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5 Best cities for barbecue

Love barbecue food? Crave pulled pork and sweet n’ sassy sauces on the daily? If so, you must check out these five cities to experience the best barbecue food of your life.

Salt Lick BBQ

The Salt Lick in Austin, TX
Photo credit: Barron Fujimoto via Flickr

Nothing says summer quite like barbecue food. Are we right or are we right? Something about the grill going, the smoke rising and the smell of ribs slow-cooking all day long just brings a smile to our faces. Summer also marks warm weather and vacation season. We thought, why not combine our love of travel, barbecue food and warm weather — and venture off to find America’s best barbecue. We have narrowed it down to five cities, and we’re certain they won’t disappoint.


Memphis, Tennessee

When thinking barbecue, Memphis is the first city that comes to mind — and there’s a reason for it. Memphis is known for delicious, juicy and tender pork but will serve chicken and other meats, too. Each type of meat is slow-cooked and delicately seasoned, creating a one-of-a-kind dish that’s hard to duplicate.

Best restaurants: Central BBQ, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, Brad’s Bar-B-Q and Memphis Barbecue Company


Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta doesn’t specialize in a specific type of BBQ — they serve it all. Making it one of the best all-around barbecue cities in the country. This September is their fifth annual Atlanta Bar-B-Q Festival and cook-off, where you can taste some of the country’s best barbecue and learn secrets from the pros.

Best restaurants: Heirloom Market BBQ, The Mustard Seed BBQ and ‘Cue BBQ


Raleigh, North Carolina

Eastern-style North Carolina barbecue, like that of Raleigh’s, is all about slow cooking the meat at incredibly low temperatures. This technique, plus the use of vinegar-based marinades, makes for a slice of meat that’s never dry. Typically, this style of barbecue is served with coleslaw and a large glass of sweet iced tea.

Best restaurants: The Pit Authentic Barbecue, Big Al’s BBQ, Ole Time Barbecue and The Q Shack


St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis is known for heavy sauces — perfect for those who crave the sauce more than the meat (um, guilty!). Though they grill everything, the most unique item is crispy snoots, or pig’s nostrils. They’re cooked until crispy and served either as an appetizer or on top of your favorite sandwich, with a flavor similar to that of pork rinds.

Best restaurants: Pappy’s Smokehouse, The Shaved Duck and Bogart’s Smokehouse


Austin, Texas

Though you can find good barbecue throughout the entire state of Texas, we narrowed our top picks down to Austin. Austin is all about simplicity — taking you back to good ole fashioned barbecue that’s not slathered with rich, heavy sauces. We love that you can actually taste the quality and distinct flavors of each and every piece of meat.

Best restaurants: Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, Iron Works BBQ, Franklin Barbecue and The Salt Lick

Heading to Texas? Check out this insider’s guide to Austin >>

More on barbecue

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Gluten-free BBQ recipes
How to grill tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs

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