Smoking Allowed! Our 5 Favorite Barbecue Joints In America

If you’re hungry for slow-cooked, tender pork slathered in a spicy-sweet sauce—or dry-rubbed to perfection—these spots are cooking up some of the best BBQ in America

Come hungry to Smoque in Chicago where everything—including sauces, rubs and sides—is made in house. Photo Credit: @iambrod


Nothing’s more American than a good old-fashioned barbecue. For many, smoking meat is a true art form worthy of hours spent bathing wood chunks, monitoring temperature and perfecting sauce. Across the country, barbecuing traditions differ—but they’re no less celebrated.

Wherever you find yourself in the Deep South or the heartland, you’re sure to come across a great local barbecue joint. What’s the best BBQ in America? We’re hard-pressed to pick favorites, but there are some standouts serving up some of the most delicious, perfectly seasoned dishes we’ve ever tasted and each could earn the title of best BBQ in USA.

Join the community

Swing by Smoque in Chicago, Illinois, a popular neighborhood barbecue spot with a “where everybody knows your name” vibe. Grab a seat at one of the community tables and dive into a plate of ribs, pulled pork or—our favorite—the brisket. After 14 hours in the smoker, every morsel is moist and tender, and the deep, rich smoke flavor is complemented by a two-layer spice rub. All of Smoque’s proprietary sauces, rubs and sides are made from scratch in the restaurant’s simple kitchen. Come at night to hear live blues music.

Get your spicy and smoky fix

Almost everything at The Joint in New Orleans is served up with a smoky flavor—even the salad dressing.

If you like both spicy and smoky, you’ll want to check out The Joint in New Orleans, Louisiana. This Big Easy favorite serves up some of the juiciest slow-cooked pulled pork and beef brisket, chicken, sausage and ribs we’ve ever tasted, as well as a host of sides and fixin’s. For an authentic Cajun experience, try the Chaurice, a spicy pork sausage and Creole staple. Order a drink from the full-service bar and enjoy the night air in their expansive courtyard.

Order ribs and feel the blues

Visiting Atlanta, Georgia? Stop in at the famous Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, which offers no-frills counter service, beer and three meats: ribs, a chopped pork sandwich and chicken. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, especially the ribs, but order a side of the Brunswick stew and the rum baked beans. Come at night to hear live blues music.

Order by the pound

At City Butcher and Barbecue in Springfield, Missouri, you can order your meat by the pound or opt for a sandwich. Founded by Cody Smith in 2014—with a mission to bring central Texas barbecue to the Ozarks—this spot uses only top-quality meat and serves it simply and fresh. Your meal comes on a tray lined with butcher paper, complimentary white bread, pickles and onions. (If you ask nicely, you can get a side of jalapeños.) But get there early—they smoke their meats only once a day, and when they sell out, that’s it. The pulled pork and pork ribs are crowd-pleasers.

Wait in line

It might take all day just to have a meal at Franklin BBQ in Austin, but it’s worth it.

If you want to get lunch at Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas, arrive by dawn. It’s not unusual for the line of customers to wait up to five hours for some tasty smoked meats. And for good reason. The barbecue at Franklin has been lauded as some of the best in the country. If you don’t have half a day to stand in line, you can pre-order up to six weeks in advance. There’s a five-pound minimum and 30-pound maximum, which includes sliced meats, side dishes and desserts—plus a $75 deposit.

Ready to travel? Find hotels in Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, Springfield, Austin.



More to Explore

Best Sandwiches in America

Each of these top sandwich shops offers a must-try option.

Read More

Best Fried Chicken Dishes

See our list of 7 fried chicken dishes every foodie should taste.

Read More

Tasty Ice Cream Treats

These cool treats are worth a try on your next visit.

Read More


Search Hotels