We are one week out from the 4th of July, which means that the neighbors you hate have probably started setting off a few fireworks here and there. It’s not enough to feel festive, just enough to wake you up and leave you lying in the dark, questioning your life choices. It also means that we are in the middle of barbecue season. Memorial Day ushers in family affairs where people are encouraged to get wicked drunk and play with fire. Independence Day is the sequel: all the intoxicated grilling of meats, but now with Roman candles.
As you’ll quickly learn by watching literally any episode of Chopped: Grill Masters, people are incredibly passionate about barbecue — hanging onto regional rivalries and personal preferences with the tenacity and lowkey resentment generally reserved for politics and sports. Lovers of outdoor cooking will fight about tomato v. vinegar, gas v. charcoal, sauce v. rub, and classic cuts v. whole hog. And, those are just a few of the potential arguments. The fact that anyone can have a get together and barbecue things without a brawl erupting is baffling. This may be why so many people settle and do benign burgers and hotdogs. It’s not great eating, but no one has to visit the ER or get a divorce.
It may simply be easier to skip attempts at pitmastering with family and friends and hit up a restaurant instead. The food will likely be much, much better. and if violence erupts, you don’t have to clean up afterwards. You just get banned from the location. And, speaking as someone who was drunkenly flung to the ground as her friends broke a table in a bar, if you leave fast enough, you can come back without people remembering the incident. Bans are garbage.
To find out about the best barbecue places, we asked some famous chefs from across the country where they have had the best BBQ. Read through their answers, look at pictures of slow cooked meats, and get into the comments and tell us about all the topnotch ‘cue joints that we left off of the list.
Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor, TX)
Chef Sarah Schafer — Owner and Executive Chef, Irving Street Kitchen
Louie Mueller in Taylor, Texas hands down. The town itself harkens back to what makes BBQ great! For 68 years they have been doing smoking to perfection daily, and when they run-out, they shut.