Nothing says summer in America quite like barbecue. From one corner of the country to the other, rival pitmasters start off the season with a fresh bag of charcoal, some genuine Southern hospitality, and a hankering to cure the nation’s hunger. And the swine — you can’t forget about the swine.
Last weekend, New York City welcomed over a dozen of the nation’s greatest barbecuers for a good ol’ fashioned block party at the tenth anniversary of the Big Apple Barbecue Click Here. And as New Yorkers gorged themselves on tender meats, refreshing slaws, baked beans, and (fried) pies, the definition of good barbecue reached a whole other dimension.
But don’t worry — it’s not only New Yorkers who get to enjoy the stuff. We sought out four of our favorite chefs from the fest and found out just exactly where each of their restaurants call home. And what’s the best thing to do after some serious chowing down? Resting your head for a nap, course. Check out some of the greatest BBQ joints across the country — and the perfect hotel to compliment your pork-laden journey.
City to Visit: Las Vegas
Mike Mills houses the whole hog.
The Pitmaster: When you’re the only barbecuer with top security clearance to board Air Force One, you best know your way around a hog. Mike Mills certainly does. Presiding over six restaurants—including four 17th Street Bar & Grill restaurants in Southern Illinois and two Memphis Championship Barbecues <http://memphis-bbq.com/> in Las Vegas—Mills is a barbecue institution. His title-winning baby back ribs were falling-off-the-bone delicious, as were his baked beans that started off sweet but ended with a kick of heat.
The Pitstop: If Southern Illinois isn’t in your destination wheelhouse, consider going to one of Mills establishments in Las Vegas. Just a twenty minute ride from The Strip, both Memphis Championship Barbecues offer you plenty of places to stay nearby. Oyster recommends The Mirage <http://www.oyster.com/las-vegas/hotels/the-mirage/> , where you can compare “The Legend” to the on-site BB King’s Blues Club, which serves up Southern cuisine to the back beat of some the greatest musical legends.
City to Visit: Myrtle Beach, SC
Throwdown: We’d love to see Scott take on Martin, camp seen above, in a whole hog BBQ competition.
The Pitmaster: Founded in 1972 by Rodney Scott’s parents, Scott’s Bar-B-Que <http://thescottsbbq.com/Home_Page.html> has been serving up quality food to the small town of Hemingway, SC. for decades. This mom-and-pop restaurant doesn’t look like much from the front porch, but don’t let that fool you—Rodney slow cooked his first hog over a wood-burning pit when he was eleven. Practice does make perfect. His sandwich—served with cruchy bits of fried pork skin—was rivaled only by the other whole hog roaster at the BBQ, Patrick Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint <http://martinsbbqjoint.com> based out of Nashville.
The Pitstop: Hemingway, SC is a bit out of the way, but for those of you planning trips to Myrtle Beach this summer, be sure to make the hour drive <https://maps.google.com/maps