The Best Burger Thread went well, but this thread may tread on the edge of violating the "No Religion" piece of the thread. Very little raises the blood of many of us meat-eaters than a discussion around where to find the best barbecue. Even the definition of barbecue causes arguments.
For me, when I tell someone about barbecue, I am talking about slow and low cooked pork and beef. My preference has always been for fall off the bone pork (diced pork has no room in my list.) The best pork barbecue doesn't need sauce, but if sauce is applied, I am a fan of South Carolina-style mustard sauce, with a sweet, tangy Memphis style tomato based sauce. Despite my love of traveling to North Carolina, I am not nor every will be a fan of vinegar-based sauces.
My top BBQ options based on my limited travels are:
1) Ridgewood Barbecue in Piney Flats, Tennessee
Absolutely perfect, pick picking style fall off tender juicy goodness. The meat is so juicy, you don't need sauce. They don't have a website or any advertising, but it is almost impossible to get a seat and their catering gets booked up months in advance.
2) Hartland B-ar B-Que in Omaha, Nebraska
I stumbled upon this place on a work trip, and I bought a combo plate because I expected the beef to be the standout even though I prefer pork. The brisket was ok (comparable to Rockwood BBQ in Arlington) but the pork was out of this world. It was tender and juicy, and they had an excellent sweet tomato sauce that complimented it perfectly. I had the pork the next day for lunch, and if I ever return to Omaha it will be my first dining stop.
3) Buz and Ned's (West Broad) in Richmond VA
Very similar in taste to Hartland, but larger portions. The meat is juicy and only needs sauce if you want to add it. They only fall behind Hartland because their sauce was good, not great. It was comparable to store-bought Sweet Baby Rays.
I know I am just scratching the surface, but these are the ones that are fresh in mind. Locally to DC, I still have not found the "great" BBQ that folks talk about. I love Rockland's sides, but their pork BBQ isn't as good as the brisket. Famous Daves doesn't move my needle. My favorite place was Bubba's in Falls Church, and both Joe Key Play and I shed a tear when it closed down.
Ok, shoot. Where are all the awesome BBQ places that I am missing. Here, we, go...