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America’s 25 Best Barbecue Chains for 2015

America’s 25 Best Barbecue Chains for 2015

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These chains have figured out the formula for great barbecue

America’s 25 Best Barbecue Chains

Barbecue is one of those foods that’s fiercely regional. In Texas, it’s all about the beef; in Carolina, the focus is pork; and so on. Thankfully, there are great barbecue restaurants all across the country with multiple locations that are spreading the barbecue gospel far and wide. We surveyed nearly 10,000 folks from across the country, and these are the 25 chains that received the most votes.

#25 Dickey’s BBQ Pit

With more than 470 locations in 42 states, Dickey’s, founded by Travis Dickey more than 70 years ago, is the world’s largest barbecue franchise. Each location pit-smokes its meat on the premises, and free kids’ meals are still offered every Sunday. While it’s certainly old-fashioned, that’s more the result of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Meats are served by the pound, and include Southern-style pulled pork, hickory-smoked brisket, honey ham, spicy Cheddar and Polish sausages, pork ribs, chicken, and turkey breast. There are no frills at Dickey’s, just solid, honest-to-goodness barbecue.

#24 City Barbeque

With six Ohio locations, two in Kentucky, and one each in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Indianapolis, City Barbeque has been dishing up award-winning craft barbecue since 1999. Meats are smoked upwards of 18 hours, and while the owners don’t claim to hew to any particular region’s style, they’re really representing the best of all worlds — and doing it well. Brisket, pulled pork, pulled pork with slaw, turkey, pulled chicken with Alabama white sauce, and smoked sausage are sold on a bun, on their own, or by the pound, and St. Louis-cut ribs come slathered in their classic barbecue sauce. Sides and desserts are scratch-made daily; don’t miss the gumbo, hush puppies, or banana pudding.

#23 Moe’s Original Bar B Que

With 35 locations mostly in Alabama and Colorado (but some in California, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and even Maine), Moe’s is doing barbecue right. It was founded by three friends who met at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and since 2001, it has grown from a small slopeside catering operation to a barbecue destination. They still offer catering, but a trip to any of their restaurants is sure to be a good time, and is also a great primer in Alabama-style barbecue. Pork and chicken are their showcased items, topped with the signature Alabama white sauce, but the Angus beef brisket, hot links, St. Louis spare ribs, and fried catfish are also worth saving room for.

#22 Billy Sims BBQ

If the name Billy Sims sounds familiar, it’s probably because he was a Heisman Trophy winner, All-American, the No. 1 draft pick, Rookie of the Year in 1980, and spent four and a half seasons as running back for the Detroit Lions. The St. Louis native has put just as much energy into his barbecue as he did football, and his eponymous chain of more than 40 restaurants, mostly in Oklahoma, is a winner. Brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausages, turkey, chicken, and bologna (don’t knock it till you try it) are all smoked low and slow, and have developed a rabid following across the region. Save room for a chili cheese dog if you can.

#21 Old Carolina BBQ Company

Old Carolina was inspired by the roadside shacks you’ll find in the Carolinas, and the menu at their nine (soon to be 10) locations in Ohio (plus one in Ann Arbor, Michigan) reflects just that, with Carolina-style pulled pork as a menu highlight, along with beef brisket, ribs, pulled chicken, and turkey. All meats are smoked for up to 14 hours over hickory wood, and the no-frills menu is rounded out by Southern classics like hush puppies, Brunswick stew, banana pudding, sweet tea, and Cheerwine, the Carolina classic soft drink. Five sauces are available to go.

#20 Red Hot & Blue

Founded 25 years ago in Arlington, Virginia, by a group of Southern transplants (including the late former RNC chairman Lee Atwater, from Atlanta, and former Tennessee governor and House member Don Sundquist) looking for good barbecue in D.C., the chain today has additional locations in Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, Missouri, and North Carolina. The restaurants have a distinctly Southern vibe, with menu items including fried Delta catfish and chicken-fried steak, but it’s the barbecue that’s been the secret to its success. St. Louis-style ribs are served wet, dry-rubbed, or sweet; pulled chicken and pork are hickory-smoked low and slow; brisket is served sliced or chopped; housemade sausages are smoked and grilled; and, thankfully, sampler platters are available so you can try a little bit of everything.

#19 Woody's Bar-B-Q

Woody’s got its start in Jacksonville, Florida more than 30 years ago, and today there are 28 franchised locations in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. The baby back ribs fall off the bone, and other specialties include smoked prime rib, Carolina pulled pork, beef, turkey breast, and chicken. Don’t miss the fried squash, Brunswick stew, or corn nuggets, either.

#18 Famous Dave’s

A Minnesota-based chain founded by a Chippewa Indian might be a surprising place to find great barbecue, but Dave Anderson really knows his stuff. Since starting the company in 1994, he’s opened more than 200 locations and is also a formidable contender on the competitive barbecue circuit. Anderson has mastered just about every variety of barbecue, and it’s all on display on his menu. Texas beef brisket is dry-rubbed and hickory-smoked, Georgia-style chopped pork is smoked for 12 hours, Memphis-style rib tips are coated in a spicy dry rub, and the St. Louis-style spare ribs are smoked for four hours, then slathered in a sweet and sticky sauce and grilled until they’re caramelized. Don’t leave without trying the brisket burnt ends; they’re tender, smoky, and caramelized in a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce that you can (thankfully) bring home a bottle of.

#17 Rib City

This Florida-based chain started out as a family-run restaurant in Fort Myers and today has nearly 30 locations from Virginia Beach to Washington State. Baby backs, St. Louis spare ribs, thin-sliced beef, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, and riblets are basted with signature barbecue sauce before heading to the oak smoker. The menu is small and no-frills, but that’s the way it should be: at a place called Rib City, you’d expect the ribs to be amazing, and they are.

#16 Dinosaur BBQ

What started as a honky-tonk-style rib joint in Syracuse, New York, in 1988 has exploded in popularity over the years, offering some of the best barbecue available in the Northeast. Today there are locations in Rochester, Buffalo, and Troy, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Stamford, Connecticut; Baltimore; Chicago; Harlem; and Brooklyn, and long waits every night of the week. What do the crowds line up for? Brisket pit-smoked for 14 hours, both classic and Carolina-style pulled pork, homemade hot links, smoked chicken, and slow-smoked St. Louis ribs for those looking for classic barbecue; and killer burgers, pulled pork poutine, smoked wings, peel & eat shrimp, and sandwiches like the Chopped Melt (chopped brisket tossed with barbecue sauce, sautéed onions, and melted Cheddar pressed in a Cuban roll) for those looking for something different. Dinosaur is a fun, rollicking kind of place with plenty of live music and an extensive beer and cocktail list. You can also buy bottles of their legendary dry rub and barbecue sauce.

#15 OakWood Smokehouse & Grill

This chain got its start in Lake County, Florida, 17 years ago and has five locations in the state today, proving that Sunshine State barbecue can hold its own. The menu is expansive, full of options like au jus beef, burgers, and grilled fish, but don’t be fooled: it’s all about the ‘cue. Chopped or sliced pork, chicken, beef, turkey, and sausage are all slow-smoked over oak, and the award-winning ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender.

#14 Calhoun’s

With eight locations throughout East and Middle Tennessee, this Knoxville-based chain has become legendary in its home state since it first launched in 1983 and won the National Rib Cook-Off the following year. Hickory-smoked baby back ribs are still prepared with the award-winning recipe, and their smoked pork plate and smoked chicken can hold their own against the country’s finest. Other specialties include Southern-fried catfish, prime rib dinner, beer cheese dip, and fresh-baked soft pretzels.

#13 Smokey Bones

This Florida-based chain has 67 locations in 17 states, and the name doesn’t lie: there’s some serious hickory smoke going on at every location, 24 hours a day. Pulled pork is hickory-smoked for 11 hours, beef brisket is available after 4 p.m. every day after being smoked for 14 hours and sells out regularly, turkey is smoked for three hours, and ribs (both baby back and St. Louis-style) are smoked for four hours. Go for their top-seller, the pulled pork: each location goes through between 70 and 100 pounds of it daily, and you have more than 40 beer options to wash it all down with.

#12 Full Moon BBQ

With five locations in the Greater Birmingham area and six more throughout the state, Full Moon, run by brothers David and Joe Maluff, is an Alabama legend. Every location smokes its meat low and slow over a hickory wood-fired pit. Barbecue pork makes several appearances on the menu (including sliced in sandwiches and chopped on nachos), and the black Angus beef brisket, turkey, chicken, ribs, and pork links keep the crowds coming back for more. Every plate comes with a helping of the famous chow chow (a sweet, spicy, and tangy cabbage-based relish), and the two signature sauces — Alabama white sauce and sweet barbecue sauce — are addictively good. Make sure you stock up on their half moon cookies, a house specialty.

#11 Bodacious Bar-B-Q

Locations of this chain have been spreading throughout Texas since the first one opened in Duncanville in 1960. All meats are smoked over mesquite wood, and while the brisket takes center stage (as it should in Texas), the ribs, turkey hot links, and ham (which is only available around Thanksgiving and Christmas) are also the stuff of legend.

#10 Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q

Great barbecue is an experience as much as it is a food, and at Bono’s the goal is to give each customer a true southern BBQ experience, just like it’s done since Lou Bono opened the first location in 1949. There are 21 locations throughout the country (most are in Florida), but that Southern hospitality is present at every outpost. Pork, brisket, turkey, sausage, chicken, and St. Louis and baby back ribs are served with Texas toast and two sides, but if you’re able save room, try one of the “Smokehouse Stackers,” including Bo-Hawg (BBQ pork topped with Cheddar and a sausage link), Bird Dog (smoked turkey topped with sausage), and their classic BBQ Po-Boy — they’re nothing short of legendary. Oh, and don’t forget the Brunswick stew and sweet corn nuggets. And the smoked wings. And the banana pudding. On second thought, you might need to make a few trips.

#9 Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q

Rudy’s has about 30 locations in Texas and seven more throughout the Southwest, and they’re Texas-style through and through. Brisket, sausage, turkey, ribs, chicken, and pork loin are given a hefty dry rub and long-smoked with 100 percent oak. The menu is no-frills, with just meat and sides, including three bean salad, creamed corn, a jumbo smoked potato, and green chili stew, but that’s the way it should be. Rudy’s will ship its meats, rubs, and famous “sause” nationwide.

#8 Dreamland Bar-B-Que

This Alabama chain has eight locations throughout the state, but got its start in Tuscaloosa in 1958, rising to fame due to the hickory-smoked ribs and sauce cooked by founder John “Big Daddy” Bishop and his wife Miss Lilly. Those recipes haven’t ever changed, and neither has the down-home feel of all of its locations. The menu has expanded, albeit slightly, to include sausage, chicken, chopped pork, and a handful of appetizers and sides, but the ribs are what keep customers coming back. Don’t believe it? Order some for yourself.

#7 Shane's Rib Shack

Shane and Stacey Thompson opened the first Shane’s Rib Shack in 2002 in a literal roadside shack on Highway 155 in McDonough, Georgia, featuring Shane’s grandfather’s recipes, and between 2004 and 2008 it grew from two locations to a whopping 85. While there are outposts in 12 states, most remain in Georgia. There’s plenty to choose from on the menu, including smoked wings, loaded baked potatoes, and chicken tenders, but the reason for its overwhelming success is the meat: BBQ pork is hand-carved, and baby back ribs are tender and juicy. Make sure to drop in on a Friday, when beef brisket is also available.

#6 Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue

This Kansas City-based chain, whose roots go all the back to 1957, has three locations in the city proper, one in Overland Park, and a fifth in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Jack’s Stack is classic Kansas City all the way, using hickory wood fire to quickly smoke lots of different varieties of meat, including pork spare ribs, beef ribs, baby back ribs, beef brisket (including burnt ends), turkey, ham, pork, sausage, rack of lamb, and several types of seafood. Don’t miss the hickory pit beans or cheesy corn bake, and if you can’t make it to one of the locations, they’ll ship nationwide.

#5 Corky’s BBQ

Hickory-smoked ribs are the claim to fame at Corky’s, a 31-year-old Memphis institution that boasts five Tennessee locations, two in Arkansas, and one in Mississippi. Corky’s ribs are rubbed, basted, and smoked for 18 hours, and are available dry or wet (that is, with or without sauce). Pork shoulder, smoked chicken and turkey, and smoked sausage are also worth the visit, as are Memphis staples like the smoked sausage and cheese plate and fried catfish. You’ll also find some unexpected treats, like chili-topped hot tamales and an onion loaf. Come hungry!

#4 4 Rivers Smokehouse

4 Rivers is the brainchild of Florida barbecue master John Rivers. Since opening in October 2009, it has become incredibly well-respected, with nine operating smokehouses across the state. Rivers’ backstory is certainly nontraditional: He spent 20 years in the healthcare industry, but during his travels he decided to learn everything there is to know about barbecue, and after retiring he set about perfecting his own recipes. The smoker at each location is on at full blast throughout the day and night, smoking everything from Angus brisket, St. Louis ribs, pork shoulders, and chicken to wings, jalapeños, and a “brontosaurus” beef rib. The meat alone is enough to leave you happy and satisfied, but don’t forget about the sandwiches, like the famed Texas Destroyer: smoked brisket, onion rings, jalapeños, and melted provolone smothered in house barbecue sauce.

#3 Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ

If you’re going to open a chain of barbecue restaurants in the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Colorado, you better make sure that your product is on-point. A visit to Jim ‘N Nick’s, which was founded in 1985 by a father-son duo in Birmingham, Alabama, and now has 34 locations (with three more in the works), will show you that this is the real deal. Perennial exhibitors at best-of-the-best showcases like New York’s Big Apple BBQ Block Party, they’re smoking their own pork (sold pulled or chopped with a vinegary Carolina-style sauce), spare and baby back ribs, house-cured bone-in ham, legendary housemade pork hot links, chicken, turkey breast, and beef brisket, all served with a big dose of Southern hospitality. They also offer a killer hickory-grilled burger and pimento cheese sandwich, but honestly, you’re going to want to reserve all the room in your stomach for this crazy-good barbecue.

#2 Gates Bar B-Q

Ask anyone in Kansas City where to get a true Kansas City barbecue experience, and odds are they’ll point you in the direction of the nearest Gates. There are six locations in the Kansas City metropolitan area, all carrying on a family tradition dating back to 1946. As at any Kansas City classic, the sauce here is legendary — sweet, slightly smoky, tangy, and just a little bit spicy — but the meat stands on its own. Ribs come via full slab, short end, center cut, or long end (something you rarely see in most barbecue joints), and you can also get chicken, sausage, mutton, beef, ham, turkey, or pork by the pound or in a sandwich. When in Kansas City, don’t miss Gates.

#1 Sonny's BBQ

For nearly 50 years, Sonny’s has been serving real-deal Southern-style barbecue. The barbecue joint got its start in Gainesville, Florida, when Sonny Tillman and his wife Lucille opened the first restaurant in 1968; they began to franchise nine years later. Today, there are more than 150 locations across nine states, and the chain received far more votes in our survey than any other. Pork is served pulled or sliced; ribs are served wet, dry, St. Louis-style, or baby back; and all the meats, including beef brisket, chicken, and turkey breast, are smoked for up to 12 hours at each location. A bottomless salad bar, burgers, wings, pulled pork egg rolls, sides including baked beans and three cheese macaroni and cheese, and desserts like homemade fruit cobbler and banana pudding round out the menu. So congratulations, Sonny’s, America voted and you’re its favorite barbecue chain!

America's most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities

Humans being smart, the first thing they probably did after discovering fire was to throw some meat over it. So America may not be the birthplace of barbecue. It’s just the place where barbecue become perfect.

A handful of people have shaped American barbecue into what it is today. They’ve elevated our primordial instinct into something amazing, and they’re in a class of their own. Here are some of the most influential pitmasters and BBQ personalities in the country.

The 30 Best BBQ Restaurants In America, According To Open Table

America has a serious love affair with barbecue. It's an adoration so profound, the people were unable to leave it in the South from whence it came. You no longer have to live in Alabama or make a trip to Texas to eat great ribs, brisket, or awesome BBQ sides. These days, you can get great barbecue in the center of Manhattan or a pulled pork sandwich worthy of a food coma in the Golden City.

A look at Open Table's 2014 30 Best BBQ Restaurants Diners' Choice Awards is proof of that -- only a few restaurants on the list are actually located in the South. There are restaurants from both coasts, and a good amount hail from Chicago of all places. Fear not, this doesn't mean that the South isn't still top when it comes to barbecue. A more likely explanation would be that great Southern barbecue doesn't exist at places that take Open Table reservations.

Without further ado, here are the best BBQ restaurants in America (which accept reservations on Open Table).

Buffalo Wild Wings

Fewer foods are more iconically American than chicken wings, but that's not providing much solace for Buffalo Wild Wings, whose stock numbers have been disappointing as of late, especially when compared to fast-casual powerhouse Panera. According to former CEO Sally Smith, the chain is feeling the pinch due to what else: Millennials. Business Insider reported that in a letter to shareholders, she wrote, "Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants." Because of their declining numbers, there's been a bit of a kerfuffle among board members, who have clashed regarding how to steer the company moving forward. Most intriguing, however, was the announcement that Arby's was purchasing Buffalo Wild Wings for $2.9 billion, so who knows what's coming next.

Best BBQ In North Carolina How do these rankings work?

25th. Parker’s Barbecue has the best BBQ in Wilson

The barbecue here is soaked in vinegar and red pepper sauce before being served to the masses. And, we truly mean masses. They reportedly smoke at leat 150 hogs a week to produce enough of their famous, mouthwatering BBQ plates. Head here early to ensure you get a taste of what is absolutely some of the best BBQ in North Carolina. When served with all the fixin’s, it’s about as true Southern as it gets.

24th. Morris Barbeque has the best BBQ in Hookerton

BBQ sandwiches and sweet potato fries reign supreme at this Eastern North Carolina BBQ joint. You can only visit Morris Barbeque on Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm, so be sure to visit early and hungry. Load up on some ribs or even a BBQ sandwich combo and then enjoy the delectable flavours of their own special sauce. Don’t miss out on the hush puppies either they really round out the meal.

23rd. Barbecue Center has the best BBQ in Lexington

Lexington is the home of the world-famous Lexington-style BBQ. And, when you want to try the real stuff, you’ll want to head to Barbecue Center. The pit-cooked BBQ here is done up in traditional style and served finely chopped. Or, you can order a shoulder box that comes with BBQ, red slaw, rolls, and lots of sauce for dipping.

22nd. Bum’s Restaurant has the best BBQ in Ayden

The smell of the wood-smoked BBQ from Bum’s Restaurant can be smelt from practically any corner of Ayden. Follow the tantalising smell straight to Bum’s to sample what true North Carolina BBQ is supposed to taste like. Order their BBQ & Fried Chicken Combo and be sure to save room for all the sides. Collard greens, coleslaw, mac and cheese, and even sweet potatoes are all fair game.

21st. Pik N Pig has the best BBQ in Carthage

The pork BBQ at Pik N Pig, which is located at the nearby airfield, is cooked over hickory coals and natural hardwood, lending itself to a pretty unique, super smoky flavour. After cooking it to juicy, tender perfection, they hand pull it and sandwich it between two buns for a mindblowing treat. However, their ribs are just as good. They smoke them all night long and smother them in their own special honey BBQ sauce.

20th. Mac’s Speed Shop has the best BBQ in Charlotte

Mac’s Speed Shop serves up easily some of the best ribs in the state. Stop by any of the Charlotte locations for a rib feast the likes of which you’ll be dreaming about for weeks. Dig into St. Louis ribs that have been slow-cooked for six hours and finished with a BBQ sauce, or order the Kansas beef ribs. You’ll be licking the bones clean for both. And, that’s not even mentioning their mouthwatering sides.

19th. Big Al’s BBQ has the best BBQ in Raleigh

Big Al’s BBQ cooks up some great brisket and pulled pork. So, they’re really killing the North Carolina BBQ however you look at it. But, locals seem to also love their ribs, which have an incredible smokey and savoury taste. You’ll want to visit this place extremely hungry, as their pork is addictive no matter how you order it. We suggest getting it stuffed into a thick sandwich. It tastes like heaven.

18th. Little Richard’s Barbeque has the best BBQ in Clemmons

Expect nothing short of true, authentic Lexington-style BBQ at Little Richard’s. This local Clemmons hotspot serves up some of the tastiest, smokiest pork shoulders in the state, if not the entire country. They slow roast the shoulders over wood coals for about 12-14 hours, sealing in that fiery flavour. Then, they cover it in their own vinegar-based sauce that’s got a pretty hefty pinch of pepper for added flavour.

17th. Speedy’s BBQ has the best BBQ in Lexington

If you’re a die-hard fan of the traditional Lexington-style BBQ then there’s no better place in the city for you than Speedy’s. They stick to true tradition here and smoke up some pretty tender pork shoulder meat before absolutely smothering it in a tomato-based sauce that’ll leave you drooling. Served with some nice crinkle-cut fries, you’ll be using them for soaking up all that extra sauce.

16th. Haywood Smokehouse has the best BBQ in Waynesville

Tired of traditional North Carolina-style barbecue? Or, maybe you’re a Texan looking for a taste of home. Whatever you’re after, know that Haywood Smokehouse serves the best Texas-style barbecue outside of Texas. From the smoked brisket to the ribs, it all tastes like the Lone Star State. Order the Texas Two-Step, which comes with sliced brisket topped with house-made hotlinks and pepper jack cheese on some Texas toast.

15th. McKoy’s Smokehouse and Saloon has the best BBQ in Charlotte

McKoy’s Smokehouse has plenty of tempting dishes on the menu, but none more tempting than their award-winning St. Louis ribs. The juicy ribs are smoked all day over pecan wood, finished over the grill and smothered with a succulent BBQ sauce. They’re the real deal: a hearty slab slathered in sauce with just the right amount of char. You’ll be licking these bones totally clean.

14th. Angus Barn has the best BBQ in Raleigh

This award-winning steakhouse is home to quite the impressive wine list, some in-house aged steaks, and lots of world-class seafood. However, if you’re in Raleigh and are looking for quality BBQ in a wonderful environment, they’ve got that too. Order their Prime Rib & Half Rack Combo. It’s cooked to absolute perfection and served with Au Jus & Angus Barn BBQ sauce.

13th. The Pit has the best BBQ in Durham

While the entire menu at The Pit is tempting enough to have you drooling all over the page before you can order. And, while their sandwiches and BBQ plates truly are divine, it’s all about the pit-cooked whole-hog barbecue here. They serve it in both Eastern and Lexington-style, ensuring you’ll get your fill of flavour no matter what your preferences are. Chopped, pulled, or sliced, they do it all up right.

12th. Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que has the best BBQ in Murphy

30 years of tradition carry the flavours that make the racks of ribs at Herb’s some of the best BBQ in North Carolina. It’s all in the sauce here. Okay, the pitmaster here is an expert as well. But, guests can’t stop raving about the “sweet-and-sour” sauce they smother on the racks after they’re smoked. Top it all off with some four-layer chocolate pie for a tasty true Southern meal.

11th. Southern Smoke BBQ has the best BBQ in Garland

This family-run restaurant might be a bit of a newcomer on the North Carolina BBQ scene, but that doesn’t mean they don’t absolutely kill the flavour game. BBQ here is cooked slow and low over oak wood. Then, it’s drizzled in of their proprietary family sauces which are simply too finger-lickin’ good to be true. Find the food truck and prepare to be truly delighted in every sense of the word.

10th. Willie Brooks BBQ has the best BBQ in Maggie Valley

From the platters and plates to the sauces and sides and straight on through to the desserts, there’s nothing at Willie Brooks BBQ that’s not absolutely scrumptious. They’ve got everything you could ever want out of a traditional Southern BBQ joint, such as smoked brisket, pork sliders, sandwiches, and even loaded baked potatoes. If we’ve got one piece of advice, however, it’s to save room for dessert.

9th. Switzerland Cafe has the best BBQ in Little Switzerland

The signature sauce that seeps into the hickory-smoked barbecue here earns Switzerland Cafe an easy spot on any list of the best places for BBQ in North Carolina. Their sauce is a delightful mixture between Eastern and Lexington-style flavours, making it the perfect option for out-of-towners who can’t decide which kind of flavour to try first.

8th. Stamey’s Barbecue has the best BBQ in Greensboro

While not located in Lexington, Stamey’s is famous for its Lexington-style BBQ. Smoked over hardwood and hickory coals, the BBQ here is equal parts tender, smokey and absolutely mouthwatering. Then, it’s covered in a sweet yet tangy vinegar sauce that features just the perfect touch of tomato sauce. In short, it’s darn near perfect.

7th. Old Hampton Store & Barbecue has the best BBQ in Linville

Old Hampton Store & Barbecue is just as much of a foodie destination as it is a cultural and historical one. At this 1920 converted general store, you can truly indulge in local culture and taste the flavours of the Carolinas through their hickory-smoked barbecue. It’s served on sourdough rolls and lots of delicious sides. The only problem is going to be deciding on which sides to pair it all with.

6th. Midwood Smokehouse has the best BBQ in Charlotte

With three locations in Charlotte, you won’t be too far away from Midwood Smokehouse’s tasty barbecue. Their St. Louis ribs come served dry or sauced, so you can order exactly the sort of rib you prefer. The meat is super succulent and literally will drop off the bone as you pick them up. You can’t beat it. And, the sides are plentiful and flavourful.

5th. Clyde Cooper’s BBQ has the best BBQ in Raleigh

One might argue that North Carolina, as a state, is Rib Country, USA. So it makes sense that you’ll find some incredible ribs in Raleigh, and Clyde Cooper’s is a top shout. They’ve been a local barbecue staple in the area since 1938 and have won countless awards for their BBQ fare, with many dishes still using the same original recipe. In the mood for world-class BBQ ribs? This is your go-to spot.

4th. Buxton Hall Barbecue has the best BBQ in Asheville

At Buxton Hall, they use pasture-raised hogs for to carry on their whole-hog tradition that personifies the restaurant. After looking at the menu, however, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. They’ve got slow-cooked collards, fried chicken sandwiches, and smoky fried catfish. But, you’re going to want to head straight for their Whole Hog Pulled Pork Plate. Served with Eastern NC BBQ, slaw, pickles and pups, you don’t need anything else.

3rd. Grady’s BBQ has the best BBQ in Dudley

At Grady’s BBQ they use hickory and oak woods to smoke their meat. This gives everything they serve a truly smokey flavour that’s tantalising and tempting. Once you give in to the temptation, you’ll be delighted by all of the flavours you experience in each and every bite. The style here is iconically Eastern, so expect some strong vinegar-based sauces.

2nd. Red Bridges BBQ Lodge has the best BBQ in Shelby

The Lexington-style sauce and hand-chopped pork at this Shelby hotspot have been pleasing visitors from near and far since the 1940s. There’s nothing quite like the BBQ at Red Bridge, which they cook over hickory and oak wood. Then, they serve it up with some of the tastiest Southern sides you’ll find in the Carolinas. In short, it’s a full-on meal that you’ll be dreaming about for a while.

1st. Skylight Inn BBQ has the best BBQ in Ayden

Skylight Inn took the top spot on our national list of the best BBQ joints in the entire United States. So, it’s easily the best place for BBQ in North Carolina. After speaking with numerous locals, travellers, and barbecue experts, the conclusion is that the pork served at Skylight Inn BBQ is the best of the best. The pork sandwich is to die for and will have you dreaming of the richness.

Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth has lived and worked in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, all of which have contributed to her passion for travel writing. When she's not writing, you can find her exploring little hideouts in Colombia or watching photography tutorials on YouTube.

Friday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm

We are delighted to share our world-renowned barbecue with you with a side of Texas Hill Country hospitality.
The Roberts family recipes have roots back to the wagon trains in the mid-1800’s. We want you to enjoy the same
warm atmosphere and delicious barbecue they savored around the campfire.

Online reservations are only available for the Driftwood location.


We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of Covid-19 including:

• Employees are required to wear masks

• Dedicated employees are sanitizing all surfaces. Doors, tables, chairs, and restrooms are all wiped down and cleaned frequently

• Handwashing stations have been placed around the property for customers

• Customers are encouraged to enjoy their BBQ while keeping a safe distance from one another

• Upgraded A/C system with special UV lights & MERV13 filters & upgraded air circulation to keep the air pure

The 10 Best Barbecue Joints In Texas

When one thinks of barbecue, Texas immediately comes to mind. Among the many delicious barbecue restaurants throughout the large state, our guide below details ten of the best restaurants in which to dine for a delicious and authentic Texas BBQ experience.

Ray’s BBQ Shack

Ray’s BBQ Shack in Houston is ‘smokin’ good with a whole lotta soul’ and serves an array of smoked meats, from Chicago-style ribs to sliced brisket, chicken, sausage and baby back ribs. The ‘soul’ of Ray’s BBQ Shack comes from the many menu items with a Cajun influence, like catfish, po’boys, a fish burger and shrimp, all served with Louisiana-style hush puppies. Try the spicy sausage po’boy for a mix of barbecue and Cajun flavors. Ray’s also serves sandwiches, burgers (like the ‘big herb burger’ with chopped beef, shredded cheese, bacon and barbecue sauce) and amazing sides. As a family-owned and operated BBQ joint, Ray’s BBQ Shack places great importance on the quality of its hickory-smoked meats, homemade barbecue and homemade desserts and sides.

Miller’s Smokehouse

Listed as a ‘Top 50 Best BBQ Joint’ by Texas Monthly and established in 2008, Miller’s Smokehouse in the small town of Belton, Texas, proves it deserves the title with its savory, smoky barbecue and delicious southern sides. Miller’s Smokehouse’s offers items such as BBQ wraps (with pulled pork, coleslaw and beans) and specialty items, like the ‘El Gallo Picante’ (a spicy hot link sausage with chicken, slaw, jalapenos and BBQ sauce on a bun) or the ‘Fire in the Bowl’ (beans, chopped beef, hot links and Fritos with potatoes, pickles, jalapenos, onions and tortillas). Also, be sure to try one of the desserts, like brownies, pie or cobbler, homemade by Lisa ‘Mama’ Miller.

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3. Steak 'n Shake

Steak 'n Shake has been serving hungry customers since 1934. With the chain's menu of fries, hand-dipped shakes, and burgers, it's no wonder the restaurant has thrived over the years. Their steak burgers are always grilled fresh and made-to-order. Expect to wait awhile for your food, even if you go through the drive-thru.

If you've never been before, try out the double steakburger. It's a classic, topped with cheese and your choice of other toppings, served on a toasted bun.

Grilled Strip Steak With Compound Butter

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Strip loin steaks are flavored with simple compound butter (also called "hotel butter") featuring parsley and lemon juice, for this classic preparation. Grill the steaks outdoors or use your oven's broiler. Serve with french fries or a baked potato, and a green salad.


Flamin' Hot Cheetos have had fans of the cheesy sticks hooked, but once you hear how the recipe was invented, you'll likely love the spicy snack that much more.

Richard Montañez snagged his first job at corporate giant Frito-Lay as a janitor at the age of 12 in 1976. One day, the assembly line at the plant he worked at had broken down, and some of the Cheetos didn't get that salty cheesy coating. He took a few of these unflavored ones home and dusted them with chili powder, something he loved eating in elote, which is grilled corn that's dressed in butter, lime, chili powder, and cheese. He pitched his creation to the CEO of Frito-Lay, and the rest is history.

Expect to see a movie about him soon—Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the rights to produce a film about how he overcame adversity and ultimately invented one of the most famed salty snacks.

And if you don't love Flamin' Hot Cheetos, there's always the original version of the classic lunchbox snack, too.

The 25 best fast-food chains in America

Fast food took root in the US the 1950s and has flourished into a $255 billion industry. These restaurants — globally associated with American culture — evoke surprising passion, with many developing a cult-like loyalty from customers. But which chain is the best?

Business Insider teamed up with Restaurant Business, a food-service industry expert and media outlet, to compile a definitive ranking of the best fast-food restaurants in America. Using proprietary data collected by Restaurant Business and its sister research firm Technomic, we looked at nearly 100 of the largest US chains and rated them on three criteria that we considered the most telling for all-around fast-food excellence: financial performance, customer satisfaction, and overall value. Our calculations accounted for sales growth, average sales at each location, consumer-sentiment ratings, and the average cost of a meal, among other metrics. Read more about the methodology here.

Towering sales figures alone weren't enough to make the cut, as a number of fast-food heavyweights — such as McDonald's and Taco Bell — didn't crack the top 25 in our ranking. Rather, customers tend to gravitate toward more specialized and regional brands that offer a higher-quality experience, including fresh, sustainable ingredients, at an affordable price, according to Restaurant Business.

Keep reading to see the 25 best fast-food chains in America in 2016.

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