The BBQ meat plate at Louie Mueller
The BBQ meat plate at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas.


The Best "Q" in the Country

By Gregg Rosenzweig

From Texas pits to Memphis rubs to Kansas City-style 'cue, the summer BBQ season has officially kicked into high gear. But who does it right -- and who just does it? Well, we're here to help steer (pun intended) the conversation into appetizing territory with some prime, grade-A suggestions to commemorate the best BBQ dishes across the country.


You're Not in Kansas Anymore

The Place: Oklahoma Joe's - Kansas City, KS

The Dish: Carolina Pulled Pork

The Story: Ever heard the saying, "When in Rome, order the Carolina pulled pork sandwich?" Okay, maybe the saying doesn't go exactly like that, but if you're in the vicinity of Kansas City, stop by Oklahoma Joe's to order this treasured item. They're uniquely located inside a gas station (of all places!), but have no fear -- Oklahoma Joe's takes their pulled pork sandwich topped with spicy slaw and "Bubba's sauce" very seriously.


Oklahoma Joe's Carolina pulled pork The Carolina pulled pork keeps people coming back.

Fette Sau's famous BBQ bacon pork belly Pig out on their famous BBQ bacon pork belly.

New York for Pork?

The Place: Fette Sau - Brooklyn, NY

The Dish: BBQ bacon

The Story: When people think of great BBQ, the conversation naturally steers to ... Brooklyn. Well, maybe not, but that doesn't prevent this popular stop from dominating the local 'cue conversation. And Fette Sau's Berkshire pork belly is not only phenomenal, but also as socially responsible as bacon gets -- since they use only organic, "small family-farmed heritage breed animals."


Go for the Whole Hog

The Place: The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

The Dish: Whole hog BBQ

The Story: North Carolina is known as pork country, which is why people drive for hours to get to The Skylight Inn, a North Carolina icon since 1947. And what do people flock to this former James Beard winner for? Whole hog BBQ -- not really one dish so much as the inspiration behind many. They're so confident in their 'cue that their menu only has two other dishes: corn bread and cole slaw.


Simply put: Skylight offers up the whole hog Skylight offers up the whole hog for you to devour.

BBQ shrimp with New Orleans-style remoulade BBQ shrimp with New Orleans-style remoulade.

This Baby Knows Its Shrimp

The Place: Baby Blues BBQ - Venice, CA

The Dish: Grilled BBQ shrimp

The Story: As a self-proclaimed "hybrid" serving Memphis- and Carolina-style barbecue, Baby Blues does so many things right. That why you can trust them to do up the one item you rarely find on barbecue menus: shrimp. Mexican tiger prawns to be more specific. Once you taste them in their homemade New Orleans-style remoulade, you'll be grateful these guys go so skillfully off script.


Louie Mueller's all-beef brisket Louie's slow-cooked brisket goes down smooth.

We Have No Beef With This Texas Pit BBQ

The Place: Louie Mueller Barbecue - Taylor, TX

The Dish: All-beef brisket

The Story: If you want real pit barbecue in Texas, Louie Mueller's your man. Their all-beef brisket rules all other selections -- probably because they cook it slowly in a 50-year-old horizontal brick and steel pit using post oak wood. Located in a former high school gymnasium, Louie Mueller's has so much character, it's even been featured in four movies -- making it the lone star in its field.


These babies get sprinkled with magic dust These babies get sprinkled with a little "magic dust."




Baby Backs from a "Legend" in the Grill Game

The Place: 17th Street Bar & Grill - Murphysboro, IL

The Dish: Baby back ribs

The Story: Chef, owner and champion pit master Mike Mills once said, "Life is too short for a half rack." As the only three-time champion of the Super Bowl of Swine (Memphis in May), Mills gives the world "babies" that are moist and flavorful thanks to slow cooking in their pit with a combination of apple and cherry woods for 5 to 7 hours. Hence, why they call 'em the "Filet Mignon of Barbecue."




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  • The Four Styles of American BBQ


    Great barbecue is as American as apple pie. But how it's done varies across every region of the country. Which is the best? That fiercely passionate debate takes place across all strains of aficionado. Time to decide for yourself. From rubs to sauces to type of meat, here's a road map to America's four major types of "Q":

    Tennessee »
    Memphis barbecue pride runs almost as deep as its love for Elvis. This legendary 'cue lore revolves around smoked meat and tasty chops cooked over wood or coals. Known for its use of dry rubs, Memphis style coats the meat in spices and slow-smokes it until it literally falls off the bone.

    Texas »
    Lone Star State chefs can often be found preparing their meat in an above-ground smoker -- so the meat absorbs the taste and smell of the smoke. Only rub against Texas-style? Sometimes, the Ketchup-like, tomato-based sauces can be uninspiring.

    North Carolina »
    There are two styles of BBQ in North Carolina: The eastern part of the state prefers the whole hog while the western regions generally indulge in the pork shoulder. Sauces range from vinegar- to tomato-based -- and the meat's usually sliced, chopped or pulled. Either way, NC folk loves their 'cue almost as much as Duke basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

    Missouri »
    Kansas City also takes its barbecue very seriously. Barbecue beef and pork are slow-cooked for almost a day before they're served. One dish that tends to rule all? Burnt ends. These are the sometimes tough, chewy, flavorful pieces of meat that are cut off the edges of a brisket.




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