The 50 best barbecue joints in America

By Emmie Martin

July 1, 2016

Whether you’re gearing up for a Fourth of July picnic or simply enjoying the laid-back vibes of summer, the season calls for barbecue.

So we teamed up with Foursquare to compile a list of the top barbecue joints across the US.

Because the city-guide app allows users to save and favorite the venues they love, Foursquare was able to track down which barbecue spots are getting the most praise across America. Foursquare included the top-rated location of various chain restaurants in the US, removing subsequent locations.

From Memphis dry rubs to thick Texas sauce, read on to discover where to find the most mouthwatering ‘cue in the country.

50. Blue Ribbon BBQ
Lala I./Yelp
Location: Arlington, Massachusetts

Foursquare rating: 9.23

Inspired by roadside barbecue joints down South, Blue Ribbon BBQ opened its doors over 20 years ago to bring those same flavors to another part of the country. Today, the spot still serves a host of authentic Southern dishes, including North Carolina pulled pork, Kansas City burnt ends, St. Louis cut ribs, and Texas sliced beef brisket.

49. Hutchins BBQ & Grill
Lucy Z/Yelp
Location: McKinney, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.24

It’s all-you-can-eat at Huchins BBQ & Grill, so pile it on and dig into melt-in-your-mouth brisket, jalapeño sausage, smoked chicken, and more. Foursquare users cheer the fried okra as well. The place gets crowded, so come prepared to fight for a table.

48. Phil’s BBQ
Phil’s BBQ/Facebook
Location: San Diego, California

Foursquare rating: 9.24

Even in Southern California, it’s possible to find outstanding barbecue if you know where to look. Phil’s BBQ always draws a line out the door.

“I grew up in the South and had all kinds of barbecue. I did not think you could have such flavorful beef ribs in San Diego,” Foursquare user Timothy Mabrey said. “Service is fast, but go during off hours to avoid waiting in a long line.”

47. Midwood Smokehouse
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Foursquare rating: 9.24

The pitmasters at Midwood Smokehouse in Charlotte keep the fire going 24/7, so there’s always enough hickory-smoked pork chop, prime brisket, and smoked salmon to go around. The standout sides deserve a moment of appreciation as well: hush puppies, bacon-wrapped jalapeños, and pimento cheese fries are enough to suffice as a meal on their own.


46. Meat U Anywhere
Meat U Anywhere BBQ & Catering Grapevine/Facebook
Location: Grapevine, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.25

If the clever name alone isn’t enough to get you in the door at Meat U Anywhere, come for the slow-smoked jalapeño cheddar sausage, overflowing brisket sandwiches, and incomparable breakfast tacos. Or splurge on one of the spot’s “prime time” meats, such as peppered tenderloin or bone-in pork loin chop.


45. Aptos St. BBQ
Chezy Y/Yelp
Location: Aptos, California

Foursquare rating: 9.25

Show up early if you’re craving Aptos St. BBQ favorites like St. Louis-style pork ribs or a serving of tri-tip, as the joint frequently sells out. The no-frills food and hip atmosphere are completed by a wall of beer, providing customers with 37 options to wash down dinner.

44. 12 Bones Smokehouse
Michael P/Yelp
Location: Asheville, North Carolina

Foursquare rating: 9.25

With a rotating menu of sauces that changes daily, 12 Bones Smokehouse continually thinks up new and interesting flavor combinations. Guests can enjoy everything from blueberry chipotle barbecue to pineapple habanero sauce, but frequent trips to the restaurant are the only way to taste ’em all. Grab a few slices of sugar bacon to take home as well — you’ll thank us tomorrow.

43. Alamo BBQ
Alamo BBQ/Facebook
Location: Richmond, Virginia

Foursquare rating: 9.26

Alamo BBQ gives customers a taste of Texas all the way in Virginia.

“Best BBQ in Richmond, hands down,” Foursquare user Julie Brooke says. “The barbecue sauce makes the meal, the brisket is tender, and the jalapeño mac and cheese is just as good as everyone says. Eat here and you won’t be disappointed.”

42. Ace Biscuit & Barbecue
Kristie M/Yelp
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Foursquare rating: 9.26

At Ace Biscuit & Barbecue, they know there’s nothing better than all-day breakfast. The Charlottesville joint keeps the biscuits, eggs, and waffles flowing morning to night. Drop in anytime for breakfast sandwiches overflowing with sausage, brisket, or pulled pork. Foursquare users also cheer the fried green tomatoes, served with pimento cheese for dipping.

41. Southern Soul Barbecue
Southern Soul Barbeque/Facebook
Location: St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

Foursquare rating: 9.26

Famous on St. Simon’s Island, Southern Soul Barbecue has an extensive menu that draws customers back time after time. Order anything from pulled pork to a rack of ribs, but be sure to top it with the Sweet Georgia Soul sauce, a customer favorite. Leave room for a side of Brunswick stew and a few fried Oreos as well.

40. Hard Eight BBQ
Stacy L/Yelp
Location: Coppell, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.26

Rustic decor and a packed menu of authentic Texas barbecue make a meal at Hard Eight BBQ feel like a family cookout. Along with onion-topped rib-eye and cut-to-order prime rib, the staff always serves up a hearty portion of Southern hospitality.

39. Jethro’s BBQ
Triphena W/Yelp
Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Foursquare rating: 9.28

Part sports bar, part barbecue joint, Jethro’s BBQ serves up slow-cooked meat and handcrafted sides, all made fresh daily. Inside, the space aims to evoke the feeling of eating around a campfire during a cattle drive — without missing a single NFL game, that is.

38. Freedmen’s
Scott S/Yelp
Location: Austin, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.29

Stop by Freedmen’s in Austin for an upscale twist on barbecue, thanks to rustic decor, a menu of intricate cocktails, and a Sunday brunch complete with barbecue Benedict. Offbeat options, such as grilled cabbage slaw, house-made sausage, and smoked banana pudding give it an edge in flavor as well.


37. Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse
Stefan J/Yelp
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Foursquare rating: 9.29

Sweet Lucy’s offers typical barbecue staples, like pulled pork and beef brisket, as well as unusual sides like cheesy spinach and cucumber-tomato salad.

“Phenomenal BBQ joint!” Foursquare user Donnie H. writes. “Beef brisket is fantastic, along with pretty much every one of their sides! Great laid back atmosphere as well!”

36. Pecan Lodge
Lane B/Yelp
Location: Dallas, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.3

After Pecan Lodge proprietors Justin and Diane quit their corporate jobs to spend more time as a family, they started selling their smoked meat at the local farmer’s market. Word spread about their tiny stand, blessing the couple with long lines that soon warranted a full-blown storefront. Stop by for smoked meats, loaded sweet potatoes, and hand-battered fried chicken.

35. JR’s Barbecue
Rita W/Yelp
Location: Culver City, California

Foursquare rating: 9.31

JR’s Barbecue in Culver City starts with mesquite, white oak, and pecan wood for smoking, followed by a custom dry rub to bring out the meat’s flavor. But the real magic is the spot’s homemade sauce: hot, spicy, and sure to give even the biggest hot-sauce connoisseurs a run for their money.

34. La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana
Dan B/Yelp
Location: Austin, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.31

An Austin favorite, La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana cooks up classic barbecue options that are pricey, but worth it. The simple menu boasts a whole lotta meat: sausage, brisket, pulled pork, two kinds of ribs, and a selection of hefty sandwiches.

33. Lockhart Smokehouse
Lockhart Smokehouse/Facebook
Location: Dallas, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.32

When you order at Lockhart Smokehouse, the meat is pulled directly from the smoker and sliced up before your eyes. Load up on lean beef shoulder clod, smoky dry rubbed ribs, or juicy pork chops. Grab a few sausage links as well — it’s the only place in Dallas where you can score Kreuz Market sausage.

32. Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House
Sherry B/Yelp
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Foursquare rating: 9.32

The menu at Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House in Knoxville overflows with soul food classics, from Tennessee beef brisket to pimento cheese dip to banana pudding. In addition to serving top-notch ‘cue, Sweet P’s doubles as a concert venue, hosting free performances by local artists.

31. Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue
Kevin B/Yelp
Location: Cockeysville, Maryland

Foursquare rating: 9.33

Slow cooked until it falls off the bone and simmered in the Nelson family’s Memphis-style heirloom sauce, the barbecue at Andy Nelson’s is always fresh and flavorful. Steeped in over 30 years of family tradition, the restaurant makes everything from scratch and touts friendly service as a top priority.

30. Slows Bar-B-Q
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Foursquare rating: 9.33

Slows puts a gourmet twist on classic barbecue for dishes like baby back ribs dry rubbed in a blend of 13 spices, blackened catfish, and jambalaya packed with smoked chicken and spicy andouille sausage. And no meal at Slows can be completed without a beer … or two, or three. Choose from one of the 56 options on the spot’s iconic menu.

29. Saw’s BBQ
Jerry L/Yelp
Location: Homewood, Alabama

Foursquare rating: 9.33

“If you like a vinegar-based barbecue, Saw’s is one of the top joints in Alabama,” Foursquare user Lee Tucker writes. “Good food in a cool atmosphere. The pulled pork was excellent: very tender, juicy with a good taste.”

While you’re there, be sure to sample Saw’s signature white sauce.

28. Chaps Pit Beef
Vincent D/Yelp
Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Foursquare rating: 9.33

What started as two guys selling beef, ham, and sausage out of a literal shack is now one of Maryland’s top barbecue joints. Twenty-seven years later, Chaps Beef Pit has been featured on shows like “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” to “Man v. Food” to “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

27. Franklin Barbecue
Location: Austin, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.33

Texans flock to Austin’s Franklin Barbecue for some of the best smoked meat in the Lone Star State. Arguably more famous than the food itself, the line can stretch four to five hours long. It’s worth it to hold out for the spot’s fatty brisket and juicy pulled pork, though. Locals also love the Tipsy Texan, a sky-high sandwich bursting with brisket, coleslaw, pickles, and sausage.

26. Prohibition Pig
Prohibition Pig/Facebook
Location: Waterbury, Vermont

Foursquare rating: 9.33

Though pricier than the typical barbecue joint, upscale Prohibition Pig in Waterbury offers elevated options such as a whole pit-smoked chicken topped with a hush puppy garnish, or the “Hoosier Daddy” sandwich filled with breaded pork loin and pickles. With more than 20 craft beers on tap, a complementary brew is never hard to come by.

25. Fat Matt’s Rib Shack
Ruby C/Yelp
Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Foursquare rating: 9.34

Only two main dishes are on the menu at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in Atlanta: ribs and chicken. Skip the bird in favor of the joint’s namesake dish. Moist, falling off the bone, and doused in a tangy sauce, the ribs never disappoint. Foursquare users recommend the rum baked beans and collard greens to finish off the meal.

24. Heirloom Market BBQ
Daniel B/Yelp
Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Foursquare rating: 9.34

A tiny, no-frills spot, Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta marries Korean barbecue with its Texas-style cousin. Regulars rave about the spicy Korean pork sandwich, which includes a chunk of gochujang-marinated pork topped with a generous helping of kimchi slaw for a bold combination of spicy, smoky, and sweet.

23. Little Miss BBQ
Mark C/Yelp
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Foursquare rating: 9.34

Smoked fresh daily on Arizona oak and pecan, the meat at Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix comes out moist and tender. The wait is regularly two hours or more, but it’s worth it for a hunk of fatty, melt-in-your-mouth brisket. Round out the meal with a scoop of creamy jalapeño cheddar grits.

22. Green Street Smoked Meats
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Foursquare rating: 9.34

The best place to find Texas-style barbecue in Chicago, Green Street Smoked Meats features straightforward offerings such as sliced brisket, pork belly, ribs, and even Frito pie. Rustic, wooden decor under a sky of twinkling lights gives the joint a cozy, down-home vibe that will transport you right back to summer family cookouts.

21. RayRay’s Hog Pit
Ray Ray’s Hog Pit/Facebook
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Foursquare rating: 9.35

Served every weekend out of a food truck in Columbus, the meat at RayRay’s Hog Pit comes from local farms and is smoked 12 to 16 hours to produce the telltale pink smoke ring of a quality slab. Slather on one of the spot’s homemade sauces, such as sweet BBQ or habanero BBQ, for an extra dose of flavor, though the meat stands alone if you prefer your ribs dry.

20. Fette Sau
Anny Z/Yelp
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Foursquare rating: 9.36

If you’re planning a trip to Fette Sau, come prepared for meat, meat, and more meat.

“Fette Sau serves spectacular smoked meats by the pound — pulled pork shoulder, loin chops, and boneless beef ribs,” Gothamist shared on Foursquare. “The baked beans are pretty meaty themselves, so consider yourself forewarned.” Vegetarians, beware.

19. Smokin Pig BBQ
Rylan T/Yelp
Location: Pendleton, South Carolina

Foursquare rating: 9.36

You can’t beat the brisket at Pendleton’s Smokin Pig BBQ. Smoked to perfection, crisp, and topped with a flavor-packed dry rub, it falls apart in your mouth. Round out your meal with an order of jalapeño grits or sweet potato fries, and you’re sure to leave full and happy.

18. Community Q BBQ
Mauricio A/Yelp
Location: Decatur, Georgia

Foursquare rating: 9.36

Come for the barbecue, stay for the mac and cheese at Community Q BBQ, where the rich side is not to be missed. “Brisket had great taste, tenderness, and smoke rings! The mac was creamy, cheesy, and had rigatoni noodles,” Foursquare user Tatiana Han said.

“Don’t be scared of the lines!” she warns.

17. Burn Co BBQ
Jennifer W/Yelp
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Foursquare rating: 9.38

Through a no-frills design and utilitarian decor, the proprietors at Burn Co BBQ aim to make the restaurant feel like a backyard cookout — all about the company and, mostly, the food. The spot smokes its meats daily and offers a diverse menu of everything from pulled pork to smoked bologna to venison sausage.

16. Central BBQ
Brian M/Yelp
Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Foursquare rating: 9.39

In the mood for traditional, authentic Memphis-style barbecue? Make Central BBQ your go-to spot. The joint features premium meat dry rubbed with spices, marinated for a full 24 hours, and slow smoked to perfection over hickory and pecan wood. You can’t go wrong with classic options like ribs or brisket, but be sure to try the smoked hot wings and pulled pork nachos as well.

15. Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque/Facebook
Location: New York, New York

Foursquare rating: 9.39

New York City’s Mighty Quinn’s gives its Southern counterparts a run for their money. The spot’s specialties include its brisket and burnt ends, and Foursquare users cheer the “brontosaurus rib,” a huge serving of beef short rib that weighs nearly a pound.

14. Pappy’s Smokehouse
Elton W/Yelp
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Foursquare rating: 9.4

St. Louis locals rave about Pappy’s Smokehouse, and for good reason: The Memphis-style ‘cue is smoked for 14 hours over sweet apple or cherry wood and doused with Pappy’s tangy homemade sauce. Make a point of going early — it’s known for selling out.

13. Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q
Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q/Facebook
Location: Austin, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.4

Austin’s competitive barbecue scene can be cutthroat, but Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q consistently delivers quality food and friendly service. Yes, it’s in a gas station, but one taste of the moist brisket or smoked turkey breast will make you forget the world around you. Whatever you order, be sure to slather it in Rudy’s signature sauce.

12. Hometown Bar-B-Que
Jason L/Yelp
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Foursquare rating: 9.4

You’ll find more than your typical barbecue offerings at Brooklyn’s Hometown Bar-B-Que. Branch out with an order of pork belly tacos, a lamb belly banh mi sandwich, or Vietnamese hot wings. But if you’re craving a taste of traditional Texas ‘cue, you can’t go wrong with brisket or pulled pork.

11. John Mull’s Meats and Road Kill Grill
Shawn H/Yelp
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Foursquare rating: 9.41

The menu may be simple, but everything at John Mull’s Meats and Road Kill Grill in Las Vegas comes packed with flavor. For only $13.65, nosh on the spot’s famous ribs — which come highly praised by Foursquare users — along with classic sides like mac and cheese and baked beans.

10. The Joint
Ashley H/Yelp
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Foursquare rating: 9.44

Wooden walls and mismatched furniture give The Joint an authentic, cozy feel from the minute you step in. The food doesn’t disappoint either.

“Some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had!” Foursquare user Stephen McQuaid noted. “Ordered a bit of everything, but the highlight was definitely the ribs. Drown it in their homemade barbecue sauce and you can’t go wrong.”

9. Q39
Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Foursquare rating: 9.44

After a series of wins in barbecue competitions, classically-trained chef Rob Magee opened Q39 to bring the distinctive flavor of competitive barbecue to the public. Q39’s first batch of meat goes in the smoker at 2 a.m. every day, precisely timed to be hot and ready for the lunch crowd. The dinner meat follows, ensuring that customers only consume freshly prepared food.

8. Smoque BBQ
Michael U/Yelp
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Foursquare rating: 9.45

At Chicago’s Smoque BBQ, all of the sauces and rubs are made from scratch and designed to precisely complement certain cuts of meat. The attention to detail and willingness to mix styles pays off: Patrons come back again and again for the smoky spare ribs and moist brisket.

7. Bogart’s Smokehouse
Steven B/Yelp
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Foursquare rating: 9.49

You might think you’ve had great ribs before, but you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve ordered a rack from Bogart’s Smokehouse in St. Louis. Dry-rubbed and topped with a caramelized apricot glaze, the ribs come out tender and slightly sweet — consistently a customer favorite.


6. The Salt Lick

Priscilla Z/Yelp
Location: Driftwood, Texas

Foursquare rating: 9.5

Situated in the heart of Texas Hill Country, The Salt Lick has recipes that are steeped in family tradition. The restaurant still uses the original barbecue pit that owner Scott Roberts’ father built in 1967. For $25 per person, chow down on the all-you-can-eat family-style platter, complete with beef brisket, sausage, and pork ribs.


5. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Location: Rochester, New York

Foursquare rating: 9.52

Touted as some of the best barbecue in America by shows and outlets like “Good Morning America” and the Food Network, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que proves that top-notch barbecue can be found as far north as upstate New York. Expect a line, but it’s worth it for the juicy pulled pork sandwich.

Though Dinosaur originated in Syracuse, New York, the Rochester location is the highest-rated on Foursquare.


4. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Foursquare rating:9.52

What started as a backyard passion for Texas-born twins Jonathan and Justin Fox quickly blossomed into an all-out affair, with the brothers cooking for over 250 people. They decided to go into the barbecue business full-time, and today, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q stands as an Atlanta staple. Stop by for a larger-than-life serving of the beef short rib.

3. Eli’s BBQ

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Foursquare rating:9.53

Enjoy your dinner al fresco at Eli’s BBQ, a cash-only, BYOB spot in Cincinnati. Foursquare users rave about the pulled pork sandwich, but take note: You’ll be instantly addicted. Be sure to couple it with a side of Eli’s famous baked beans.


2. Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

Location: Tyler, Texas

Foursquare rating:9.54

The oldest mom-and-pop barbecue joint in Tyler, Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue has something for the whole family. The extensive menu includes everything from stuffed baked potatoes to Frito pie to tacos, all featuring the spot’s pit-smoked ‘cue. Wash it all down with a selection from more than 70 American craft whiskeys.

1. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que

Location: Kansas City, Kansas

Foursquare rating: 9.58

Yes, the best barbecue in the country can be found inside a gas station. But don’t judge a book by its cover: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que serves up award-winning recipes, born out of the proprietors’ love of competition and belief that smoke can transform any cut of meat into a delicacy. The ribs, pulled pork, and Z-Man sandwich — which comprises slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone, and crispy onion rings — are all must-trys.

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