Skip to content
Philly Tips
Link copied to clipboard

Best barbecue in Philadelphia to eat right now

Good barbecue is easy to find in the Philadelphia region. Here is our guide to the region's best.

In Philly and beyond city limits, you can easily scoop up deliciously smoky barbecue from places like Mike's BBQ (shown here).
In Philly and beyond city limits, you can easily scoop up deliciously smoky barbecue from places like Mike's BBQ (shown here).Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Philly isn’t exactly known for barbecue. But there is a robust scene here, with players, old and new, doing it up right and keeping us full.

How we choose our best lists
What makes something the best? Our recommendations are based on our reporters' deep regional knowledge and advice from local experts. We also strive to represent the geographic and cultural diversity of the city and region. Spot an error or omission? Email us at phillytips@inquirer.com

Local barbecue specialists smoke meats for more than a dozen hours to achieve the perfect smoke ring and Texas-trained chefs cook up exciting takes on classic barbecue dishes.

Here is our guide to the region’s best barbecue.

Fette Sau (German for “Fat Pig”), opened in Fishtown to eager crowds nearly a decade ago and has since established itself as a mainstay in the Philly barbecue scene. The shop has three signature barbecue sauces each offering its own tangy, smoky, or spicy flavor to the pink-ringed smoked meats and meat-heavy sandwiches.

📍1208 Frankford Ave., 🌐 fettesauphilly.com, 📷 @fettesauphilly

Henri’s Hotts BBQ has entered an unexpected, difficult chapter in recent months. Owner Doug Henri passed away in December 2021 leaving his beloved barbecue spot in the capable hands of his wife (and Henri’s Hotts cofounder), Ruthie Henri. When Doug ran the roadside New Jersey BBQ spot, Ruthie was often in the back, helping the restaurant churn out the barbecue that customers far and wide visitor for. Now, she’s at the helm — stop by for some of the region’s best barbecue ribs and chicken, and to support Ruthie as she manages this difficult chapter.

📍1003 E. Black Horse Pike, Hammonton, NJ, 🌐 henrishottsbarbeque.com, 📷 @henrishottsbbq

Mike Strauss’ smoked brisket cheesesteak, an essential pit boss twist on the classic Philly sandwich, is reason enough to visit Mike’s BBQ, and the smoked meats with telltale pink smoke halos and moist tenderness have turned this East Passyunk spot into an all-purpose smokehouse champ. The spare ribs, pulled pork, smoked wings, and crispy pork belly are fantastic, and Mike’s peppery brisket are a true Philly barbecue pleasure.

📍1703 S. 11th St., 🌐 mikesbbqphilly.com, 📷 @mikesbbq_215

R. Scott Hanson is hardly the first homesick Texan to find solace by taking the pepper-encrusted bark of a big brisket into his own hands. But Hanson, who claims Austin as home, is at a transitional moment as his NXTX Tex-Mex barbecue pop-up series at Chestnut Hill farmers market grows in popularity. The Tex-Mex barbecue concept — think brisket tacos, tortilla-wrapped hot links, and deeply smoked carnitas — has a nearly weekly Saturday pop-up that offers Texas-style barbecue platters and Tex-Mex plates outside of the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill.

📍161 W. Girard Ave., 🌐 facebook.com/northbytexas, 📷 @northbytexas

Rick Gray opened Rick’s Backyard Barbeque & Grill in Mizpah in the location where beloved Uncle Dewey’s BBQ operated for over two decades. Here, find a smoker as big as the hood of a school bus and a menu inspired by the barbecue Gray’s father, Melvin Gray Sr., cooked at backyard family cookouts, a distinctive, and perhaps elusive flavor that he captures with the touch of charcoal that he adds to regulate the heat of his oak logs. Gray’s seasonings are fairly simple, letting the meats and their slow ride through the long brick smoking pits. Try the tender spareribs or opt for the chicken, particularly when it’s taken fresh off the grill.

📍 6931 US-40, Mizpah, NJ, 🌐 ricksbbqandgrill.com

Owner Aaron Clark says that his Audubon, N.J., barbecue shop is his homage to Texas brisket. His brisket is minimalist in the Texas style, but peppery, tender, smoky, and so good. The big hit on his menu, though, is the smoked pork belly tacos with mango salsa.

📍34 W. Merchant St., Audubon, N.J., 🌐 smokebbqnj.com, 📷 @smokebbqnj

Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse in the Northeast is a reliable barbecue spot with a well-rounded menu of hickory-smoked meats, sandwiches, and sides. Meats like smoked chicken and pulled pork are available in platter, sandwich or just meat form, and smoked wings and baby back ribs round out the menu.

📍7500 State Rd., 🌐 sweetlucys.com, 📷 @sweetlucys_bbq

There are two locations of Chad Rosenthal’s barbecue and whiskey bar: One in Ambler and one in the Spring Garden neighborhood, the newest locations. This legit-smoked barbecue has progressed nicely since the Ambler location opened years ago. The Memphis-style dry-rubbed spare ribs, the smoke-darkened hot links and zesty, tenderized whole chicken are must-trys.

📍Ambler: 111 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, 990 Spring Garden St., Spring Garden 🌐 chadrosenthal.com/tlw, 📷 @theluckywell

Owner Matt Lang smokes on a gas-fired Ole Hickory, turning out brisket, pork, turkey, and pork spare ribs, which he sells by the pound and in sandwiches. A rotating assortment of sides such as queso mac, corn pudding, potato salad, and KFC style slaw complement the selection of meats.

📍2111 E. York St., 🌐 zigzagbbq.com, 📷 @zigzagbbq

» READ MORE: Our best Philly tips: Read our most useful stories