Sylvia Lovegren lists her favorite places
Highway SC-170 A, Levy, SC 29927 (843-784-3635). Known for excellent ribs, not to mention the pink pigs hanging from the ceiling. The sides include coleslaw, hush puppies, and Brunswick stew. A mustard-based sauce, traditional for South Carolina, is on the table, but many regulars prefer the “low-country fire” sauce.
604 West Young Street, Llano, TX 78643 (915-247-5713;
745 North Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105 (901-527-9158). “Barbecue of the first order,” according to the New Orleans food writer Lolis Elie. Outstanding ribs and pork-shoulder sandwiches. Other specialties include barbecued bologna, smoked sausages, and Cornish game hens. An unusual side dish is barbecued spaghetti—pasta with barbecue sauce.
13440 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge, VA 22191 (703-492-2205;
619 North Colorado Street, Lockhart, TX 78644 (512-398-2361;
5800 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64129 (816-923-4484;
10 Highway 29-70S, Lexington, NC 27295 (336-249-9814). Frequently cited as the best of the best, Lexington is known for its pork shoulder. Order a tray of “outside meat” if you like your meat smoky and a little chewy, “inside meat” if you like it milder. There are only a few sides, including hush puppies and red coleslaw (unusual and tasty), but the homemade desserts are good. Try some local Cheerwine soda as well.
6228 South Ward Boulevard, Wilson, NC 27893 (252-291-3808;
2840 West Parrish Avenue, Owensboro, KY 42301 (270-684-8143;
Third and Antioch, Delight, AR 71940 (870-379-2611). This small-town place is a favorite of Mike Davis of the prizewinning Lotta Bull BBQ team. It features barbecued brisket and ribs, along with baked beans, Texas toast (garlic bread), potato salad, hamburgers, and catfish. Be sure to order the homemade chocolate or coconut pie to finish.
515 East York Lane, Savannah, GA 31401 (912-232-9754). A tiny place down an alley in historic old-town Savannah. There are three small tables, but most people just get their food and find a convenient curb to perch on. It sells pulled-pork sandwiches, but it’s most famous for ribs and tomato-mustard sauce, as well as red rice and deviled crabs. The sides include coleslaw, potato salad, and excellent sweet potato pie and red-velvet cake. A favorite of John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
For a deeper study of barbecue, here are three excellent books and a Web site: North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time, by Bob Garner (John F. Blair, Publisher); Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country, by Lolis Eric EMe (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Legends of Texas Barbecue Cook Book: Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses, by Robb Walsh (Chronicle); and