The South's Best BBQ Joints 2019
Southerners may not agree on which restaurant serves the best ’cue, but we are undeniably passionate in our opinions. In this year’s voting, our readers delivered an impressive and diverse set of picks. Famous old-school joints are met with a few more contemporary establishments, and their offerings span the many regional styles found across the South. All in all, it’s a worthy bucket list for any Southern barbecue fan.
The South's Best BBQ Joints 2019
1. Southern Soul Barbeque
St. Simons Island, Georgia
This is a repeat winner for good reason: Georgia-style pulled pork and tangy Brunswick stew, ribs, and smoked chicken wings, cooked on hardwood-fired pits. It’s all served a few miles from the ocean in a converted 1940s-era gas station with a laid-back coastal vibe and craft brews on tap—the ideal spot for a sunny afternoon.
2. Lexington Barbecue
Lexington, North Carolina
Ever since Wayne Monk founded the place in 1962 and began serving traditional Piedmont North Carolina-style barbecue, they’ve been cooking pork shoulders over hickory in closed brick pits. Whether you get it chopped, sliced, or coarse chopped (cut into inch-wide chunks), you are sure to have an unforgettable meal.
3. 4 Rivers Smokehouse
Winter Park, Florida
In the span of just a decade, 4 Rivers Smokehouse has grown from a single restaurant in Winter Park into a burgeoning barbecue empire. Slow-smoked brisket anchors a broad menu at the chain’s 14 locations, joined by wide-ranging selections such as Memphis-style pulled pork and California tri-tip.
4. Dreamland Bar-B-Que
It might have 10 outposts scattered around the South, but the red-walled Tuscaloosa location is our readers’ pick. And that’s where John “Big Daddy” Bishop started it in 1958. Ribs with white bread and an orange-hued sauce are the go-to order, and no visit is complete without a cup of whipped cream-topped banana pudding.
5. Mac's Barbecue
The sleeper on this year’s list shares a small storefront with a doughnut shop and sits just north of Tulsa. Founder Mike McMillan opened it in 1985, and his son-in-law Adam Green carries on the family tradition today. Loyal fans come for the heaping trays of pulled pork and ribs, smoked with hickory and pecan wood on Ole Hickory Pits.
6. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
Identical twins Jonathan and Justin Fox brought the barbecue style of their native Texas east to Atlanta, and Georgians are much richer for it. Staples like brisket and sausage are joined by a variety of mash-ups like chicken-fried ribs with Alabama-style white barbecue sauce. And don’t miss the hickory-smoked wings.
7. Franklin Barbecue
Is it worth waiting three hours or more for a platter of brisket, ribs, and sausage? Our readers think so. Prime-grade meat, meticulous technique, and lots of media hype made Aaron Franklin a celebrity pitmaster, but there’s a reason folks still wait in line: It’s some of the best Texas-style ’cue to be found anywhere.
8. The Salt Lick BBQ
The iconic pit entices guests’ appetites as they walk through the door. Picture live oak logs burning beneath metal grates loaded with slabs of ribs and briskets and sausages dangling down from the hood above. Fans love the brisket (they serve almost a million pounds a year), but the real stars are the beef and pork ribs.
9. B's Barbecue
Greenville, North Carolina
Located in a converted country store on the outskirts of Greenville, B’s is about as old-school as a barbecue joint can get: a bare-bones, lunch-only place serving whole hog and chicken on plastic foam plates. Five days a week, faithful customers jam the unpaved parking lot and load up on classic eastern North Carolina fare.
10. Central BBQ
The Bluff City is blessed with a large number of great barbecue restaurants, but Central BBQ edged out the others
to earn a top 10 spot. The Central Avenue location is the original, but there are now three others dotting the city, ensuring Memphians a steady supply of smoky pulled pork and big slabs of ribs for many years to come.