Kevin's BBQ Joints

Kevin's BBQ Joints Blog

John Markus – BBQ Pitmasters – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 33

If you’re a fan of BBQ you are quite familiar with John Markus. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, the show he created, BBQ Pitmasters should as it’s been a strong force in bringing the BBQ world (both competitive as well as BBQ chefs from BBQ joints) to TV screens across the nation (the third season began airing on December 16th on Destination America). I appreciate anyone that champions the BBQ cause. Moreover, being an Emmy-winning sitcom writer whose credits include “Taxi,” “The Cosby Show” and HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show” I was excited to see what direction his contribution would go in. I was not let down.


Here are John’s favorite BBQ joints in his words (with a little intro that I thought you’d find fun).

“I was just asked by writer Jim Shahin of The Washington Post to name my last meal. You know, as in before the last mile. That’s easy, I said. It’d be a combo plate. So, I will recreate that combo plate with dishes from my favorite BBQ restaurants. But it’s simplest to say, these smoked meats come from the most talented Pitmasters on God’s earth. So, bring on the chair, that is, if I get…

Big Bob Gibson – Decatur, AL – Chris Lilly remains the most gifted pitmaster I have ever encountered. HIs slow cooked, pulled pork shoulder remains the Mt. Everest of succulence and flavor. He’s reached that zen level of mastery with meats. He lays out the raw product on the cutting board, and these primal cuts actually speak to him. I’ve seen it. Also, the original Big Bob Gibson on 6th Ave. in Decatur, remains a cathedral of superb barbecue. Go in there at any lunch, and you’ll see all of professional Decatur sitting there, tucking into their meals, enjoying sublime ‘Q. And the gracious McLemore family represents all that is good about the South. Gracious, fun, and fantastic hosts and keepers of the flame.


Photo of Big Bob Gibson’s courtesy of Serious Eats

Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX – That perfect balance of down home and hip. In its retro way, the hippest BBQ joint. Since he joined us as a judge of BBQ Pitmasters, I have gotten to know Aaron as a gifted, Old School-style Pitmaster. At the grand old age of 35, Aaron as evolved into a classy chef who’s driven to deliver his customers the moistest, most tasty brisket in this country. Astonishingly, the man can always be found in his own restaurant, on the serving line HIMSELF cutting meat he’d put on the pits that early morning! In addition, Aaron has a deep understanding of pitbuilding. He has truly discovered the Holy Grail of fire, smoke, and heat flow. He’s like a renaissance man of ‘Q.


Photo of Franklin Barbecue courtesy of Mark P. Schram

‘Q Restaurants – Richmond, VA – Tuffy Stone runs one of the best all-round BBQ restaurants in the country. He is meticulous about ingredients, freshness, and authenticity. Therefore, every dish at Q, including ALL the sides will always be delicious, and deeply satisfying because many dishes are crafted from actual old time recipes. I would pick the ribs and all the sides for my final meal from Q.


Photo of Q Barbeque

Follow John on twitter HERE
Check BBQ Pitmasters on Facebook HERE

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Erni Walker & Chris Cantey – Meat Week Co-Founders – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 35

Every week is unofficially meat week for me, but it took two forward thinking co-workers, Erni Walker and Chris Cantey, to create an entire week long event devoted to specifically to meat, and more importantly, barbecue. Per their site, “Meat Week is a national holiday that started in 2005. Each January, for 8 consecutive nights, people across the country gather over piles of BBQ. In every participating city, there is a devoted Captain who creates the schedule of restaurants. Each city develops their own traditions, but Meat Week typically focuses on good ol’ American BBQ: Pork, ribs, brisket, barbecued chicken, and anything else you can smoke and smother in sauce.”

I had the pleasure of meeting the two of them last year at Smoke City Market and this year I plan to hit up at least three of their stops. Meat week begins Sunday January 27th in cities across the United States. If you’re reading this, you like BBQ, so you pretty much have to go to at least one night. You can find your local chapter HERE.

So here are Erni and Chris’ favorite BBQ joints in their words:

“When we moved to Los Angeles, people said there was no way we’d scrape up enough restaurants to have an entire week of BBQ. When we came up with more than enough, they said none of them would be any good. We beg to differ! Most of the BBQ on our list comes from L.A. and the surrounding areas, because even though we grew up in the south, we have felt like we hit a huge payout at castlejackpot.com with some of our favorites right here on the west coast. Very happy. (Granted, some of them are southern transplants, but still…) Meat Week and all its cross-country chapters has proven to us that BBQ isn’t relegated to one region. Where there’s a person with a meat smoker, some patience, and a special touch, there will always be great BBQ.

Mom’s BBQ House – Van Nuys, CA
The food, atmosphere, and service at Mom’s makes this our favorite in LA, hands-down. The first time we went here, our minds were blown, and we’ve never had a less-than-incredible experience. The ribs fall off the bone, the pork is amazing, the links…my god the links! This BBQ has a real weight to it, in a good way. It’s usually smothered in sauce, but somehow the flavor of the meat shines through, and the sauce becomes an aftertaste.
But fighting for the spotlight in this show, is the mac and cheese. There’s a sweetness to it that makes it totally unique. We have friends who hoard it for weeks after our visit. They even know to make excess when we’re coming. Mom and family are from Louisiana, so they put some swamp flare into the food. Greens, fried chicken, and gumbo are also menu favorites. Our group is too big to fit in their tiny storefront, so every year they open up the storage room next door and let us set up tables and chairs! It’s amazing, eating between shelves full of Crisco and cake mix. It creates a special atmosphere that no one else gets to experience, and that’s southern hospitality at its best.

Hambone’s BBQ and Po’Boys – Bellflower, CA
Last year was our first time visiting Hambone’s, and it couldn’t be more worth the drive! There is some kind of magic going on in that kitchen that we’ve been thinking about all year. The Combination Platters are the best way to experience everything here. They’re basically catering tins full of links, pulled pork, ribs, and brisket, all swimming in delicious, slightly-sweet sauce. Bring your friends, pitch in, and go to town! The meat has some very special flavors that captured our memories, but the peach cobbler was almost the most unique. It’s like the best Georgia peaches you’ve ever tasted got together with a cinnamon roll and created a delicious, gooey baby. It’s addictive. They have a big back patio with heaters and televisions, great for watching football. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, they switched on the radio and cranked some Mariah Carey slow jams. Heaven truly is a place on earth.

Kansas City BBQ Company – North Hollywood, CA
This place (formerly located in Toluca Lake) is run by brother and sister Nabeel and Shireen Kort. They’ve been at the Magnolia location for a few years now, and are constantly improving the place. The bar they added on makes it a great hangout for locals. Most importantly though, the food and service are amazing. I’ve never seen slow-cooked food move so fast! A lot of BBQ fanatics look down upon the humble sandwich, but these guys do it right: Sliced pork layered between three (three!) pieces of good ol’ white bread, stacked high and spiced just right. All of their meat has a spiciness to it that can take a back seat to sweeter sauces, but they’ve found some magical algorithm for combining sweet and spicy perfectly. The hot links get special mention here, because they up that spicy quality without sacrificing flavor.

Sonny’s Real Pit BBQ – Southeast Region
Okay, so Sonny’s is a chain. But it’s also the birthplace of Meat Week itself. Sonny’s first opened up in Gainesville, Florida, and then spread throughout the state, and eventually up through Georgia and a little beyond. Both of us grew up eating at Sonny’s once a week or more, and it really fostered our BBQ obsessions from an early age. When we met at college in Tallahassee, we both missed that warm feeling of gathering over great BBQ and bonding with friends and family. That’s a big part of what spawned the whole Meat Week idea, so naturally we began our holiday at the birthplace of our love for BBQ: Sonny’s. Although the menu is ever-expanding to include new sauces and different rubs, the sliced pork and sliced beef at Sonny’s are the standouts. They’re so tender, full of smokey flavor, and always sliced perfectly thin. Pile ‘em on the garlic bread with Sonny’s Sweet Sauce for a flavor explosion that’ll make you slap your mama. They’re experimenting with some new rubs, but their classic pork ribs have a flavorful stickiness to the bark that lingers long after they’re gone.

And the sauces. Oh, the sauces! There’s Original Mild, Smokin’, Mustard, Sizzlin’ Sweet, and the mother of all: Sonny’s Sweet Sauce. This is the sauce that haunts our dreams. Since we can’t get to Sonny’s out here in Cali, we buy gallons of Sweet Sauce from their website. It’s measured out and treasured for as long as we can make it last. It’s a holy grail constantly sitting on the counter, reminding us of what awaits us on our next trip back south.

Low Country Dining – Marion, NC
This is Chris’s father’s restaurant, which he opened in 2010 after years of making BBQ for other people. Mike Cantey has been in the restaurant and catering business with the rest of the Cantey family for decades, and BBQ’d meats have always been at the core. Western North Carolina knows him well.

Mike is inventing new types of brisket over here, including a garlic and rosemary brisket. The meat just falls apart and melts in your mouth while delivering a complex, amazing flavor that’s just outside of the usual range of BBQ tastes. His pulled pork is classic North Carolina style, with a sweet vinegar kick and just as much tenderness as the incredible brisket. All of the sides here are to die for, including the fried green tomatoes and tomato pie, made with fresh local tomatoes. An important addition and HUGE seller recently added to the menu is the banana pudding, based on Chris Cantey’s own personal recipe! Chris has been making this banana pudding for years, and we can’t keep it on the table. No matter how much he makes, it disappears in no time. Like BBQ father, like BBQ son!”

Follow Meat Week on twitter HERE
Get a cool Meat Week t-shirt HERE

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Virginia Willis – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 34

I don’t know what’s harder for me to fathom. The fact that I’ve been corresponding back and forth with THE Virginia Willis for a couple of months or that she actually agreed to participate in one of my favorite features on my site, “My Favorite BBQ Joints“?

Virginia Willis is a food icon. Truly. To pin her down to just one hat would be a sin, so know that she is all at once a chef, food writer, spokesperson, and extremely prolific blogger. She also is a culinary TV producer, a professional recipe developer, and social media food authority. “Her legion of fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home Southern feel and re-imagining homey Southern favorites en Française.” She’s definitely an authority of food (more specifically Southern Food), but what makes me proud is her devotion to BBQ.


Here are Virginia Willis’ favorite BBQ joints in her words:

Current Faves:
Heirloom BBQ – Atlanta, GA
Smoky wonderful goodness. Located in the other half of a convenience store, this BBQ spot has exploded onto the ATL dining scene. It’s a perfect mash-up of hillbilly and haute cuisine. Both of the owners, a husband-wife team, have fine-dining backgrounds. Jiyeon is a trained pastry chef and Korean, so there are also Korean influences that are surprising and wonderful. It’s not fusion in the train-wreck sort of way. It’s works. The Korean Sweet Potatoes are absolutely addictive.


Photo courtesy of Becky Stein – Special

Fox Bros – Atlanta, GA
It’s the best place for Texas style BBQ in Atlanta. They like to call it “Texas with a Southern influence.” The meats are smoked over hickory and it’s nice to see the smoke when you pull up in the parking lot. They’ve got really good vegetables, and use only seasonal and local farmers. I’ve taken out of town guests here and met with great success. It’s the place for brisket in Atlanta.


Photo courtesy of Kevin Pang & Keith Claxton – BBQ Road Trip ’10

Fat Matts Rib Shack – Atlanta, GA
This is where I take the uninitiated for real Southern style BBQ. They’ve got meaty, thick, rich Brunswick Stew, one of my favorites. It’s thick enough to hold a spoon straight up. This is the close as it gets in Atlanta for a real BBQ “joint”. The collard greens are tender and suspended in smoky, salty pot likker.


Photo courtesy of Yelp

Community Q – Decatur, GA
Dave Roberts, the former chef de cuisine under Gunter Seeger now is a pit master. His attention to detail is awesome. Homemade, amazing food. No gallons of pre made corn-syrup fake smoke sauce will be found here. The pulled pork is sweet pink and smoky. He sells local seasonal vegetables out front and it’s truly a local, community place.

Follow her on twitter HERE
Catch up with her on Facebook HERE

Check out Virginia’s blog HERE

Patrick Martin – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 32

I’ve been pursuing Patrick Martin, pitmaster and namesake for Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nolensville, Tennessee for a while now. The first glimpse I had of his BBQ prowess was on a little known (and seldom aired) show on the Food Network called Diner’s, Drive-ins, and Dives (you can see his episode HERE). He’s part of the BBQ super team called Fatback Collective and one of the few cooks doing whole hog for their restaurant. I’m really honored that he took time away from everything else he was doing (including cooking) to jot down his favorite BBQ spots. I know you’ll be impressed.

Here are Patrick’s favorite BBQ joints in his own words:

Siler’s Old Time BBQ – Henderson, TN – Henderson is where I learned to cook BBQ hanging around and working at some of the old joints like L & L and Thomas & Webb. They cook whole hog and that’s it, carrying on the tradition of west Tennessee whole hog BBQ. Cooking hogs everyday and closing when they run out. Red slaw on the sandwich is to die for!


Photo of Siler’s Old Time BBQ courtesy of Southern BBQ Trail

Skylight Inn A.K.A. Pete Jones BBQ – Ayden, NC – This place embodies what BBQ is and should be in America. Like my old stomping grounds in west Tennessee, my buddy Sam Jones and family cook hogs everyday and when they’re out, they’re out! Chopped pork on cornbread squares!!! Don’t let them catch you talking on the cell phone while at the counter while ordering as Southern Hospitality can get real inhospitable real quick if you do!


Photo courtesy of Southern Living

Scott’s BBQ – Hemingway, SC – Rodney Scotts whole hog is as good as you’ll find! His sauce recipe should be cataloged in the library of congress.


Photo courtesy of Wriggling Around Like a Fish in a Tin
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My Favorite BBQ Joints Volume 30 – RL Reeves Jr. – Scrumptious Chef

I’m actually surprised that RL Reeves Jr. accepted my invitation to provide his list of favorite BBQ joints. Perhaps it’s from my persistence or a weak moment on his part, but regardless of the reason, you’re in for something special this week. RL Reeves Jr. is easily the busiest and most proficient writer in pursuit of all that Austin (and beyond) offers when it comes to food and drink. By the time you’ve read this short paragraph he’s no doubt penned and published 3-4 pieces on either Scrumptious Chef or Chowpapi. What makes this week’s list different than the other 29 previous is that he has gone outside of the United States to offer up a few gems that I know for sure you’ve never heard of.

Here are RL Reeves Jr.’s favorite BBQ joints in his words:

“This is tough. Tougher than it has any right being. It’s hard to make a top ten list out of the hundreds of barbecue joints I’ve eaten at over the years but I’ve been tasked {tricked} into having a go at it, so here they are: In order, starting with the number one spot.

1} Archibald’s Barbecue in Northport, Alabama. The finest smoked meat I ever put in my mouth and holder of the always revered “final meal on earth if I had time to plan such a thing.” Since 1962, the Archibald family has been putting out pork butts and pork ribs in their tiny {seats 6} barbecue stand just north of Tuscaloosa. George Archibald Jr is the pitmaster {a term I do not use lightly, big difference between pitmaster and pitboss} and his sister Paulette makes the sauce. It’s the best barbecue I’ve ever eaten and the only sauce on earth I buy a gallon at a time.


Photo of Archibald’s courtesy of Buffetbuster @ RoadFood.com

2} JMueller Barbecue in Austin,Texas. Street fighting man. The hot-headed John Mueller is a cypher to this day. A puzzle of a man who has left a giant, fist-shaped mark on the world of Texas barbecue. I never know if I’m going to get the plate of smoked meat I’ve just ordered or if we’re going to start rolling and tumbling in the dirt parking lot of his eponymous food trailer in south Austin. The best handmade sausage I’ve found in Texas and the best beef chuck ribs in the Great State.


Photo of JMueller BBQ courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

3} R&G Barbecue in McMahan, Texas. The old pit boss of City Market in Luling and Luling City Market in Houston, Roy Jeffrey has a half-century of experience in the world of Texas smoked meat. Superb brisket, handmade Texas hot guts sausage and some of the best barbecue sauce I’ve ever eaten. Go on a Friday afternoon when the old-timers gather to throw bones, eat brisket and hang out in one of the sweetest dining rooms you’ll find in Texas.


Photo of Jeffrey from R&G Barbecue courtesy of Chowpapi.com

4} I have a deep love for American barbecue but after years of research and eating my way across our country, I felt like there was a giant gap in my education. Time to go to Turkey. In Istanbul there are numerous barbecue joints with the meat cultures of Syria, Kurdistan, Egypt, Morocco and a host of other countries represented. I’ve eaten at dozens of them but only one can rule the city and that is Zubeyir. Run by 5 Kurdish brothers, the little cafe in Beyoglu district puts out traditional barbecue representative of the eastern provinces of Turkey-Kurdistan according to some folks. Their tarak {lamb spare ribs} are one of the greatest dishes I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.


Photo of Zubeyir
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Ardie A. Davis – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 29

You’ve got to be excited when someone as influential in the world of BBQ as Ardie Davis agrees to contribute to your weekly feature, “My Favorite BBQ Joints“. It’s truly an honor and I can’t thank him enough for taking time out of his busy schedule to be a part of my site. What I like most about his list is that he gave me specifics on the BBQ items he likes best and focused on a list of his favorites no matter if they were a chain or not. People do tend to lean towards what would leave the best ‘impression’ on readers when Ardie shoots straight as to what he actually likes.

If you’re not familiar, Davis founded the Diddy-Wa-Diddy National Barbecue Sauce Contest in his backyard in 1984 (it was later renamed the American Royal International BBQ Sauce, Rub, & Baste Contest once it became part of the American Royal). He is also the author of the official judges’ oath that is taken at all competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and writes a monthly column in the National Barbecue News and the Kansas City Bullsheet, which is the official newspaper of the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Here are Ardie’s favorite BBQ joints in his own words:

“So much barbecue, so little time,” comes to mind when I’m asked to name my favorite barbecue joints. I’ve been to many, but by no means all of the more than eight thousand joints that specialize in barbecue in the USA. My list is a snapshot of what I’d love to have for lunch today. Other places may be added as time goes on, and no doubt I’ve missed some excellent establishments. I look forward to experiencing many more really great places. My list is not prioritized from number one favorite, on down. It is like the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. All are wanted in whatever order they can be captured. I like all of these bbq joints in no particular order. Here goes:

Arthur Bryant’s – KCMO – Brooklyn Street location – beef & rib combo with fries
Oklahoma Joe’s – KC KS – 47th Avenue location – Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich; Z-Man Sandwich; ribs; fries
Jack Stack – KCMO – Freight House behind Union Station – wood-fired grilled steaks; prime rib; Denver lamb ribs; pulled pork or burnt end-stuffed baked potato; cheesy corn bake
BB’s Lawnside – KCMO – chicken, gumbo, beans, beer & blues
Johnny’s – Mission KS – ribs; beef on white with seasoned fries, beans
Big T – KCMO – sausage & beans
Smoki O’s – St. Louis MO – pig snoot & rib tips
Charlotte’s Rib – St. Louis MO – ribs, pork steak, fries
Head Country – Ponca City OK – brisket, ribs, beans
Iron Works BBQ – Austin TX – brisket, beans, chili
Smitty’s Market – Lockhart, TX – brisket, beans, coleslaw
Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor TX – brisket, beef ribs, spareribs, original sausage; pinto beans and a frosty Lone Star Beer
Cooper’s – Llano, TX – sirloin steak; brisket; sausage; pinto beans
Rudy’s – Leon Springs TX – brisket; spareribs; sausage; beans; cold beer in a longneck
The Salt Lick – Driftwood TX – ribs, brisket & beans
The County Line on Bee Cave Road – Austin TX – beef ribs, spareribs, beans, bread pudding with whiskey sauce
The Bar-B-Q Shop – Memphis TN – bbq spaghetti
Payne’s BBQ – Memphis TN – chopped pork sandwich, coleslaw, fried pie
A&R on Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis TN – pork sandwich, fried pie
Cozy Corner – Memphis TN – Cornish hen, ribs
Tom’s BBQ & Deli – Memphis TN – rib tips, rib tips & rib tips
Johnny Harris – Savannah GA – Brunswick Stew; fried green tomatoes; 1924 Salad; bbq combo platter
Maurice Bessinger’s Piggie Park – West Columbia, SC – Little Joe Pork Sandwich; Carolina Hash over Rice; hushpuppies
Allen & Son – Chapel Hill, NC – chopped pork, coleslaw, cobbler
Stamey’s – High Point Road, Greensboro NC – chopped pork, coleslaw, beans
B’s Barbecue – Greenville, NC – chicken, pulled pork, coleslaw
King’s – Kinston, NC – pig in a puppy
Skylight Inn – Ayden NC – chopped pork with cracklins’ & skillet cornbread
Speedy’s Barbecue – Lexington, NC – chopped pork, slaw, beans, & banana pudding
Righteous Urban Barbecue – NYC – fried green tomatoes, bbq ribs
Boney’s – Denver CO – pulled pork, ribs, collard greens, hush puppies
Daddy Bruce’s – Boulder CO – ribs & beans
Arapahoe Café & Pub/BonnieQ BBQ – Dillon CO – ribs, Firecracker Coleslaw, beans
Big Papa’s – Littleton CO – bison ribs, bbq beans, mustard greens, sweet potato casserole

Ed Mitchell in eastern North Carolina – wherever Ed is cooking whole hog, I want to be there. He is no longer at The Pit in Raleigh. I don’t know where he has settled for his next venture.

Places on my to-do list
Melvin’s – Charleston, NC
Big Bob Gibson – Decatur, AL
Tin Roof BBQ – Hoover, AL
Sorry Ass Wilson’s BBQ – Homewood, AL
Bob Syke’s Bar-B-Q – Birmingham, AL
Golden Rule BBQ – Irondale, AL
Whole Hog Café – Little Rock, AR
Jones BBQ – Marianna, AR
Bigmista’s Barbecue – Los Angeles CA
17th Street Bar and Grill – Murphysboro, IL
Bogart’s – St. Louis, MO
Swinging Door Bar-B-Q – Richmond, TX
Dinosaur – Syracuse, NY
Holy Hog – Tampa FL
Scott’s Bar-B-Q – Hemingway SC
Smoque – Chicago IL
Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que – Holly Hill SC
Curtis’ 9th Wonder of the World – Putney VT

What do you think of his list? Have you been to any (or perhaps all) of his picks? What BBQ joints on are your ‘must visit’ list?

Here’s some additional info on Mr. Davis:
Ardie A. Davis, aka Remus Powers PhB, was teethed on rib bones in Oklahoma City. His dad, Art Davis, taught him how to barbecue in a hand-built homemade brick pit in the backyard. After leaving Oklahoma for college and a varied career as a teacher, community organizer, & YMCA executive in eastern Iowa, Freeport NY and New York City, respectively, his barbecue career was reignited when he moved to Kansas City, his home for the past 35+ years. In 1984 he launched a national barbecue sauce contest in his backyard patio. Three years later the Diddy-Wa-Diddy National Barbecue Sauce Contest merged with the American Royal Barbecue, where it was renamed the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Baste & Rub Contest. He became a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) in 1987 and served three terms on the board of directors. He is a board member emeritus and was inducted into the KCBS Hall of Flame in 1992. Davis proposed a Certified Barbecue Judge (CBJ) program and curriculum while on the board. After the board adopted the proposal, Davis and Ed Roith developed the CBJ curriculum and conducted the first series of classes. He penned the Official KCBS Judges Oath, adapted from the original 1984 barbecue sauce contest oath. In keeping with a longstanding tradition, Davis as Remus Powers PhB administers the judges’ oath at the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle, the American Royal Barbecue, and the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. When invited and his schedule permits, he administers the oath at several other contests in any given year.

Davis’ most recent books are: 25 Essentials- Techniques for Grilling (The Harvard Common Press, 2009); 25 Essentials- Techniques for Smoking (The Harvard Common Press, 2009); America’s Best BBQ, with Paul Kirk (Andrews McMeel, 2009); 25th Anniversary Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook, with Paul Kirk & Carolyn Wells (Andrews McMeel, 2010); America’s Best Ribs, with Paul Kirk (Andrews McMeel, 2010).

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Kevin Gillespie – “My Favorite BBQ Joints” Volume 28

I got a chance to briefly meet Kevin Gillespie, one of the finalists for Bravo’s Top Chef’s sixth season, when I was working in Texas, but have always been a fan from a distance. I dig the fact that he uses sustainable (and organic) ingredients at Woodfire Grill where he is executive chef and I’m definitely interested to see what happens when he eventually opens his Atlanta BBQ Joint (plans on hold per this piece).

Here are Kevin Gillespie’s favorite BBQ Joints in his words:

LC’s BBQ – Kansas City, MO
The burnt ends are the best I’ve ever had in my life. They fry their French fries in lard.


Photo of LC’s BBQ courtesy of Concierge.com

Arthur Bryant’s – Kansas City, MO
Because the sauce is so distinctive. It’s like nothing I’ve ever had. Very thick, vinegary, spicy. Very different.


Photo of Arthur Bryant’s courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Fresh Air BBQ – Jackson, GA
I grew up eating here so it’s nostalgic. They only do a couple of things and they do them very well.


Photo of Fresh Air Barbecue courtesy of The Eaten Path
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Chris Wilkins – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 27

I’m really excited about this week’s contributor to “My Favorite BBQ Joints”. Chris Wilkins is the deputy director of photography at the Dallas Morning News, specializing in sports and special projects. He previously worked as a photo editor at the Chicago Tribune and a photojournalist for the international wire service Agence France Presse. That’s an impressive resume, but what makes me most interested in his BBQ knowledge is the fact that he and Gary Jacobson co-founded the Texas BBQ Posse in 2009.


Chris is on the left. Photo in front of original Franklin Barbecue trailer – first time they went there as a group in Nov 2010

What is the Texas BBQ Posse? They are a group dedicated to the pursuit of great BBQ in the great state of Texas whose mission is to tell stories of the the kinship & history of barbecue, both in words and picture. The Texas BBQ Posse is a group of writers, photographers & BBQ hardcores. We love to travel and discover new places to eat the best in Texas barbecue. Follow the blue highways and keep an eye out for the smoke.

I really do appreciate Chris letting me share this list. Here are Chris Wilkin’s favorites in no particular order of ranking. Per Chris, “Being that we’re the Texas BBQ Posse, they’re all in Texas, of course!”

Baby J’s Barbecue & Fish – Palestine
Owner and pitmaster the Rev. Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie will make you feel like family. He might even give you samples right off the pit. It’s worth the drive just to see his 20-foot-tall smoker, the one he calls “Big Baby.” Don’t forget to try the fish.


Photo of Baby J’s Barbecue & Fish courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

City Market – Luling
Just 15 miles from the BBQ mecca of Lockhart, some folks call this joint the best in Texas. The twin swinging doors that lead in and out the smoker room and serving counter add to the mystique. These may be some of the best pork ribs you’ll ever eat.


Photo of City Market courtesy of Donna Cooks

Fargo’s Pit Barbeque – Bryan
In two trips to Fargo’s, every single thing we’ve ordered was outstanding. That’s rare even at the best places, but consistency makes kings in the BBQ business. This little blue BBQ shack may just be the best BBQ in Texas.


Photo of Fargo’s Pit Barbeque courtesy of Texas BBQ Posse
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Daniel Delaney – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 26

    I’ve been checking out Daniel Delaney’s VendrTv for a while now, but what really made me a huge fan of his was the Brisketlab.

    Don’t know what the Brisketlab is? Well, Daniel launched Brisketlab, a recipe development series taking place during the summer of 2012. Incredibly (to his amazement) he sold 2,500 pounds of brisket in just 48 hours. Pretty crazy, huh? Of course this attracted the attention of the national media. Here are pieces by The New York Times, FOX News, and Grubstreet.

    So when you have the time, be sure to check out all of Daniel’s projects at his site, but in the mean time, here are his favorite BBQ joints in his words:

    “I don’t love that many places so the list is pretty short. I always prefer simplicity in BBQ and don’t care much for sauce. Here are my picks:

    • Ribs at Cozy Corner in Memphis, TN
    Yes, people go gaga for the cornish hens, but I think the ribs are the real winner here. In fact, they probably rank as my favorite ribs to date. When you get the perfect bite, they have a fat as silky as fatty brisket. Unexpected, but truly wonderful.


    Photo of Cozy Corner via The Commercial Appeal

    • Turkey at Lexington #1 in Lexington, NC
    People rave about the pork. I think that’s because they haven’t tried the turkey breast. We’ve always been told that turkey is gristly, dry meat. We’ve been taught wrong.The simplicity of the all salt rub paired with oak and hickory is mind blowing. No sauce needed or wanted, this birds juicy enough already.


    Photo of Lexington #1 BBQ via Teenage Chowhound

    • Chopped Mutton at Old Hickory Bar-B-Q in Owensboro, KY
    First, I’ll say, I love mutton. It’s funky, gamey, and incredibly flavorful. And while Moonlight seems to be the fan favorite, Old Hickory is my personal pick. Their mutton stands above others I’ve had, and is best served, I think, wish a side of burgoo and sweet tea.


    Photo of Old Hickory Bar-B-Q via Full Custom Gospel BBQ

    • Fatty Brisket at Louie Mueller’s in Taylor, TX
    Louie Mueller’s holds double importance for me. It was the first piece of brisket that made me say ‘WOW!’ and is, coincidentally, some of the best in America. They’re legends at what they do, and have been able to hold tight to tradition and technique while others have slipped. They are, in my opinion, what Texas BBQ is about.


    Photo of Louie Mueller Barbecue (Fatty brisket at lower portion of photograph) via Roadfood.com

    Here’s some additional information on Daniel:
    Daniel Delaney is a food media producer and entrepreneur, who, after finishing a street food thesis at The University of the Arts, launched VendrTV, a weekly web video series about street food. “On a mission to find the best street food around,” Dan and his crew set out to discover mobile eats from Maine to Santa Monica, and everywhere in between. In addition to profiling the best street carts across America, the show has also featured web celebrities including Gary Vaynerchuk, Veronica Belmont, and Jake & Amir. 2011 marks VendrTV’s 2nd anniversary and its 90th episode and counting. Dan is currently developing a television show, and working on his first book, both about street food. After recognizing a difficulty in staying informed about New York’s food events, Dan launched Eater’s Digest, a weekly email newsletter which aggregates and centralized all food-related activities happening in and around New York City. In 2011, Dan made his New Year’s resolution to learn about new foods through a daily web series called WTF: “What’s This Food?”.

Harrison Sapp and Griffin Bufkin – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 25

I’m really excited about this week’s contributors to “My Favorite BBQ Joints”. Harrison Sapp and Griffin Bufkin are the men behind the incredible Southern Soul Barbeque in St. Simons Island, Georgia and two hard working guys who you can’t help but be happy for their success in BBQ. If you haven’t heard of two of them or Southern Soul, you should know that they serve 12+ hour Hardwood-Fired, Slow Smoked Pig, Rib, Turkey & Chicken, Sausage and Beef Brisket, Complimented by a choice of four distinct Homemade Barbecue Sauces and served up with some great Southern Soul Side Dishes such as Hoppin’ John, Collard Greens, Award Winning Brunswick Stew and Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread. To top it off they feature scratch-made Pimento Cheese. The restaurant is nestled on the beautiful Saint Simons Island off the Scenic Coast of Georgia.

Here are Griffin and Harrision’s favorite BBQ joints in his own words:

“About once a month we’ll take a road trip up the coastal highway to Whitemarsh Island to load up on 5 gallon buckets of Savannah Bee Honey at the source. Right across the road before you take the bridge onto Tybee Island is Wylie’s Championship BBQ. Wylie and Janet are veterans of the professional BBQ circuit as well as two of the friendliest and down to earth folks you’ll ever meet, and Wylie’s is where we stop to grab some lunch and catch up with our friends. The slow smoked BBQ plled pork with “better than sex sauce” is simply perfection…and don’t forget to get a side of sweet potato casserole.


Photo of Wiley’s Championship BBQ

When we have business in Atlanta we’ll always try to stop in to see Johnathan and Justin, the two brothers responsible for Fox Bros BBQ. For my money the best BBQ in and around Atlanta GA. These Texas boys know how to pile it on, from their take on the classic Frito Pie, to the infamous short rib. But the star of the show is the beef brisket done right. Slabs of slow smoked, juicy beef with one of the most beautiful smoke ring you’ve ever seen.


Photo of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Que

Like the kid in a candy shop, the experience of being an adult in a butcher shop is one you must experience. At Cochon Butcher, a New Orleans boutique meat market that is owned and operated by a couple of James Beard Award winning chefs, they know the craft of cured meat. House-made andouille and boudin sausages, mortadella, hams, duck breast pastrami..everything is homemade from the hot dogs to the sauerkraut. W’ell take a 1/2 pound of everything!


Photo of Cochon Buther courtesy of Blackened Out

We drove across the country two summers ago to tape BBQ Pitmasters. Along the way through the Texas hill country we made the BBQ pilgramage to the storied Kreuz Market in Lockhart. First rate brisket and sausage. The real thing.


Photo of Kreuz Market courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

If you ever find yourself in the port city of Brunswick Georgia (home of the southern smokehouse staple, Brunswick Stew) you must drive directly to Willie’s Weenee Wagon. A roadside carry out hotdog stand that has mastered the art of the pork chop sandwich. Thinly sliced and griddled pork steak and onions on a buttered kaiser roll with the house yellow mustard sauce and pickles. The sweet tea is legendary.”

What are your thoughts on this great Southern BBQ list? Have you been to any of these spots? Let me know.

Posted in My Favorite BBQ Joints on by kevin - Comments (3)
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