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America’s Best Barbeque?

Concierge.com posted this list of barbeque spots across the US.   Normally, these kinds of lists incense and enrage me; they recommend chain restaurants or the most popular places and have little regard for the kind of delicious, hand-crafted barbeque that gets me excited.  However, this list doesn’t suck too bad.  

As some of you know, I am a major barbeque fanatic.  I’m also a rigid, dogmatic purist when it comes to barbeque.   I could not care less how you spell it – it’s all in how you cook it.  It’s got to be cooked with low heat near (not on top of) a wood-based fire, and although I prefer pork as a matter of principle, I’ll accept almost anything in a pinch.  If it’s made in a slow cooker, I might punch you in the throat if you call it barbeque.  With that, let’s dissect a few areas of the list.

Memphis: It’s a start when Concierge.com recommends Cozy Corner instead of Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous as a source of real Memphis-style barbeque.  You could argue that Rendezvous was the originator of Memphis competition-style dry ribs, and I wouldn’t argue with you that much.  I would debate whether the Rendezvous is real barbeque, as their website even states that their ribs are “charcoal broiled” instead of barbequed.  So, Concierge.com gets a pass. 

If you’re ever in Memphis, I would highly recommend BBQ Shop and The Commissary as additional palces to get delicious barbeque.  Apparently, BBQ Shop is home to the original BBQ spaghetti recipe, and while I am not a huge fan of barbeque spaghetti, I have been known to destroy some barbeque nachos, which BBQ Shop and Rendezvous both have. 

California: I do take issue with the inclusion of the Hitching Post.  It’s not barbeque.  It may be delicious (who doesn’t like grilled meat?), but it’s not the technical definition of barbeque.  If they do to barbeque what they did to sushi in California, I’ll be pissed.

New YorkPlataforma Churrascaria is not barbeque and should not be on a barbeque list.   I am surprised to see that place included, but others not, as there has been a rash of “real” barbeque restaurants opening in New York City recently.  Either the transplanted southerners have finally revolted or New Yorkers have discovered “a quaint southern culinary tradition.”  I’ve eaten at Hill Country  and have been told that Blue Smoke and Dinosaur BBQ both good.  My experience with Hill Country’s Texas-style barbeque was positive – the brisket, sausage, chicken, and cornish game hen were all nicely flavored, as were the multitude of available sides.  However, I couldn’t help but think that the restaurant had veered into theme restaurant territory.  Any food, including barbeque, needs to have proper context in order for it to work.  The meal, served in New York, in a restaurant that is a facsimile of the old Kreutz Market is not necessarily the greatest context in which to enjoy barbeque.

I’m also surprised that there was no mention of Arthur Bryant’s, which may or may not be the best restaurant in America, according to Calvin Trillin.

This mildly divergent rant has sapped me of energy and made me hungry for some good barbeque.  I believe I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. 

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