Barbecue has not only been a staple of the American cuisine but of its culture as well. Although there are only three essential ingredients to barbecue – meat, wood smoke and sauce, there’s a plethora of flavors unique to each region. So, let us take you on a bite by bite tour of the best barbecue joints, cities and states in the US.
Are you bananas for BBQ? Here’s some great tours in the US and worldwide that center around the good stuff!
You have arrived in the barbecue central, so make sure not to leave before tasting its specialty – delicious beef brisket. Of course, the barbecue is not only about the beef. Texas is also famous for its smoky and spicy pork sausages called hot links, which can be bought by the pound or by the link.
A tour of Texas would be the right choice, since not only every city across the country offers distinctive barbecue flavor, but each restaurant also throws in something unique. Make sure not to miss Fort Worth, it’s not far from Dallas, and no place tells the history of Texas’ livestock industry better than the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.
An important destination for all BBQ pilgrims is Franklin Barbecue, located in Austin. A true American institution is Stubb’s BBQ, where musicians such as Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Lee Hooker had to earn their dinner by jamming. You might have to wait a couple of hours to get in, but the meat is well worth it – to say the least.
Memphis has one of the most distinct barbecue styles. The sauce is based on tomato juice and vinegar, while ribs are chopped neatly and nicely. If you think that ribs can’t be juicy and delicious, drop into Central BBQ where the pork is slow-smoked for 14 hours and ribs overnight or Rendezvous where they have been preparing their specialty – paprika-heavy ribs – since 1948.
Kansas City, Missouri
Perhaps barbecue didn’t originate in Missouri, but Kansas City has become a rather great BBQ destination thanks to Arthur Bryant who started the tradition of slow-cooking beef and pork ends over a mix of oak and hickory wood about a hundred years ago. Sweet tomato sauce with molasses and hickory wood smoke add to the unique taste of Kansas City BBQ.
(Pssst, take some of that good Kansas City sauce right into your home kitchen here!)
St. Louis, Missouri
Spare ribs and smoked pig snout characterize the St. Louis BBQ style. What makes it different from other regional styles is the very sweet, sticky and spicy tomato-based sauce made without liquid smoke. One of the best-known places is Pappy’s Smokehouse which serves dry-rubbed ribs, smoked over cherry and apple wood.
Lexington, a small town situated just an hour drive northeast from Charlotte, offers the main regional dish – smoked pork shoulder chopped and topped with vinegar, tomato, and mustard sauce. The Red Slaw, another Lexington trademark, is now widely used instead of mayo for barbecue sauce or as a side dish. If you happen to be in Lexington during its annual Barbecue Festival, you are certain to experience a real treat. Some of the amazing places you shouldn’t miss are Clyde Cooper’s BBQ, The Pit or Ole Time Barbecue.
One of the states depicted by TripAdvisor as a must stop on your BBQ route is South Carolina. Similar as in neighboring North Carolina, the main dish is Pulled Pork and Ribs, prepared over hickory and pal wood and sprinkled with Carolina Gold BBQ sauce which is sweet and tangy. Pairing pork and mustard creates a delicious combination of flavors.
(If you head to the Carolinas for some amazing BBQ, here are a few prime places to stay!)
If you continue down the road while listening to Sweet Home Alabama, heading towards Montgomery, you will have the opportunity to taste ham or pork shoulders cooked over oak wood. The locals like to spread white sauce, which is a mixture of mayonnaise and vinegar, on spare ribs which have been smoked for hours. An hour drive to the north is Birmingham; if you happen to be there drop into Big Bob Gibson BBQ and enjoy their main dish of smoked chicken with white sauce.
Kentucky has a long BBQ tradition which has been dated at about 1792 and includes events such as the International Bar-B-Q Festival and the annual picnic at Fancy Farm. Three favorite dishes are pulled or chopped pork from whole shoulders over oak coals, mutton with a vinegar-based sauce and grilled thin-sliced shoulder, dressed with a pepper and vinegar sauce. Louisville and Lexington are the capitals of barbecue.
Aloha! We have finally arrived in Hawaii where we meet their famous dish called Barbecue of Kalua, pork with Hawaiian sweet pineapple sauce. Kalua is a traditional cooking method typical of Hawaii, which means – cooking in an underground furnace. You can also try ribeye or fresh chicken at Maui Hawaiian BBQ as well as grilled chicken breasts with teriyaki sauce at Ono Hawaiian BBQ.
What’s your fave BBQ dish? Do you remember the best BBQ meal you ever had? Where was it? Tell us!