Food + Wine

America's Best Barbecue

by Jane and Michael Stern

Is there any food that better conveys summer than barbecue? After all, no cuisine is more easygoing, begging to be eaten with a wipe-your-hands-on-your-shorts brio—and nothing tastes as good when the heat of July sweeps in. And while we're all for cooking in the backyard, a quest for America's best barbecue makes a heck of a good excuse to get out and explore our country's little towns and back-road byways. Compare those succulent spareribs from Leon's in Chicago with the whole-hog barbecue in North Carolina's Skylight Inn (pictured), while planning a trip to Memphis for barbecue spaghetti (you read that right). Here are our picks for some of the best, representing smoke-pit passions from coast to coast. It'll make you glad to be American.

Published June 2008. To read more about Jane and Michael Stern's favorite spots to eat, visit

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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