Best BBQ in New Orleans

10 Best New Orleans BBQ joints to get your smoke on

New Orleans doesn't have the rich barbecue history that a city like Memphis or St. Louis has. What it does have are world class chefs turned smokers that are building their own barbecue legacy from the ground up. 

Local chefs are top notch innovators and they put these skills to good use when working with the spices and sauces that tempt BBQ aficionados. Ribs, pulled pork, pork belly and brisket are some of the city's top offerings. It's not uncommon to be walking down a street and see a restaurant smoking a pig on their side yard spit for all to see and smell. No secrets here, except for the dry rub recipe applied to the swine before the sun rose. 

The "low and slow" approach to meat preparation started to gain traction here maybe a decade or so ago, adapting methods that historic  barbecue towns follow but with a bit of a New Orleans twist.  Locals and frequent visitors to the city have approved, and the barbecue scene continues to sizzle.

New Orleans may be unlike any other U.S. city, in the South or otherwise, but visitors hungry for Southern style barbecue have been heard.   Check out the best places to sample Big Easy smoked meat platters and savory sides.


Blue Oak BBQ
Photo courtesy of Ronald Evans

Formerly a popup inside Chickie Wah Wah, Blue Oak now has its own digs on Carrollton, which is good news for fans of low and slow cooked smoked meat. Besides some stupendous brisket and pulled pork, check out the most excellent smoked wings and spicy green onion sausage. Portions are copious, so plan to share apps like the barbecue nachos and Dagwood-sized sandwiches including a personal fave, the pit viper (jerk pulled pork with slaw and jalapenos). This irresistible eatery is from New Orleans' natives Ronnie Evans and Philip Moseley, has a full bar and is open nightly for dinner. Better yet, eating a spicy fried chicken sandwich on Tuesdays at Blue Oak supports Hogs for the Cause, the March 23/24 fundraiser to fund pediatric brain cancer outreach services with local partners including Children's Hospital of New Orleans and Ochsner Hospital for Children. The restaurant is donating all of the proceeds from its Tuesday chicken sandwich and ever-changing daiquiri menu through the annual Hogs for the Cause barbecue competition.

Recommended for Barbecue because: This former pop-up now stands alone in Mid-City with mouthwatering slow cooked meats.

Beth's expert tip: The roasted garlic mac 'n' cheese is to die for.

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B.B. King's Blues Club
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono

B.B. King is smiling down on Decatur Street these days, thanks to the opening of the fifth club to bear his name in New Orleans. The legacy of the late great blues legend inspires the soulful happenings in the space that formerly housed Margaritaville across from the French Market. The renovated space, which features five bars, outside seating on Decatur and a bank of windows overlooking the market, is as much a restaurant as it is a club. A menu of Southern favorites, including outstanding fall-off-the-bone ribs, keeps company with New Orleans dishes including jambalaya pasta and gumbo yaya. Beginning in April 2016, the restaurant will launch a Zydeco Brunch on Saturday and a Blues Brunch on Sunday from 10AM-2PM.

Recommended for Barbecue because: Located close to the French Market on Decatur, this blues-soaked barbecue joint smokes it good.

Beth's expert tip: Don't mess around with a small order, get the full slab to share, wet.

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Ms. Hyster's is a Central City barbecue hot spot known for serving comfort food in a "grandma's kitchen" setting complete with gospel music in the background. Rock bottom prices and great value make this a real gem if you're on a budget. A juicy half chicken with two sides - yes get the Velveeta powered mac-n-cheese - is around $7, a great deal. Sandwiches, desserts and delicious sides round out the menu. This is a family-run place that attracts droves of workers at lunch time, a good sign for sure that the food is good and plentiful. All of the cakes are homemade - try the sour cream coffee cake.

Recommended for Barbecue because: Authentic hole in the wall goodness on Claiborne is worth the trip.

Beth's expert tip: You might want to call first - hours can fluctuate, so double check that they're opened.

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This locals' fave is powered by Neil McClure's passion for slow-cooked meat and careful attention to detail. McClure's Barbecue dates to 2011 as a pop-up at Dante's Kitchen, opening its permanent uptown location in 2013. One of the best things about McClure's is the option to slather your smoky meat with various different regional sauces, from North Carolina vinegar-style, to sweet Kansas City sauce and the mayo-informed white Alabama sauce that goes divinely with pork. The brisket cheesesteak is another winner, not a Philly original but a beast all its own worth discovering. The double pork and beans and the smoky collards are great sides to try.

Recommended for Barbecue because: Saucy goodness and meat smoked with love is the reason McClure's shines.

Beth's expert tip: Dong Phuong bakery in New Orleans East provides the perfect bread for the meat sandwiches.

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Historic Bywater

Jazz Fest only happens once a year, but you can have the amazing cochon de lait po'boy at Walker's any time - as long as you get there early. Although they also offer ribs and chicken, it's the po'boy filled with slow cooked pulled pork and cole slaw in a horseradish sauce that is downright swoon-worthy. Walker's BBQ is usually open Wednesday through Saturday in New Orleans East, about 15 minutes outside of town. Like all great BBQ joints, Walker's takes the minimalist, hole-in-the-wall approach, but you don't come for the ambiance. If pork isn't your go-to barbecue meat, their smoked chicken is amazing, and be sure to try the skin-on potato salad and smothered mustard greens on the side.

Recommended for Barbecue because: This New Orleans East spot is famous for its cochon de lait, a popular item at Jazz Fest.

Beth's expert tip: Walker's closes when they run out of pork but you can call in your order ahead of time to secure your meat.

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Pitmaster Rob Bechtold, a renowned smoker known for his NOLA Smokehouse pop up, is the pit boss behind Central City BBQ, famous for its overnight smoked meat and Hogs for the Cause award winning sauce. Bring some cold beer or whatever you're drinking and tuck into a burnt ends sandwich, divinely crusted brisket, pulled pork, boudin, ribs - it's all delish. Sides include a killer slaw and crispy Brussels. The $59 sampler feeds a small army heaps of glistening pulled pork, equally unctuous beef brisket, strongly smoked pork ribs paved with a caramelized layer of rub and coal-black burnt brisket ends threaded with ribbons of melting fat.

Recommended for Barbecue because: This is a must-try spot for St. Louis style dry rub ribs and pulled pork.

Beth's expert tip: Get there early is you have your heart set on a specific meat - it may sell out.

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Outside the city

HillBilly Bar BQ is a barbecue joint founded off the principles of old school Kentucky meat smoking on fragrant hickory wood. While some on this list focus on dry rubs, HillBilly is also a sauce type of place, with many options available to smother your meats. Sides here are spectacular, with pork chunks mixed into the beans and a hand shredded slaw that can make a meal. Alligator is on the menu, with the gator sausage links a nice addition to any platter. Though not located in the city of New Orleans, HillBilly Bar BQ is a short drive away and worth the trip if you want that traditional backwoods barbecue.

Recommended for Barbecue because: If you're on the West Bank, this is the place for barbecue.

Beth's expert tip: The specialty here is the pork shoulder, and you can't deny their slaw.

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Historic Bywater

The Joint is one of the premier spots to get your smoke on in New Orleans, opened since 2004 during the early rise of barbecue in the Crescent City. Located in the Bywater at the corner of Mazant and Royal, the Joint is owned by Jenny and Pete Breen and serves authentic "side of the road" BBQ and side. Featured in Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" The Joint is all about the slow smoke, evident by the crusty outer layer and pull apart texture of the meats. This place is so smoke-centric that even the salad comes with a smoked tomato dressing.

Recommended for Barbecue because: This Bywater favorite dishes Southern style barbecue at its best.

Beth's expert tip: Try their locally made Chaurice, a fresh Cajun sausage that gets smoked out back.

Read more about The Joint →


Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth