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Food + Drink

The Best BBQ in the USA

One reason they call all-American barbecue "soul food"? There’s little more satisfying to the primal human palate than a smoky, fatty, fall-off-the-bone meal. Here, we dish on our favorite places to meet the meat — wet naps not included.

Photo by Daniel Krieger

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Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Syracuse, New York

Even New York’s foodies obsess over the dry-rubbed, slow-smoked pork ribs and apple-brined pit-smoked chicken at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which now has nine locations everywhere from Harlem to Brooklyn and beyond – you can even find it in Chicago and Baltimore. But true barbecue fiends descend on the original (circa 1988) location in Syracuse, New York, which is housed in a 1920s taproom and has live music six nights a week. Order the Pork-Sket, a brisket topped with cheese, jalapeños, and pulled pork. You know what they say: "When in Syracuse."

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Photo by Hungry Dudes via Flickr


Bad Brad’s Bar-B-Q Stillwater or Yukon, Oklahoma

Call us geographical elitists, but we think barbecue tastes a heck of a lot better in a small town — something about all that country quiet and fresh air. Taxidermy-lined Bad Brad’s Bar-B-Q is worth a drive (and the calories!) when you're in the middle-west: they pair their polish sausages, "burnt ends," and brisket with things like deep-fried macaroni and cheese and fried pickles. Need a proper vegetable? We recommend the fried okra.

RELATED: Our Comfort Food Bible

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Wiley’s Championship BBQ Savannah, Georgia

You know the restaurant is good when their closing hours are “when the BBQ runs out” — and at Wiley’s Championship BBQ, owned by a husband and wife duo, we're guessing it runs out early. That's because their barbecue sauce is called "better-than-sex" (full disclosure: we have not fact-checked that particular claim), and their St. Louis cut ribs are legendary. Don't you dare leave without ordering their bread pudding with praline bourbon sauce – it's what dessert dreams are made of.

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Photo by Courtney Chavanell


Kerlin BBQ Austin, Texas

It takes a lot to impress in Texas, especially when it comes to barbecue. But you don’t wanna mess with Kerlin BBQ, which has perfected the art of prime angus brisket, pork shoulder, and inventive (for comfort food) sides, like blue cheese coleslaw and jalapeño dill potato salad. Unfortunately, the secret's out and the lines are long – pre-order your meal to make sure it's ready when you are.

RELATED: 72 Hours in Austin

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Peg Leg Porker Nashville, Tennessee

Carey Bringle, the pitmaster at Peg Leg Porker, does indeed have a peg leg – and he also has barbecue in his blood (Bringle's ancestors, who moved to the area in 1827, were avid 'cuers). All those generations of experience have made his ribs a local star, not to mention his truly Southern menu – with Kool-Aid pickles, pork rinds, and pimento cheese. Take home a bit of the experience with his cheeky t-shirts; our favorite: "Limpin' Ain't Easy." #Fact.

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Photo by Stephan Segraves


Storrs Smokehouse Newberg, Oregon

Just outside of Portland, in the heart of Oregon’s chichi wine country, the new Storrs Smokehouse is cooking up a necessary dose of delicious, with many dishes based on the owner's Southern grandmother's personal recipes. Your order: fall-off-the-bone brisket (smoked for days), maple-glazed chicken wings, and a pint of homemade ice cream in Portlandia-flavors like green curry with lime rice krispies and malted milk chocolate with lemon cake batter.

RELATED: 72 Hours in Portland

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Smoque Chicago

Recently spotted on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives, Smoque is making many Chicagoans shun their native foodstuffs (pizza; hot dogs) — thanks to pulled pork that's been smoked over 12 hours and sausages hand-made in Taylor, Texas. All the sides are around two bucks or less and made in-house from scratch, including the BBQ beans and macaroni and cheese. Did we mention it's BYOB? WINNING.

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Photo by Robert Strickland


Pecan Lodge Dallas

We’ve got one word for you: Mesquite. At family-owned Pecan Lodge, the mesquite barbecue pit is going 24 hours a day – churning out ancestral recipes for brisket, one-pound-each beef ribs, and pulled pork. Sit outside under the glow of the twinkling party lights and soak in the atmosphere and their can't-miss desserts, like their Aunt Polly's banana pudding, like a modern day John Wayne.

RELATED: 50 States of Awesome: the Southwest

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Papa’s Backyard Bar-B-Q New Orleans

That N’Awlins expression about food — that it’s “Slap yo Momma good!” — could well have been invented at Papa’s Backyard Bar-B-Q, where the meat gets both smokey and slightly sweet as its cooked over flaming apple and hickory wood. Their sandwiches really shine; meat lovers should order the Mutt, which combines chicken, pulled pork, brisket and cheese on a toasted bun and slathered in sauce (order it with a side of jambalaya – this is New Orleans, after all).

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