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May 5, 2014 09:31 PM

BBQ tour

I am interested in planning a BBQ tour of the southern states for my husband that I can fit into 1 week. A road trip would be great. Does anyone have any route ideas and restaurant stops? I would be starting and ending in Chicago.

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  1. Hmmmm, one week will be tough to hit all the classics. You'll probably have to leave out Texas and possibly eastern North Carolina. You could do Kansas City for brisket (my favorite is Arthur Bryant's but you'll probably get some argument), St. Louis is so-so for ribs but has begun to make a name for itself in the realm of bbq / smoked pork steaks. Memphis is famous for its dry rub ribs. Crowd favorites include Central BBQ and for some people (not me) the Rendezvous. My personal Memphis favorite is Payne's for both the pulled pork (the best I've had outside of eastern North Carolina) and also for their ribs so long as you get the sauce on the side. Here in Clarksdale, Mississippi Abe's is famous but I think rather overrated. In my opinion the best bet is to find someone barbecuing on the street - some of the best in my experience is in front of Red's Lounge on Friday and Saturday nights. I did have some excellent rib tips at Smokehouse BBQ in Mound Bayou, though I'm not sure when it's open. The best ribs I ever had in my life were at Hoover's Grocery and Launderette in the Baptist Town part of Greenwood, MS - though it was just luck that they had any when I was there as they more often than not don't - and it's only lunch.

    2 Replies
    1. re: estone888

      Skip Texas!? Make a beeline for Texas, stop off in KC, but I can't get past the electric slicer at Bryant's and the time I was there the burnt ends tasted old. Here's a link to Texas BBQ but it needs updating to include Franklin and LA in Austin and Snows in Lexington.

      1. re: estone888

        St Louis has come up in the Q world-my favorite is Sugarfire because it is so creative but you can't beat Pappy's and Bogart's, and many more places that have opened in the past few years. Pork steaks have been mostly in the back yard pits until recently. Hobo's has a pretty good pork steak.
        KC has a lot of new places too, along with the "great old". I love Brobeck's for ribs.

      2. You could do it, assuming you're very fond of driving. Just so happens that I am, and have taken a lot of really long road trips, so Day 1, I'd start off from Chicago early in the morning, and make the long trek to Lexington NC. It's about twelve hours, so if you're on the road by 6 or 7am, you could spend the first two nights in the Carolinas and hit the several Carolina-style 'cue joints (famous for pig). Then drive to Memphis (famous for ribs) for one night (not much more than a couple of the best BBQ joints there IMHO, so not worth more than 1 night), then on to Central Texas (brisket and sausage), where you should plan on two or three nights in Austin, so you can go to five or six of the legendary smoked meat markets within a couple hour's drive. Then up to Kansas City for a night on the way back to Chicago.

        Regarding "skipping one," I'd suggest that if you have to skip one of the most famous barbecue Meccas, you keep in mind that Kansas City's greatest barbecue traditions were started by a Texas boy, Arthur Bryant, so if you go to the original source, ie Texas, KC is the one I'd skip. However, KC is kinda on your way back to Chicago from Texas, so why not pull in for one night. Central Texas to Chicago is a very long haul, so you probably should stop for the night somewhere anyway. The roads between Central Texas and Kansas City are pretty good, so I think that's a natural. In KC everybody has their favorite, of course, but I'd vote for LC's. Do get the burnt ends. And while going to barbecue joints for the sides is kinda counterproductive, I do really like LC's beans.

        All in all, I'd say, yep, it's do-able, but y'all would have to have the tummies and toushies of a couple of long-haul truckers to make it all in a week. Although I've done it, and more, and undoubtedly will again.

        Here's one of the best articles I've seen in a while that mentions what are, in my view, many of the top stops and spots:

        After you decide upon your schedule, I'd advise you to go to the various local boards to further refine the exact BBQ joints to hit, and what exactly to order.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jaymes

          Thank you so much! This is very helpful and encouraging!

          1. re: DmhBBQ

            My second link has Texas Monthly's top 50 places. Here it is again.


          2. re: Jaymes

            Henry Perry is father of KC barbecue. Bryant worked for him. Henry Perry who was born near Memphis in 1875.


            1. re: chileheadmike

              Ah, well, then. T for Texas. T for Tennessee. Two states to thank for the barbecue of KC.

          3. Just a quick note that the original poster has cross-posted this question to a number of boards, since their question crosses a lot of different boards. You can see all the threads in their profile ( )

            We're not even going to try to keep the discussion strictly regimented so that only things in a region covered by a board can be discussed on each thread, but if people want to focus discussions of specific places on the thread on the appropriate regional board, they are out there so you can choose to do that.

            1. I would use I-57/55 as a dividing line. Either stay east or west but trying to get to Texas/KC and Memphis/points east is rather ambitious IMHO.

              In Tn Martin's (the original) in Nolensville is a great place. Theres a small town about half way between Nashville and Huntsville, Al named Fayetteville. On the south end there's a place named Chuck Wagon Diner. It's 2 single wides angled together. The presentation may be a bit sloppy but it's some of the best Q I've had. Th - Sa only.
              Incidentally, they serve white sauce (mentioned in your Cen Sou thread) and it's the only time I've seen it outside Madison and Limestone Co's. Al.

              A buddy of mine swears by Barrel House BBQ in Lynchburg (where you can also visit Jack Daniels) but I thought it was only good.
              Conversely, a great Q experience can be had at perhaps the dumpiest place I've been, Big Bubba Bucks Belly Bustin' BBQ Bliss in Munfordsville, Ky.


              1. East Tennessee Suggestions:

                Ridgewood Barbecue
                900 Elizabethton Hwy.
                Bluff City, TN 37620

                Dead End BBQ
                3821 Sutherland Ave.
                Knoxville, TN 37919

                Sweet P’s BBQ
                3725 Maryville Pike
                Knoxville, TN 37920
                *Particularly good brisket.

                400 Neyland Drive
                Knoxville, TN 37902

                3101 Magnolia Ave.
                Knoxville, TN 37914

                Dixson Bar-B-Q
                1201 Magnolia Ave.
                Knoxville, TN 37917

                Full Service BBQ
                113 S. Washington St.
                Maryville, TN 37804

                2450 15th Ave.
                Chattanooga, TN 37404

                Sticky Fingers Smokehouse
                420 Broad St.
                Chattanooga, TN 37402
                *Additional locations in FL, GA, NC, SC.

                Hillbilly Willy’s
                115 Browns Ferry Rd., Suite 5
                Chattanooga, TN 37419

                Shuford’s Smokehouse
                924 Signal Mountain Rd.
                Chattanooga, TN 37405

                1 Reply
                1. re: Khotso98

                  Drive from Chicago to Tennessee to eat chain bbq?? No thanks!