Food & Drink

The Best Barbecue Joints in New Orleans

Published On 03/07/2016 Published On 03/07/2016
BBQ brisket at Black Label BBQ
Courtesy of Black Label BBQ

Although NOLA Smokehouse, the darling of everyone’s “best of” barbecue lists (except ours), closed abruptly last year, there are so many good options -- both old and new -- for getting your smoked meat on in this town. Festivals like the upcoming Hogs for the Cause encourage both local fine-dining chefs and passionate amateurs to try crafting perfect barbecued bites. But it’s not just for special occasions -- smoky, juicy pork has started to invade menus across the city, as more and more chefs have started adding a smoker out back of their restaurants. These are the folks who get it done -- deliciously -- day in and day out.

Brugh Foster

The Joint

Bywater

The Joint has been slinging ribs, pulled pork, chaurice sausage, and brisket in the Bywater for years, and although it moved from its tiny, shed-like location to a large one (with a shiny full bar!) in 2012, the place is still always packed. The food is just as awesome as ever -- hence the devoted, massive crowds -- but we think it’s even better now that you can booze it up while waiting to order. This place is worth visiting even if you don’t love barbecue, too: the pies are ridiculously delicious, and they’re all made in-house. Go for the pecan (and ask for extra to go -- trust us).

McClure's Barbecue

McClure's Barbecue 

Uptown

McClure’s Barbecue recently expanded to take over the kitchen at NOLA Brewing, and both locations are going gangbusters. While McClure’s takes pride in its excellent smoked chicken, it also makes amazing sides (see: barbecue jambalaya), as well as geographically diverse -- and accurate -- barbecue sauce options. You’ll want to try all of them, from vinegary North Carolina to umami Alabama. 

Black Label Icehouse

Black Label Icehouse

Central City

This Texas-style roadhouse joint serves appropriately Texas-style barbecue 'til midnight, just in case you’re someone who finds themselves needing some late-night meat snacks (so, like, everyone). Go straight for the Cowboy From Hell brisket sandwich, or check out the Wednesday night steak deal: $12 gets you a ribeye and fries. 

Blue Oak

Blue Oak BBQ

Mid-City

Tucked inside Mid-City music club Chickie Wah Wah, Blue Oak BBQ serves in the evenings and at nights when the club is open. But be warned: if there’s an act playing, you will need to pay the cover charge to sit inside (although it’s usually worth it). If you’re not into taking in a show, you can sit out on the patio/courtyard, and just concentrate on enjoying Blue Oak’s super-strong wing, sandwich, and sides games. One of the strongest offerings is the Doobin’ Loobin specialty sandwich, which contains three kinds of meat piled on a brioche bun (yup).

Twelve Mile Limit

Smokin Hot Butts

Mid-City

The now-permanent pop-up kitchen at cocktail lounge Twelve Mile Limit serves up barbecue Tuesday-Saturday nights from 5pm to 11pm (Sunday is pizza night and Monday is random free food night, both of which are also worth checking out). If you don’t burn your face off eating the smoked jalapeño/bacon/cream cheese rockets, then it’s time to try some sliders. And if you’re out with a group (or are just really feeling that treat-yo-self vibe), get the loaded tots, which are truly impressive: topped with smoked meat, cheese, vegetables, pickles, and/or whatever else strikes the chef’s fancy.

Bourree at Boucherie 

Bourrée at Boucherie

Riverbend

Chef Nathanial Zimet has a total of four smokers. Two are high-end, professional-grade models. The other two, arguably more badass, are a converted refrigerator, and an old ice machine which has found new life as a cold smoker. Although neither restaurant could be called a traditional barbecue joint, the smokers are utilized for dishes like the wagyu beef brisket at Boucherie, or to-go meat market goods at Bourrée -- like the amazing smoked pork plate. We’re just going to leave the following words here: seared pork cake with backbone gravy. If your mouth didn’t just literally start watering, there might be something wrong with you. 

Walkers BBQ

Walker's Southern Style BBQ

New Orleans East

Long a Jazz Fest favorite, Walker’s pioneered the Cochon De Lait -- effectively a Cajun pulled pork po-boy. Anyone craving this festival fave can find it year-round at the restaurant, alongside other quality New Orleans barbecue, including a not-to-be-missed smoked chicken salad.

Truck Farm Tavern

Truck Farm Tavern

St. Rose 

This new restaurant concept from Brack May, the mastermind behind Cowbell, involves some imaginative smoked meat concepts -- like the smoked hangar steak plate, barbecued mussels, and smoked pork poutine.

HillBilly BBQ

Harahan

Nothing flashy here, just great smoked meat (which is really all anyone needs in life, right?). The pulled pork sandwich is epic, and the daily lunch specials are especially worth checking out, including a smoked chicken salad sandwich and thick-cut pork chop, served with mac and cheese. Keep an eye out for the barbecue-topped loaded baked potato special, which shows up on occasion, like a far tastier Loch Ness monster. 

Papas Backyard BBQ Slidell

Papa's Backyard Bar-B-Q 

Slidell

The Northshore has its very own barbecue option: the takeout-only Papa’s Backyard Bar-B-Q. Hit ‘em up for meat options like the MUTT sandwich (chicken, pulled pork, and chopped brisket topped with melted cheese) and ribs, as well as killer red beans and rice. Then finish with one of their homemade desserts, including a to-drool-for chocolate chip bread pudding.

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Nora McGunnigle is a New Orleans-based beer and food writer who has ruined many T-shirts in her extensive BBQ pursuits. Follow her adventures on Twitter, @noradeirdre, or her blog, nolabeerblog.com.

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1. The Joint 701 Mazant St, New Orleans, LA 70117 (Bywater)

BBQ aficionados beware… this may up your game to an otherwise impossibly high standard. Try the ribs, pulled pork and barbecued shrimp. The slow cooked meals have a crusty outside and warm, melt-in-your-mouth inside. Even the salad can’t escape The Joint’s signature smoke: they’re covered in smoked tomato dressing. While in Bywater, you’ve got to check this place out. As the name suggests, they’re always smokin’ something.

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2. McClure's Barbecue 4800 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

McClure’s goes whole hog with their BBQ. It’s a tradition: in his childhood home, the owner’s family had rigged up a barbecue spit using a washing machine motor and the rear axle from a 70s Volkswagen just for pig roasts. McClure’s has just about any kind of sauce you could want, with a huge variety of Carolina, Texas and Kansas City styles to choose from. Serious burger lovers should check this place out, too.

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3. Black Label Icehouse 3000 Dryades St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Garden District)

Central City already has its fair share of corner bars, so we weren’t worried when this one turned into a temple of smoked swine from the pop-up experts at Black Label BBQ. Possibly even better than its low-and-slow meat are its events like “Metal Monday,” a weekly show featuring local bands that satisfies (and divulges) all your headbanging needs.

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4. Blue Oak BBQ 2828 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

Cofounded by two NOLA natives and life-long friends, Blue Oak serves authentic Texas/Alabama style BBQ. The meat is smoked over oak wood, which is how the name came along. In addition to the classic BBQ options, the menu has chicken, homemade smoked sausage, sandwiches, fish tacos and shrimp grilled cheese. Try the Dobbin Lubin, a chopped brisket, house smoked sausage, slaw, picked and BBQ on Brioche.Plus, Chickie Wah Wah has live music almost every night.

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5. Smokin' Hot Butts 500 S Telemachus St, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

SHB is a permanent popup kitchen serving BBQ at the Twelve Mile Limit restaurant and cocktail lounge. Twelve Mile Limit hosts comedy nights, trivia, dance parties and other 21 and over community events. The hang spot is perfect for shooting some pool and grabbing some craft cocktails. Bring the pooch because the bar’s dog-friendly. But don’t be surprised if they can’t stop begging for BBQ— Smokin’ Hot Butts has some of the best ribs and one of the best happy hours in NOLA. Twelve Mile Limit will have you crawling back for more Smokin’ Hot Butts. Cause we ain’t want none unless you got buns, hun.

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6. Bourrée at Boucherie 1510 South Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Uptown)

Wings and Daiquiris go together like cookies and milk. Really. That’s what inspired Bourree’s chef and business partner to open a restaurant that could play with the infinite flavor combinations of boozes and fruits and spices and sauces. The food is “rooted in Louisiana tradition but inspired by flavors from around the world” (bourreenola.com). Sides on the menu include fresh cut french fries, spicy boiled peanuts and meat pies.

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7. Walker's BBQ 10828 Hayne Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70127

The Walker family’s been in the food industry for some time— they first started a catering company in the 90s to serve New Orleans-style cuisine at local and national festivals. At Walker’s Southern Style BBQ, food is made in house daily. It’s been featured on The Food Network, NPR, and The Travel Channel for an Anthony Bourdain special. Esquire Magazine ranked its famous Cochon De Lait Poboy one of the best sandwiches in America. If that’s not enough of a reason to visit, we don’t know what is. Leave the cards at home—Walker’s is cash only.

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8. Truck Farm Tavern 11760 River Road, St Rose, LA 70087

About 20 minute drive from NOLA, TFT features a stacked menu of booze, wine and beer, smoked sandwiches and barbecue. You’ll get your classic pork poutine and ribs as well as new BBQ mussels shrimp and grits, rabbit sausage, grilled tuna muffulettas, and turkey neck gumbo. Truck Farm Tavern’s co-owners previously opened Cowbell in Riverbed, a successful restaurant known for its grass-fed beef burgers. Expect a similar casual ambiance here— decor includes batter driftwood and aged pickup tailgates. For group events, there’s a huge bar, private wine room, and courtyard.

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9. Hillbilly Barbecue 2317 Hickory Ave, River Ridge, LA 70123

For no-frills, damn good comfort food, check out Hillbilly Barbecue. Everything its cooked fresh, seared on the outside and tender on the inside. All meats are smoked over hickory wood straight from Kentucky forests. Hillbilly’s also serves alligator sausage. Try the corn salad made with romas, green onions, and seasoned mayo. You’ll practically lick the plate clean. Get 'er done.

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10. Papa's Backyard Bar-B-Q 2848 Slidell Ave, Slidell, LA 70458

For melt-in-your-mouth tender spare ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken, stop in this popular NOLA joint. Papa’s uses high quality meat, slowly smoked over hickory and apple wood and seared in natural juices. The distinctive smoke flavor is undeniably delicious, and you have your choice of mild, spicy and honey sweet sauce. Sides like potato salad, cole slaw and mac and cheese are made fresh daily.

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