A BBQ Road Trip to America’s Best Spots

Conde Nast Traveler

Myron Mixon. Photograph by Alex Martinez Close

Myron Mixon. Photograph by Alex Martinez


Myron Mixon. Photograph by Alex Martinez

If you’re looking for a guide to the world of all things smoked, slathered, and barbecued, you can’t do much better than Myron Mixon. The Georgia native is a chef, teacher, cookbook author, judge on Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, and winner of more barbecue awards and competitions than you can shake a baby-back rib at, earning the nickname of “the winningest man in barbecue.” It also makes him the perfect person to share tips on where (and how) to find the best BBQ on the road—and just in time for National Barbecue Month.

If you could only eat at one BBQ restaurant ever again, which would you choose and why?

Fincher's BBQ in Macon, Georgia. It's been there since 1927. My dad carried me there and his dad carried him.

What are the three things that make the best BBQ?

Great meat, simple flavors, and the right amount of smoke.

How would you describe the differences in the various American regional BBQ styles—Texas vs. Memphis vs. North Carolina vs. Kansas City?

Texas is more about simple seasonings, mainly salt and pepper. The sauce is tomato-based with vinegar and a pop of spice. Kansas City has more complex rubs and the sauce is tomato-based but sweet, with a hickory flavor. Memphis has the same rub flavors as Kansas City but the sauce is even sweeter. Carolina is all about oak and hickory wood smoke with either vinegar- or mustard-base sauces. All are very simple but very good.

Photograph Courtesy Myron Mixon Close

Photograph Courtesy Myron Mixon


Photograph Courtesy Myron Mixon

In your opinion, what are the best cities for BBQ in the U.S.?

The best cities and towns for great authentic BBQ are off the beaten path. The mom-and-pop places in whatever BBQ region you may pursue are where you'll find the best dishes. Those joints that have been around for decades and continually serve the real deal when it comes to BBQ.

What are some of the undiscovered regions?

There are several big cities doing BBQ, like New York City. The best in town right now is Mighty Quinn's.

What's the best way to find good BBQ on the road? Are there certain things travelers should look for and/or avoid?

When traveling through the South or any of the more known BBQ regions, see where the locals go. They always know the hidden spots. Or you can stop by the local fire department and ask, as they know the local flavor.

What's the strangest food item you've ever seen barbecued? And did it work?

A rattlesnake in season two of BBQ Pitmasters. And hell no, it didn't work! It was very chewy and tough. The more I chewed, the bigger it got.

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