It’s officially time to put to bed the idea that New Orleans is not a barbecue town. Yes, there have always been hideaway joints with varying renditions of sauce-slathered meats long-cooked on a grill. But real pit-smoked barbecue? That’s fairly new. Distinct from restaurants with a few smoked, barbecued or chargrilled menu items, the number of joints dedicated exclusively to the craft of barbecue, is now firing up.
The presence and persistence of some serious pit-smoking players with strong barbecue game has helped create a real New Orleans “bbq scene,” complete with competitive behavior, festivals, social media throw-downs and plenty of hungry fans. This city may be “late to the party” on many things, but when it comes to food—especially this meaty matter—she’s right on ‘cue.
The Joint, Pete and Jenny Breen’s Bywater barbecue haven, has long been the go-to for serious smoked ribs, pork, beef and chicken. Try this: a beef brisket sandwich with their legendary mac-and-cheese as a side; add on an a la carte rib. The peanut butter pie is lush.
In the Warehouse District, Ugly Dog Saloon has been holding down New Orleans’ barbecue situation for 18 years. The charred “Burnt Ends” sandwich is good, but nothing beats the “Ugly” burger, topped with pulled pork, chili beans, mac-and-cheese and sauce. Ridiculous and amazing. Get their unique and outstanding coleslaw—fat slices of red cabbage with an addictive “secret” dressing.
NOLA Brewing houses the barbecue temple McClure’s. Neal McClure is well known for his tender, smoky meats, special sauces and stellar four-cheese macaroni. But the “BBQ Poutine,” “Smoky Cuban” sandwich and transcendent smoked-beef pho (Vietnamese-style soup) are serious standouts.
Blue Oak BBQ recently opened in Mid-City, drawing raves for its crispy-skinned barbecued chicken, killer nachos and fried Brussels sprouts. When the barbecue pork egg rolls make an appearance on the menu, get them.
Saucy’s is all about the "Smokeout Burger" with smoked gouda and the goat cheese mac, while at Moe’s Original Bar B Cue smoked turkey joins the meaty mix, coupled with surprising and always-tasty “daily” sides, such as Brunswick stew and coconut cream pie.