The 10 Best BBQ Joints in Minnesota! By
Many enterprising folks throughout Minnesota have experimented with the best smoking and grilling styles for all kinds of meats. You may call it “St. Louis,” “Carolina,” “Memphis,” “Texas,” or “Carribbean,” but in Minnesota, we do barbecue our own way—and it’s delicious. Here are the 10 best barbecue joints in the state.
It’s been a while since there was a locally-owned, non-chain barbecue joint in Duluth. Thankfully the wait is over. Pulled pork, brisket, chicken, ribs? OMC has all the classics, served up in fresh, house-made, classic styles. Throw in some jalapeño grits to take your meal up a notch and keep your belly full for the rest of the evening.
Whether it’s for their wings, their jerk pork—taco or sandwich—or the jerk chicken breast, Smalley’s makes just about every Minnesota “Best of…” list when it comes to barbecue. Their flavors are distinctively Caribbean, thanks in part to pimiento wood smoke, and have been featured on the Travel Channel, the Food Network, as well as in any number of local publications and TV shows. Smalley’s is just that good. The jerk spice is best washed down with their creamy mac-n-cheese with bacon and chiles and a house-blended Kill Devil rum.
Austin is the home of Hormel, famous for making Spam, bacon, and other delicious pig-based products. But if you really want to explore the deliciousness of pork in Austin, you’ve got to saunter into Piggy Blues BBQ. Order the Smoky Smorgasboard to try a little bit of everything.
Market has been one of the best for a long, long time. It’s a dry barbecue with a deep, smoky flavor that is designed NOT to fall off the bone. Bring your teeth and tastebuds—Market will supply the sauce, coleslaw, and toast. Grab a side of their greens to complete the flavor experience.
If you’re looking for great barbecue in Central Minnesota, head on over to Sauk Rapids and Smoke-in D’s BBQ. D, the proprietor, serves up his signature style barbecue, which he perfected over years of experimentation, beginning with a stint in his uncle’s butcher shop. You can taste the results Thursday through Sunday. On other days, D’s busy smoking the savory flavors into his barbecue.
Don’t let this joint’s humble setting fool you: Q Fanatic’s barbecue is seriously and studiously prepared by its Culinary Institute of America-trained chef/owner. And it’s seriously good. Q Fanatic has steadily racked up awards and recognition as one of the best barbecue joints around. Better yet, its popularity allowed for a second location in South Minneapolis, so some of us won’t have to travel so far for our Q fix.
Big Daddy’s has been a staple for decades in its St. Paul neighborhood. The business has gone through many iterations and changes, including a weekends-only outdoor operation. But the quality and flavor of Big Daddy’s Southern-style barbecue has remained consistent, as have their loyal fans.
Smoke in the Pit has been a South Minneapolis favorite for years. It’s flavorful barbecue is cooked with Southern flair, coming out tender and smokey. In addition to their popular ribs and brisket, Smoke in the Pit also offers up turkey legs and catfish for those with a different kind of hankering.
Since the 1970s, John Hardy’s has been treating Southern Minnesota to the flavors of Southern barbecue. Although its namesake passed away in the 1980s, the restaurant and its two satellite locations continue to serve up consistently flavorful ‘que. The quality and flavor of the barbecue comes from locally-sourced meats smoked over apple and cherry wood.
The granddaddy of upscale barbecue in Minnesota, Rudolph’s has been folks’ go-to barbecue joint for more than half a century. Their ribs and rib tips are tender and tangy, the gumbo is great, and the pulled pork is perfect. Bonus: Rudolph’s has one of the best happy hours in the Twin Cities, and several of their barbecue appetizers are available at bargain prices.