Best Barbecue Restaurants from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Travel across the country with Guy Fieri to find the most-mouthwatering barbeque. From fall-off-the-bone ribs to hickory-smoked brisket to sweet-and-tangy pulled pork, Guy tries it all.

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Photo By: Citizen Pictures ©2800 Speer Blvd Denver CO 80211

©2010, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Photo By: Citizen Pictures

Louie Mueller's Barbecue (Taylor, Texas)

Third-generation pitmaster Wayne Mueller starts lighting the fires and loading the meats as early as 3 a.m. at this joint. Such dedication pays off: The brisket is so juicy that no sauce is needed, and the monstrous beef ribs feature a thick, peppery crust that gives way to tender, luscious meat.

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Grand Ole BBQ y Asado (San Diego, California)

Andy Harris used to be a tour manager for rock bands, firing up his smoker for the crews. His food was so successful he decided to open a restaurant to bring Texas barbecue to San Diego. He teamed up with Chef Ami Cisneros to elevate barbecue to the next level. Don’t miss the massive El Borracho Beef Rib with house-made queso and pickled red onion relish.

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Locale BBQ Post (Wilmington, Deleware)

While looking for a space to produce pickles for his growing enterprise, Wilmington Pickling Company, Chef Daniel Sheridan stumbled upon a building on the edge of Little Italy and a concept for a whole new venture started coming to life. With the goal of pairing barbecue with pickles, Sheridan teamed up with a couple of other food-loving locals, Mike Gallucio and Justin Mason. Locale BBQ Post took off like hickory wood in a smoker upon opening, selling out of meat by 2 p.m. on its first day. Now well past its infancy, the place still draws the crowds for its wide selection of ’cue smoked with flavorful cherry wood.

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Honky Tonk BBQ (Chicago, Illinois)

You can't get more Honky Tonk than the Memphis in May award-winning pulled pork that's served at this Chicago championship-BBQ eatery. From St. Louis spares to baby backs to the big beef short ribs, they're serving up real-deal slow cooked barbecue with three signature sauces.

More About: Best Chicago Restaurants from Triple D

John Mull's Meats and Road Kill Grill (Los Vegas, Nevada)

Barbecue master Chuck Frommer has the best barbecue in Vegas and the locals know it. Guy fell in love with the hot links, which are cured for 16 hours and smoked for six, and savored the flavorful ribs. The pulled pork and mac 'n' cheese are also popular.

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Pecan Lodge (Dallas, Texas)

For real deal barbecue, head to this popular spot. Guy adored the smoky brisket and he couldn’t get enough of the slow-smoked pork sandwich. In addition to the ’cue classics of brisket, ribs and pulled pork, the restaurant is renowned for its mac ‘n’ cheese and Aunt Polly’s banana pudding. Locals love the Hot Mess, a sweet potato stuffed with barbacoa, cheese, chipotle cream and butter.

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The Joint (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Everything at this Big Easy spot comes out of the smoker, from racks of ribs, pork butt and brisket sandwiches to Cajun sausage and even salad dressing. Guy calls their special North Carolina-style sauce, made with apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, pepper and cayenne, "an orchestra of flavor."

More About: The Joint

The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint (Ocean Springs, Mississippi)

Down by the Mississippi you'll find a sizable "shed" that houses a loyal community of barbecue lovers and live blues music. The house specialty is baby back ribs, which Guy calls "as tender as you can get." They also serve up some righteous chicken "wangs" and brisket in massive quantities.

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Texas Pride BBQ (Adkins, Texas)

Barbecue joints aren't hard to find in Texas, but San Antonio locals are still willing to drive 20 miles to Adkins to check out Texas Pride Barbecue. Guy recommends their #1 selling smoked brisket, which is made even better with a side of baked beans.

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Firehole Bar-B-Que Company (West Yellowstone, Montana)

Guy stumbled upon this barbecue joint four days after it opened. Little Mike Shults and his father Big Mike Shults, restaurant vets with a place in Idaho, are smoking meats in a trailer right outside of Yellowstone National Park. Their simple, straightforward barbecue won Guy over.

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BBQ Shack (Paola, Kansas)

Guy stepped into BBQ Shack with one thing on his mind: whole hog barbecue. BBQ Shack has plenty of the "flavor galore" pulled pork as well as mouthwatering brisket and ribs. But for a real BBQ Shack experience, you must try the spicy jalapeno poppers known as Atomic Buffalo Turds.

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Smoque BBQ (Chicago, Illinois)

Smoque is all about barbecue tradition; even the baked beans are infused with smoky flavor. The ribs are simply irresistible, as they’re coated in a Memphis-style dry rub and glazed with a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce. Guy can’t get enough of the brisket, which he declares “capital T, tender.”

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Southern Soul Barbeque (St Simons Island, Georgia)

At Southern Soul Barbeque they like their ribs sweet, and they mean sweet. Guy learned firsthand what this meant: Each rib gets coated in brown sugar and tupelo honey. The result is super tender ribs and pulled pork with a unique woody smokiness.

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CatHead’s BBQ (San Francisco, California)

Co-owners Pamela Schafer and Richard Park are bringing the best flavors of down-home barbecue to San Francisco at CatHead’s BBQ. This joint takes its name from the “cathead” biscuit — a Southern staple that’s the size of a cat’s head. It’s also one of the rare spots in the city with a barbecue pit. As such, Guy had to try the classic pulled pork biscuit sandwich served with a housemade mustard slaw and a side of pickles.

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HoBo's BBQ (Temecula, California)

Diners flock to Hobo's for the best barbeque in Southern California. Guy tries the lasagna, a unique dish of pulled pork and chicken layered with pasta sheets, cheese and barbeque sauce.

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Matt’s BBQ (Portland, Oregon)

Matt Vicedomini turns out big flavors from inside his tiny food truck, where he’s smoking meats that made Guy’s mouth water. “Pull-apart tender,” Guy declared of the Texas-style spare ribs smothered in an onion-and-garlic-laced glaze. Another standout is the Whole Shabamwich, a hefty sandwich that’s stacked with pulled pork, sausages, brisket and a rib, along with coleslaw and pickles. “It’s dynamite, man,” Guy raved.

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Bludso's BBQ (Los Angeles, California)

This Compton location is closed, but you can still get Bludso's craveworthy 'cue at the Hollywood locale. The joint serves up Texas-style barbecue like the ribs with a side of spicy barbecue sauce that won over Guy Fieri. Owner Kevin Bludso really goes all out at the holidays with deep-fried turkeys injected with a decadent concoction of butter and seasonings, which he refers to as “liquid gold.”

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Percy Street Barbecue (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Percy Street BBQ has built up a reputation for having some of the best barbecue in Philadelphia, and Guy needed only one word to describe the ribs: ''ridiculous.'' Owner Erin O'Shea also serves up unconventional (but still delicious) fare, like a pork belly sandwich.

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Smokin' Guns BBQ (North Kansas City, Missouri)

Those not in the know might drive right by Smokin' Guns BBQ in North Kansas City's industrial district, but they would miss what Guy calls "one killer brisket." Helmed by Phil Hopkins and his wife, Linda, the eatery boasts "competition-worthy" 'cue that has earned more than 400 awards to date.

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Memphis Barbecue Co. (Horn Lake, Mississippi)

Pit master Melissa Cookston is the only female to be a world BBQ champion. Guy got messy with the deliciously tender baby back ribs and he loved the crunch burger with pork rinds and juke sauce. The cheese fritters, pulled pork and brisket are local favorites.

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Sun Wah BBQ (Chicago, Illinois)

This family-operated restaurant has some of the best and most authentic Chinese barbecue in Chicago. Served up Hong Kong-style, menu highlights include peanut butter egg rolls, crispy Beijing duck and a whole roasted suckling pig that Rahm Fama says is "mouthwateringly delicious."

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Danny Edward's BBQ (Kansas City, Missouri)

This spot's famous for its beef brisket, especially the burnt ends sandwich. Called "Ol' Smoky," the beefy bomb features the flavorful edges of the brisket, slow-smoked with hickory. They also offer beef, turkey and pork by the pound and a three-meat special for those on a carnivorous streak.

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Horse Thief BBQ (Los Angeles, California)

Guy said the bark is worth every bite at this barbeque joint in Los Angeles. The fried chicken sandwich was so good Guy predicted a line down the street for it and jokingly dubbed the smoked pork belly his favorite salad.

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SLAB BBQ & Beer (Austin, Texas)

This barbecue joint is making incredible sandwiches in a 90s, hip hop atmosphere. Here Guy finds the very first rib sandwich in the history of DDD. The McDowell is made with their deboned smoked ribs, their Soul-Glo sauce, pickles and onions. “The angels in Flavortown are crying,” said Guy.

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Wood Shop BBQ (Seattle, Washington)

Owners Matt Davis and James Barrington brought the best of Kansas- and Texas-style BBQ to Seattle with this family-friendly joint. Their formula is simple: tender meats smoked in solid Hickory for maximum flavor. The menu features meat by the pound (which includes a killer brisket), pork spare ribs, smoked wings, sandwiches, mac and cheese bowls and a variety of classic BBQ sides.

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Q fanatic BBQ (Champlin, Minnesota)

Q Fanatic BBQ boasts a long line of delicious, smoky briskets, but it also has eight homemade sauces, four being an ode to Kansas City-style barbecue. The most popular sauce will also give you a caffeine boost, as Guy discovered the Espresso BBQ sauce mixes in an unusually large shot of espresso.

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Capital City BBQ (Lansing, Michigan)

In an odd location, inside of a cellular store, Chef and Owner Linh Lee and Co-Owner Regan Louchart are fusing their two cultures together for a truly unique dining experience. The Brisket Bahn Mi is a combination of meltingly tender smoked brisket and the classic banh mi toppings like pickled daikon, cucumber and cilantro.

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Salty's BBQ & Catering (Bakersfield, California)

This "real deal barbecue," including oak-grilled tri-tip, chicken and smoky pulled pork, is worth a road trip.

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Smokey D's BBQ (Des Moines, Iowa)

There’s a reason Smokey D’s racks up so many awards: The team prepares some of the best BBQ in the Midwest, with three full smokers turning out brisket, ribs and more around the clock. You can’t go wrong with any of the meats, but Guy recommends the smoked chicken wings in particular, which come smothered in your choice of house sauces. For a decadent finish, order the apple dumpling. This sweet yet tangy dish comprises crisp dough and syrup-soaked soft dough, with tart apple tucked inside.

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Big Daddy's BBQ & Banquet (Fairbanks, Alaska)

At Big Daddy's BBQ & Banquet, they're serving the "northern most southern barbecue." Guy's DDD visit to the Fairbanks, Ala. favorite wasn't complete without sampling the finger-licking Arkansas-style ribs and smoked turkeys from Chef Harold Groetsema, aka Big Daddy.

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Center Point Pit Barbecue (Hendersonville, Tennessee)

At Center Point Pit Barbecue, owner Robert Duke smokes his pork until in turns "black as night." But as Guy learned on DDD, the holiday ham is unlike any other. After a four-day brine and a six-hour smoke, the ham is sprinkled with sugar and torched, resulting in a delicious "ham brittle," Guy says.

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Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque & Pirate Bar (Stillwater, Minnesota)

This diner is serving up Caribbean BBQ with a fiery-hot twist. Follow Guy’s lead and dig into the jerk pork tacos with grilled scallion aioli, which he says have "fantastic flavor." Or try the spicy jerk chicken, as seen on Best. Ever. Smoked slow and low, it is packed with a potent punch of heat.

More About: Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque & Pirate Bar

Cochon Volant BBQ Smoke House (Sonoma, California)

Rob Larman and his wife are serving up old school barbeque in the heart of California wine country at Cochon Volant. Chef Larman puts his unique spin on fried chicken by soaking it in a sweet-and-spicy brine laced with granny smith apples and pasilla chile paste. “This is a chef’s fried chicken,” said guy between bites. Their other claim to fame is the towering WTF Burger. A seared beef patty is topped with 14-hour smoked brisket, smoked pork shoulder, house-cured maple bacon, a fried chipotle pork cake, melted cheddar cheese and house-made barbeque sauce.

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Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen and BBQ (Eugene, Oregon)

Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen and BBQ feels more like a party than a restaurant, with live music, good company and better-than-homemade soul food. The classic barbecue meats are exceptional for a restaurant west of the Mississippi, but the off-menu Soul Burger — a smoked pork patty with slaw and fried onions — is completely original.

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Tom's Bar-B-Q (Memphis, Tennessee)

Tom's draws the crowds with a special Mediterranean twist on barbecue. They slather a Greek-inspired spice rub featuring thyme, oregano, pickling spice, celery salt and more on everything from brisket to turkey, including the signature rib tips, which Guy calls "some of the best barbecue' around.

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Jay Bee's Bar-B-Q (Gardena, California)

Guy has been rolling to Jay Bee's for more than 15 years for "real deal" barbecue. You could say owner Beverly Neely has barbecue in her blood, as both her brother and nephew (Food Network's own Pat Neely) have been doling out delicious barbecued pork, ribs and chicken so good Guy's "stricken."

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Green Mesquite (Austin, Texas)

At Green Mesquite, the BBQ gets its spectacular smoky flavor from the spot's namesake: mesquite wood that is seasoned, or "green." On Triple D, Guy calls the ribs, made with brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, onion and garlic, "awesome." Other faves include brisket, pulled pork and chicken fried steak.

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RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack (Mission, Kansas)

Chef Bob Palmgreen spent years in high-end NYC restaurants, entering BBQ competitions on the side, until after receiving dozens of awards he decided to take his hobby full time with RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack. Guy calls their Jalapeno Sausage "tremendous," and the Lamb Ribs are a bonafide top seller.

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Marlowe's Ribs (Memphis, Tennessee)

You might not see locals at Graceland, but you'll definitely see them at Marlowe's Ribs. Like Guy, locals know they can call Marlowe's for a free pink-limo ride to the restaurant. Good thing too because Guy couldn't wait to try the Elvis favorite: ribs smothered in Marlowe's tangy barbecue sauce.

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Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q (Atlanta, Georgia)

Twin brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox are serving up a hearty taste of their home state at this Texan barbecue joint in Atlanta, where they smoke around 10,000 pounds of pork and brisket weekly. Guy is a fan of the Fox Bros. “Burger,” which stars hickory-smoked brisket topped with a melty pimento cheese patty, peppered bacon, pickles, tomato and onion, all on a toasted bun.

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Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse (Kihei, Hawaii)

Owner Chris Schobel grew up smoking meats in Pennsylvania, so when he moved to Maui in 2013, he decided to revive a struggling barbecue joint. Schobel’s style borrows from both North Carolina and Texas: The ribs are hit with a dry rub, smoked for five hours, then served with a vinegar-laced barbecue sauce that incorporates beef fat for added flavor. A standout side is the cornbread made from a creamed-corn batter.

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The Smoke Joint (Brooklyn, New York)

In Fort Greene Brooklyn, The Smoke Joint is smoking up some seriously mouth-watering, succulent, fall off the bone 'cue. The short ribs are Brontosaurus-sized, and the Buffalo wings are funkified by smoking them first. It's a veritable melting pot of a barbecue joint, much like the city it's in.

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The Improper Pig (Charlotte, North Carolina)

The Improper Pig is not your standard Southern barbecue joint. Here, classic Carolina ‘cue shares the menu with new-school creations shot through with Asian flavors. “There is nothing that I do not love about this,” exclaimed Guy when he tucked into the Chaobao Taco. Opt for this dish and you’ll get a steamed bun stuffed with succulent pulled pork that’s slathered with hoisin sauce and topped with a housemade coleslaw.

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The Smoking Swine (Baltimore, Maryland)

Loyal fans line up at Drew Pumphrey’s mobile food truck to get their fill of his smoked specialties like short ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. A favorite sandwich is The Carolina: Boneless pork butt is hit with a brown sugar dry rub, smoked for 12 hours, then doused with a spicy barbecue sauce that has Guy hooked. A topping of homemade slaw laced with chipotle powder adds kick to the bite.

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J.J.McBrewster's (Lexington, Kentucky)

Named after the family's best friend, J.J. McBrewster's is known for scratch-made cooking. Try the hickory-smoked goat platter and mutton dinner. Guy claims the barbecue Melon Sauce at this Western Kentucky eatery should be renamed the "Rich Mahogany" for its dark, smoky flavor.

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Thee Pitts Again (Glendale, Arizona)

The award-winning Thee Pitts Again in Glendale, Ariz., has barbecuing accolades stacked over and under the fridge. On Triple D, Guy loved the low-and-slow smoking technique for the succulent pulled pork. As Guy also learned, the technique makes for super tender turkey and catfish, too.

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Podnah's Pit (Portland, Oregon)

This spot cranks out 30 tons of 'cue a year. Guy is won over by the lamb ribs, saying they “melt in your mouth.” The Pitboss Plate is also a popular pick, as shown on Best. Ever. It comes piled with Central Texas-style brisket, ribs and sausage. Cornbread and sides round out this mouthwatering meal.

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Smoke Shack (San Antonio, Texas)

Even in a state full of barbecue joints, this one stands out for its Big Mac Daddy. Layer upon layer of pulled pork and brisket are heaped onto a 24-inch bun, then loaded with sausage links, smothered with 2 kinds of sauces and crowned with 4 scoops of meat-studded macaroni and cheese for a seven-pound behemoth.

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Meat Southern B.B.Q. and Carnivore Cuisine (Lansing, Michigan)

Guy steps into a rock and roll fantasy straight out of Flavortown at this Southern-style barbeque joint. Standouts include the house-smoked pork belly pastrami and pickle fries that are “another level of ridiculous.” Don’t miss the smoked wings with the coffee-kissed Black Magic sauce.

More About: Meat Southern B.B.Q. and Carnivore Cuisine

Q-Shi (Spring, Texas)

Chef-Owner Raymond Aker combines two seemingly disparate cuisines — sushi and barbecue — to make distinctive dishes that sing with bold, bright flavors. Take the surf-and-turf roll, for instance. The rice-wrapped roll is stuffed with snow crab, tempura-battered shrimp and avocado, then topped with a hefty slice of smoked brisket and spicy jalapeno slivers. The dish comes drenched in a wasabi-laced dressing that Guy says balances out the flavors. Also try the crisp, golden fries that come heaped with two Korean classics: bulgogi and kimchi.

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One90 Smoked Meats (Dallas, Texas)

Guy’s been to more BBQ joints than most people so when one impresses him it’s worth trying. Chef and Owner Kyle St. Clair’s brisket was so tender that Guy remarked, “You don’t even need a knife; you can cut that with a bad look.” Have it on the Spicy Brisket Sandwich which is layered on a brioche bun with a roasted poblano, in-house smoked cheddar, pickles and red onion.

More About: One90 Smoked Meats

Barley's Brewhub (Kennewick, Washington)

Barley’s Brewpub is known for their beer, but the restaurant is also making a mark with their menu. They offer real-deal barbecue and inventive house-made sausages in addition to a killer selection of brews.

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Dignowity Meats (San Antonio, Texas)

Dignowity Meats is what happens when an East Coast boy falls in love with barbecue but misses his classic deli sandwiches. Chef Andrew Samia merges these two into his Burnt End Melt. Guy called the combo of hickory smoked prime angus brisket, mac and cheese, sliced pear and cheddar cheese, “a lethal weapon.” “You’d have to register this in Flavortown,” he mused.

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The Highway 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen (Webster Groves, Missouri)

Highway 61 is a stretch of road known as "The Blues Highway," connecting St. Louis to New Orleans. The Roadhouse celebrates all the great food in this region, from Midwestern comfort food to barbecue and all the way down to Cajun and Creole. Guy tried the BBQ Spaghetti (yes, you read that right).

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The Brick House Cafe and Catering (Cable, Wisconsin)

For Guy, the standout at The Brick House Cafe is the espresso BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Prepared with a homemade dry rub and then marinated, the pork is topped with a delicious barbecue sauce that gives it a smoky flavor. Another favorite is the French toast with a caramel-toffee brulee drizzle.

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Ray Ray's Hog Pit (Columbus, Ohio)

Chef and Owner James Anderson raises his own pigs for the succulent smoked offerings at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, a one-of-a-kind barbecue truck in Columbus, Ohio. Guy tried the super-moist Mangalitsa Brat Burger and St. Louis Spare Ribs.

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The Cube (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

The philosophy behind The Cube is simple: "Real food with a real smile." That includes whipping up scratch-made barbecue every day over hickory and cherry wood, served with housemade barbecue sauce and classic Texas toast. Guy loved the Guadalajara Dog fried with applewood-smoked bacon.

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Leonard's Pit Barbecue (Memphis, Tennessee)

Leonard's Pit Barbecue owner Dan Brown says if you visit for dinner you'll experience the same delicious recipes passed down from "last century" to "last week" Open since 1922, this iconic Memphis, Tenn., eatery has loads of fans, like Guy, who called the chopped pork sandwich "all-star barbecue."

More About: Leonard's Pit Barbecue