Detroit’s BBQ scene -- and yes, we're including the metro area -- has existed for decades as a way of life so low-key, outsiders would be forgiven for thinking there isn't one. But while those same outsiders associate smoke rising from Detroit neighborhoods as another sign of the city's plight, those in the know will recognize the scent of hickory and sizzling fat emanating from corners across the city, where unofficial pitmasters smoke their wares. It's magnificent, and a huge community builder.
For those who prefer their BBQ made in an actual restaurant, though, the city has tons to offer. The most famous is, of course, Corktown's famous Slows, which helped revitalize the corner of Michigan and 14th 10 years ago and hasn't looked back, shelling out quality meat-stacked sandwiches to the masses. Bert's in the Eastern Market isn't just a great place for ribs, it's a place where you can learn about the history of the city from folks who have always been there. Lazybones brings Detroit-style rib tips and KC-style burnt ends, while Bad Brad's hits brisket sandwiches with smoky au jus and Lockhart's offers up a tour of BBQ styles -- chopped pork, smoked sausage, ham, smoked provolone -- all under the same bun. There's something for everybody in Detroit's BBQ scene. You just need to know which doors to open, or which corners to round.
Key players: Slows Bar BQ, Bad Brad's BBQ, Detroit BBQ Co., Lockhart's BBQ, Bert's Marketplace, and any random smoker selling ribs streetside