Kevin's BBQ Joints

Kevin's BBQ Joints Blog

Simon Majumdar – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 15

When I started my weekly feature ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’ at the beginning of this year I knew that I wanted to interview people from all walks of life, not just the BBQ world. Being a BBQ junkie I wanted to see if these lists would mirror my own favorite BBQ Joints and hopefully hidden gems would pop up along the way. Wonderfully, both of these have occurred. This week I am very honored to have food writer, author, and broadcaster Simon Majumdar contribute his favorite BBQ Joints. He is someone I have been following for a good amount time (both his writing and his TV appearances) and while the name might not spark immediate awareness for some of you, you’ve more than likely seen him as a judge on Iron Chef America as well as The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Here are the favorite BBQ Joints from who some have deemed ‘An Indiana Jones for the Foodie Set’ in his words:

Some of these places are already famous, others are a little less well known. However, each and every one has added to my belief that BBQ in all its varied glory is one of America’s greatest contributions to world cuisine.

In some cases, such as Oklahoma Joe’s, they are on the list because everything they do rocks. In othercases, like that of Roper’s Ribs, they are there because of one particular house specialty that is so good I have been known to have inappropriate dreams about it.

OKLAHOMA JOE’S BBQ – Olathe, KS
Justly one of the most famous BBQ pits in the whole USA . It’s all good, but a slab of the “short end” ribs is hard to beat.

Photo of Oklahoma Joe’s courtesy of EG. Design

PAYNE’S BAR-B-QUE – Memphis, TN
I always combine a visit here with a trip to Graceland. The pulled pork sandwich with a thick layer of their sharp, lurid yellow slaw is in my top five sandwiches in the US and, if I was as rich as Elvis I would probably pay to have them flown across country when I was feeling in the mood for “Q

Photo of Payne’s BBQ courtesy of Roadfood.com

BLUDSO’S BBQ – Compton, CA
SoCal is not particularly known for its BBQ, but this unassuming place in Compton, run by, Kevin Bludso, an uprooted Texan more than represents. The two meat lunch combo with two sides ($9.50) is enough to feed an army.

Photo of Bludso’s BBQ courtesy of LA Addict – Flickr
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Ray Lampe – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 14

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
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Rich Wachtel – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 13

For this Memorial Day it only seemed fitting to do a special Washington DC addition of my weekly feature ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘ list with Rich Wachtel who has an great BBQ blog called Grilling with Rich (which includes Grilling and Barbecue Adventures, BBQ News, Recipes, and Celebrity BBQ Chef interviews). If you haven’t checked it out (or better yet bookmarked it) I do recommend heading over there today (after reading this of course). Here is his list of Washington DC BBQ Joint favorites in descending order his words:

My name is Richard and I am the author of the barbecue and grilling website: www.GrillingwithRich.com. I want to thank Kevin for posting my top 5 Barbecue joints in the Washington D.C. Area. Recently, there has been an explosion of barbecue joints opening here in the heart of our nation’s capital. And being that I live right here, I get a chance to sample and try all them out. I hope that you enjoy some of my suggestions on your next trip to our nations capitol.

5) BBQ Bus
With the recent explosion of food trucks both here in Washington D.C. and also across the country, I have been waiting for some great barbecue food to be served up on the go, and boy did I find it with this food truck. They get the flavor profiles of traditional barbecue like pulled pork, while infusing some new flavors such as Hawaiian pulled pork.

Photo of BBQ Bus

4) Uncle Fred Smoke Shack
This local hidden gem is one of my favorite spots to bring newcomers to Washington D.C. Uncle Fred serves up some traditional barbecue “smokiness” while serving up a barbecue original: A Barbecue Sundae which has some baked beans, some slaw, topped off with your choice of pork, brisket or chicken it is a must have!

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Dave Anderson – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 12

Dave Anderson is a powerhouse in the BBQ restaurant industry. “Dave’s road to fame began with a strong hankerin’ for fine barbeque and a stronger desire to make the finest slow-smoked barbeque folks had ever tasted. He visited rib shacks, roadside joints, every hole-in-the-wall or fancy pants supper club he could, all in search of the most BBQ succulent meats, savory seasonings and lipsmackin’ sauces around. As of April 3, 2011, there were 182 Famous Dave’s restaurants operating in 37 states, including 52 company-owned restaurants and 130 franchise-operated restaurants. An additional 71 franchise restaurants were in various stages of development as of April 3, 2011.” The company is even publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol ‘DAVE’. You can see how they are doing HERE

Dave can currently be seen weekly on Food Network’s Best in Smoke. I was lucky enough to get his list of Favorite BBQ Joints (that aren’t Famous Dave’s). Here they are in his words:

Ted Cook’s 19th Hole – Minneapolis, MN

A long time store front BBQ joint with an old Chicago type aquarium smoker and I always get the Rib Tips you can just smell the smokey aroma from the real smokey coals, Hojos (sliced fried potatoes), extra hot sauce and peach cobbler

Photo courtesy of missginsu – flickr

Lem’s BBQ House- Chicago, IL
Another storefront BBQ joint with an aquarium smoker and I get the Rib Tips mounded over french fries and everything is smothered in their bbq sauce. My dad started me on these rib tips back in the 60s.

Photo of Lem’s ‘Small End’ Spare Ribs courtesy of LTHForum.com

LC’s Bar-B-Q – Kansas City, MO
I go to the original LC’s where they seem to have their old pit seasoned just right! I get their ribs and a pile of steak fries and then I’m in hog heaven!


Photo of LC’s Bar-B-Q courtesy of 3rd Degree Berns Barbecue Sabbatical
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James Boo – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 11

James Boo is one of those incredible writers that you have to assume that food blogging was created JUST for the likes of people like him. He has a phenomenal gift both in expressing himself in writing and with photographing that food as well. I have actually been blown away by the photos he’s taken on more than three or four dozen occasions. If you are just getting introduced to him, he’s the Barbecue Bureau Chief for Serious Eats and is the founder, editor, and head writer of the amazing blog The Eaten Path. I am honored to have him as a contributor and after reading his piece below I can’t imagine this wouldn’t be a BBQ Joint list you’l print up and save for future BBQ journeys. Here he is in his own words:

I’ve been on the barbecue trail for four years now, which, frankly, is a pitiful amount of time to be considered any kind of authority. Given the fact that I’m still on the learning curve, I’ve left out some joints that are surely worthy of mention, and plenty of joints I just haven’t had the good luck of being able to visit. I hope to change this over the years, and with luck, my list will keep on growing — along with my stomach and quite possibly my capacity for regret.

Chef Edwards’ Bar-B-Que – Oakland, CA
Hopefully, everyone remembers his first taste of real barbecue. Mine was handed to me in a styrofoam box at the business end of a cramped, single-row diner just a few blocks from the Greyhound station in Oakland. John Edwards passed a box of smoked chicken across the counter, then his signature sandwich, the Piggly Wiggly — chopped shoulder and vinegar slaw on white bread, with a spicy red barbecue sauce to make a believer out the most committed sauce opponent. The good Chef has let things slip a bit since he moved to nicer digs across the street, but every time I’ve been back to visit, sidling up for a Piggly Wiggly has been as inevitable as hunger itself.

Photo of Chef Edwards Bar-B-Que courtesy of Serious Eats

Lexington Barbecue (Honey Monk’s) – Lexington, NC
Lexington’s chopped shoulder sandwich with outside brown and barbecue slaw wasn’t my first taste of regional barbecue. It wasn’t my first taste of Carolina barbecue, either, and as I’ve discovered on repeat visits, Lexington’s ‘cue isn’t exactly the apex of tender, moist, smoked pork. Still, the moment I bit into my first sandwich at Lexington Barbecue was the moment that I got it. I sensed the history behind the food and the improbability of its survival in the fast food age. This was something special, in a special place, going toe-to-toe with a world that prizes a way of business totally opposite to the experience I was having in Lexington, North Carolina. I treasured every smoky bite, and I still do.

Photo of Lexington Barbecue courtesy of Roadfood.com

Scott’s Variety and Bar-B-Q – Hemingway, SC
My one trip to Scott’s is the closest I’ve come to a through-and-through pilgrimage in the name of holy smoke. Rodney Scott’s open-pit-smoked whole hog achieves the perfect texture: tender, juicy, and plenty fatty. Equally important is Scott’s integrity of flavor: his barbecue is naturally sweet, meaty, and just slightly funky — tasting like a pig should — with a balanced smokiness that makes it all seem way too easy. When paired with Scott’s fantastic pepper-and-vinegar sauce and a slice of white bread, it is quite literally the perfect food.

Photo of Scott’s courtesy of Serious Eats

Fresh Air BBQ – Jackson, GA
I’ll be honest: I liked the barbecue here just fine, but that’s not why I’m putting it on this list. A good regional barbecue side is not something to be taken lightly, and Fresh Air served me the most addictive Brunswick stew I have ever tasted. It takes a certain mind to avoid turning a beautiful thing like slow-cooked, indeterminate glop into a chunky, undercooked backwoods chili. Fresh Air has what it takes to keep its stew simple, satisfying, and so good that I’d eat it for breakfast. I have done it before, after all.

Photo of Fresh Air BBQ courtesy of porkbelly24 – flickr
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Danielle Dimovski – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 10

The barbecue world is filled with a lot of really great people. More often than not these people wil go out of their way to accommodate you (it’s not out of the realm of possibility for more than one person to offer you up lodging (and most likely an incredible BBQ meal) if you say you’re headed to their neck of the woods for an bbq event or contest). One of those truly special individuals is Danielle Dimovski of Diva Q. She’s the real deal when it comes to barbecue, competing, and cooking just about anything (follow her on twitter and/or facebook and you’ll be amazed with what she comes up with). I’ve never personally met her, but from our interaction and correspondence I feel I can call her a friend and am very proud to do so. I’m also extremely honored that she took the time out of her busy schedule to take part in this week’s ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘. I know that you’ll find this entertaining to read as well as a fantastic guide for BBQ joints you’ll want to visit in the near future.

Here are her Favorite BBQ Joints in her words.

“Travelling all around eating BBQ, talking with BBQ folks and competing in BBQ competitions is the life for sure. I have been really blessed to be able to have some excellent BBQ while on the road. This list is in no way complete – there are just so many great places but these are a few highlights.

I sure do love Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester NY. They make consistently great food – chill atmosphere plus a whole lot of good food. They serve it all up with a variety of BBQ sauces – their Creole Mustard being one of my favorites. Also don’t miss their fried green tomatoes.


Photo of Dinosaur BBQ courtesy of Philip Kamrass / Times Union

In Texas it would have to be Louie Mueller BBQ for the best BBQ beef ribs I have ever laid my hands on. Super succulent smoky and so jam packed full of flavour – it just makes you want to know what they are feeding the cattle. It’s hard to top Louie Mueller’s for authentic BBQ atmosphere. It is a BBQ joint from way back. They haven’t changed anything in forever with the 3rd generation of Mueller’s running the place. Served on butcher’s paper slapped on a tray leave your cutlery at the door – you don’t need it here.


Photo of Louie Mueller BBQ courtesy of Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ
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Rod Gray – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 9

I was going to write up a wonderful bio on this week’s contributor to ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’, but I don’t believe I could sum up Rod Gray and his accomplishments as well as he did himself. So from Rod, “It is only natural that one of the country’s top barbeque teams hails from Kansas City – the city best known for its barbeque. Rod & Sheri Gray, finishing the 2009 season as the best team in barbecue, began competing as Pellet Envy in 2001.

In addition to being the pit masters of a national championship barbeque team, Rod & Sheri cater, teach, and promote barbeque as America’s cuisine. Their passion for barbeque and outdoor cooking is obvious, they have competed in over 250 events all across the country in the last nine years. In that time, Pellet Envy has won over 60 championships and has ended each season as a top nationally ranked team eight straight years. Additionally, Rod and Sheri Gray have been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship five times in the team’s short career.”

I’m extremely honored to share with you Rod Gray’s Favorite BBQ Joints:

“As a full time barbecue pitmaster, I travel the country cooking, competing and teaching barbecue. Just last year, Pellet Envy traveled over 55,000 miles, all by truck. That’s a lot of pavement, but it gives me the chance to stop at some of the best barbecue joints in the country. Here are a few of my favorites:

Oklahoma Joe’s – Kansas City, KS – As Slaughterhouse Five, Jeff and Joy Stehney were part of one of the most successful competition barbecue teams in the country. How does that translate to their now fifteen year old restaurants? Quite well. I’ve never had a bad meal in Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue. Jeff delivers near competition quality barbecue to his customers day in and day out at two locations in the KC metro area. When I’m in town and craving barbecue, the Z-man sandwich and an order of fries are my standard order. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Oklahoma Joe’s had the best french fries I’ve eaten ANYWHERE. And did I mention that Anthony Bourdain named this place one of the thirteen places to eat before you die? That’s sayin’ something right there.


Photo of Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Olathe, KS via Lesley Zellers

When you live in Kansas City, you can’t have only one favorite barbecue joint. That’s why I also recommend Danny Edward’s Boulevard BBQ and Wyandotte BBQ. Danny Edwards has perfected brisket and Wyandotte BBQ serves the best chopped beef sandwiches in all of Kansas City, and that’s sayin’ something.


Danny Edwards photo courtesy of KC Lunch Spots
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Albert Nurick – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 8

I am very excited about this week’s participant in ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’. It is Albert Nurick, writer of the incredibly popular (and very well done) Houston food blog H Town Chow Down which is described as “written by a small group foodies who live in the Houston area, and enjoy sharing their experiences, both good and bad. We feature a mix of news, rumors, opinion, and reviews, and hope that our work is something that you enjoy.” I check it out at least every other day and it takes all my energy not to get on a plane and fly out to to Houston after reading to try the insane food represented. He is also a partner in the Binetix web development firm.


Here are his choices in his words:

Picking my favorite BBQ joints is a tough task. I’ve lived in Texas almost all my life, and I’ve been sampling BBQ ever since my dad first took me to Massey’s on Bissonnet in Houston and showed me what BBQ was all about. Sadly, Massey’s is long gone, but there are some great BBQ places that always deliver.

For the past decade I’ve lived in Houston, but when I’m craving BBQ, I’m drawn back to the holy land, Central Texas. I’ve been to Memphis, Nashville, Kansas City, and all over Texas, but I’ve found no BBQ anywhere that beats the best places in the heart of Texas.

An out-of-the-ordinary favorite of mine is Hinze’s BBQ in Wharton, Texas. Hinze’s is on the road from Houston to Corpus Christi, and it’s a must-stop location for one thing: Sublime chopped beef sandwiches. Eating chopped beef requires you to put your trust in the pitmaster, and this trust is rewarded at Hinze’s. The beef is freshly chopped brisket, mixed with their slightly tart, moderately spicy sauce. Served on an fluffy bun, the result is the most intensely flavorful chopped beef sandwich I’ve run across. Chopped beef is often the poor stepchild of BBQ, but not at Hinze’s.


Photo of Hinze’s BBQ

For me, the atmosphere of the place is an important part of the BBQ experience – I’ve rarely found memorable or even good ‘Q at a slick, upscale place. The exception to the rule is Austin’s County Line on the Lake, serving some very good mass-produced BBQ in an upscale, rustic setting. This has been a go-to place for UT students and their visiting parents for years, and for good reason. The beef ribs are huge and fall-off-the-bone tender, the pork ribs are sauced with a special pork-only sauce that’s sweet but not cloying, and the homemade bread is the only side you’ll need.


Photo of County Line courtesy of Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ
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Jamie Deen – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 7

This week I’m lucky to have one of the ‘Deen Brothers‘, Jamie Deen, participate in my weekly feature ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’. If you watch the Food Network you already know who he is from his hit show Road Tasted, but if for some reason you don’t, he is the oldest son of Paula Deen. If you don’t know who Paula Deen is I really don’t know what to tell you.

Since he and his brother Bobby are big fans of barbecue and have traveled the entire country tasting great BBQ (and incredible food), I was really interested to see what his choices were.


Photo of Jamie Deen

Here is his list, in his words:

It’s no surprise that my two favorite barbecue restaurants are in Austin, Texas. The County Line has some of the best ribs that I’ve ever put in my mouth.


Photo of The County Line courtesy of Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ

If you love brisket as much as I do, then you shouldn’t miss The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que Restaurant. This place wins, hands down, no contest.


Photo of The Salt Lick courtesy of Inside NanaBread’s Head
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Kevin Pang – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 6

I just want to say I’ve been really lucky with the participants for ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’ so far. They’ve been an eclectic mix with each bringing unique BBQ joints to the table (see links at the bottom to see previous ‘My Favorite Joints’). I’m REALLY excited about this week’s contributor because I jealously watched as he traveled the South in search of great BBQ in late 2010.

This week is none other than Kevin Pang from The Chicago Tribune. He wears many hats. He is a contributor to the Chicago Tribune food blog, The Stew, which is described as “The Stew: It bubbles, it simmers and you never know what you’ll find in each serving. It’s an authoritative go-to source for news about food, beverages and dining out in the Chicago area by the food and dining staffs of the Chicago Tribune.”, he is The Cheap Eater, and he goes on food adventures from time to time, most notably his two BBQ Road Trips.

Here’s his list:

Smoque BBQ
Chicago, IL
Must get: St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, Texas sausage
Smoque, arguably Chicago’s finest and most consistent BBQ establishment, has entered the national conversation of “100 Mile Barbecue.” That’s how far I would travel to dine here.

Photo of Smoque BBQ courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Fette Sau BBQ
Brooklyn, NY
Must get: Smoked jowl, Berkshire Belly Bacon
The first time I came here, it took 45 minutes to grab a table. After tasting their smoked jowl (which I’d describe as amazing and fatty in the greatest sense), I wanted to jump to the back of the line and wait 45 minutes again.


Photo of Fette Sau courtesy of Nathan I. – Yelp

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