The Best BBQ Restaurants in Louisville
Louisville is famous for great bourbon, and bourbon is famous for going well with BBQ (and almost literally anything else on Earth, but BBQ particularly) -- so it's not really a huge surprise that there are so many spots for the stuff in Louisville. Here are some of the best that are ribbed for your pleasure...
NuLu & New Albany, IN
Feast's founding chef worked in some of NY's finest kitchens before landing in New Albany and basically revolutionizing the local BBQ scene. Prepare for amazing tacos, a top-shelf brisket, homestyle mac & cheese, and 20 craft beers on draft. Oh, and two words: bourbon slushies.
Sometimes one spot can anchor an entire neighborhood, and the venerable F.A.B.D. does just that with its tirelessly tasty food and cold drinks. Wherever you live, it’s worth the drive to pull up and see -- and smell -- what’s cooking in its parking lot. Plus, stay for the fun and games on the back patio.
St. Matthews & Hurstbourne
This newer entry with the twisty name did KC BBQ so well, so quickly, that it has added a second, even more suburban location. Doing pretty much exactly what it says, Momma's puts out high quality BBQ (the wings are some of the best in town), pickles (order a ramekin or two, you won't be disappointed), and mustard (it's yellow, and has a little extra kick).
Back to when it all started, Boss Hog's was selling BBQ out of a car wash. Now, they're easily found around Downtown most weekdays (thanks mostly to the fact that spring has put the spice back in our lives), and they even deliver. The slow-smoked BBQ is fantastic, and the chili dogs are a great pick if you’re cue’d out.
Another neighborhood anchor, folks down South know to go straight to the Shack in the Back to satisfy their need for the meat. It's rightfully proud of its patiently home-cooked dishes, and it's been keeping its neighbors full for almost a decade.
What’s hotter than meat smoking for a dozen hours? Sadly, anything that firefighters might be called on to extinguish. Talk about a theme restaurant -- FDKY pays tribute daily to those who fight the bad fires, in a home nicer than the average firehouse. Pay respect to your meal and those who serve in one tasty way.
This small roadside gem serves it up for travelers from all over, and its location near some of our finest outdoor exercise locations makes its pulled pork a grand reward for those who have gotten in their daily walk or run. While recent water overruns have slowed them down, they plan to reopen before the Derby, stronger than ever.
Moe puts as much joy and personality into his food as he does in his social media, with posts like “Brisket is off the chain” (no lie, the brisket is off the chain, as is his pulled pork, cooked in a tomato & vinegar sauce). No wonder everyone wants him to open a sit-down spot.
Look, if you’re going to get BBQ in Louisville you might as well get it from a food truck that has a smoker on it offering anything from hot dogs to racks of ribs and brisket by a guy who calls himself the BBQ Cowboy, because, well, what a story! Check out Jim O’Higgins’ truck on Facebook or Twitter for updates as to where he’ll be serving in your neighborhood. One thing: definitely get in line fast because the meat goes quickly.
Frank’s Meat and Produce is a small, tucked away grocery store with an out-of-this-world deli that’s a BBQ lover’s paradise. There’s so much smoky, juicy, shredded meat piled on the sandwiches you’ll be hard-pressed to get your mouth around the whole damn thing. If you’re headed there, don’t let the long lines or lack of seating scare you away -- it’s just as good eaten in the front seat of your car.
Hammerheads is located in the basement of a little house on Swan St. Sure, sounds like it’d be easy to miss, but that giant shark hanging above the door kind of helps you out there. Plus, the crowd of diners gathered outside waiting for the doors to open and the overpowering scent of animal flesh being smoked to perfection is a little bit of a giveaway. Honestly, if you live in the neighborhood and can somehow resist that smell, you may have the most self control anyone has ever seen.
Not many things in this world are worth braving Interstate 71 -- the two-lane highway is notorious for long traffic jams, potholes, and slow-ass commuters -- but Big R's and Shannon’s BBQ's brisket nachos and deep-fried cornbread are totally worth the drive. And hey, if you get caught in that traffic jam on the way back (which you will), at least you'll have something to munch on.
Hilltop raises the bar for bar food. Their BBQ sauces (Spicy, Carolina, Louisville Red, Mango Habanero, and Buffalo) are homemade and their jumbo whole wings are a game-changer: smoked, then fried, then covered in sauce, then delivered to your table with a satisfying thud. (The behemoth birds that produce these babies must be skipping leg day). Pair those wings with Hilltop’s famous mac-n-cheese fritters and their smoked PBR chicken sandwich.
Nothing goes with BBQ better than beer. (OK, maybe bourbon does.) At Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse, you can sample some of Louisville’s best local brews while indulging in outstanding smoked ribs and molasses-glazed pork belly on a stick. Then, yeah, have some bourbon.
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