Saturday, May 7, 2011

Who serves the nation's best BBQ? It's National BBQ month: Weigh in here

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comments  76

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

May is National Barbecue Month, an occasion that was brought to our attention by the arrival of a press release from Flor de Caña rum encouraging us to impress our friends by whipping up a cocktail sure to compliment whatever hunk of meat we slapped on the grill. (The drink contains maple syrup, Liquid Smoke, salt and baby corn. I'll pass, thanks.)

A quick Internet search failed to turn up much hoopla surrounding BBQ Month, but the news did spark a spirited in-office debate over where to find the country's best barbecue. That's not surprising. When it comes to igniting fiery passions, barbecue ranks right up there with politics and religion.

BEST OF THE ROAD CONTEST: Nominate, vote for your favorite BBQ spots

Our allegiances lined up geographically: Texas vs. Kansas City vs. North Carolina vs. Memphis.

My colleague, Jeff Stinson, is unwavering in his opinion that "Kansas City remains the best, and in this order: Arthur Bryant's ... I think burnt ends originated there. Jack Stack at the old freight train station. Any Oklahoma Joe's location."

(And yes, Jeff is from Kansas.)

Laura Bly declares that the best 'cue, hands down is the chopped pork with vinegar-based sauce at Allen & Son in Chapel Hill, N. C. - though she's also partial to Central California's Santa Maria beef tri-tip, rubbed with salt, pepper and garlic salt and roasted over red oak.

Kitty Yancey favors Memphis-style barbecue slathered in red sauce.

I'm your basic opportunist. Having eaten my way through the Texas Barbecue Trail and a large swath of the North Carolina Barbecue Society's Historic Barbecue Trail, the joints I hit first are the ones I remember best -- probably because I was still hungry at that point.

In North Carolina, my first stop was at Grady's Barbecue in Dudley, where owner Steve Grady lovingly attended to two whole pigs blistering over a bed of oak and charcoal out back. Not a great outcome for the pig, but for customers: fantastic.

My first taste of Texas-style beef brisket was at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. It was swaddled in butcher paper with a side of spongy white bread, pickles and onion slices, served in the classic Texas style manner. Delicious.

In a nod to National Barbecue Month, here's your chance to sound off about your favorite style of barbecue and/or your favorite barbecue restaurant.

Posted May 4 2011 6:00AM

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