Wow. This week’s My Favorite BBQ Joints is from an amazing member of the country’s BBQ family, Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ. Ray Lampe grew up in Chicago and after high school spent 25 years in the family trucking business. In 2000 the trucking business had run its course, and it was time for Ray to try something new. He had been participating in BBQ cookoffs as a hobby since 1982, so he decided to take a leap and turn his hobby into a career. In 2000 Ray moved to Lakeland, Florida and began his career as an outdoor cooking expert. I’ve always been a huge fan of his so I’m honored to have him participate.
Here are Ray’s Favorite BBQ Joints in his words:
Arthur Bryant’s BBQ – Kansas City, MO/KS
Arthur Bryant’s has been at the top of my list for many years and it still is. It’s been open since the early 1920’s and is still going strong. You’ll stand in line with locals and tourists all ecstatic to be there. Enjoy the pictures of celebs and US Presidents on the wall while you wait. Then order the beef and fries. Kansas City is brisket town and this is as good as it gets.
Photo of Arthur Bryant’s BBQ courtesy of DD/MM/YYYY
Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q – Alabama
The folks at Big Bob Gibson’s have been cooking BBQ in Decatur, Alabama since 1925 and these days it’s better than ever. They’ve won the Memphis in May World Championship 3 times and that excellence carries over to the restaurant. The smoked turkey is my favorite and I’ve eaten it on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” but don’t overlook the pork shoulder or the chicken with white sauce that made them famous in the first place. And don’t skip a slice of pie.
Photo of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q courtesy of Roadfood.com
Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor, TX
This has been a BBQ joint since 1949 and it looks it. But call it patina because the place reminds you that it’s all about the food here and that’s a good thing. Texas BBQ joints are unique in the way they serve. Tell them what you want to see on your plate and they’ll weigh it up like a butcher shop. I ask for a couple slices of fatty brisket, a jalapeno sausage, and a big rib with some beans, white bread and a bottle of Shiner beer. It just doesn’t get any better than this place.
Photo of Louie Mueller Barbecue courtesy of Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ
Smoque BBQ – Chicago, IL
I grew up in Chicago and real BBQ wasn’t something we had much of. But when Smoque came on the scene in 2006 everything changed. Barry Sorkin didn’t learn BBQ at the hand of his grandfather like some of the BBQ legends, but he did his homework and learned it his way and his way is very good. There is almost always a line out the door but that makes for good fresh food. Try the fatty brisket and the ribs with sides of mac and cheese and french fries.
Photo of Smoque BBQ courtesy of Zagat
Wildwood Barbeque – New York, NY
A few years back there was a big BBQ boom in New York City and one of the upstarts was a place called Wildwood on Park Avenue. After the smoke cleared and all the NY hype moved on to food truck, and pickles the BBQ joints remain. And some of them have found their groove and are cooking great food. Chef John Schafer is running the kitchen there and I can vouch for him because he and I worked together at Southern Hospitality BBQ and we’ve cooked a lot of BBQ together. Wildwood is an upscale place with fancy drinks and New York prices but they are really are serving great BBQ in the middle of Manhattan.
Photo of WIldwood Barbeque courtesy of StrumErika.com
Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Olathe, KS
Oklahoma Joes is kind of a new player by Kansas City standards but it has been there for 15 years and they do KC BBQ as well as anyone. They have two locations that are very different. 47th street is a funky place in a gas station while the Olathe restaurant is a nice suburban setting. But the food rocks at both places. There is always a line but these guys are very good so they keep it moving and the food is always hot and fresh. This is one of the few places where I’d recommend anything on the menu but don’t miss the brisket, pulled pork, and the French fries.
Photo of Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ courtesy of Andrew Huff
Cozy Corner BBQ – Memphis, TN
When in Memphis I ALWAYS visit Cozy Corner. My favorite BBQ joints all have a great story and history but they also need to serve great food. Cozy Corner has it all. It’s a genuine Memphis BBQ joint started by Mr. Ray Robinson. Mr. Ray has passed but the tradition continues with his widow Miss Desiree Robinson at the helm and their grandson getting ready to take the reins. During a recent visit I tried the ribs and a Cornish Hen, the house specialty, and all were as good as they’ve ever served.
Photo of Cozy Corner BBQ courtesy of The Cynical Cook
Kreuz Market – Lockhart, TX
Kreuz market may be the most famous BBQ joint in the world and while the new location has lost a bit of the charm, it remains one of the best BBQ joints anywhere. The food is just that good. It’s a typical Texas style service, where you order what you want and they weigh it up. I like the beef shoulder clod a lot and the ribs but don’t overlook the bone in pork loin. Beans or German potatoes are served in the next room and they’re pretty good but it’s really all about the meat. Check out the epic wood pile out back and you’ll know these folks are serious.
Photo of Kreuz Market courtesy of Danbalsam
Holy Hog Barbecue – Tampa, FL
Holy Hog in Tampa is kind of a new kid on the block but it’s already very good and getting even better. It used to be a Cuban restaurant but the owner is a big BBQ fan so he decided to switch to BBQ. He already knew how to run a restaurant and that is obvious, but he’s done his homework to learn to cook great BBQ and it has paid off. They food is served via a cafeteria line with a cutting station in the middle with all the beautiful BBQ on display. I really like the brisket, ribs, sausage, and French fries.
Photo of Holy Hog Barbecue
Here’s some additional information on Dr. BBQ:
Ray has written five cookbooks and is currently working on a sixth. The first five are: “The NFL Game Day Cookbook” published by Chronicle Books, “Ribs, Chops, Steaks, and Wings” written for Williams-Sonoma, “Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Cook”, “Dr. BBQ’s Barbecue All Year Long”, and “Dr. BBQ’s Big Time Barbecue Road Trip”.
Dr. BBQ has been featured in Life Magazine, Maxim Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, People Magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Chile Pepper Magazine, Men’s Journal Magazine, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Tampa Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Dr. BBQ has appeared on: Food Network, E! News, HGTV, The NFL Network, The Discovery Channel, The Outdoor Life Network, CNN, Daytime Tampa Bay, Good Morning Texas, The Howard Stern Show, Martha Stewart Living on Sirius, and NASCAR Sirius Radio.