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BBQ Tour of America's South

Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City, Illinois.

Photo: Courtesy of Oklahoma Joe's

Every morsel of barbecue tells a story, starting with the meat: if it’s sausage, you’re in or around Austin, Texas. Mutton? Owensboro, Kentucky. Whole hog might be eastern North Carolina, western Tennessee, or upstate South Carolina, depending on which hardwoods you’re using and how you seasoned your pork. Did the pit master put a dry rub of black pepper and salt on it before laying it over the coals? Did he baste it once it was on the heat, and if so, with what kind of liquid? Did he turn the pig before it was done, and did he dress it with sauce before it was served? Every decision a contemporary pit master makes might be rooted in tradition, in the choices our ancestors made; and even today these regional differences hold up. Matt and Ted Lee set out on a 3,000-mile odyssey, exploring the contours of American barbecue the way hikers thrill to the changing topography of the Appalachian Trail. Here's their itinerary.

Read the article

Inspired by: America's Best BBQ Restaurants — by Matt Lee, Published Aug. 2009

Hotels (5)

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    Sheraton Raleigh

    Recently renovated 353-room hotel in the heart of the city.

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    Raphael Hotel

    Fronting Kansas City’s upscale Country Club Plaza—one of the nation’s oldest outdoor suburban shopping center—the 126-room Raphael Hotel occupies a

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    Hilton St. Louis Downtown

    Housed in an 1888 former bank, steps from the iconic Gateway Arch.

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    Madison Hotel

    At the Madison Hotel, housed in the former Tennessee Trust Bank building in downtown Memphis, the 70 rooms and 40 suites have bold black-and-whit

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    Union Station-A Wyndham Historic Hotel

    Housed in a former train station, with spacious, whimsically decorated rooms.

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Restaurants (17)

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    Siler’s Old Time BBQ

    The most recent in a succession of barbecue establishments cooking whole hogs on this site. Ask for rib meat, pit meat, or tenderloin if you prefer

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    Scott’s Bar-B-Q

    Smoke rings are evident in these perfect pulled-pork sandwiches, which are topped with carrot-flecked slaw and suffused with a medium-hot sauce.

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    Mary’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que

    Locals line up for a superb rendition of chopped pork on a bun, as well as excellent grilled short ribs.

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    Jerry’s

    The dining room here is more like a freestanding screened porch. Grab a seat and enjoy an outstanding pulled-pork sandwich, perfectly seasoned and

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    Jack’s Bar-B-Que

    Located in the thick of honky-tonk bars on Music City’s tourist strip, Jack’s Bar-B-Que nevertheless draws local rockabilly kids and alt- country s

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    Lexington Barbecue

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    Roper’s Ribs

    The top spot for the Gateway City’s barbecue specialties, such as St. Louis–cut pork ribs, snoots, and rib tips.

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    Gates Bar-B-Q

    Many like Gates for the burnt ends, mixed plate, and fries.

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    C & K Barbecue

    Buy the region’s specialties, snoots, at this takeout window frequented by a steady stream of locals. Like oversize pork rinds, the texture of a ri

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    Arthur Bryant’s

    Inside this circa-1920's institution, a snaking line stretches to the door. While waiting, watch as the workers: pulling a whole brisket, blackened

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    Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn

    The apotheosis of Owensboro’s micro- regional mutton ’cue. Order it sliced and chopped—always with “dip”—and in a meaty burgoo (a rustic Kentucky s

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    Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ

    Beyond the shamrock gas station’s pumps and past the racks of Hostess cakes, a warren of tables and booths makes up this barbecue joint. Oklahoma J

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    17th Street Bar & Grill

    Few champion pit masters have achieved the level of celebrity of Mike Mills, whose postmodern barn on a strip of suburban sprawl provides a range o

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    The Pit

    North Carolina’s legendary pit master Ed Mitchell presides over this airy restaurant in a former meatpacking warehouse. (White tablecloth at a ’cue

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    A & R Bar-B-Q

    Prepare yourself for the best traditional Memphis-style ribs ever—flat-out sensational. The velvety, succulent meat at A&R simply glides away from

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