Barbecue Joints We Love

Simple Settings Provide Lip-Smacking BBQ

Santee, SC

Situated on State Park Road in the small town of Santee, SC is the charming Lone Star Barbecue & Mercantile. Grabbing a bite here guarantees a taste of authentic South Carolina barbecue; the chef and general manager, Chris Williams, is a native South Carolinian.

You'll fall for their scrumptious southern buffet of pork barbecue, fried chicken, barbecue hash, rice, coleslaw, macaroni n' cheese and banana pudding.  Other offerings include fresh country vegetables from the local farmers market and daily specials like beef brisket or barbecued ribs.

Get a feel for the old country at Lone Star Barbecue & Mercantile
Photo courtesy of anoldent

The site is composed of a series of buildings; some still functional and others simply offering a peek into the past.  You'll be eager to explore the grounds before or after savoring each bite of your delicious meal in one of the three dining halls.  The old stores that make up the property are filled with antiques and the courtyard holds historical treasures like a smoke house, a whiskey still and an outhouse.

Most intriguing is the 40-box post office, found in the former Zeagler's General Store, which was fully operational until 1995.  Before you leave, stop at the Mercantile (now functioning as a gift shop) to pick up a souvenir.

Savannah

There are barbecue shacks, and there are beach shacks. Then there’s Gerald’s Pig and Shrimp, a roadside eatery on Tybee Island that’s a barbecue shack and beach shack all in one.  Gerald's Pig and Shrimp on Tybee Island is known for its great barbecue and seafood.
Photo courtesy of Gerald's Pig and Shrimp

Just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah and conveniently located on Tybee’s main strip, Gerald’s Pig and Shrimp features slow-cooked pork, ribs and beef brisket.  It doesn't stop there: Gerald's tempts patrons with a rotating selection of sides, including jalapeno hush puppies, coleslaw, baked beans and fried okra. Gerald’s also offers freshly caught seafood, including fried, broiled or sautéed shrimp and a traditional Low Country boil. Gerald’s po’ boy sandwich, filled with fried shrimp, is a favorite among locals.

The mural at Gerald's Pig and Shrimp
Photo courtesy of Gerald's Pig and Shrimp

The covered, outdoor eatery features plenty of tables, plus a small bar with stools. The grounds are surprisingly well landscaped, and the surrounding décor is whimsical and colorful. A mural, featuring a pig and shrimp posing American Gothic-style next to Tybee’s famous lighthouse, is Instagram-worthy.

The grub is prepared inside Gerald’s yellow trailer - a mobile shack of sorts - and in outdoor grills and smokers. Proprietor Gerald Shantz, a Savannah native, Vietnam vet and stained-glass artist, worked as a caterer and operated Gerald’s Diner before turning his attention to barbecue.

Dallas 

If you live in Texas, you KNOW your barbecue! And Dallas features some of the best beef brisket and pork ribs in the Lone Star State. One thing locals understand is that you don't need a fancy, expensive establishment to find mouthwatering barbecue. Most of the best barbecue spots in Dallas are very low-key and casual - some of the best barbecue in the world is served up on wax paper!  Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse established 1910
Photo courtesy of Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse Facebook Page


If you're in the mood for the traditional brisket sandwich, head on down to the original Sonny Bryan's on Inwood Ave. If you have time for an afternoon trip out of the city, hop in the pickup truck and go to Clark's Outpost BBQ in Tioga, which specializes in some of the best sliced beef brisket and pork ribs in Texas. Near downtown Dallas and craving an authentic barbecue lunch? Go to Mike Anderson's BBQ House in the Market Center neighborhood for a cafeteria-style dining experience. Some of the specialties there include smoked turkey, garlic and cheddar smashed potatoes and hickory-smoked pork ribs. You should also be aware that in Dallas, barbecue is best served with a side of fried okra, and no meal is complete without banana pudding and nilla wafers for dessert!

Texas-style lunch
Photo courtesy of Mike Anderson's BBQ House Facebook Page

Atlanta

When it comes to barbecue, there is plenty of it in Atlanta, and we take our barbecue seriously! The best food can sometimes be found in an unassuming hole in the wall. Here are some barbecue shacks that are huge hits in Atlanta.

 Heirloom Market - Korean barbecue sandwich
Photo courtesy of Atlanta Restaurant Blog

When you think of a barbecue shack, nothing quite fits the bill like Heirloom Market BBQ. Open only a handful of years, this tiny restaurant is located next to a convenience store. During lunch time, the space is overflowing with cars. While luck few get a spot at the small communal table, other diners eat at chairs pushed up against the bar table, while others bring their own chairs and eat outside. Don't miss this Korean fusion barbecue if you are in Atlanta.


Another popular shack is Fatt Matt's Rib Shack, located in Buckhead. Just chill to live blues and munch on barbecue. Fat Matt's Rib Shack has rib sandwiches, chicken and pork. The rum baked beans puts a different spin on the usual banked beans. You can also try Brunswick Stew, a Georgia specialty. True to Georgia tradition, peanuts are on the menu.

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Restaurant Blog

Big Shanty Barbecue smokes its meat for 13 hours. For a taste of the best the restaurant has to offer, order Steve's Sampler. This comes with ribs, brisket, sausage and pork. Notable sides are the potato salad and beans, which spend time in the smoker, taking on the smokey flavor.

Lastly, while not so much of a shack, Fox Brothers still remains one of the most popular barbecue spots in Atlanta. The barbecue itself is sensational plus regulars love the Burnt Ends, Brisket Burger and Frito pie.

Memphis

Barbecue is something of a religion in Memphis: we all pray at the altar of swine, which would be the pits where pork pieces - ribs and shoulders and such -  are slow cooked and smoked. Throughout Memphis, it's possible to follow the heavenly scent of slow-cooked pork to its source - and there's no shortage of barbecue shacks we adore.

Downtown, the most famous (albeit only a little shack-ish) is Charlie Vergos's Rendezvous, which is reached by walking through an alley.  Follow the scent and the trail of rib bones near the dumpsters, as downtown cats apparently are pretty darn good at finding bones in those steel containers. Jim Neely's Interstate Bar-B-Q is a down-home spot where the wood is stacked outside and ready to fire up the pits, and you can order in one room at the counter for take-away, or sit down to a full meal in the dining room.

Payne's 'pig sandwich' is barbecue perfection, topped with a mustard-y cole slaw.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jones
Nearby, in a former gas station, the Paynes - Flora and her son Ron served a chopped-up 'pig sandwich' that's truly our favorite, thanks to the bite of mustard-y slaw and the sweet tang of sauce. In Midtown, Central BBQ has a tiny dining room but a nice big deck, and serves up the best pulled pork nachos in town (among other great stuff - our fave all-around BBQ in town). BBQ nachos, homemade chips, and a pulled pork sandwich on the deck at Central BBQ in Midtown.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jones
 The deck is practically open year -round, and during many a weekend afternoon and evening, a live band sets up in the corner and the buckets of beer flow.

Phoenix

Tucked away in a small business park in north Phoenix you'll find Pork on a Fork, a tiny barbecue joint with a catchy name and some of the city's best-loved pulled pork, ribs, and chicken and beef brisket. Midwestern transplants Wes Hansen and Justin Erickson brought their passion for high quality meats (shipped in from the family farm back in Nebraska) and exceptional barbecue by crafting a small menu of Midwestern barbecue classics that became an instant hit with the city's barbecue aficionados back in 2009 when the cafe first opened its doors.  The pulled pork sandwich at Phoenix's Pork on a Fork features succulent, finely shredded pork that has been roasted all day over pecan wood.
Photo courtesy of Pork on a Fork

Pork and the Fork's menu showstopper is probably their perfectly cooked, fall-off-the-bone brisket, but the pulled-pork sandwich is a close second: finely textured shreds of lean pork, smoked all day over pecan wood then packed into a sesame seed bun and served with your choice of two sides. Succulent, smokey and irresistible, you'll be counting down the hours until your next one. On Friday nights, the dinner menu expands to include smoked prime rib, baby back ribs and smoked pork loin.

Austin

Situated prominently on the east side of Austin is Franklin Barbecue. This establishment started out as one of the infamous ATX food trucks in 2009, and its rapid success now allows it to permanently reside in brick and mortar. Earlier this year, Bon Appetit named it one of America's twenty most important restaurants and so far, despite daily two hour waits in line, no one seems to be complaining.

Platter of yummy barbecue at Franklin in Austin
Photo courtesy of Franklin Barbecue

Owner Aaron Franklin, age 35, has perfected his brisket unlike any other BBQ establishment. He uses all natural beef that is both hormone and antibiotic-free, and then smokes it for anywhere from 12-18 hours before serving it. A good tip to avoid quite as long of a line is to perhaps try your hand at online ordering (at least two weeks in advance).

Carrying on the Franklin tradition in more than one way is the LA Barbecue food truck. The pitmaster, John Lewis, used to work at Franklin and continues to bring some of that smoked goodness to his new place of business. They also offer interesting twists on traditional BBQ sides like chipotle coleslaw.

If you have time for a quick day trip, don’t miss out on the famed BBQ found only 35 miles southeast of Austin in Lockhart, TX. Everyone has their favorite, but the top ones seem to beSmitty's Market and Black's BBQ.


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