Kevin's BBQ Joints

Kevin's BBQ Joints Blog

Heath Hall – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 5

If you love BBQ, you should know Pork Barrel BBQ. They are first off a BBQ Sauce and Rub Company (they are in over 1,000 stores across the country and really knock it out of the park on taste and consistency) started by Heath Hall and Brett Thompson (you can read their interesting story here), but are really becoming so much more. After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank they have slowly become an amazing internet sucess story in their own right (they have over 3,200 facebook fans and almost 28,000 twitter followers) and are about to open their first BBQ joint (aptly named Pork Barrel BBQ) in Del Ray, Virginia next month. Oh, and they just started a BBQ Social Networking site called BBQ Backyard here. I am honored to have Heath from Pork Barrel BBQ as my contributor this week for this week’s ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’.

Brett & Heath – Founders of Pork Barrel BBQ

Here are Heath’s picks:

Life is full of questions; some are fairly simple to answer while others are not so simple. Have you ever wondered why some questions that at first blush seem like they’d be simple to answer are actually the most difficult to answer? I’ve certainly wondered this on a number of occasions, but when I’m asked what my favorite BBQ joint is I know exactly why it’s not only difficult, but impossible for me to answer this apparently simple question. That answer is that there are too many great BBQ joints scattered through the cities and back roads of America (and a few in places you would never suspect the words “excellent” and “BBQ” would cross ones lips in the same sentence) to narrow ones answer down to a single favorite joint.

In my opinion, not being able to answer this question isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I think it is a good thing. Who among us doesn’t like options, and amazing options at that?

Unfortunately for those of you reading this, the first place I’m going to mention isn’t one you can just stop by for a casual lunch and belly up to the counter for a brisket sandwich or slab of ribs, but I’d be remiss if I failed to mention it. This place is where the BBQ seed was planted in me and would be fertilized time and again until it blossomed into a major part of my life. Were it not for the plates of mouthwatering BBQ coming off the smokers in Rex Hall’s backyard at all times of the year and in all meteorological conditions I’m certain my BBQ journey would have been different. From the Thanksgiving turkey to some of the moistest brisket that will ever hit your mouth, my Dad’s Backyard is where my exploration into the wonderful world of BBQ began. Thanks Dad!!!

Menu Recommendation – Brisket sandwich, slab of ribs and a side of my Mom’s baked beans!!!

I need to give my Dad another big than you for taking me to and introducing me to some of the finest BBQ joints our country has to offer when he wasn’t manning the grill or smoker in our backyard. These are the BBQ joints that I love and think you’ll love too!


The first BBQ joint I ever ate at was Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que in Sedalia, Missouri. Even if it wasn’t a special occasion it felt like it was every time I was treated to the smoky goodness of Dickie Doo’s ribs and baked beans as a kid. To this day Dickie Doo’s baked beans stand alone as the best I’ve ever eaten and are reason enough for me to drop in any time I’m in the area.

Photo of Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que

Menu Recommendation – Slab of ribs with a large side of baked beans and fries!!!

GATES BAR-B-Q – Kansas City, MO

My introduction to Kansas City’s plethora of legendary BBQ joints took place at Gates Bar-B-Q, a joint that’s been serving up some of the cities best ‘Cue since 1946. My recollection of my first trip to Gates many years ago is a scene of mass confusion and panic – a memory shared by countless when they make their inaugural trip to Gates. As my foot began to breach the door that first time, a chorus of people yelling, “HI, MAY I HELP YOU?” rang from within leaving me feeling dazed like a prize fighter who had been dealt a striking left hook just under my chin. After picking myself up and shaking the daze from my eyes I focused on the menu that hung overhead and welcomed me to a smorgasbord of BBQ delights to choose from.

My advice to first timers is to go for the Mixed Plate – on the menu it comes with brisket, ham, ribs, fries, white bread and pickles, but you can ask them to substitute the two meats with any of their meats including turkey and pork.  If you’re not quite that hungry go for a Beef on Bun Sandwich – you won’t be disappointed. You’ll also find some of the best sauce in the world of barbecue sauces at Gates – my favorite BBQ sauce (after my own of course) is Gates Extra Hot. If truth be told my years of eating Gates BBQ sauce contributed greatly to the flavor profile I used when creating the Pork Barrel BBQ line of sauces. 

Menu Recommendation – Mixed Plate with double beef and a side of baked beans!!!

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Drew Robinson – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 4

I really have been lucky to get incredible collaborators for each week’s ‘My Favorite Joints’. This week was no exception. Drew Robinson, Executive Chef for Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q was kind enough to give me some of his ‘must stop BBQ joints’ when he travels around the country. Here it is:

I eat Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q everyday and don’t ever get tired of it but I don’t ever get tired of eating other folks ‘que either. The thing that I love most about it is the friendships I’ve developed through the years. There is no favorite joint for me. Instead I typically go where my friends are and for that particular moment in time, their barbecue becomes the favorite of the moment.

Photo of Jim ‘N Nick’s pulled pork sandwich

Scott’s Variety Store – Hemingway, SC
Rodney Scott introduced me to the concept of pork and grits. I kind of see it as him playing on the South Carolina tradition of shrimp and grits but using his whole hog barbecue as the star. Rodney only does whole hog. And he only cooks it over the charcoal he makes with the trees he cuts down himself. In addition to being a testament to tradition he’s one of the best guys in the barbecue universe and we welcome him into the Jim ‘N Nick’s kitchen every opportunity we get.

Photo of Scott’s Variety Store courtesy of James Boo – Serious Eats

Skylight Inn – Ayden, NC
Sam Jones is another guy committed to the tradition of whole hog barbecue. And he’s committed to the fact that it doesn’t need sauce if you cook it right which he does. You can get it on a sandwich with slaw or on a tray with cornbread. You can’t go wrong either way. Sam is actually coming to cook with us soon at Jim ‘N Nick’s for a very special dinner in Charleston. We can’t wait.

Photo of Skylight Inn courtesy of Michael Stern – Roadfood

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John T. Edge – My Favorite Joints – Volume 3

For my third installment of ‘My Favorite Joints’ I am extremely excited to have the BBQ Joint picks from John T. Edge. If you’re not familiar with John, he is well known as a writer, educator; Director, Southern Foodways Alliance; Contributing Editor, Gourmet; Columnist, Oxford American; Columnist, New York Times.

Photo of John courtesy of Yvonne Boyd

There’s more information about John at the end of this post, but here’s his detailed contribution:

“Happy to riff. I love Payne’s on Lamar in Memphis. It’s not my fave. I have no one fave. But I dig it.

I can still recall my first visit to Payne’s, set in a former filling station on Lamar Avenue in Memphis. It was 1995. Smoke hung in the air like a fog. The interior at Emily Payne’s barbecue joint was bare, with all the physical and acoustical charm of an elementary school lunchroom. A few booths hugged the side of the building where the grease pits once were. Behind the counter I could hear the whack, whack, whack of a cleaver on the cutting board.

Photo of Payne’s courtesy of James Boo – Serious Eats

The sandwich was huge. Despite a bun the size of a Cadillac hubcap, little bits of smoke-blackened pork shoulder had escaped their white bread trappings and were scattered about the flimsy paper plate. The tomatoey sauce brought with it the welcome heat of red pepper. Scattered here and there were shards of coleslaw that was assertive in its own way, tasting of vinegar, mustard, sugar, and black pepper.”

For the remainder of his choices, John pulled out his BBQ picks from his piece he did in Garden and Gun here

BBQ eats from list:

Catfish of Pork – B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que
Lexington, Tennessee – 731-968-0420
Ricky Parker, longtime owner and pit master, calls it the “catfish.” Says it’s the tenderest cut from the tenderloin of a hog. No one argues anatomy and genus with Ricky. They just step to the window and name the part of the hog—shoulder, belly, ham, or, yes, catfish— they want pulled for a sandwich.

Photo of B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que courtesy of Whitney Harper – Roadfood

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Chris Phillips – My Favorite Joints – Volume 2

This week I was lucky enough to get Chris Phillips, drummer for Squirrel Nut Zippers to provide me with his must stop BBQ joints.

Photo of Squirrel Nut Zippers – Chris is third from the right

Here are his choices and his great commentary:

Honky Tonk Pig Smokehouse
4358 Old Walkertown Rd
Winston Salem, NC 27105
(336) 767-2211
A new favorite of mine was introduced to me by my brother. Its in my home town of Winston Salem, NC. Its take out only, and owned and run by a new generation of old school, family style BBQ folks. Exquisite!

Pulliams Hot Dogs & Barbecue
4358 Old Walkertown Rd
Winston Salem, NC 27105
(336) 767-2211

Photo of Pulliams Hot Dogs & Barbecue courtesy of Serious Eats

Well, this is more of a hot dog shack than a BBQ joint. But it can’t go without mention. A long time favorite of those on the NW side of Winston Salem NC. It draws the faithful perrenially. Last time I was there I of course ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in many years. We sat on the stumps, drank Cheerwine, and ate dogs. One must be loyal to this Hot Dog Honky Tonk.

The Oinkster
2005 Colorado Blvd
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
Neighborhood: Eagle Rock
Have to admit, for Los Angeles, this place is pretty tasty. Carolina style BBQ right here on the East side. Never again need I venture East of Western. Praise be and pass the sauce.

Photo of Oinkster pulled pork sandwich courtesy of

I’m basically a Southerner living on the East side of LA. I crave fried chicken every day, and subject my children to unthinkable crimes here on the east side such as excessive amounts of butter, lard, and various dishes with pork fat lurking in the recipe. Through all my years with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, we have always eaten well. In fact, fried chicken is one of the corner stones of our bands sound and aesthetic. BBQ is right next to it. If you happen to be close to any of these spots, make sure to have a sit and enjoy meal and a Cheerwine.


Chris Phillips
Squirrel Nut Zippers

Check them out on facebook here
Follow them on twitter here

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Amy Mills – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 1

This is the first installment of a weekly feature for Kevin’s BBQ Joints where prominent individuals (BBQ or otherwise) provide a list of their favorite BBQ Joints (or simply joints they always have to hit when they travel around the country).

I was lucky enough to have Amy Mills as my first participant. The reigning 17th Street heiress, Amy is the barbecue go-to girl and a writer, restaurant consultant, television personality, brand, marketing and PR pro, and member of the Missouri Mafia. (The list of her joints and info on her company OnCue Consulting is at the bottom of this post)

Without further ado (always wanted to type that), here are Amy’s favorites:

Asking me to name my absolute favorite barbecue is like asking me to choose my favorite child. I love them both equally, although they’ll each claim I have a clear favorite! Also, I’ll inevitably leave out a name or two and for that, I apologize in advance.

While I am partial to my Daddy’s barbecue, I like and appreciate all kinds of barbecue and I have favorites all over the country. Instead of making sweeping statements, I’ll focus on a few of my favorite barbecue bites.

I’m in New York City almost every month. Blue Smoke is near and dear to my heart as Mike is a partner. Every visit to New York City includes an order of salt and pepper beef ribs, barbecue chips with bleu cheese dip, deviled eggs and one of the most outstanding macaroni & cheese dishes on the planet. This meal is accompanied by a Porch Swing (which gets its refreshing flavor from Hendrick’s gin and Pimm’s) or bourbon, neat. I have a huge soft spot for Dinosaur Bar-B-Que as well. Everything on the menu is good, but I’m usually in a drinking and snacking mode when I’m there. Tequila, wings, brisket and deviled eggs are downed in copious amounts. Hill Country Barbecue also means fabulous tequila — añejo, neat or in the form of Mayor of Lockhart margaritas made with spicy Serrano peppers and Don Julio blanco, shaken, and topped with sparkling wine along with requisite nibbles of brisket, corn pudding and cucumber salad. “The Legend” pork chop at Fatty ’Cue was sublime.

Hill Country Barbecue courtesy of Daniel Krieger

I travel to Memphis at least once a year and we head straight to Cozy Corner, where we’re welcomed like family by Desiree Robinson and her daughter, Val Bradley. I always have a bologna sandwich with slaw and their hot barbecue sauce and a Cornish game hen. Over near Nashville, on my way to The Jack, I like to stop at Jim n’ Nick’s in Smyrna for a platter of pimento cheese and sausage and Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Nolensville for a redneck taco.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que – Redneck Taco

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