Travels with Larry Olmsted: 10 Great American Barbecue Joints

Posted on 28 May 2013

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Hot Rod's Real Pit BBQ, Wharton, NJ

Hot Rod’s Real Pit BBQ, Wharton, NJ

By Larry Olmsted

America’s love affair with barbecue has never burned hotter than right now – and the opening of new specialty barbecue restaurants where you’d least expect them is fanning the fire.

Not too many years ago if you wanted truly great barbecue, it usually meant traveling to one of the hotspots of the cuisine, Kansas City, Texas, the South, or California’s Santa Maria Valley, home to its own regional spin on ‘cue. If you lived in places like New Jersey or Boston or the affluent ski town paradise of Telluride, Colorado, you were simply out of luck.

All that has changed, and today you can get world class barbecue in most parts of the country, from coast to coast, as the fervor of this delicious cuisine has spread like gospel, prompting everyone from celebrity chefs to self-taught smokers to master the arcane art and bring honest to goodness barbecue closer to home.

Here’s my list of the 10 best barbecue joints across the US …


DSC_0067-150x150    Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for

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8 Responses to “Travels with Larry Olmsted: 10 Great American Barbecue Joints”

  1. Aaron says:

    although I haven’t been, I was waiting to see Franklin BBQ on this list, as it was named not only best BBQ in America but I believe best restaurant by either Gourmet or Bon Appetit..

    • Larry O says:


      I have been. If you read my story, it is crystal clear that it is not a best list, but a great list, and I tried to showcase places that do something uniquely special, like the amazing beef ribs at the Salt Lick. There are tons of excellent BBQ places in and around Austin, but while everyplace has pork ribs and brisket, the beef ribs are more unusual. That being said, I have eaten at Franklin’s and frankly find it overrated – its very good BBQ but hardly the nation’s best, and they have excellent sandwiches, but the ribs were bit overcooked and too tender. You mean Bon Appetit, Gourmet has been out of business awhile, and while it’s a magazine I love, their area of expertise is not BBQ. Thanks for reading!

  2. Tomcat says:

    Obviously you’ve never heard of Phil’s in San Diego. Always top rated in local surveys and the line out the door attests to this.

  3. Alan says:

    Texas still produces the best barbecue…

  4. Sean says:

    I LOVE the list you referred here, very very informative.

    The smoke made with stone in Austin is simply amazing!

  5. Andy says:

    Interesting list. There are a number of them that I’ve not been to. Will add some of these joints to my list of places to go!

    Thank you.

  6. Dave says:

    I’ve been to Hot Rod’s twice now and the taste still lingers in my mouth. Absolutely yummy food

  7. Bryon says:

    I like 10 best barbecue joints, someday I should take part in it,thanks

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