Best Barbeque Ever
"It takes chicken to a whole other level, " Alex Guarnaschelli says of the pulled chicken sandwich at Philadelphia's Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse. This brined, hot-smoked meat is tossed in a duo of vinegar and barbecue sauces for over-the-top flavor and moisture, and it's served with an array of garnishes for added texture.
Marc Murphy jokes that the 14-hour-smoked brisket at Austin's Franklin Barbecue is "one of the seven wonders of the world, " so it's no wonder that the restaurant's fans wait up to three hours for a meal. He opts for the Tipsy Texan, a sandwich piled high with the chopped brisket and sausage, plus a topping of cool coleslaw.
According to Jeff Mauro, "the true essence of barbecue" is "finger-lickin' eatin', " and plenty of that is on the menu at Chicago's Smoque BBQ, where Jeff orders a combo platter of St. Louis-style and baby back ribs. "They do both versions perfectly, " he reveals of the meltingly tender, slow-smoked and sauce-topped ribs at Smoque.
4505 Burgers & BBQ
"The Presidential Plate is basically every single item from the barbecue menu, presented on one platter, " Marcel Vigneron says of the seemingly never-ending display of classic 'cue at 4505 Burgers & BBQ in San Francisco. Among the sides and fixings, look out for the pork, brisket, ribs, sausage and smoked chicken to complete the crowd-pleasing dish.
Mighty Quinn's Barbeque
A monstrous cut of meat enrobed in a thick, smoky bark, the Brontosaurus Rib from New York City's Mighty Quinn's Barbeque is "pure meat magic, " according to Katie Lee. She explains that this real-deal rib is flavored with just three simple seasonings — salt, pepper and Hungarian paprika — and left to rest for more than 12 hours before it meets the smoker.
"Barbecue marinara? What's up?" Steak Shapiro wonders of the Memphis Barbecue Spaghetti, a dish at State Park in Cambridge, Mass. He admits that this might not be a tried-and-true pasta dish, but it doesn't skimp on taste, as the spaghetti is tossed with a tomato-laced barbecue sauce, plus juicy pork shoulder.
Not your ordinary nachos, the barbecue nachos plate at Cowgirl BBQ in Santa Fe., N.M., is cooked for a whopping 12 hours, then sliced, chopped and mixed with a signature barbecue sauce before it's featured atop crispy chips and must-have fixings, like beans, salsa, guacamole and plenty of cheese, which Aarón Sánchez says "is key when you make nachos."
Heirloom Market BBQ
"The one thing that I drive there for is their Spicy Pork Sandwich, " Fabio Viviani says of Atlanta's Heirloom Market BBQ, famed for combining traditional Asian-inspired flavors with familiar 'cue. His top pick features a gojuchang-marinated pork shoulder dressed up with a cool, crunchy coleslaw made with shredded cabbage and carrots tossed with an Asian-style dressing.
Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque & Pirate Bar
A self-described "jerk-chicken aficionado, " Antonia Lofaso is wowed by the jerk chicken at Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque & Pirate Bar in Stillwater, Minn., where they smoke then grill the chicken before topping it with one of three spicy levels of sauce.
The Pit Boss Plate at Podnah's Pit in Portland, Ore., is an all-in-one platter that lets guests taste a bit of everything on the menu. "It's really a beautiful thing, " Roger Mooking admits of the heavily barked brisket, which is slow-smoked for hours and served alongside pulled pork, sausages and ribs, plus cornbread and sides.
Eight Korean BBQ
Offering a DIY approach to the meal, Korean barbecue restaurants often let guests cook some elements of their meal, and the scene at Eight Korean BBQ in Los Angeles is no exception. Pork flowers — made from checkered pork belly — plus thinly sliced bacon, garlic-laced pork cheeks and pork necks are rolled in lettuce with traditional Korean toppings for "a really fun experience, " as Anne Burrell says.