Courtesy of Double Wide Grill
Food & Drink

The Best BBQ Joints in Pittsburgh

Published On 07/21/2015
Rossilynne Culgan/Thrillist

Smoq Pitt BBQ


Newest to the Pittsburgh BBQ scene, Smoq Pitt (yes, with a "Q" as in BB"Q") has already distinguished itself as a leader. With a passion for BBQ, owner and pitmaster Mitch Liebovich has been perfecting his brisket since childhood. He applies a sugar rub to the brisket, which is then cooked in a giant smoker over logs for 20 hours. Other standouts: the mac & cheese (Gouda, Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar), Ray’s wings, seasoned fries, and the sauces made with stock from the restaurant’s meat.

Rossilynne Culgan/Thrillist

Wilson’s Bar-B-Q

North Side

You’ll likely smell Wilson’s before you see it. The small restaurant has been a local institution for decades, spreading a tantalizing smoky aroma through the North Side and serving up lots of spare ribs. The ribs are tender and smoky. Sauce options are mild, hot, or a mix of the two. Two slices of Italian bread are served on the side to mop up the extra sauce. Order a side of the peppery, piping-hot greens.

YinzBurgh BBQ

YinzBurgh BBQ


Hailing from Georgia, YinzBurgh’s owner Richard Coursey is an engineer-turned-BBQ pitmaster. From chicken to brisket to pork, YinzBurgh’s meats are lean and smoky in flavor. The meat doesn’t need sauce -- as Coursey says, “sauce can hide a multitude of sins.” But sauce can be a nice touch, YinzBurgh offers a half-dozen choices, including hot tomato, vinegar, and mustard-based sauces. Other specialties: the chili combines beans with ground bacon and brisket, and the okra mixes stewed tomatoes, herbs, and spices. The restaurant also offers vegan BBQ and vegan side dishes.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company


At the Carolina-style Pittsburgh Barbecue Company, the pork and brisket are smoked for 20 hours, making for tasty, smoky sandwiches. The tangy, peppery sauce -- served separately, of course -- is good enough to drink or, you know, just use as a condiment. On the side, order baked beans (five types of beans, bacon, hickory sauce) and cornbread (buttery with pieces of corn enclosed). Take it to go or grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables.

Rossilynne Culgan/Thrillist

Z-Best Barbeque


The chicken at Z-Best is tender and juicy. Staff will offer a choice of sauces, including BBQ, honey, or mustard, and apply the sauce liberally before serving. Pair the meat with a side of garlicky collard greens, a sweet cornbread muffin, and a helping of baked beans -- pure brown sugary goodness.

 Rossilynne Culgan/Thrillist

Showcase BBQ

Homewood West

Two pieces of Texas toast form the foundation for the hearty brisket sandwich. The sauce is thick like gravy, making the sandwich the epitome of comfort food. The ribs are another crowd-pleaser. The most adventurous diners ought to try the hot sauce on the ribs, but be warned: this hot sauce is truly h-o-t. Grab a side of greens, cooked with garlic, along with a sticky-and-sweet square of cornbread.

Smoke Barbeque Taqueria

Smoke BBQ Taqueria


It’s not the traditional BBQ joint, but Smoke has the concept of smoky, flavorful, mouthwatering barbecued meats down to a science. The brisket is wrapped in a soft taco shell, along with sauteed onions, hot peppers, and mustard sauce. On the side: the hot bowl o’ cheese or the pinto beans.

Courtesy of Double Wide Grill

Double Wide Grill

South Side

The Pit Aught is a veritable feast. It’s 1/3 rack of ribs, pulled pork, and bacon strips, plus fries, a pickle, cornbread, and slaw. Top it with some Carolina BBQ sauce, a tangy vinegar-based condiment that perfectly complements the pork. At Double Wide, vegetarians and vegans can feast alongside the carnivores. Try the vegetarian seitan wings with the vegan sweet-and-tangy Bar-B-Q sauce. A large outdoor patio makes Double Wide a great place to spend a summer evening.

Courtesy of Matthew Chiang/Union Pig & Chicken

Union Pig & Chicken

East Liberty

Choose the chicken -- either BBQ or fried -- and decide between 1/4 bird, 1/2 bird, or the whole thing. Top it with a Kansas-style sweet sauce, a Carolina-style vinegar sauce, or a spicy sauce, complete with a kick. Both the buttery cornbread and the vinegary greens are delicious side dishes, but the yams steal the show. They’re whipped and served with toasted marshmallow on top. Wash it all down with craft cocktails, beer, wine, or whiskey.

The Dream BBQ

Homewood South

Order the smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs at The Dream. Add a side of the peppery mac & cheese and the sweet baked beans. And if you’re really hungry, get some chicken, too. Sauce comes in containers on the side. Several tables are available in the restaurant, but most take the heaping Styrofoam containers of food to go. 

Up Next
Bar Frenchman | Dustin Wickett
Food & Drink

Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
ittsburgh takes its culinary clues from no one. The chefs and restaurateurs leading this city have their own, hard-won sense of what will work in this town, and the best new restaurants to open this year -- from a seafood and chop house to a French brasserie -- have forged their own path to offer something unique to Pittsburgh’s hungry masses.
With dozens of new restaurants opening each year in the city, it can be hard to make a lasting impression. As Pittsburgh gets more national attention, and more chefs are finding financial means to open their own brick-and-mortars, diners have more choices than ever on where to spend their dollars. These five new establishments have each had a big impact on Pittsburgh’s culinary landscape in the short time that they’ve been open, and are our picks for the best new restaurants of the year.
Ki Ramen PGH

Ki Ramen


Bustling ramen restaurant known for from-scratch noodles
Chef Roger Li has been busy. Last year, he opened Umami, a Japanese-style gastropub (and one of our best new restaurants of 2016), and this year, he (along with fellow Lawrenceville restaurateur Domenic Branduzzi) debuted two new concepts: Ki Pollo, the just-opened fast-casual restaurant offering Korean-style fried chicken and empanadas, and Ki Ramen, a from-scratch ramen restaurant, which has quickly become a go-to for those of us who lamented the lack of quality ramen in the city. At Ki Ramen, Branduzzi is charged with preparing the noodles that are cut daily using a Japanese-made noodle machine, adding weight and substance to Li’s delicate, delicious broths. The menu has evolved over time, and includes a vegetarian curry ramen and shoyu ramen, served with soy-braised chicken and an onsen (sous vide) egg. The restaurant has also recently added house-made bao to the menu, with fillings (miso eggplant and roast duck are two recent favorites) that change daily.

Union Standard


Buzzy downtown spot offering a modern take on Northeast American cuisine
Since opening earlier this year, Derek Stevens’ Union Standard has given Downtown a sorely needed after-work option, elegant enough to take out-of-town clients yet casual enough for happy hour drinks with friends. The beautifully designed restaurant was part of a $100 million renovation to the historic Union Trust Building, and offers a lively, modern bar area downstairs, and a cozy, intimate upstairs dining room. The menu merges Northeastern American coastal cuisine with heartier dishes made on the wood-fired rotisserie and grill, and Stevens also offers an incredible raw bar, serving shellfish and seafood from all the usual Northeast spots -- Massachusetts, Chesapeake and Maine are typically represented. Although the menu changes frequently, it tends to lean toward traditional steak-and-seafood house fare, including a flawlessly-prepared rib-eye and a salmon dish that’s brightened with dill gnocchetti and hazelnut brown butter. You’ll also find one of the best bar snack menus in the city here, with elevated takes on classic offerings including duck fat popcorn (made with Anson Mills heirloom flint corn) and smelts (fried and served crispy with a smoked pepper remoulade).

Dustin Wickett

Bar Frenchman

East Liberty

Upscale French brasserie serving classic European dishes  
The Twisted Frenchman has been a top-ranked restaurant in Pittsburgh since opening in 2015, so when chef/owner Andrew Garbarino announced earlier this year that he was introducing a new upscale French bistro concept, we were stoked. Bar Frenchman has since lived up to the high standards set by the Twisted Frenchman, serving perfectly-executed French classics like escargot with mushroom ragout, ratatouille, mussels & frites, and the best foie gras to be found in the city. The elegant bar also serves a killer cocktail, with a menu that features twists on classics (the Boukman daiquiri with white rum, cognac, lime and cinnamon is a favorite), along with an extended list of Champagne cocktails.

Superior Motors


Community-driven, hyper-local restaurant in Braddock with a focus on seasonality  
It’s impossible to over-emphasize how highly anticipated Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors was for the Pittsburgh dining community. Not only was it one of the highest-grossing restaurant Kickstarter campaigns ever, but Sousa (who dazzled diners at Salt of the Earth and Union Pig & Chicken) has a well-earned reputation as one of the city’s leading culinary forces, and while the wait was long -- more than three years between the initial Kickstarter campaign and opening night -- it was worth it. The community-focused restaurant in Braddock is now open seven days a week, serving a seasonal, locally sourced menu, with produce primarily coming from nearby Braddock Farms. The dessert menu is a particular standout, with complex pairings (chocolate matcha cake with mushroom, sourdough pound cake with fresh corn cream) ending each meal on a decidedly sweet note.

or, The Whale


An elegant seafood and chop house known for customer attention  
Downtown’s new Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh is now home to or, The Whale, an ambitious restaurant led by chef Dennis Marron, who’s pulling double duty on the restaurant-opening front as his Merchant Oyster Company also recently opened in Lawrenceville. Housed in what used to be the gym and track area of the historic Salvation Army building, or, The Whale is a beautifully designed gem, with an upstairs bar and lounge, and an impressive dining room that features a butcher room, a private wine cellar, and an open kitchen, featuring a wood-burning hearth and a pastry room (all the better for pastry chef Jessica Lewis to make her delightful desserts). The menu offers an eclectic take on seafood and chophouse standards, with dry-aged steaks sharing space with linguine and cockles (served in a lightly seasoned garlic herb sauce), and a ground duck burger topped with seared foie gras. A separate bar, called Evangeline, adds to the experience, serving coffee during the day, and cocktails and raw bar offerings at night.

Food & Drink

The Best Places to Eat in Pittsburgh Right Now

Updated On 05/16/2018 at 05:29PM EST