. We let the tourists gorge on that crap and head to our favorite dive joints...Central, BBQ Shop, Cozy Corner, Interstate, Payne's...locals only go to Rendezvous when folks visit from out of town and insist on eating there.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:17 am |
  3. Carn E. Vore

    Here's how these idiotic discussion usually go:
    Person #1: This article is garbage, any lover of INSERT FOOD HERE knows that the absolute best place to get it is at INSERT RESTAURANT NAME here in INSERT CITY, STATE!!!
    Person #2: Preach it brother, INSERT SAME RESTAURANT NAME HERE is the best!!!
    Person #3: You two don't know what the heck you're talking about, they can't make decent INSERT FOOD TOPIC in INSERT CITY, STATE FROM PERSON #1. The only TRUE place to get INSERT FOOD TOPIC is in INSERT RESTAURANT NAME here in INSERT CITY, STATE!!!

    Ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

    June 10, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Mo

    OK Joes and ABs most certainly for KC's best. So glad that they didn't list Jack Stack's at all. It is overrated because its a "fancy" restaurant for BBQ.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
  5. LOL

    This list is so bad it's funny. I agree with whoever said this is just another example of what a joke CNN is and how desperate they are for "hits" on the site (so I won't be fowarding this or mentioning it to anyone). I will however continue to get a laugh from such glaring stupidity. I love all diff kinds of BBQ, but a list topped by Tennessee and Texas and completely ignoring NC is like someone screaming "I know nothing about BBQ." (probably followed by drool dripping down their cheek) Apparently a lot of mental patients voted on this one.

    Stay tuned folks, next up CNN probably has something else brilliant like "best buffets in Ethiopia."

    June 10, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  6. Nope

    Any BBQ list without lexington, NC has no credibility. Learn your bbq history.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  7. David

    For me, the best BBQ in the world was in Evans, Colorado back in 1986/87. Patrick Jay Lee kept the fires a burning to smoke the best he could make. His restaurant was on the edge of town, and people drove for miles just to eat there.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  8. George Strait

    You don't even think of Nashville when it comes to BBQ. Who ever made this list is Irrational and Muddled. Memphis should be #1 for BBQ and Nashville shouldn't even be on this list at all.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Mississippi? Tennessee? The Carolinas? Nice places, but garbage for barbecue. Absolute pig filth.

      KC and Austin take it, and the rest don't even come close. Here's a hint - if you have to serve it with sauce, it's southerner garbage, as tasteless as the community it comes from.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
      • Tony Phillips

        I have had KC BBQ and every other BBQ in the midwest. I see why midwesterners are so bland and boring, their attitude about life matches their taste for BBQ. I once at the sole of my shoe, ooops my mistake it was actually BBQ from KC but I couldn't tell.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
      • LOL

        More silliness. KC BBQ is great if you have a sweet tooth or want BBQ as a dessert. Makes for a great happy meal too! But we adults prefer the real BBQ that of course comes out of NC.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
      • Carn E. Vore

        The only thing worse than a chili snob is a BBQ snob. Get over yourself, jacka$$.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
      • Thinking things through

        Kansas City BBQ tastes like dessert. The meat itself might be fine, but the sauce... If I want dessert, I'll get dessert, preferably with chocolate or raspberries. If I want a main, I'll get something else.

        I am not familiar with Austin, but if it is also a sugar bomb, count me out.

        June 10, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
        • Thinking things through

          (Okay, it's not really a sauce, but it sure is sugar!)

          June 10, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
    • thundercatz

      Georgie boy, clearly you have never had Edley's or Martin's. I eat Edley's at least twice a week. Tender smoked pork, half chickens smoked til the meat falls of the bone, and fried catfish that will put momma's to shame. Not to mention our city's invention of hot chicken; Nashville knows it's meat.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
    • Chris

      I just moved to Nashville and i live right next to Martin's BBQ. They have the best BBQ i've ever had. I walk there at least twice a week to eat (going there tonight for sure). I just moved from New Orleans though so i'm VERY surprised to see it on the list.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
  9. JTin Austin

    If people haven't eaten at some of the best places in more than one city, they can't say it's best BBQ, because they have no idea. I can comment on the best between KC, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Austin, Houston, and New Orleans. Everyplace overall does something different than the other, but the best overall BBQ scene is KC hands down. New Orleans I don't even understand. There are hardly any BBQ places there compared these other places. Brisket and Beef ribs go to TX for sure.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
  10. kcjnz

    If NC isn't on the list, then it isn't a proper list! NC BBQ is among the best, if not THE best in the world. Go to Speedy's or Lexington #1 and get a chopped plate and bask in the glory. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it!!

    June 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      The Red Pig is all you had, and that place is long gone. The rest is just crap. Feel free to leave your redneck hometown. You may discover some interesting things. Just make sure you register with your parole officer first.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
      • BTK

        Congratulations, your post is more ignorant the person you were attempting to insult.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
      • tommyrock80

        You've obviously never been to NC.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • engineersguidetogod

      I agree that Lexingon BBQ is quite good, but if you've got to chop it or if you can slice it, then it just ain't done yet. Pork BBQ should be pulled. That's just the way it's done.

      June 10, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
  11. James

    I've lived in TN, TX, MO, and VA (just minutes from the NC border). I prefer the Memphis style to the rest but think it's a travesty not including Lockhart, TX.

    June 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • jimmie

      They mentioned Lockhart

      June 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • James

        They mentioned Lockhart, but it wasn't an option on the poll.

        June 11, 2014 at 9:19 am |
    • reb1981

      I use to work in Lockhart about 10 yrs ago. They have the best by far I think. Though Savannah has some good places too.

      June 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
  12. CT

    Why even go to the trouble of specifying Kansas City, MISSOURI if the first restaurant you're going to mention for the city (Oklahoma Joe's) is in Kansas City, KANSAS? Just say "Kansas City" so you don't have to worry about the state line.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
  13. Kat

    Oh, and if it ain't pork, it ain't BBQ. Thanks for playing, TX.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
    • Louis

      Haters gonna Hate... Texas Rules!!!!

      June 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      If you dismiss Texas, you're just stupid. Thanks for playing, dope.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • Tony Phillips

        There are only two things that come from Texas and proving both are still there in abundance.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
      • Tony Phillips

        I once drove through Texas, the food and scenery didn't improve until I made it to Mexico

        June 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
    • engineersguidetogod

      You've obviously never bothered to try brisket BBQ done right out west. It is worth the journey.

      June 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
  14. Kat

    Charleston? No way. I'm from SC, and I call BS on that one. This is BBQ, not shrimp & grits.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
  15. rosehammes

    FYI – the Original Oklahoma Joe's in the gas station is in Kansas City, KANSAS. Yes, there is a Kansas City, KANSAS.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
    • CT

      All the new locations are also in Kansas. There isn't a single Okie Joe's in KCMO. They're all in KCK.

      June 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
  16. dwdva1

    Nashville? Haha and as far as "cheeky twist" TX has been serving brisket in tacos for years, nothing new here. Obviously the author's taste in BBQ is as lacking as his writing skills-

    June 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
  17. ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™

    Did anyone even read the article? Posted by Travel + Leisure (not CNN) on a survey about best cities of which people only had 35 choices of cities, and ONE category of the survey was for best BBQ...quit whining if your favorite city/bbq joint was not listed. Learn something new, try something new. I'm looking forward to a trip to Austin in a few months and will try the BBQ, will it be the best I've ever had? Maybe, maybe not.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
    • NC all the way!

      Bless your heart. Let those of us who have an opportunity to cheer for something we love – like NC BBQ – do it!

      June 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
      • Arthur Bryant

        NC? What a joke. Stick to dry counties and biblethumping. Your barbecue is as tasteless as your style.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • LOL

          Keep it coming artie, your brilliant posts are almost as funny as the list above LOL

          June 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
  18. kim

    Owensboro , KY Old Hickory BBQ, awesome!

    June 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
  19. Truthfully...

    BBQ suxx., no matter where you find it.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • Kat

      Clearly, you have never had good BBQ. That makes me a little sad for you.

      June 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      I find mine on the plate that I set on the top of your mom's head.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
  20. Pat

    Just out of curiosity, those who say that the best place is so-and-so, have you ever tried other regional BBQ? Saying that KC or Memphis or Carolina or Texas is the best is all fine and good, but if you haven't had BBQ elsewhere, you can't judge.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
    • LOL

      Good point. I've tried most if not all of the various styles and (eastern) NC is the best IMO – but again that's just IMO, and I like all the diff kinds. It's hard to make a bad BBQ. :) But this list is a complete joke.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • engineersguidetogod

      I've had BBQ all over the US. I had the best brisket in Wyoming. I've had Lexington BBQ many times, and it is quite good; however, folks in South Carolina cook the pork better than folks in NC. But Lexington has some great sauce. The best BBQ I every had was at the original Corky's on Poplar Avenue in Memphis. I don't think that can be beat. The second best BBQ I've had is what I make myself. That's probably the way it ought to be.
      Anybody know where the best BBQ is that's near Augusta, GA?

      June 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
  21. John in Memphis

    As far as drivers are concerned, it's a tossup between Memphis and Nashvegas. I'm beginning to think that Tennessee was unfairly chosen for some of the worst drivers and, how shall I say this diplomatically? I cannot – stupidest folks that God or the Ancient Aliens placed on this earth. I digress –
    As said above, there are many excellent bbq joints in this city as well as those others. :)
    To the Nashville hater, other than the drivers, it is an awesome city.
    Go BBQ!

    June 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
  22. Terrence Garrison

    North Carolina has the best BBQ...hands down. I guess the articles focus is on larger cities and the pictures are of cities not BBQ. However, every other town in NC has better BBQ than any of the places listed. Even Big ole Charlotte has better BBQ than Houston or Charleston. Smithfield, NC is number one in the world.....

    June 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
    • Joe

      You are absolutely correct.

      June 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • Louis

      I lived in Kernersville NC for 4 years... I live in Austin TX now
      If all you want is pulled pork (manwhich) then NC is your place, but if you want reall BBQ then come to Texas!!!

      June 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
      • LOL

        Real BBQ does NOT come from a cow, you poor sad deluded person. You can't throw BBQ sauce on anything and suddenly have real BBQ. How much I pity you poor folk.

        (PS – kidding. It's all good.)

        June 10, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
      • LOL

        PS: "manwich" (ie sloppy joes) are usually made with ground BEEF.

        Enjoy that egg on your face. ;-)

        June 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      You might want to travel. We don't want to deal with you, but it would add some depth to your idiotic oinion

      June 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
      • Carn E. Vore

        You're getting a month's worth of trolling out of this one article. Congrat's! Now go get your shine box.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
    • BIGDAWG in GA

      I've lived in Fayetteville, NC; Charleston, SC.; TX (South via San Antonio and North via Dallas) and I'm from Georgia. IMO NC does have some of the best BBQ (Pork ribs), I have ever tasted. GA has some of the best BBQ (Pulled Pork), I have ever had. TX has good darn Brisket! But BBQ (any pork item, No). I want to visit Kansas City to taste the BBQ they have to offer. TN, Idk. I have not heard many people speak about TN BBQ other than sweet sauces and dry rub ribs. Louisiana is known for seafood. Savannah is known for seafood, also. The ppl on this list must be rich and never tasted real BBQ before. If you watch BBQ Pitmasters, the states that represents BBQ are GA, NC, MO...The rest are laughers! TX pitmasters can only smoke Brisket, and TN pitmasters do not make the final cut. IJS...

      June 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
  23. BK

    I lived in Tennessee for 25 years. I can honestly say I never heard "Nashville" and "Barbecue" in the same sentence, unless that sentence was "You can't get good barbecue in Nashville."

    June 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
    • Kat

      Feeling exactly the same way about that Charleston, SC pick. WTH?

      June 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
  24. PhinsPhan

    Nashville has no place on this list. Top 3 in MHO is KC, Memphis & Austin. You could make a case for these 3 to be in any order.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  25. KC

    This survey is utter garbage. No NC locations were included? The best BBQ is in the middle of the US? Already belittles your survey and makes it uncredible.

    BBQ is meat cooked over a grill and roasted until tender. Be it pork or beef (although, being from NC, beef BBQ is like using the bathroom on an electric fence). Anything else is NOT BBQ. And in my opinion, if it's saucy like a sloppy joe, you taste the sauce and not the meat. Vinegar base adds a slight hint of flavor and twang, but it allows you to enjoy the meat which is what you want to do.

    I've never tried KC bbq but I have tried Memphis and it was not my cup of tea. But the fact there was no NC BBQ up there.. Survey FAIL...

    June 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
    • Terrence Garrison

      I second that...

      June 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      BBQ snobs are almost as bad as chili snobs but just a little behind wine snobs on the douchey scale.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Incorrect. Grilling meat is called .... GRILLING, mensa. Barbecue requires a smoker to be used for more than 8 hours.
      Liquid smoke? You're in the south where it's just too much work to do it right.
      Mustard in your sauce? You have no taste.
      Sweet tea? You're just a hillbilly
      Vinegar base? You're just hiding rotten meat.

      Sure, your regional variant is loved by your locals, but these are the same people who love dogfighting, racism and false pious posturing.

      NC BBQ is garbage. midwest to Texas is the only place to get actual barbecue. The stuff in the south is just bumpkin fattener.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
    • LOL

      Exactly, KC well said. Also water is wet. Anyone who doesn't get that is probably a cow humping retard.

      Oh wait, they're already here, nm

      June 10, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
  26. Professor Culinary

    Barbecue is to food, what the WWF is to professional sports, which is to say a gross imposter at best.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
    • HarpAttack

      You're sadly mistaken, since barbecue predates anything you know as food except baked potatoes.

      June 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      The first comma you used is to your sentence what your comment on this topic is: unnecessary and incorrect.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
      • thundercatz

        I've never in my life witnessed both a grammatical and factual correctness burn in one sentence, all while mirroring the structure of the offender's comment no less. A job well done.

        June 10, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • Carn E. Vore

          Thanks. Now I'm going to go celebrate with some BBQ!

          June 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      foodies are to humans as dog dumps are to cuisine, hipster. Fall off that high horse of yours before you eat it.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
      • LOL


        Who needs sitcoms? We have Artie! Keep it comin bubba!

        June 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
  27. guessttf

    It's too bad they exclude the little towns. Lockhart TX has BY FAR the best barbecue, better than Austin, when it comes to brisket. And no one else beats Elgin's sausage. No one.....

    June 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
  28. Chuck

    Best BBQ is my own.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
  29. Bill the Cat

    You need to go to the country to get real BBQ. Places like Whiteville, NC's Joe's BBQ. Small towns > big cities

    June 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
    • El Stone

      You are correct sir!

      June 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
  30. j remo

    If you come down to Houston, go to Gatlin's BBQ. Real nice folks and great BBQ. You can skip Beavers, unless you like mediocre BBQ.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
  31. K. Rod

    How did Rudy's BBQ NOT make it in the San Antonio, Texas synopsis? Rudy's is BY FAR the best BBQ in SA, Hands down!!

    June 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
    • El Stone

      You mean Rudy's the chain? With gas stations attached to them?

      Unless you're talking about some small place in Houston I've never heard of (I used to live in Houston), no thanks!

      June 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
  32. Phil in KC

    Personally, I'm not a big fan of Oklahoma Joe's. But it seems to be real popular on the Kansas side of the border.
    That said, I'm surprised KC is not #1. So many BBQ places to try. In addition to those mentioned above, you should try KC Masterpiece, Jack Stack, Danny Edwards (formerly Little Jake's) and Haywards, just to name a few. I do agree that you have to try burnt ends. It doesn't sound appetizing, but it is how I judge any BBQ restaurant (that and their beans).
    I've tried Carolina BBQ and I'm not a big fan of that style. I prefer the tomato- and molasses-based style here locally.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • JTin Austin

      My office in OVP was right next to Haywards and a short drive to Jack Stack, OK Joes, Gates, Brobacks. I ate at them fairly regularly. I've also ate all the other famous joints around town (Bryant's, BBs, Edwards) more than a time or two. While most of them are very good, Haywards is absolute garbage. Outside of their burnt ends their food is below par. Okie Joes is far above the best. I don't know many people who don't think that to be the case. We had people coming from offices in Nashville and Austin who all have the same thought. I moved to Austin a year ago and have eaten in most of the famous locations and I'm not real impressed. Good with beef.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  33. Cletus T

    If you want the best BBQ sandwich you have ever eaten..then you need to travel to Selma,Alabama and get a BBQ sandwich at Laines #2 . I have never had anything like it...They put a whole cracklin on top of the meat ..they call it a BBQ sandwich with skin.....it is incredible...i was in Selma yesterday on business and i made sure i stopped by...Do yourself a favor and go visit them...I am not affiliated with this place at all...i just saw this story and figured i would give you a gem that would blow any BBQ that is currently available anywhere

    June 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
  34. Todd

    There is really too much difference in Barbecue to really classify them.
    You have dry rub BBQ
    You have vinegar based (watery dips)
    You have thicker sauce (Consistency of ketchup (Often Ketchup is an ingredient ))
    You have a bunch of animal sources Chicken (White,Dark), Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork...
    You have slow cooking, then you have fast grilling...
    There is so much diversity to say one is better then the other means you failed to look for what is special in the other,

    June 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
    • BBQ lover

      You make a decent point, I love them all and have trouble deciding which is my favorite.

      June 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      Well said. I enjoy all of the styles. What I eat – or what I cook when I BBQ at home – depends on what mood I'm in. I always get sadly amused by the folks who limit themselves by saying "XYZ is the only TRUE BBQ!!!" Good food is good food. Enjoy it as many ways as you can,

      June 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
    • LOL

      Bravo, Todd. We all have our favs but like I said elsewhere, it's all good. :) (well all I've had so far anyway) Just some is better than others.

      June 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
  35. Andrijus

    At least places like NYC and Chicago aren't on this list like I half-expected.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
  36. Mary

    Big Bob Gibsons in Decatur, Alabama has won the national BBQ cook-off several times... it is wonderful...
    Also, Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is an icon for ribs, white bread, and coke off the plastic ring

    June 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Alabama. Funny, Forrest. Better run.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
  37. Meade Skelton

    VA BBQ is sweeter tasting than NC BBQ. Best BBQ is Buz and Ned's in Richmond, King's BBQ Petersburg, and Pierce's BBQ in Williamsburg.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • LOL

      First, there is no such thing as "VA BBQ" (I lived there a long time all over the state btw). Is anyone else tired of places trying to get "on the list" with their alleged unique BBQ? There are really only about a handful of BBQ styles, ie NC (eastern and western), Memphis, KC, and Texas. To a lesser extent, SC and I guess Bama's weird white sauce. Second, Pierce's isn't what it used to be. Can't speak to the others....

      June 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
  38. Emma

    I realize that not everywhere can be in the top 10, but you all literally left off the Barbecue Capitol of the World: Owensboro, Ky. Between Moonlight, Old Hickory, the barbecue festival in May and all of the church parish barbecues during the summer, you can hardly throw a rock without hitting someone having and selling the best barbecue ever.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
  39. Neal

    A BBQ list without one mention from a city in NC is not a BBQ list.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
  40. timharper994

    Memphis, but no mention of Rendezvous! Lexington, NC left off the list! Travel and Leisure dude – I think you need to get out more ;)

    June 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • be in tn

      Rendezvous is WAY OVER RATED!!!!!!!!!!! Just like all commercial bbq joints that cant take the time to slow cook it the proper way. Go to the small pop and mom q joints for real q!!!

      June 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
  41. be in tn

    99% of the so-called bbq that this unqualified person names is not bbq; you cant put bbq sauce on bologna and call it bbq where I come from......and that would be Tennessee!!! Pork shoulder slow cooked for at least 12 hrs. over hickory coals (no flames) will fall off the bone and flavor throughout... that is bbq!!!

    June 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • Dave

      Agreed.....and since when is a fried catfish and okra BBQ? Delish but not BBQ

      June 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
    • Kasey

      Agreed. I transplanted from Memphis to Los Angeles, and what they call bbq out there is something grilled with some sauce slapped on it. I did fine one good place run by a man from Mississippi. One.

      June 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
  42. C_B

    Oklahoma Joe's is in Kansas, not Missouri.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
  43. Dave

    Having been born and raised in KC of course I'm biased....I love all types of BBQ, from Texas and throughout the south and southeastern states! But for those of you commenting from NY and Vermont..............Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease!

    June 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  44. Shirely U. Jest

    I was upset until I saw this list was from a Travel and Leisure executive, Jay Metzger, that lives in Los Angeles. The point here is this man is not much of an expert on travel and leisure, much less about BBQ. It's one man's uneducated list given to him by his personal assistant.
    This is another CNN article trolling its readers trying to build up its stats.
    Come on, from Travel and Leisure? That magazine knows nothing about real travel and leisure people that do don't need to read a how and where to magazine to do it.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
    • Nice Try

      That's just a quote by him. Not his list.

      June 10, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
  45. Craig - n - KC

    I can't believe Memphis and Nashville ranked above KC. Also another glaring error, is listing Oklahoma Joe's. That place doesn't hold a candle to a slew of other joints here. Rosedale's, Smokehouse, any number of places should have been listed instead.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
  46. Nunya Bidness

    This must be from the people who think that the best drivers are located in Nashville. I live in Nashville and two things are universally true. 1. Theses are the worst drivers on the planet. They don't even know that the passing lane is on the left. 2. This is where good food comes to DIE! There are no good restaurants in Nashville and if they are here they will be closed inside of 12 Months. Even the fast food is trash here. Service BLOWS!!!! Clearly this list was compiled by drunken convention goers who think that Arby's is a good dinner option. There is one good BBQ place here in Nashville but because it sits next to Kroger you won't ever hear about it. It isn't downtown next to the gultch! Come to Nashville, we have a Intl airport and Opryland with out the rides now because its a shopping mall instead. WHO WANTS SWEET TEA? Y'ALL HAVE A NICE DAY NOW! Buy the crap out of everything is this massive shit hole tourist trap! YEHAW!

    June 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
    • There's the interstate

      Feel free to leave.

      June 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
  47. sold1000

    Who created this list??? Best BBQ...take notes. ATLANTA: The Mustard Seed MEMPHIS: A&R BBQ KANSAS CITY: LC's HATTIESBURG: Leatha's

    June 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  48. Rachel

    I am from NC but currently live in Savannah, GA. The fact that Savannah is on this list but no NC city made the cut is insane. I have eaten at Angel's BBQ and while it is not bad, it is not even close to being in the same league as most NC BBQ restaurants. Lexington, Raleigh, Goldsboro, Burlington, Greenville, and New Bern are all amazing NC BBQ cities that were not even in the running.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
    • StuPaq

      Full Agreement that NC should be represented somewhere on this list. Whether it's eastern style vinegar base or that sweet thick Western style Ketchup base, NC BBQ is yuuuuuuuuuummmmmmy.

      June 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
    • LOL

      With you on NC overall, but Raleigh? Puh-leez...The Pit is good, but that's about it. I lived there and was amazed how weak that area was for BBQ. It's smack in the middle of the state for crying out loud. I even went to a BBQ festival near downtown with all these local places making BBQ..it was ALL lacking, not one truly good BBQ in the group. Yikes.

      June 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
  49. D. Long

    I'm from Nashville and disagree with this list putting them first, especially above the next three on the list. However, it is true that there are some new, awesome spots that have opened in the past 2-3 years that offer some quality smoked meat products.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  50. KT

    Born and raised in Memphis and lived in Nashville....searched and searched Nashville for something par and never found anything comparable to Memphis bbq. I can't judge anywhere else, but Memphis > Nashville for BBQ. Everyone should check out this new book on the history of Memphis BBQ "Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce and Soul" by Craig Meek

    June 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
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