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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 brioand 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 roadfood.com.