Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Central South >
May 5, 2014 09:33 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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

    1. 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.

      3 Replies
      1. re: The Chowhound Team

        Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL (Northern AL right off I-65). Their known for their pulled pork & smoked chicken w/ white sauce.

        1. re: chloebell

          Go to the old one though. The new one is not the same, to me anyway.

        2. YES. How far south do you want to go, and what type BBQ are you looking for. This area is known for Pork Everything. You are a great wife for this.

          My favorite BBQ style in the world is from Memphis, the bootheel of missouri to central Arkansas and loop back through the delta of Arkansas, through Helena and over to Mississippi delta and back to Chicago. Easy week trip that will give you the authentic BBQ experience along the Blues Trial, so the off sites will entertain you when you are not eating.

          So, on a map it would look something like this: Chicago - Memphis - Holcomb, MO - Paragould, AR, Waldenburg, AR, Devall's Bluff, AR, Stuttgart, AR, Helena, AR, Clarksdale, MS

          An interesting map going there and back you can hit different stops on the way south, then north. Here is a few you do not want to miss.

          Central BBQ, Memphis, TN ( pork ribs and sausage cheese plate. if you like beer, they have some of the best local brew around.

          The BBQ Shop, Memphis, TN ( They are famous for BBQ spaghetti, but the ribs is all I do.

          **A&R near Graceland has a classic BBQ pork with slaw, good.

          Strawberries, Holcomb, MO ( This is the best pork steak in the entire world, hands down #1 on the list of southern bbq. Ribs are great also.

          Couch's BBQ, Paragould, AR *you are close, but if need a BBQ break, hit Roy's and get the Jack Burger, you will not be disappointed.

          Woodies BBQ, Waldenburg, AR, roadside, hit and miss if they are open.

          Craigs BBQ, DeVall's Bluff, AR - a must. the sliced pork sandwich. Walk across the street to the pie shop. You will never be the same. Get a whole pie.

          Emma Kibbs, Stuttgart, AR -BBQ Bologna

          T-Mac's, Helena, AR -Home of King Buscuit.

          Mo's and Handy Andy's, Clarksdale, MS great place to spend a full day, then loop back to Chicago....what a trip

          5 Replies
          1. re: CharlesKochel

            THANKS SO MUCH!! What a great help!

            1. re: DmhBBQ

              your welcome, if you decide to do this let me know and I will edit the list to make it detailed. The experience of each of theses BBQ Juke Joints can sometimes be determined by the smallest details, for example, at Strawberries you want to sit in the bar area, not the restaurant...

              1. re: DmhBBQ

                The northernmost city in the south is St. Louis. Sugarfire is very unique as BBQ places go. They have the standards but also inventive meat and sides everyday. They also have great pie. The original location is on Olive St. Blvd.

                Archibald's in Northport Al is also great.

                Love these threads to get all kinds of new ideas.

              2. re: CharlesKochel

                Handy Andy's is in Oxford, about an hour and 15 or 20 minutes east of Clarksdale. Mo's is in Tupelo, another hour drive east.

                In Clarksdale itself I wouldn't bother with any of the restaurant bbq, it's okay, but not more than that. If you do see someone smoking in front of Red's Lounge, however, that is well worth a try.

                1. re: estone888

                  ^agree with estone, that's why i moved the BBQ joints, but it's a cool little city for an out of towner.

                1. I would strongly suggest Big Bob's as well. The reason is, they invented White Sauce. It's a finishing sauce for (mostly) chicken and is found, for the most part, in 2 counties in N/C Al and that's it.
                  Well worth a try.