The South's Best Barbecue Joint In Every State 2024

Courtesy of Franklin Barbecue
Courtesy of Franklin Barbecue

Each year we ask Southern Living’s readers to name the best barbecue restaurant in each Southern state. This time around, they seem to be in something of a traditional mood. A parade of new, highly-acclaimed barbecue restaurants have opened all over the South in recent years, but the 2024 picks lean toward the tried-and-true.

Notably, many of the new winners this year are quite a bit older than the restaurants they replaced from last year’s poll. If my math is correct, the 15 institutions on the 2024 list represent more than 500 total years of serving top-notch Southern barbecue to hungry diners.

Without further ado, here are the readers’ picks for the best BBQ in every state in the South.


An online survey was conducted by third-party agency Proof Insights among Southern Living consumers, asking them to rate their favorite places across the South for the Southern Living South's Best Awards 2024. The survey was fielded from July 12 to August 23, 2023, and had over 20,000 respondents.

Alabama: Big Bob Gibson's

Rush Jagoe
Rush Jagoe


Loyal customers keep going back to Big Bob Gibson’s for the pork, the ribs, and especially for the chicken, all of which are cooked on old school wood-fired brick pits. That chicken is dipped in the now-famous Alabama white sauce, a mayonnaise-based concoction invented by Big Bob himself a century or so ago. Don’t skip the scratch-made pies, either. They’re some of the best barbecue desserts in all of the South.; 1715 6th Ave SE (US Highway 31), Decatur, AL 35601; 256-350-6969

Arkansas: Wright's Barbecue

<p>Robbie Caponetto</p>

Robbie Caponetto


The first Wright’s Barbecue location opened in Fayetteville in 2017, and owner/pitmaster Jordan Wright has been moving fast. He’s has since added locations in Bentonville, Rogers, and most recently in the capital city of Little Rock. The offering is pure - Texas style, with platters of thick-sliced brisket, spareribs, and sausage plus hearty sides like gooey shells-and-cheese and pit-smoked beans for locations

Florida: Big John's Alabama BBQ

Robert Moss
Robert Moss


Big John’s is new to the South’s Best list but it’s hardly new to the Tampa Bay area. The late Rev. John A. Stephens came to East Tampa from Eufaula, Alabama, and opened Big John's in 1968. Today the restaurant is run by Stephens’s grandchildren, and though it moved into a new building in 2010, it still features splendid chicken, sausage, and ribs cooked hot and fast on an Alabama-style open pit with a giant brick chimney.; 5707 N. 40th Street Tampa, Florida 33610; 813-623-3600

Georgia: Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

<p>Jonathan Fox</p>

Jonathan Fox


Texas-born and Georgia-inflected, Fox Bros. is now an Atlanta barbecue institution. In 2007, twin brothers Justin and Jonathan Fox introduced the city to the barbecue style of their native state and won Atlantans over to slow-smoked brisket and jalapeño cheddar hot links. Four locations are now scattered around the city, but the original Dekalb Street location is where you’ll find the broadest array of creative barbecue mashups like “chicken fried” ribs with white BBQ sauce and “Tomminator” tater tots smothered in Brunswick stew.; 1238 Dekalb Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307; 404-577-4030

Kentucky: Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn

Hector Manuel Sanchez
Hector Manuel Sanchez


Once again our readers have given the nod to Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn as the best barbecue in Kentucky, and it’s hard to think of a more iconic example of the state’s signature style. That includes hickory-smoked mutton, beef, and chicken dressed in a tangy orange sauce or thin Worcestershire-laced “dip” along with a splendidly peppery burgoo, Kentucky’s classic barbecue stew. Guests don’t have to hold back either, since the restaurant’s two big buffets are all-you-can-eat.; 2840 W Parrish Ave., Owensboro, KY 42301; 270-684-8143

Louisiana: The Joint

Cedric Angeles
Cedric Angeles

New Orleans

Two miles downriver from Bourbon Street in the heart of the Bywater neighborhood, they're always smokin’ at The Joint. Brisket, ribs, pork, and sausage are served on paper-lined platters or piled atop locally-baked Gendusa French bread buns. They’re joined by rotating specials like chopped brisket cheesesteaks and pork or brisket tacos on housemade flour tortillas. It can all be found in a funky brown- and yellow-striped building at the corner of Mazant and Royal Streets.; 701 Mazant St., New Orleans, LA 70117; 504-949-3232

Maryland: Smokehouse BBQ Shack

<p>Smokehouse BBQ Shack</p>

Smokehouse BBQ Shack


Founded in 2018, Smokehouse BBQ Shack is the youngest joint on this year’s list, and it certainly lives up to its name. The modest white-walled building is perched alongside Three Notch Road just outside Mechanicsville, and the wood-smoked selection includes thick, meaty spareribs and baby backs along with pork, chicken, and brisket. Most notable is the sliced pit beef, Maryland’s distinctive contribution to the American barbecue tradition. Most pit beef is cooked hot and fast over charcoal, but at the Shack they roast top round low and slow over hickory wood then slice it thin and pile it on a fluffy bun for a splendidly smoky sandwich.

29084 Three Notch Rd, Mechanicsville, MD 20659; 301-884-9529

Mississippi: The Shed BBQ Joint

Fred Salinas/The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint
Fred Salinas/The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint

Ocean Springs

Just off I-10 outside of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, The Shed is so much more than a shed. It’s a sprawling 10,000-square-foot compound of wooden buildings and tin-roofed shelters adorned with old license plates and all sorts of bric-a-brac. That unique setting has won over legions of loyal “ShedHeds”, who enjoy live blues music and plenty of cold beer while they dig into platters of baby back ribs, puled pork, and pecan-smoked brisket.; 7501 MS-57, Ocean Springs, MS 39565; 228-875-9590

North Carolina: Lexington Barbecue

Robbie Caponetto
Robbie Caponetto


The Piedmont region of North Carolina has its own signature barbecue style, and Lexington Barbecue is perhaps the quintessential practitioner of it. Forget slow-smoked brisket, ribs, and chicken. That’s not what folks in Lexington mean by “barbecue.” Here the word means something very specific: pork shoulders cooked on big brick pits over glowing hickory coals. The finished meat is chopped or sliced and dressed in the thin vinegar and tomato sauce that locals call “dip”. Pair it up with the region’s unique red-tinged slaw and some golden brown hushpuppies on the side and you have all the makings of a classic North Carolina treat.; 100 Smokehouse Lane, Lexington, NC 27295; 336-249-9814

Oklahoma: Oklahoma Joe's Bar-B-Cue

<p>Oklahoma Joe's</p>

Oklahoma Joe's


What is Oklahoma-style barbecue? Just head to any Oklahoma Joe’s location to find out—there are three in and around Tulsa and two up north in Nebraska. Big slabs of pork ribs are the headline attraction, while brisket and burnt ends echo the neighboring styles of Texas and Kansas City. They’re joined by a few Oklahoma specialties like BBQ bologna, hot links, and the restaurant’s signature “BarbeQulossal” sandwiches, which pile brisket, chicken, or burnt ends inside a Kaiser roll with onion rings and smoked provolone. for locations

South Carolina: Henry's Smokehouse

<p>Henry's Smokehouse</p>

Henry's Smokehouse


In a state filled with acclaimed barbecue joints, this year’s choice for South Carolina’s best is something of a sleeper, but it’s a very worthy pick. The splendid sandwiches at Henry’s are made from pork butts cooked for 12 hours over hickory coals then chopped fine and piled on a soft bun. The hand-cut fries are perhaps the best to be found in any Southern barbecue joint, and the meaty slabs of smoke-kissed ribs and a thick, rich version of South Carolina’s signature hash and rice round an impressive offering.;  240 Wade Hampton Blvd, Greenville, SC 29607; 864-232-7774

Tennessee: Peg Leg Porker

<p>Robert Jacob Lerma</p>

Robert Jacob Lerma


Down in the Gulch in the heart of Nashville, Peg Leg Porker has become our readers’ perennial pick for the best barbecue in Tennessee. Half and full racks of dry rubbed ribs anchor the menu, and the “yardbird”—half a chicken dusted with the same Memphis-style rub as the ribs—is a standout, too. They’re accompanied by a range of tempting options, like smoked green beans, Kool-aid pickles, and creamy pimento cheese made with Miracle Whip. (Don’t question owner Carey Bringle about the Miracle Whip. He will fight you.); 903 Gleaves St., Nashville, TN 37203; 615-829-6023

Texas: Franklin Barbecue

Drew Anthony Smith
Drew Anthony Smith


For more than a decade, barbecue fans have been lining up for hours outside a low-slung building with pale blue trim on Austin’s East Side. They’re there for the funky vibe and the bucket list experience, but more than anything they’re waiting to sample celebrity pitmaster Aaron Franklin’s flawless prime-grade brisket, tender pork ribs, and snappy jalapeño cheddar sausage. Franklin remain Southern Living’s readers pick as the very best barbecue in the barbecue-rich state of Texas.; 900 E. 11th, Austin, TX 78702; 512-653-1187

Virginia: Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que

<p>Pierce's Pit BBQ</p>

Pierce's Pit BBQ


Tucked behind the big orange-and-yellow restaurant is a metal-walled cookhouse with tall chimneys rising high above. Inside, they’re still cooking ribs, chicken, and beef on cinderblock pits, just like Julius “Doc” Pierce did when he opened Pierce’s Pitt in 1971. Smoky pork is generously dressed in Doc’s original sauce, a unique sweet and tangy blend of tomato and vinegar. Thick red-glazed ribs, smoky pulled chicken, and thin-sliced brisket round out the offerings along with crinkle cut fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies.; 447 East Rochambeau Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23188; 757-565-2955

West Virginia: Rollin' Smoke BBQ

Rollin Smoke
Rollin Smoke


Rollin’ Smoke got its start as a roving barbecue operation, but in 2012 the red trailer was parked permanently alongside the Elk River outside of Charleston and a barbecue restaurant built around it. Pulled pork and chicken are the headliners today along with brisket, ribs, and sausage, and they’re joined by a slate of barbecue-topped nachos and mac and cheese bowls. With big open air decks overlooking the peaceful river, there’s no better place to enjoy a little slow-smoked mountain ‘cue.

4008 Crede Dr, Charleston, WV 25302; 681-265-0690

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