Home #WHERETONEXT USA America’s Best States for Barbecue and Beverages

America’s Best States for Barbecue and Beverages

Big Bob Gibson’s Photo Credit: Sweet Home Alabama

In the world of barbecue things get personal, and the  Southern USA take the traditional BBQ to new heights! Techniques, rubs, sauces vary drastically between states, regions and even cities, and everyone believes they truly produce the best. Competitions are held throughout the nation, barbecue joints are constantly being judged and this growing debate shows no signs of slowing down.

We’re celebrating the best of American Barbecue and the bevvys you can pair with it. The debated topic is sure to stir up controversy, but one things for sure these ten states certainly know ho to produce! 


From Gulf Shores to the foothills of the Appalachia, Alabama tells an intricate story about a love affair with food. Told through sacred family recipes, fresh bursts of locally sourced ingredients and a flair for the dramatics, each meal is an experience and history lesson with each bite. 

Did you know the sauce that accompanies white meat barbecue is believed to be uniquely Alabama?

All across the state, barbeque titans do battle over hot grills to take the crown touting their mastery of tangy and savory flavors. You’ll quickly learn the secret of success is definitely in the sauce – red, white, vinegar or mustard-based. These origin stories can be found in the nourishment of the labor force, coming together over tender and smokey meats. It’s a deeply satisfying food journey through time and an enduring legacy of unity. When visiting north Alabama, complete your food journey by experiencing Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur and learn his secret for perfectly moist barbecue chicken.  

For the freshest catches, head down to the bay and begin with the Original Oyster House in Mobile. This waterfront restaurant is considered one of the area’s best family-friendly seafood eateries serving award-winning crab, fish, shrimp, oysters and more basking in rich butter and spices. You want to save the best for last with a slice of their signature Peanut Butter Pie, featured on the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama.” This dreamy, peanut butter whip is sprinkled with chocolate bits and Kahlúa. 

The Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham is rated one of the best restaurants in America. Owner and operator Frank Stitt is a James Beard award-winning chef whose French training led to the unique ideas of pairing Southern foods with classic French cooking techniques, setting the tone for his flagship restaurant. This cosmopolitan marriage of farm-to-table and French influence has yielded praises across the globe. Stitt’s Baked Grits are a perpetual favorite among diners and on the list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama.” The yellow stone-ground grits are lavishly elevated with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, white wine, shallots, mushrooms, cream and herbs. It’s as rustic as it is exquisite. 

Fine dining all day: James Beard Award-Winning offering “biscuit experiences” 

Unraveling the riddle to the perfect biscuit can sometimes take a lifetime. For James Beard Award-winning Chef Scott Peacock whose reputation is built on maintaining the mystery behind the perfect batch, the secret is about to be out. Peacock’s biscuits have been celebrated by Better Homes & Gardens, the New York Times and by Martha Stewart herself. His biscuits were named among Food & Wine’s best 440 recipes ever published. Now in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt in Marion, Peacock will be hosting an intimate biscuit making workshop in the historic kitchen of Reverie mansion. Showcasing heirloom ingredients and his well-defined techniques, Peacock’s masterclass will give the gift of Southern flavors and the clues to making a perfect buttermilk biscuit. Learn more by visiting https://www.chefscottpeacock.com/. 

If the main courses and desserts haven’t satiated your curiosity, follow your feet and your palate to north Alabama for the Craft Beer Trail. These artisan brews bare catchy names, evoking local flare and a little bit of tongue and cheek humor. Straight to Ale in Huntsville produces “Monkeynaut,” an American IPA with a hoppy aroma and defined orange notes. If you happen to see its logo, you’ll notice a Simian monkey in a space suit paying tribute to the primates who participated in early space exploration. You can order a flight sampler at most breweries on the trail and take a tour of their facility. It all makes for a tasty way to wind down from your travels.


Some of the liveliest discussions are held when people debate who has the best barbecue. There are enough secret recipes to make Fort Knox explode if they were stored there.  Arkansas is blessed with a wealth of barbecue restaurants, dives, joints…whatever you want to call them.  On this savory BBQ trail, you can choose from mustard and tomato vinegar sauces, dry rub, and thick or thin tomato based. Ribs, pulled or chopped pork, brisket, beef tenderloin and chicken are on most menus along with the familiar sides. We built this list around some of the most popular BBQ joints, but the BBQ trail is, by no means, a comprehensive list. It’s just the tip of the barbecue “iceberg.” Come chow down along the trail, enjoying all the different types of local ‘cue you’ll find here. Use the map below to plot your trip — whether you drive east to west or north to south, you’ll find delectable BBQ in all regions of the state.


Kentucky has long been known for its barbecue and bourbon, among other things, but awesome new restaurants and bourbon experiences keep popping up to make each visit to the Bluegrass State fresh and new.

A new stop along northern Kentucky’s bourbon experience, The B-Line, Smoke Justis in downtown Covington offers delicious menu items such as smoked wings, a BBQ box with smoked pork and house-made BBQ sauce on top of hand-cut fries, a smoked hot brown with smoked turkey breast, brisket, ribs and more. Yum! After filling up with BBQ, hit up a nearby distillery on the B-Line such as New Riff Distilling or Second Sights Spirits for a bourbon tasting.

James B. Beam Distilling Co. recently underwent multi-million-dollar renovations, completely revamping their Clermont campus and opening a new restaurant, The Kitchen Table. The restaurant offers scrumptious Southern favorites, including Kentucky burgoo, pulled pork sliders, smoked chicken, fried catfish and new twists such as venison poppers, pulled pork empanadas and lamb ribs, plus pizzas such as smoked pork and Hot Brown. Nearby in Bardstown, Heaven Hill Distillery also unveiled new renovations to its visitor experience, including new tasting rooms and Five Brothers Bar & Kitchen.


There’s a reason Kansas City is called the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” Home to more than 100 barbecue restaurants, ranging from the legendary Gates Bar-B-Q and Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque to smaller establishments popular with locals, the city is rumored to have more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the world. They even have an app – KC BBQ Experience – to help you locate them all. But Kansas City isn’t the only destination in Missouri with mouth-watering ‘cue. Award-winning restaruants are located throughout the state. In St. Louis, try Pappy’s Smokehouse or Salt + Smoke – but arrive early, because they close their doors when they sell out of meat. In Branson, Gettin’ Basted or Danna’s BBQ & Burger Shop are sure to please. – Beer giant Anheuser-Busch got it’s start in St. Louis, Missouri, creating the foundation for a thriving beer community. To this day, visitors can still tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, learning about the brewing process from seed to sip. And best of all, you get to sample their product (guests 21 and older). Craft breweries have followed in recent years, with establishments like Urban Chestnut Brewing Company & Schlafly finding great success. In Kansas City, Boulevard Brewing Company is king. After touring the factory, linger in the Tours & Recreation Center to extend the experience. Special events create a lively environment, the highlight of which is Beer Hall BIngo on Sundays.


Mississippi offers a wide variety of BBQ from diverse cultural backgrounds and cooking methods that all share one common trait: it is some of the best BBQ you will ever eat. Whether you’re visiting Biloxi, Holly Springs, or anywhere in between, you’re sure to find a restaurant that will satisfy your tastebuds and have you craving seconds. Here, are  the distinct qualities of Mississippi BBQ and offer a list of outstanding places to eat.

The Tradition of Mississippi BBQ

Three major patterns of BBQ have emerged over time in Mississippi based on the method of cooking used, including:

  • Welded trailer rigs: These are typically used for home or traveling barbecues, and they produce a flavor no other cooker can make.
  • Traditional pits: These are popular as they deliver a gentle, stable heat that achieves unmatched slow cooking.
  • Gas and electric ovens: They provide the newest form of barbecue grilling and allow chefs to cook a lot at once with only one or two pieces of wood.

In addition to its various cooking methods, Mississippi BBQ also varies in the kinds of meats used. For example, you’ll find goat barbecue in Lafayette, Panola, and Tate counties and oxtails at Bully’s Restaurant in Jackson


Starting in Ayden with famed Skylight Inn and finishing in Murphy with Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que, the North Carolina Barbecue Society Historic Barbecue Trail spotlights around 20 stops that specialize in roasting pig the old-fashioned way – slowly, over pits of wood or charcoal. Both distinct styles of barbecue, Eastern and Lexington, are represented on the trail and continue to cause heated debates along the way over which tastes better. Eastern-style uses the whole hog – without ketchup – while Western- or Lexington-style is just shoulders. And, yes, you’ll also see it spelled two ways: barbecue and barbeque – or often just ‘cue or Q. Whatever the style or spelling, you’ll find it still tastes great in the Tar Heel State at these select Trail members.


Come to South Carolina, one of the only places in the nation where you’ll find all four of the basic types of barbecue.

Of course, barbecue in South Carolina means pork and only pork. Other things, such as beef and chicken, can be barbecued, but only pork is referred to as barbecue.

The four types of barbecue are distinguished by the sauce used, either basted on during cooking, added after cooking, or both.

South Carolina’s BBQ Trail Map shows which regions traditionally serve what type of barbecue. Along the coast, you’ll find a spicy vinegar-and-pepper sauce, which, dates back hundreds of years.

In the Midlands of the state, and in a band that stretches toward the coast, you’ll get mustard sauce. That distinctive sauce, unique to South Carolina, can be traced back to German settlers. It’s the type that Maurice’s in the Columbia area has been serving for almost 60 years.

Light tomato sauce – basically a vinegar and pepper with ketchup or tomato added, is found in the Pee Dee and in upper middle part of the state.

Heavy tomato sauce is the choice in the western and northwestern part of the state, as well as most of the nation. It’s the kind most like Kraft and other brands on the grocery store shelves. At one time, you’d know what type of barbecue you’d be served just by knowing what part of the state you were in. But these days the lines have blurred somewhat. You can blame that partly on the Barbecue Association. Through intensive training of judges and barbecue competitions held all over the state throughout the year, people who cook barbecue and those who just love to eat it have learned about all the other sauces out there and they want to try it.


Savor Southern comfort food like barbecue, biscuits and hot chicken that feeds your soul or fresh new farm-to-table eateries, mom-and-pop diners, hidden gem cafes and award-winning restaurants across the state. Explore and sip along a wine trail, the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, take a brewery tour and bring your favorites home. Come hungry. Leave satisfied. Explore a Taste of Tennessee.

TN BBQ Trail
From dry-rubbed to sauce-slathered to dry rubs, you don’t have to go far for mouth-watering barbecue in Tennessee. In Brownsville in West Tennessee, about an hour outside Memphis, Owner Helen Turner at Helen’s Bar-B-Q is one of the few female pit masters in the country. She smokes pork shoulders on site and serves them with her famous sauce. Grab friends and family and watch the game at Edley’s Bar-B-Q in Nashville. Don’t skip out on famous sides like homemade baked beans, mac and cheese and cornbread. In the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ in Pigeon Forge serves up slow-smoked flavor, hickory-smoked ribs, hand-pulled tender BBQ, juicy smoked chicken and tender beef brisket. Get a taste of famous barbecue at food festivals across the state. Championship teams compete from around the globe at Jack Daniel World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg. Memphis welcomes 230 teams from 25 states and several countries to smoke the best meats during the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

Knoxville’s Brewery Scene
Enjoy a fine craft beer or experience artisans blowing hand-crafted beer glasses at places like Pretentious Beer Co. Watch your brewer in action in an industrial space or sip your beer in a cozy tasting room. Whether you prefer German and other traditional beers or quirky infused beers, it’s all on tap in Knoxville. Shulz Brau Brewing Company features German lagers and ales with a large taproom and outdoor beer garden. Stop by the Visitors Center and pick up a Knoxville Ale Trail Passport with a complementary map. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? No problem. Stop in at Knoxville Brew Hub for a craft beer tasting and find out which breweries in the city to visit.Tennessee Whiskey Trail
Adventures run on Tennessee Whiskey. Listen to stories of the rich history of the craft at 28 registered distilleries, including Jack Daniel, Cascade Hollow and Uncle Nearest. 

Upper Cumberland Wine Trail 
Experience Middle Tennessee uncorked on the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail. On this trail, visitors can take in all the waterfalls and rivers of the region coupled perfectly with a glass of the region’s finest wines. 

Natchez Trace Wine Trail
Drink the day away along the Natchez Trace Parkway and take in all the views of middle Tennessee by taking the Natchez Trace Wine Trail. Only an hour outside of Nashville, visitors can experience four wineries in one day including Grinder’s Switch Winery, Keg Springs Winery, Amber Falls Winery and Natchez Hills Vineyard. 

Rocky Top Wine Trail
Over the river and through the woods in East Tennessee, visitors can embark on a wine journey among the oldest mountains in the world. Five wineries and one distillery make up the Rocky Top Wine Trail, a unique experience to please the taste buds. 

Wine Trail of West Tennessee
What better way to enjoy the southern charm of West Tennessee than taking a wine road trip along the region’s Wine Trail. With over seven wineries that make up the trail, the day will be filled with wonderful outdoor wonders and delectable traditions of the soulful region. 


Flavours of the south can be found just minutes outside of Canaan Valley Resort State Park at Canaan Valley BBQ. Specializing in slow smoked ribs, half chickens, pulled pork and brisket, there is something for everyone. The quality smoked meats and made-from-scratch sides keep customers returning to the fire. Follow the smoke to West Virginia’s capital city and stop by Dem 2 Brothers & a Grill where pork, ribs and chicken are grilled over an open flame. Since being featured on Food Network’s “Southern Fried Roadtrip,” this local shop has received national recognition. You won’t want to miss out on testing this for yourself. Situated in the southern mountains of Gilbert, West Virginia, Hatfield & McCoy Moonshine produces small, handmade batches six days a week. This moonshine continues to follow Devil Anse Hatfield’s recipe and is made with 100% West Virginia grown corn. Passed down from many generations, this moonshine is believed to be second to none. Mountain State Brewing Company, one of West Virginia’s oldest distributing microbreweries can be found in both Morgantown and Bridgeport. While wood-fired flatbreads, sandwiches and salads are amongst the favorites here, nothing compares to the array of microbrews and cocktails. Be sure to check out the speciality brews unique to every season. Authentic brews can also be found in Elkins, West Virginia at Big Timber Brewing Company. Inspired by the surrounding forests, Big Timber pays respect to the main industry in its community. The beer produced here is something any West Virginian can take pride in.