After founders Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp met through barbecue competitions in the mid-80s, they partnered up in 2002 to open Central BBQ’s first location in Midtown Memphis. The restaurant now has four locations around the area, with favorites that include ribs and BBQ nachos.
If you’re in the mood for beef, you’d be out of luck here. Peg Leg Porker prides itself in serving pork and chicken true to its Southeastern roots. Since 2013, Peg Leg Porker has served classics like a dry rub rack of ribs cooked over Tennessean wood.
Ayden, North Carolina
North Carolina is divided into two styles of barbecue: Eastern and Western. Built in 1947, Skylight Inn serves an ideal example of eastern North Carolinaian barbecue. Keeping true to tradition, the restaurant cooks its barbecue whole hog with wood and is offered as a sandwich, on a plate, or by the pound.
It’s not just local folks who know the Skylight Inn’s appeal. In 2003, Skylight Inn was awarded the James Beard “America’s Classics” Award.
Smokin Joe’s Rib Ranch was born out of a hobby for founder Joe Wells. The former gas station restaurant is now a complete family affair with demand from all over the state. People come to try the restaurant’s ribs, which are made every day at 7 a.m. But for those who want something different, Smokin Joe’s also offers brisket, sausage, pulled pork, and chicken.
Louisiana is usually left out of the conversation due to its lack of a barbecue style that defines the state. Instead, this New Orleans establishment showcases a collection of different barbecue from beef brisket to pulled pork. The Joint also features a one-of-a-kind smoker to make its slow cooked meats.
This Austin based restaurant has attracted meat lovers from all over the country. Founder Aaron Franklin opened the restaurant in 2009, and has since become a nationally recognized for its brisket.
If long lines don’t validate its taste, chef Aaron Franklin was awarded a James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the southwest in 2015. He even launched his own MasterClass for Texas-style BBQ. Customers are encouraged to come early to enjoy the food before the restaurant sells out.
Pappy’s Smokehouse opened in 2008, where the restaurant has since served over 3 million guests who visit St. Louis. Along with barbecue commonplace items such as ribs, brisket, and pulled chicken, Pappy’s also serves items like barbecue baked potato and Frito pie. Pappy’s smokes its meats for up to 24 hours, using sweet apple and cherry wood to flavor the meat
Owners Jeff and Joy Stehney came upon the idea of opening their own barbecue restaurant after being involved with the barbecue competition circuit for a number of years. Joe’s offers items complete with the famous Kansas City style of spices and tomato-based barbecue sauce, including a smoked beef and pork sandwich called the “Smokie Joe.” Even Anthony Bourdain listed this restaurant as one of the “13 Places to Eat Before You Die”.
Lockhart is a barbecue powerhouse, boasting some of the best tasting barbecue relative to its small town size. Edgar Schmidt bought Kreuz Market in 1948, transforming it into a restaurant before retiring in 1984. His daughter Nina took over the building and opened Smitty’s Market the former Kreuz Market location, where customers can sample brisket, shoulder clod, pork ribs, sausages, and more.
Old Brick Pit Barbeque was started in 1976 and specializes in pulled hams, ribs, and chicken. Founder Bob Newton designed the barbeque pit that is still used to smoke its meats today. Their menu mainly features its pork offerings with a vinegar-based sauce, but other classics like Brunswick Stew and barbeque chicken are also served.
Charleston, South Carolina
Founder Rodney Scott opened his restaurant in 2016 with a history of smoking hogs since his childhood. In 2018, Scott was awarded the James Beard award for best chef in the Southeast. Rodney Scott’s now has two locations—one in Charleston and one in Birmingham. The restaurant takes the slow approach with its hog, cooking the meat for over 12 hours before they come to the table. And while whole hog remains the star of the menu, spare ribs and baked mac n’ cheese are other customer favorites.