By Dan Myers
Barbecue is one of those foods that’s fiercely regional. In Texas, it’s all about the beef; in Carolina, the focus is pork; and so on. Thankfully, there are great barbecue restaurants all across the country with multiple locations that are spreading the barbecue gospel far and wide. We surveyed nearly 10,000 folks from across the country, and these are the 25 chains that received the most votes.
Chains tend to get bad raps, because (for the most part) they rely on production lines and cost-cutting measures to deliver food that’s as inexpensive and quickly made as possible (think pizza chains versus an actual pizzeria). But when it comes to barbecue, there’s really no way to cut corners. Because if you cut corners with barbecue — by using low-grade meat, for example, or employing artificial means to give it smoky flavor — people will know. And not only will they know, they’ll get angry. You can screw around with burgers or pizza, but you can’t screw around with ‘cue.
All the owners of the restaurants on our list keep this fact close to heart, and it comes through in the food they serve. In order to assemble our ranking, we created a survey with 67 chain barbecue joints and asked the public to weigh in and vote for their favorites. Nine thousand, six hundred, and 17 votes later, there was a clear champion.
Choosing a favorite type of barbecue is a subjective matter, but I think we can all agree that when done right, there’s nothing on earth that’s more delicious. And while some of these chains specialize in Texas-style barbecue and others focus on St. Louis, we should be mighty thankful that they’ve decided to expand and grace parts of the country that might otherwise not have access to great barbecue. So loosen your belt and read on to learn which barbecue chains are America’s best.
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