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NEW ORLEANS — An analysis of restaurant reviews online led to New Orleans being named the number one city for BBQ.

Did you know, May is National Barbecue Month? Founded in 1963 by the Barbecue Council, National Barbecue Month celebrates this favored pastime that has become deeply rooted in American culture.

Chef’s Pencil says few other topics generate as much fierce debate as to the humble BBQ. How to make a great BBQ or where to enjoy the best in the country can quickly spiral into a very heated conversation.

For the much-needed answers to the above questions, Chef’s Pencil turned to TripAdvisor to find out which cities are the best for enjoying a fantastic BBQ. The team analyzed TripAdvisor ratings of all BBQ joints in the nation’s top 75 largest cities and ranked the cities based on their average rating.

They also ranked the cities by the number of BBQ places per capita, as well as those with the highest number of top-rated BBQ places (rating 4.5 and higher).

Overall, there were 2,020 analyzed. They each must have offered BBQ on their menu and had at least 5 reviews. From the final rankings, they excluded cities with less than 10 BBQ restaurants within their city limits.

Interesting findings:

  • New Orleans (1st) and Oklahoma City (2nd) rank as the best cities for BBQ in America.
  • With a score of 4.25, Charlotte, Wichita, and Virginia Beach tie in 3rd spot.
  • Anchorage, Plano, and Boston rank as the worst cities for BBQ in America.
  • Among the nation’s largest 75 cities, Orlando, St. Louis, and Honolulu have the most BBQ joints per capita.
  • Chicago, Los Angeles, and Austin are the cities with the highest number of top-rated BBQ joints (rated 4.5 stars and higher).
  • San Antonio, Houston, and Memphis have the highest number of low-rated BBQ joints (rated 3 stars and lower).
  • Blue Door Smokehouse in Lexington, Kentucky is the best BBQ restaurant in the nation, being the most reviewed 5-star rated BBQ joint.
  • Wichita and Columbus are the top-rated cities in the Midwest.
  • Seattle and Portland are the top-rated cities in the West.
  • Newark is the best place to enjoy a barbecue in the North East.

With an average customer rating of 4.31 (out of 5), New Orleans ranks as America’s top BBQ city, followed closely by BBQ powerhouse Oklahoma City. The third spot is a perfect tie among Wichita, Charlotte, and Virginia Beach.

New Orleans has not always been a mecca for BBQ lovers, but the local BBQ scene is now highly competitive, according to local restaurant critic Brett Anderson. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed. With just one exception, all BBQ joints in the city received high marks (4 and above) from customers. The Joint and BB King’s Blues Club are two of the local favorites with over 1,000 reviews averaging a score of 4.5 (out of 5).

Oklahoma City needs no presentation, as it’s well known for some of the best BBQ in the country. All but two of the 33 BBQ joints listed on TripAdvisor got high scores, including a couple of restaurants with a perfect 5-star rating. 

After this article was published, TripAdvisor contacted us. In a statement, the travel site said, “Tripadvisor has no association with this BBQ study presented by Chef’s Pencil. In fact, we have concerns about the use of and presentation of Tripadvisor data within the study, inclusive of how they ranked cities and states against each other.”