America is a melting pot, and barbecue, that most American of foods, is just as diverse.
You might be tempted to spend the summer grilling in your backyard, but when there are so many different kinds of smoked meats to try from sea to shining sea, why not explore all of the true BBQ that America has to offer?
Here are some of ShermansTravel's favorite cities for indulging in BBQ.
Austin: Texas’ state capital. Lockhart: The BBQ Capital of Texas. There is little doubt to that claim with Smitty’s Market and Kreuz Market located in this BBQ-obsessed town just 30 miles outside of Austin. Kreuz is BBQ at its most elemental: sausages, made in-house, served on brown butcher paper. No sauce, no sides. Back in town, the current reigning champ is Franklin Barbecue in East Austin. Lines form early here (seriously, go at 11am, lest they run out) for the beef brisket, which is cooked low and very slow – for eighteen hours, in fact. Seasoned only with salt and pepper, the brisket is nearly matched by the pork ribs, which have a “secret seasoning” that verges on criminally addictive. Photo: Franklin Barbecue
Seems counter-intuitive, but yes, you can find some very impressive BBQ in Chicago. Like New York, it’s more about curating different styles from across the country: you’ll find pulled pork and pork pastrami at Pork Shoppe, rib tips and hot links at Barbara Ann’s, and North Carolina-style (vinegar sauce ahoy) at the newly opened Lillie’s Q. Even Lillie’s gives you a little bit of everything, as they boast the option of five different sauces to go with your Carolina Dirt dry rubbed baby back ribs. Photo: Pork Shoppe
Think of Kansas City as the land of barbecue plenty; whatever it is that’s tickling your fancy, you’ll likely find it here, be it pork, chicken, beef, or some delicious mixture of them all (we can dream). You’d be remiss to skip the iconic Arthur Bryant’s and Gates. Like Philadelphia and cheesesteaks, debates rage over which is superior, with Arthur Bryant’s serving the best burnt ends and Gates serving superior ribs. Recently, locals and meat expert Anthony Bourdain have been singing the praises of Oklahoma Joe’s. Who can blame them when they offer “Pig Salad” (just your typical garden salad with warm pulled pork and barbecue sauce on top)? Photo: Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association
Home of Graceland, Stax records, and dry rub ribs, Memphis celebrates its BBQ heritage with the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. If you want the apogee of the dry rub genre, hit the Rendezvous, which everyone recommends and is worth hitting once. However, true aficionados know that the chopped pork sandwich at Payne’s, a former garage with erratic opening hours, is the best BBQ in town. And you don’t even need to leave the airport, which boasts an outpost of the highly esteemed Neely’s, open bright and early each morning. Photo: Memphis CVB
The twin lodestars of barbecue in this town on the Mississippi are Pappy’s Smokehouse, which turns out Memphis-style ribs, cooked low and slow, and has even been endorsed by the mayor, and Supersmokers, perennial top ten finishers at Memphis in May. A recent competitor has emerged in the form of Bogart’s Smokehouse, run by a former Pappy’s employee (isn’t that always the way?) who goes a little bit further than Pappy’s with creations like BBQ pork skins, pastrami, and the aptly named “sausage fatty,” three sausage patties on a Portuguese bun with a vinegar and pineapple topping. See the rest of the list on ShermansTravel.com. Photo: Pappy’s Smokehouse
Follow Shermans Travel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShermansTravel