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Favorite BBQ restaurant recommendations from the Internet.

Thanks to Robin Lake - rbl@hal.cwru.edu for collecting all these over the past four years as well as the
gang on the BBQ internet mailing list.

For lots more Que joint reviews visit the Circle F Ranch.

Alabama

Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Que (Decatur)

Greenbrier Bar-B-Que (Greenbrier)

Thomas Pit Barbeque (Huntsville)

Nolens Barbecue (Huntsville)
You may not know this, but the best bar-b-que in the world can be found in just about any town in the northern part of Alabama -- Decatur, Huntsville, Athens, for example. Here, the bar-b-que is different from any place in the world (although I've heard rumors that North or South Carolina *might* be similar). The beef and pork aren't swimming in that sweet, ketchupy, red sauce; rather, its cooked without sauce, then shredded. You add the sauce yourself. Two kinds are usually provided, red and white. The red is hot and spicey. The white is tangy and peppery. (The white sauce is also used for basting chicken while it cooks.) Its far superior to any bar-b-que I've ever had anywhere...There really isn't a comparison....:-g :-g :-g :-g

These are some of our favorites.

margaret@infonode.ingr.com (Margaret Wiginton)

California

Dr. Hoggly Woggly's Tyler Texas BBQ
(LA)
(no jokes about the recent municipal BBQ, PLEASE!) Dr. Hoggly Woggly's Tyler Texas BBQ. The best I've found to date in the ol' home town, but falls FAR short of the above meccas. Intentionally wierd place. Taken over recently by immigrants, somewhat to the detriment of quality.

I continue to look for alternatives in LA. Appraisals welcome any time.

(Since I cain't buy it locally, I'm undertaking a personal quest for the perfect home-made BBQ. I'm definitely gettin' there with ribs, chicken, and bisected whole turkeys. My wife handles the beans and slaw. Yep, gettin' pretty dang close.)

jlacoss@isi.edu (Jeff LaCoss) 12 May 92

Connecticut

Stick to your Ribs (Stratford) The barbecue place [in Stratford, CT] is called Stick to your Ribs. It's on Honeyspot road in Stratford, about .5 mi north of 95. It's most charming quirk is that it's run by a British former hairdresser.

Lawrence Hunter, PhD. hunter@nlm.nih.gov 7 May 92

Here's A Stick to Your Ribs update. I was there a coupla times last fall. The Englishman has sold to place to his former manager. He still runs a catering service and sells to NYC shops. He buys from her and she runs the shop just like the old days. Her family helps out. When I last talked to her she said that she and the Brit were talking to some Italians about opening up something over there. The place has definitely been hit by price creep - getting just a little pricey. Still good 'Q. Same atmosphere.

hpouncy1@cc.swarthmore.edu 8 May 92

Georgia

Harold's (Atlanta)

Melear's (Fayettville)
When my son and I became interested in barbeque we combined business trips with research into the more noted barbeque joints. Many establishments were mentioned in a number of books and periodicals and we mapped out those located within a reasonable distance of our business routes. As we made our way to our destination we would try to eat at as many barbeque joints as possable to "learn about real Q".

Most joints we visited were very friendly and freely discussed their cooking methods and were quick to give a guided tour of their pits. Don't ask for a recipie, cause I doubt you'd get one and the request itself could shorten the tour! There is much to learn by watching and listening to those recognized as the leaders in the industry. It is also very educational to see the various types of pits and cooking methodology used to produce excellent Q. Each pit master has developed a technique of his own that distinguishes him from the others. All were worthy of their reputations even though there was a good deal of variation on a common theme. All the joints used all wood cooking. Kind of like a lot of competitions that require all wood. I don't make the rules, It's just the way I learned.

One of the trips we made was to Atlanta. While there, we naturally tried to eat barbeque as often as possable. We don't get the opprutunity to eat barbeque out too often back home. We're from Maine! We ate at Harold's and found the barbeque to be up to their reputation. The next day, however we tried a joint called Melear's in nearby Fayettville. GOD, it was to die for! Both the pork sandwich and the Brunswick Stew was the best we had ever had.

The sandwich was made on slices of soft white bread ( something I'm not partial to) piled with teriffic smoked pork, then toasted. The result was a crunchy outer skin of bread, with a chewey soft inside topped by the finest barbequed pork I have ever had. Orgasmic would be an understatement.

The Brunswick stew was cooked in a giagantic cast iorn cauldron over an open fire and had the touch of smoke from being cooked that way. It was hard to decide which you wanted more, another pork sandwich or another bowl of stew. We made it easy and had both.

If ever you find yourself in the Atlanta area, do make the effort to visit Fayettville and enjoy some Q at Melears. You won't regret it!

Smoky - smoky@cris.com - http://www.cris.com/~Cfmitch 25 Sep 96

Fresh Air BBQ (Jackson)

Hot Thomas (Watkinsville)
First a note on preference: Pork rather than beef or any other 4-legged critter (chicken next). Pulled or shredded meat rather than slices, except for ribs, of course. Vinegar/ pepper based sauce rather than tomato or catsup or sugar. Some places put slaw on a sandwich with the meat-- I'd rather have it on the side.

With that in mind, we like the Fresh Air BBQ just south of Jackson, GA. (Understand they now have a branch in Macon) Zebs, north of Athens, GA is pretty good, as is Hot Thomas near Watkinsville, GA is also good.

Here in Kentucky a lot of fuss is made over so-called Western Ky. BBQ, but to my taste it's too sweet. Also, they do it to goats and mutton and somehow that doesn't appeal to me. Owensboro KY has a huge BBQ festival in June or July every year with lots of different styles represented.

We were passing through Homerville, GA not long ago (don't ask why-- I'm not sure) and noticed a dozens of cars and pick-up trucks parked around a BBQ restaurant. I don't remember the name, but saw a clipping from the Atlanta paper later that day (on the wall of a bookstore in St. Mary's GA) identifying the Homerville place as best BBQ in south Georgia. Guess we'll have to go back.

UKA016@UKCC.UKY.EDU (Frank Godbey)

 

Purvis' BBQ (Louisville)

Sweat's (Soperton)
Well, Zebs is good, Hot Thomas is way overrated, but the best pulled, and the best sauce EVER (and I mean it) is to be found at Purvis' BBQ just outside of Louisville Ga. It's spicy from vinegar and hot pepper and black pepper, with just a touch of tomato. The sauce could make dirt edible. It's a thin sauce, with a marvelous taste. HIGHLY recommended. On your way to the coast from Atlanta near the weekend? Have a stop. And say that David Cato's grandson said to stop. You will be glad you did. Sweat's in Soperton is good, too, and there's a good one in Newnan.

David W. (Stimpy) Millians millia@athena.cs.uga.edu

 

Sweat's (Soperton) Seem kinda silly responding to my own post, but the BBQ Festival in Owensboro KY is today and tomorrow, May 8 - 9. You still have time to get there if you leave now...

Re. Sweats in Soperton, GA, agree it's good. Usually bring home a bottle of sauce when we go through there.

Re. Hot Thomas being over-rated-- could be. I've only been there once and was real hungry; that may have influenced my thinking.

UKA016@UKCC.UKY.EDU (Frank Godbey) 8 May 1992

Kansas City

The book is Real Barbecue by Greg Johnson and Vince Staten, and every true barbecue lover should have a copy or two. (Out of print but often seen on remainder tables.) It sez:

"Barbecue Central: This is it: Ground Zero, America's premier melting pot of smoke and sauce, the headquarters of hickory, Cow Town Central, the Capital of Que. Where else but in Kansas City could you have the most famous barbecue joint in the world -- and it's not even the best in town? Where else could you find hot sauce in the airport gift shop?"

 

Arthur Bryants

Gates & Sons

Smokestack
Here's my list of best KC Q. CLIP AND SAVE FOR YOUR NEXT KC TRIP:

Arthur Bryants--Vinegary sauce, not at all sweet. Just complements the heaps and heaps of smokey, crusted meat.
Gates & Sons--Peppery, spicey sauce.
Smokestack--Sweeter sauce.

The great thing about the above list, if I do say so, is that there's something for everybody. All of the places are different as can be, and the sauces couldn't be more different. A real cross section of what KC has to offer.

Myra the KC patriot

myrab@cbnewsg.cb.att.com (myra.bronstein) 8 May 92

 

Boyd's 'n' Son With all that jingoism, you forgot to mention Boyd's 'n' Son, which receives the highest rating "As good as we've ever had." Deservedly. The brisket of beef is exquisite. Oh, drool, slobber, i can hardly wait to get out there again

kiran@bronze.ucs.indiana.edu (Kiran Wagle) 8 May 92

Kentucky

East Texas Smoker (Louisville)

Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn (Owensboro)
The late East Texas Smoker in Louisville could hold its own against anthing in the world. The Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn in Owensboro, KY has lamb ribs to die for. (The rest of their menu is not.) And there are many other fine joints scattered throughout the country....

kiran@bronze.ucs.indiana.edu (Kiran Wagle) 8 May 92

Maryland

Red Hot and Blue
(Laurel)
Ooooh, Red Hot and Blue in Laurel, Md. is outstanding... They serve them wet or dry... The best I've ever had.

skip

rlwilliams@galluj 8 May 1992

Massachusetts

East Coast Grill (Cambridge) Definitely my all-time favorite. They have it down pat.

jlacoss@isi.edu (Jeff LaCoss) 12 May 92

One of my favorite restaurants. Chris Schlesinger, owner and chef, is one of the masters. He also has some great cookbooks, especially Thrill of the Grill. Jake & Earl's BBQ is no longer there. They got rid of the takeout area and expanded the restaurant into that space in July 1996. The BBQ is still on the menu, though.

Garry Howard - garry@netrelief.com 27 Sep 96

 

Redbone's (Somerville) Located in Davis Square, the interior is a fairly decent replica of a Southern roadhouse BBQ joint. Great BBQ. Get a combination platter with ribs, sausage, brisket, and chicken. Side dishes are also good. Cornbread and corn pudding recommended. Always packed so come early or plan to wait. Hot or Sweet BBQ sauces, and the Hot really is!

Garry Howard - garry@netrelief.com 27 Sep 96

 

Village Smokehouse (Brookline) In Brookline Village. Modeled after a Texas BBQ joint with Willy Nelson on the jukebox and longneck beers. It's kind of sad to see a bunch of Yankees trying to dress and act like Texans, but the food is good. The baby back ribs are great.

Garry Howard - garry@netrelief.com 27 Sep 96

North Carolina

Bullocks (Durham)

Dillards (Durham)
In Durham, North Carolina there are two good places to try (imho) Bullocks, which is a local institution. all their food is wonderful but the chicken is only for those who have strong stomach for grease. the sliced q is a fave but they are usually out by a reasonable dinnertime (i.e. 6:30-8:00, most southerners tend to have "supper" on the early side) so the chopped is a good backup. watch out for the long (30-45 minute) lines just to get inside on some days...

also a little stand type restaurant is Dillards, for a different style of q. quite yummo.

Jonathan Magid magidj@marimba.cellbio.duke.edu 8 May 92

I've eaten at Bullocks and was quite disappointed. Despite all the celebrity pictures on the wall, I think it is highly overrated. The meat was extremely fatty and greasy and the brunswick stew was bland.

Garry Howard garry@netrelief.com 27 Sep 96

Oklahoma

Leo's
(Oklahoma City)
In Oklahoma City, try Leo's. Go to the original location (the one on 36th or 38th). Outstanding sauce (sweet, molasses based, I think), and by all means try the barbecued baloney.

dhs@cs.utexas.edu (Douglas H. Steves) 9 May 1992

Tennessee

Rendevouz (Memphis) In Memphis, the Rendevous. Great dry ribs. Also in Memphis, there's a little hole in the wall joint on Lamar (whose name escapes me now, but it's mentioned in Real Barbeque) that has the best pulled pork sandwich I've ever had.

dhs@cs.utexas.edu (Douglas H. Steves) 9 May 1992

 

Texas

The Salt Lick (Driftwood) located in a dry county - bring your own cooler Real Pit BBQ, family style. $9 all you can digest. Pork ribs, brisket, sausage, slaw, beans, potato salad, bread, etc. Sort of a honey mustard Q sauce. Not at all overpowering. Really lets the flavor of the meat come through loud and clear!

sean@curry1.austin.ibm.com 7 May 92

Essential sorta place.

jlacoss@isi.edu (Jeff LaCoss) 12 May 92

 

Iron Works (Austin)

County Line (Austin)
In Austin, well, if you absolutely have to stay in Austin, go to the Iron Works or the County Line (on the Lake). The Iron Works has pretty good barbeque and great atmosphere (it's actually in an old building formerly used as an Iron Works). The County Line has a fantastic location (have a few Shiner Bocks on the porch before eating) on the lake and is built in the style of a 40's roadhouse. The barbeque is ok. (It's the sort of place you would take visiting relatives for barbeque, especially those from north of the Mason-Dixon line.) On the other hand, if you can leave Austin, I second the recommendation for the Salt Lick.

dhs@cs.utexas.edu (Douglas H. Steves) 9 May 1992

County Line (the one on the crick in SW Austin). Larger servings than the East Coast Grill, but lacking jest a teensy bit of the ol' je ne sais quoi.

jlacoss@isi.edu (Jeff LaCoss) 12 May 92

Virginia

Three Pigs (Langley)

Red Hot and Blue (DC)

Hogs on the Hill (DC)
I've been a BBQ fan ever since my first bluegrass festival in North Carolina back when I was a freshman. Personally, I'm partial to eastern NC style BBQ: pork, with a bit of vinegar and hot pepper.

I thought moving from New Haven to DC would improve the quality of BBQ I can get more than it actually did. There's a place called "Three Pigs" in Langley, VA that's pretty good. Lee Atwater's BBQ places, called Red Hot and Blue, are pretty good, and now that he's dead, I don't mind eating there. "Hogs on the Hill" (several locations) is acceptable, but kind of mass produced. Best thing to do is drive southwest a few hours and go to eastern North Carolina, home of the best BBQ.

What you really want are "weekend" BBQ places, where they put a couple of hogs up on wednesday, and are open from Friday evening to when the pig runs out (usually saturday). I've found a bunch of good weekend BBQ places in the Sterns' books (Road Food, Good Food, etc.) There's a great one just over the VA/NC border called Rad Dew's. I had great NC-style BBQ just over the Florida border from SC, right off of i-95. I think the place was called The Picked Pig -- it's in the Stern book.

Lawrence Hunter, PhD. hunter@nlm.nih.gov
Bethesda. MD 20894

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