On ‘Cue: Top 5 All-American Barbecue Restaurants

DestinationsFood & Beverage


Some say the birth of American barbecue traces to our 17th-century colonies. One thing’s sure: Messy, tangy barbecue is the star of many July 4 cookouts, and a year-round culinary and cultural hallmark. It’s also among the many things over which we have fierce disagreements. There are at least eight distinct regional variations—the Carolinas alone have three. Some are tomato-y and sweet, not peppery and vinegary. Florida-style adds tropical fruit. Traditional Texas has meat drippings. Alabama’s is made with—ready?—mayonnaise. Kansas City likes its ’cue slathered in a reddish-brown deliciousness, and so does Memphis, except with more vinegar. Of course, the Latin world has its barbacoa, the Korean its gogigui, the Indian its tikka. But barbecue is Amur-i-can, Bubba. Here’s how a sampling of hotels and resorts serve it up.

Adam’s Mark Hotel & Conference Center

Kansas City, Missouri

Gary Paul and Patricia Moore started out cooking barbecue as a hobby in their back yard, and now they’re billed here as the “King and Queen of BBQ.” Find them at Moore & Moore BBQ in this hotel across from Kauffman Stadium (where Major League Baseball’s Royals play). They smoke their own meat at the hotel. Selling like crazy right now is their Nacho BBQ, burnt ends of beef over tortilla chips topped by a generous ladle of vinegary sauce.

Foxwoods Resort Casino

Mashantucket, Connecticut

Food Channel junkies know Guy Fieri is big into barbecue, and so no surprise that his Guy Fieri’s Foxwoods Kitchen & Bar loves to layer this celebrity chef’s playful inspirations onto barbecue tradition. Case in point: the Motley Que Pulled Pork Sandwich. Smoked pork shoulder is doused in a bourbon brown-sugar barbecue sauce, stacked with citrus slaw, pickle chips, aged cheddar, onion straws and Fieri’s famous “donkey sauce,” and served on a garlic-butter toasted pretzel bun.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Where can you chow down on ’cue and watch alligators at sundown? Here at this resort’s Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House. “Sometimes they’ll be 15 or 20 of ‘em out there,” avers Manager Chris Phillips. “Because we get guests from all over, we don’t specialize in one style of barbecue. We put our house-made sauces on the table and let the diners decide. Our mustard sauce is like parts of South Carolina. Our darker tomato sauce is Kansas City, while the lighter version is North Carolina.”

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

Truckee, California

Ski-in/ski-out barbecue (and at poolside during summer), paired with craft beers and “saloon-inspired” cocktails is the thing at this luxury, AAA Five Diamond resort on a mid-mountain setting of Northstar California. At the casual Backyard Bar & BBQ, traditional barbecue faves include St. Louis ribs (a USDA-recognized way of cutting pork spareribs), brisket and pulled-pork sandwiches cooked with an onsite smoker and offered with a slew of house-made sauces.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

Las Vegas

Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que is perhaps California’s most revered ’cue chain, but this resort near the dramatic Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area won big by scoring the only Las Vegas outpost. It’s the real deal, originated by Lucille Buchanan, who grew up eating at her grandma’s lunch shack on a back road of the Carolinas. Her meats are cooked the Southern way—low and slow, until encrusted by a “bark” of juices and spices—and slathered with her secret-recipe “mops” and sauces.