BBQ Trail: A meat eaters guide for great American BBQ
Welcome to the ultimate BBQ Trail: A meat eaters guide for great American BBQ to easily find the best restaurants across the USA. When I first thought about what to do during my 3-week road trip across the Midwest and South of the USA, there was one thing that came to mind instantly – FOOD! I wanted to eat all the possible American food I could handle! It was definitely a challenge!
I quickly started to develop a FOOD PLAN, yes, you heard well! Making sure I was eating several typical dishes in each State, but also trying all the local fast food restaurants, was the aim! Because, guys, I love fast food too!
Spoiler alert! I couldn’t try not even half of the dishes and fast food chains I researched and came across during the whole trip – little time and just one stomach where my limitations! However, I made sure to eat bbq in each of the States I was traveling and realized that accidentally, I created my own BBQ trail in the USA.
Table of Contents
Southern BBQ Trail: A meat eaters guide of the South
During my days wandering around some of the Southern States, I had the chance to visit several cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. Amongst all these, I would definitely highlight the BBQ ribs I had in Austin (TX) and Memphis (TN). I heard both cities were high on the list in terms of bringing up the best meat to the table and it didn’t disappoint!
Texas best Smokehouse
It would be very difficult to vote for the best BBQ in Texas, but you know when you arrive in a new city and from the very beginning everyone just talks about the one spot? This is what happened with Iron Works Barbecue in Austin! It took literally two minutes to decide where to eat bbq here, as many reviews were pointing out this restaurant was the best bbq in Austin!
The place is an institution – read more of its story here! Originally an ironwork shop, this building is already a state historic site in Texas that was transformed into a barbecue haven in 1978. Several US personalities have been dining here such as Kevin Costner, Leo Dicaprio or Bob Dylan, but also many other politicians and even a couple United States presidents have chosen Iron Works Barbeque as the restaurant to stop by for some incredible ribs and brisket while in Texas!
The picture below does not make justice to the incredible mouth-watering experience that was eating these amazing bbq ribs! Plates come loaded with sliced smoked beef brisket, ribs and more! The pulled pork is really good too! If I look back to my days traveling the US, this is the one place that comes to mind in terms of the best bbq of the trip! PS. Iron Works Barbeque is only open for lunch.
Tennessee is nationally notorious for its barbecue. Once I crossed the border I knew food was going to be amazing. My friend Nicholas from Knoxville already recommended a few places where I could eat very hot chicken wings and of course, I made sure to research where the best Tennessee bbq was!
BBQ Central is without a doubt the best bbq in Memphis. Both Nashville and Memphis were on the top google results! But digging a little bit more into which could be one of the best restaurants, BBQ Central stepped as the finest place in Memphis!
This chain has several locations around Memphis and the good news is that it has also expanded into Nashville as well! This is an award-winning restaurant and it’s renowned for their slow smoked Memphis bbq style, which is absolutely tasty and it really melts into your mouth after the first crunchy bite! BBQ ribs heaven! They also offer great smoked turkey and a killer 3 meat combo with super good mac n’ cheese and slaw on a side!
Missouri BBQ Trail: A meat eaters guide in the Midwest
Just doing a little research on where to eat the best BBQ in America, I noticed that everyone was talking about Texas and some other Southern States, but it was a surprise finding out that Kansas City was also high on the list in Missouri! I was anyway heading to Missouri for my friends’ wedding in the first place, so why not take a little detour to eat some of the considered the ‘best BBQ ribs in the US’!
Best BBQ in Kansas City MO
I was in Oklahoma City when I decided to head north towards Kansas City, this wasn’t part of the initial plan, but I decided to travel there to check how good those BBQ ribs were! It was a long drive (6h approx), but I wasn’t the only crazy foodie arriving in town that night! My friend Jessica, was meeting me for dinner and she was also driving all the way down from Omaha, Nebraska (another fairly long drive).
Kansas City Barbeque options are overwhelming, however many are quite likely to be good so whatever you choose, might be a good decision. I heard great things about Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que or even Q39 – Midtown, but I finally got decided on Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ at Lee’s Summit! The amount of food we had was insane, however, the quality was over the top and the variety of meats you eat with the combo is just pretentious.
'Jack Stack BBQ, Kansas City, MO'
At this stage, I am gonna be honest with you – I am hesitant these were the best ribs I’ve tried during my trip (competition was already pretty high), but one thing I can assure you, Jack Stack BBQ ribs were definitely top notch!
'BBQ Combo at Jack Stack BBQ, Kansas City, MO'
BBQ St Louis MO
Expectations were high when I arrived in Kansas City, however no one mentioned anything to me about Saint Louis bbq. Before heading to Nashville, I stopped strategically in St Louis for lunch! After checking where in the city I could eat the best ribs, many fingers were pointing in the same direction! Pappy’s Smokehouse stands as the best bbq in St Louis!
'Pappy's Smokehouse, St Louis, MO'
Is it worth the title though? I truly think so! Together with the Texas ribs in Iron Works BBQ, these were probably the top 2 of the trip! Super tasty, the right amount of crunchy and sweetness on the outside and super soft and delicious on the inside! Fries were surprisingly good too! If you ever are near Missouri, you should definitely consider coming here for a bite! Pappy’s Smokehouse ribs are dreamy and if you still have any doubt, know that recently this restaurant has been named ‘best Ribs in America’ by the Food Network! Who’s down to check these out?
'BBQ Ribs at Pappy's Smokehouse, St Louis, MO'
Plan your trip: A quick guide to book your next adventure now
This is a detailed guide that will help you plan your trip from scratch and successfully prepare everything ahead of your departure. I follow these steps to book my trips and now you can do the exact same!
Purchase your flight
I use Skyscanner to book my flights since I can have oversight on the best deals. Alternatively, I use Kiwi.com
Book your accommodation
For many years now I’ve used Booking.com to find the best hotel deals. Hostelworld is my go-to for hostels.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
My favorite companies are SafetyWing (best relation product/value) and IATI Seguros (for Spanish speakers).
Choose your tours
I love traveling on my own, but for those activities that I need to pre-book I use Get Your Guide, Viator, and Civitatis.
Discover Cars, is the company that works best to rent a car. For transportation in Central America, I use GuateGo.
Check out the list I’ve put together with my favorite travel gear and travel resources to help you pack for your trip.
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