Dr. Glenn Keiper rates his top 10 BBQ Destinations in America
Glenn L. Keiper Jr. knows a lot about a few things. Not only is he one of the top Neurosurgeons in Oregon, but Dr. Glenn Keiper is a highly skilled Barbecue chef and knife maker. While he now resides on the west coast, his roots are planted in the midwest. Born in Akron Ohio, he grew up in the heartland of the Barbecue belt. Sitting right next door to his home state are Kentucky and Tennessee which both hold a proud Barbecue Tradition, and just across the Appalachians he could find all the Carolina Barbecue he could handle.
Barbecue is probably the quintessential American food, and the regional styles are as varied as the nation itself. Whether you love a juicy smoked brisket, you dream of a slab of sticky glazed ribs, or pulled pork is more your style, there’s something out there in the Barbecue world for you. But where to go to get the Q you crave? Dr. Glenn Keiper can help. Over the years, he’s traveled up and down the Barbecue belt and wants to share his experience with you.
B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue — Savannah Georgia
We’ll start our tour in the jewel of the south, Savannah Georgia. Pitmaster Bryan Furman. At one point there was an Atlanta outpost of B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, but it was lost to a tragic fire. Things are still going strong today at the original location in Savannah where Bryan puts on a master class in a Barbecue style that reflects his South Carolina Roots. He uses an amazing, Mustard-Based, Carolina Gold sauce to perfectly enhance his heritage-breed pork. If you stop in, be sure to try the peach infused ribs, they’re to die for
Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q — Decatur Alabama
Northern Alabama is pork shoulder territory. They cook it low and slow over the hickory until it just falls apart into their famous pulled pork. However, Big Bob’s is famous for something else altogether, their Chicken. It’s butterflied and grilled to perfection before “baptized”, as the founder’s grandson puts it, with a truly unique Barbecue Sauce. The Alabama White Sauce. This staple of Alabama Barbecue was invented by Big Bob in 1925 and unlike other sauces it’s not tomato, or mustard based. It is a combination of mayonnaise, vinegar, and spices that sits on almost every barbecue table in the state. The white sauce was invented here though, and they still make it better than anyone else.
Cozy Corner BBQ — Memphis Tennessee
Ribs are the king of Memphis Barbecue and in Memphis that means the slab has been dry rubbed and slow smoked over charcoal. You can get a smoked rack of ribs in a lot of places in Memphis, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot than Cozy Corner BBQ. It’s a third generation family-run establishment, and while they are famous for their ribs, the Cornish hens also get rave reviews. Co-Founder Desiree Robinson is also the first African American woman to be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame.
Franklin Barbecue — Austin Texas
The story of Franklin Barbecue is a true American success story. It began with humble origins as a roadside trailer in 2009, eventually becoming Austin’s buzziest barbecue joint after Barack Obama stopped in and enjoyed it so much that he ended up spending around $300. The line here forms early, and the top-shelf brisket usually sells out by midafternoon. Arron Franklin is widely considered to be one of the premier Pit Masters in the country, so if you’re in the lone star state, this is definitely a can’t miss
Gatlin’s BBQ — Houston Texas
Pit Master and ex-NFL player Greg Gatlin holds the reins at this family-owned and run Barbecue hot spot. Gatlin’s burst onto the Houston scene about ten years ago. Because its Texas, Brisket is definitely on the menu here and it’s excellent, but don’t discount the dry rubbed and slow smoked wings which are done Cajun style with dirty rice.
Grady’s Bar-B-Q — Dudley North Carolina
Steve and Gerri Grady have been slow smoking whole hogs over hickory since 1977, and the Barbecue tradition is in their blood. Steve’s grandfather was a pitmaster, and the recipes for the sides came from his mother’s side of the family. On July 4th, 2021 Grady’s is set to celebrate their 44th anniversary, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. If you’re road ripping in the tar-heel state their pulled pork will keep you happy for miles.
Heirloom Market BBQ — Atlanta Georgia
While other Barbecue restaurants might get a bit more Hype, Heirloom Market definitely stands out from the crowd. This unique Barbecue experience is a fusion of Traditional Southern Barbecue and Korean inspired cuisine. Chef Jiyeon Lee was a pop sensation at one point in her life and her Husband is one time child star Cody Taylor have married her Korean flavors with his Southern Roots creating dishes like gochujan-marinated pulled pork, Kimchi tacos, and miso flavored collard greens.
Homegrown Smoker — Portland Oregon
Barbecue and non-meat eaters don’t tend to go together. Homegrown Smoker though offers vegans a taste of the magic. The menu offers plant-based takes on barbecue traditions like their “Buff Thwings”, their smoked soy curls, and their “macnocheese.”
Hometown Bar-B-Que — Brooklyn New York
Over the past decade there has been a Barbecue boom in New York City, and one of the best of these new crop of BBQ slingers is Hometown Bar-B-Que in Redhook Brooklyn. Hometown may not be in the most accessible of locations, but their menu has had crowds swarming in since 2013 with its heavy fusion flavors. Things like Caribbean Jerk Ribs, lamb-belly banh mi, brisket, and a truly amazing pastrami sandwich set Hometown Bar-B-Que a cut above the crowd.
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que — Kansas City Kansas
Jeff and Joy Stehney have had a truly wild ride since opening Joe’s in the 90’s. First opened in 1996 in a working gas station, they have since built themselves into a powerhouse trio of restaurants. Joe’s serves up everything the discerning Q enthusiast could hope for. Their menu offers Burnt Ends, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, sausages and all the sides to keep your belly full.
These are 10 of Glenn L. Keiper Jr.’s favorite Barbecue stops across the country, but don’t just take his word for it. Go and experience these amazing eatery’s for yourself.