Take a Regional BBQ Road Trip

Barbecue is so much more than sauce, ribs and rubs — it’s a cultural cuisine with techniques and styles that vary from region to region, and it is undoubtedly all-American.

Photo By: Buff Strickland ©Buff Strickland Photography, 2014

Four American Barbecue Meccas

The origins of BBQ date back to colonial times and point to the South, but spread east and west. Today, BBQ can be found almost everywhere in the country, but the four major styles lie in the Carolinas, Texas, Memphis and Kansas City. Here, we explore these four regions and map out the best eats in each area — and a few beyond them. Read on for the best barbecue in the country.

By Cindy Augustine

Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Texas

Texas barbecue is all about the meat, mainly because of the state’s long history of cattle ranching. In central Texas, the Hill Country, post oak wood is often used for smoking, as it grows freely. Sauces are tomato-based, with spice, sweetness and tang. Check out six must-try spots for an ultimate Texas barbecue tour, plus where to find great Texas 'cue outside of the Lone Star State.

Top BBQ Spots: Here are 6 must-try spots for an ultimate Texas barbecue tour, plus where to find great Texas 'cue outside of the Lone Star State.

Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Memphis

Memphis is best known for pulled pork and pork ribs served two ways: wet (slathered with tomato-based sauce) and dry (without sauce and dry-rubbed with seasoning). “Memphis is definitely pork city, without a doubt, and known for their traditional sweet, tomato-based sauce,” says chef and barbecue champion Chris Lilly. Check out six must-try spots for an ultimate Memphis barbecue road trip, plus where to get your Memphis barbecue fix outside of Tennessee.

Top BBQ Spots: Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Memphis

Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Kansas City

“The strictest definition of what makes KC barbecue KC barbecue are two main factors: slow-smoked and served with a tomato-based and spicy yet sweet sauce,” says Ciaran Molloy, owner and general manager of Woodyard BBQ in Kansas City. Here are five must-try barbecue joints for an essential Kansas City tour, plus where to find great Kansas City-style burnt ends and spicy-sweet sauce outside of Kansas City.

Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Carolinas

Carolina barbecue is traditionally made with pork, no doubt due in part to the many pig farms in the area, and pit masters use the widely grown hickory wood. But the style of sauce varies by region: vinegar-based and peppery (east), or tomato-based using ketchup (west). Explore five top spots for an ultimate Carolina barbecue road trip, plus where to find great Carolina-style 'cue outside of the Carolinas.

Top BBQ Spots: Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Carolinas

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Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Memphis

Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Memphis

Regional Barbecue Road Trip: Carolinas


Here are 5 must-try spots for an ultimate Carolina barbecue tour, plus where to find great Carolina 'cue outside of the Carolinas.

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