No shade to Southern barbecue, but things are heating up north of the Mason-Dixon line and in the middle of the Pacific. Here are the underrated smoke towns you should know about.

New York City

Yankee 'cue is a little fancy (think microgreens sprinkled on wings) and influenced by what Billy Durney, owner of Hometown Bar-B-Que, calls "the most multicultural culinary scene in the world." BBQ fans can find global grub (Jamaican jerk ribs, Oaxacan chicken) at Hometown and haute riffs on Southern standards at Mighty Quinn's.

Credit: Photography by Winnie Au

Los Angeles

To do Cali barbecue like a local, you have to go underground. We're talking brisket and ribs doled out in nondescript backyards at spots like Moo's Craft Barbecue and Ragtop Fern's BBQ. "I didn't realize how big of a scene we have until I got into it myself," says Burt Bakman of Trudy's Underground Barbecue.

moos craft bbq
Credit: Photography by Clay Larsen


In the Windy City, it's a tale of (at least) two 'cues. On one hand, you've got old-school smoke shacks, such as Honey 1 BBQ and Lem's Bar-B-Q, where hot links and rib tips are fired inside an aquarium smoker. Then there are new-wave joints that bring a chef-driven approach to ribs, brisket, and sausage, like Smoque BBQ .

smoque bbq
Credit: Photo courtesy of Smoque BBQ


Hawaii's capital is an unsung haven for grill lovers, thanks to its island customs, Asian influences, and mainland staples. Pipikaula ribs have lured folks to Helena's Hawaiian Food for 70 years. Or say aloha to 'cue with Far East funk at the Koreaninspired Gina's B-B-Q and the teriyaki-loving Bob's Bar-B-Que