Southern USA barbecue isn’t just a cooking style; it’s a religion, cultural nexus, and generational obsession. In short, the South wouldn’t be the South without it. That doesn’t mean that all barbecue is the same, though.
From the pulled pork sandwiches of Memphis to the pull-apart brisket in the heart of Texas, every region has its own distinctive specialities. We’ve selected eight of the best barbecue joints across the South (hint: start planning that road trip now).
Known across the Carolinas for his magnificent slow-cooked whole hogs, Rodney Scott is the barbecue maestro at Scott’s in Hemingway, South Carolina.
The nondescript shack, only open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, has a pit out back that burns hand-selected pecan, oak, and hickory wood.
Since 1962, Wilber’s in Goldsboro, North Carolina has steadily perfected the art of whole hog barbecue, with platters of hand-pulled pork, fried chicken, hush puppies, and other Southern favourites rounding out the selection.
Founded by one of Kansas City’s most decorated barbecue teams, Oklahoma Joe’s occupies an unusual venue: a gas station restaurant. The specialities here are the pork ribs and beef brisket, but be sure to call ahead to reserve some cherished burnt ends.
With a smoking barbeque pit laden with different cuts of meat smack in the middle of the restaurant, The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas will have you feeling positively Palaeolithic. Brisket and sausage are king here, and are best with the perfectly sweet barbecue sauce.
In Lockhart, Texas, Black’s Barbecue has won the distinction of being the oldest family-operated joint in Texas. Since 1931, Black’s has served mammoth-sized ribs, classic sides like cornbread, and perfect tomato-rich sauce.
On Memphis’ Elvis Presley Boulevard, A&R does Tennesseans proud with its ribs, rib tips, and classic pulled-pork sandwiches (served with a hefty amount of coleslaw). Though it isn’t as grimy as your average barbecue joint, it’s certainly no less authentic.
Before its current guise as a barbecue restaurant, Woodyard used to be just that: the place where other joints sourced their wood. Nowadays it serves some of Kansas City’s best brisket and pulled pork, and its burnt-end chilli is something special.
In trendy Austin, Franklin might not fit the barbecue stereotype: opened in 2009 by a young couple, it doesn’t have the grime or the generational pedigree of many Texas institutions. That hasn’t stopped it from winning numerous accolades, and its brisket is the making of a modern legend.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas
(Featured image: Barbecue sandwiches © ThinkStock)