Monk: For the first time in 3 years, Contributing barbecue editor Robert F. Moss presents his list of the South’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints. And of course, a lot has changed. There’s the little matter of the global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the restaurant business for the past 2.5 years and has probably accelerated some restaurant closings that might have been able to hang on a little longer. But notably, the only closure from the 2019 version of the list is Bryan Furman’s B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque in Atlanta and Savannah. Fear not, as Bryan Furman BBQ is in the works.
As expected, there’s also a decidedly Texas bent to the list which reflects the national trend. Even in proud barbecue states like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia is represented by Texas-style joints.
Note that this differs from the annual “South’s Best” Reader’s list published in the spring.
By the Numbers:
- Texas: 15
- South Carolina: 9
- North Carolina: 8
- Tennessee: 6
- Alabama: 3
- Georgia: 3
- Missouri: 2
- Arkansas: 1
- Florida: 1
- Kentucky: 1
- Maryland: 1
Not surprisingly, Texas tops the list with 15 entries. Texas barbecue is rapidly becoming the national barbecue style and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. This lost provides a good roadmap of places I still need to try, such as Valentina’s, Burnt Bean, Blood Bros, Tejas among many others.
South Carolina takes second with 9 joints and while Moss is a SC-based writer, I’m a little surprised its so well represented on the list. However, I am especially happy to see Palmira BBQ in Charleston make the list.
North Carolina takes home the bronze with 8 joints including newer-school joints like Prime Barbecue and Sam Jones Barbecue alongside classics like Skylight Inn, Stamey’s, Lexington #1, and Grady’s.
Locally, no Charlotte-area joints make the list and in particular I’m surprised that Jon G’s Barbecue is not on the list. Not only because I’m such a fan but also because Moss wrote so glowingly about it after his visit. The same could be said for Lawrence Barbecue, for that matter. If I had to guess, it probably came down to Jon G’s, Lawrence, Palmira, and Prime Barbecue in Knightdale, NC for two spots on the list.
Barbecue lists are inherently controversial but with Robert Moss you know he’s at least doing the leg work and traveling to each of these joints in his list. Some slight SC-bias aside, it’s a very solid list.
What are your thoughts? What joints did Moss not included? How many of the list have you been to? I’ve been to a respectable-but-still-lacking 18 of the 50.
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I have personally been to Lawrence and to Jon G’s. While Lawrence is way better than average, it is not in the same category as Jon G’s. Garren is setting new standards for BBQ in NC and beyond. It’s fine for folks to be behind the curve recognizing his excellence… they will one day be made aware.