50 Best BBQ Restaurants in the U.S.

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Ready to find the 50 best BBQ joints in the U.S.?

We’re packing our appetites, napkins, and antacids and hitting the road to indulge in Foursquare’s top-ranked barbecue joints in America.

When our friends at Foursquare published their 50 top-ranked barbecue restaurants in the U.S. earlier this year, it got us thinking: Is there a better reason to explore America’s interstates, main streets, and backroads than authentic, smoky barbecue? Whether your appetite runs toward traditional brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, or toward cool new cultural fusions such as Asian-spiced chicken wings and BBQ-stuffed tacos, these 50 joints are enough to keep any gourmand busy for months or even years.

Why We Love BBQ

"One of the most exciting things about barbecue is that the best stuff is found in what might appear to be the unlikeliest of places," says Budget Travel’s senior editor Liza Weisstuch. When Liza ate at the original outpost of the famous Joe's Kansas City Barbecue, which is No. 1 on Foursquare’s ranked list and located in a gas station rest stop, she was surprised how many locals advised her to get there no later than 10AM, an hour before opening. She was even more surprised to find that when she got there—at 10AM, sharp—there were already more than 40 hungry people queued up outside. "The line of excited 'cue-lovers aside, the place had all the trappings of a roadside pit stop. Well, 'pit stop' indeed. The pit masters here crank out some of the most tender, swoon-worthy meats, worthy not only of the time spent on line, but a pilgrimage any carnivore should consider."

Multicultural Riffs on BBQ Tradition

As much as we love the BBQ traditions exemplified by joints such as Joe’s, we also love how the cuisine has evolved to include a variety of cultural influences, and one tasty example is right here in Budget Travel’s New York City backyard. “Hometown Bar-B-Que [No. 12 on Foursquare’s list] is, hands down, my favorite barbecue in New York City,” says Budget Travel associate editor Maya Stanton. “The brisket's fat-to-lean ratio is on point, so the meat basically melts in your mouth, and the smoky flavor is just out of this world. They also have these Vietnamese wings that seem overpriced until you get them—they’re the whole wing, not separated into individual flats/drumsticks, and pretty much perfect. The menu has a bunch of other fusiony options too, like jerk ribs, pulled-pork tacos, and lamb belly banh mi, so it’s a great place to try something outside of the usual regional styles.”

Talk to Us: How Many of These 50 BBQ Joints Have You Tried?

We’d love to hear how many of Foursquare’s top 50 BBQ joints you’ve tried so far—or tell us about your favorite BBQ that didn't make the (admittedly subjective) list: Post a comment below or share your best most alluring BBQ photos on Instagram, tagged #mybudgettravel. From down-home BBQ hot spots like Texas and Missouri to some surprises (one of the top 50 is all the way up in Vermont), these restaurants boast fantastic food and a more than a few wacky names (e.g., No. 11 is John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill, in Las Vegas; No. 46 is Meat U Anywhere, in Grapevine, TX).

Where Will You Eat Next?

Here, Foursquare's top 50 BBQ joints across the U.S.:

  1. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Cue (Kansas City, MO)
  2. Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue (Tyler, TX)
  3. Eli’s BBQ (Cincinnati, OH)
  4. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q (Atlanta, GA)
  5. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Rochester, NY)
  6. The Salt Lick (Driftwood, TX)
  7. Bogart’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)
  8. Smoque BBQ (Chicago, IL)
  9. Q39 (Kansas City, MO)
  10. The Joint (New Orleans, LA)
  11. John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill Grill (Las Vegas, NV)
  12. Hometown Bar-B-Que (Brooklyn, NY)
  13. Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (Austin, TX)
  14. Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)
  15. Mighty Quinn’s BBQ (New York, NY)
  16. Central BBQ (Memphis, TN)
  17. Burn Co. BBQ (Tulsa, OK)
  18. Community Q BBQ (Decatur, GA)
  19. Smokin Pig BBQ (Pendleton, SC)
  20. Fette Sau (Brooklyn, NY)
  21. RayRay’s Hog Pit (Columbus, (OH)
  22. Green Street Smoked Meats (Chicago, IL)
  23. Little Miss BBQ (Phoenix, AZ)
  24. Heirloom Market BBQ (Atlanta, GA)
  25. Fat Matt’s Rib Shack (Atlanta, GA)
  26. Prohibition Pig (Waterbury, VT)
  27. Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX)
  28. Chaps Pit Beef (Baltimore, MD)
  29. Saw’s BBQ (Homewood, AL)
  30. Slows Bar-B-Q (Detroit, MI)
  31. Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue (Cockeysville, MD)
  32. Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House (Knoxbille, TN)
  33. Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas, TX)
  34. La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana
  35. JR’s Barbeque (Culver City, CA)
  36. Pecan Lodge (Dallas, TX)
  37. Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse (Philadelphia)
  38. Freedmen’s (Austin, TX)
  39. Jethro’s BBQ (Des Moines, IA)
  40. Hard Eight BBQ (Coppell, TX)
  41. Southern Soul Barbeque (St. Simons Island, GA)
  42. Ace Biscuit & Barbecue (Charlottesville, VA)
  43. Alamo BBQ (Richmond, VA)
  44. 12 Bones Smokehouse (Asheville, NC)
  45. Aptos St. BBQ (Aptos, CA)
  46. Meat U Anywhere BBQ (Grapevine, TX)
  47. Midwood Smokehouse (Charlotte, NC)
  48. Phil’s BBQ (San Diego, CA)
  49. Hutchins BBQ & Brill (McKinney, TX)
  50. Blue Ribbon BBQ (Arlington, MA)

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