The Best BBQ Joints in the Twin Cities

Rudolph's Bar-B-Que

The Best BBQ Joints in the Twin Cities
The Best BBQ Joints in the Twin Cities

Rudolph's Bar-B-Que

Look, we’re not Kansas City, Texas, or either of the Carolinas. We’re up here in the new North, which isn’t exactly a BBQ mainstay. That being said, Minneapolis and St. Paul are not a lost cause, either. Some places are making amazing ribs, and we’d like to call them out for being the heralds of Northern BBQ that they are. Here are our top picks for the best BBQ in the Twin Cities.

Rudolphs Bar-B-Que


Located right at the intersection of Franklin Ave and Lyndale, this place has been a staple for Twin Cities BBQ for over 40 years. With offerings that include both BBQ and St. Louis-style racks of ribs, moist BBQ chicken, and pretty decent brisket, it’s easy to see why it's been smoking it for so long.

Smoke in the Pit


A small South Minneapolis BBQ spot, Smoke in the Pit mostly sticks to chicken and ribs, but it also does a pretty decent Southern-style, cornmeal-breaded catfish. If you can get in before 2pm for the lunch specials, everything is pretty cheap.

Ted Cook's 19th Hole Barbecue


This might be the BBQ gem of South Minneapolis. These Southside folks are utilizing hickory and cherry wood to fuel the flavor of their tender, juicy pork ribs, fall-off-the-bone beef ribs, and BBQ sliced beef. Everything sounds and smells so good that it’s hard to know what to choose. The rib tip dinner comes highly recommended, so who are we to argue?

Keane Amdahl/Thrillist

Scott Ja-Mama's


This little hole-in-the-wall is basically a takeout-only kind of place, but it's turning out some pretty killer ribs and decent chicken. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a side of potatoes, slaw, and beans. Drooling yet?

FireBox Deli


Having opened in 2014, FireBox Deli is still considered to be relatively new in town. But it's also one of the few places that steers the focus off ribs and, instead, goes out of its way to highlight the luxuriousness that is brisket. Its tender, moist beef starts with a secret dry rub before the meat breaks down in the smoker for 12-14 hours, leading to one of the best smoked brisket experiences you can have in the Twin Cities.


Big Daddy’s Old Fashioned Barbeque


Starting off as a pair of friends having some amicable BBQ throwdowns in a park, Bid Daddy’s has come a long way, serving up delicious racks of pork ribs and chicken. What sets it apart from the rest of the competition, however, are the phenomenal beef ribs. They are truly an under-appreciated delicacy, and this place does them proud.

Rooster’s BBQ Deli

West 7th

Pork, chicken, and beef are key at this St. Paul smoke shack. Featuring beautifully cooked baby backs, smokey BBQ chicken, and tender, pit smoked beef ribs, it also offers other classics like succulent pulled pork shoulder sandwiches and buckets of crispy fried chicken.

Keane Amdahl/Thrillist

C & G's Smoking Barbecue


Easily one of my favorite rib spots in town, this small Kingfield BBQ joint is consistently on point. The ribs are thick, tender, and fall right off the bone, but they still retain that perfect amount of chew. The sauce is tangy with a little hint of spice that highlights the ribs perfectly. And the brisket ain’t too shabby, either!

Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque


OK, I usually try to stick to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul specifically) when it comes to things like this. But when you’re working the kind of meat magic that owner and executive chef Shawn Smalley is working, then it’s worth mentioning. In fact, the food is so good that the folks over at Food Network proclaimed the jerk chicken at Smalley's to be the best -- ever. This place goes so far as to use real Jamaican pimento wood for its smoking to give it that extra kick of authenticity. It also has the goods on link sausages and spareribs.

Q fanatic BBQ

Q Fanatic


This quaint little place out in the northern suburbs has been rocking the Q hard, and soon, it'll be bringing that love to the Twin Cities with the opening of a South Minneapolis location right near Hwy 62 on Nicollet Ave. With a hearty reputation for succulent, slow-roasted meats -- big ol’ racks of baby backs and mouthwatering brisket -- we are eagerly awaiting its TC arrival!

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Keane Amdahl is a veteran Twin Cities food writer whose face can be frequently found floating in a pile of ribs. Follow his smoke-bound adventures on Twitter @Foodstoned.

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1. Rudolphs Bar-B-Que 1933 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (Uptown)

While some may criticize our pick on this one based on the fact that you can buy their sauce in grocery stores, these dudes still boast some darn tasty ribs. They’re marinated in a rub for 48 hours before getting the low and slow pit smoke. After that, they’re finished off on the grill and served with a ton of BBQ sauce, which makes for one great rack.

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2. Smoke In The Pit 3733 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (Powderhorn)

This little South Minneapolis rib shack is a “true” hole-in-the-wall, in that it’s take-out only, but the ribs are totally worth it. The smoky bark on the ribs is almost reminiscent of jerky, yet the fatty, porky meat underneath is a true treat. Give the ribs a little dunk in their slightly sweet, slightly spicy, slightly acidic BBQ sauce for a little extra something something.

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3. Ted Cook's 19th Hole BBQ 2814 E 38th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (Powderhorn)

If your slogan is, “our meat is as tender as a mother’s love,” your food better be good (or people are gonna start saying bad things about your mother), and fortunately for the folks at this South Minneapolis BBQ spot, they can deliver the goods. Their meaty ribs are easily some of the best and most tender around. The only downside is that it’s a to-go only spot and the journey home, filled with the rich smell of delicious BBQ, can be a bit painful.

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4. Scott Ja-Mama's 3 W Diamond Lake Rd, Minneapolis, MN 55419 (Powderhorn)

This little place is the actual definition of “hole-in-the-wall.” You literally walk in, order, get your stuff, and leave. With that being said though, they’re doing a pretty damn good job with their Q. The exterior crust of the ribs comes crisp and the meat on the inside is perfectly tender, exactly the way that you’d expect a rib to be.

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5. FireBox Deli 4707 Lyndale Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55430

We think that FireBox Deli has some of the best barbecue in Minneapolis. Locals have loved the food at FireBox since they opened in 2014, especially their brisket. There isn't much more to say other than that you can't find food like this anywhere else.

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6. Big Daddy's Old Fashioned Barbeque 625 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104 (Midway)

It's is no surprise to locals that Big Daddy's Old Fashioned Barbecue is one of the best barbecue joints in Minneapolis. Their pork ribs and chicken are delicious, but what we really love is ordering their absolutely phenomenal beef ribs. Stop by and see why Big Daddy's is a local institution in Midway.

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7. Rooster's BBQ 979 Randolph Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102 (West Seventh)

Rooster's BBQ is considered by many to be the best smoke shack in St. Paul. Here you'll find BBQ chicken, beef ribs, and pulled pork smoked to perfection, as well as crispy friend chicken for BBQ-haters. Head over to Rooster's to enjoy what locals think is the best BBQ in Minneapolis.

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8. C&G's Smoking Barbecue 4743 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419

It is hard not to love C&G's Smoking Barbecue, because everything they make is spectacular. We are big fans of their ribs that are smothered in sauce and fall right off the bone. If you're not a fan of ribs, make sure to try their brisket instead.

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9. Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar 423 Main St S, Stillwater, MN 55082

This Caribbean barbecue joint is worth venturing out of Minneapolis for, according to the Food Network. They say that Smalley's serves the best jerk chicken ever. Even if you're not a fan of jerk chicken, there are plenty of great barbecue options here to love.

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10. Q Fanatic 180 Miller Rd, Champlin, MN 55316

There are plenty of great places to eat BBQ in Minneapolis, but this new addition to the MSP food scene is quickly becoming one of the best. We highly recommend their baby back ribs and brisket, but you should stop by and check out their menu for yourself!