Food & Drink

The Best BBQ Joints in Pittsburgh

Published On 07/21/2015 Published On 07/21/2015
Double Wide Grill, barbecue, Pittsburgh barbecue
Courtesy of Double Wide Grill
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. 

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1. SMOQ PITT BBQ 600 Brookline Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15226

SMOQ PITT has some truly incredible barbecue. 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. The mac and cheese with gouda, monterey jack and sharp cheddar is also incredible.

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2. Wilson's Bar-B-Q 700 N Taylor Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

You can smell the delicious aroma of Wilson's for miles before you see this no-frills, rustic joint. Wilson's has been a local favorite for decades, with its tantalizing hot-off-the-flame meat and spice scent floating around the North Side. Get the ribs with your choice of mild, hot or combination sauces.

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3. Yinzburgh BBQ 4903 Baum Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

The meat at YinzBurgh BBQ is so expertly cooked it doesn't even need sauce... Although they do offer a half-dozen choices, including hot tomato, vinegar, and mustard-based sauces. Get the pulled pork and you'll be licking your fingers clean (no shame). The meat is rubbed with original spice mixtures and then cooked low and slow over hardwood.

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4. Pittsburgh Barbecue Company 1000 Banksville Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

PBC has been voted best ribs, pulled pork and brisket in the ‘Burgh by Pittsburgh Magazine. This Carolina-style BBQ smokes its pork and brisket for 20 hours, perfect for tasty, smoky sandwiches. Get some baked beans and cornbread on the side and you'll be good to grub.

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5. Z Best Barbeque 1315 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Possibly the only thing more necessary to saucy barbecue than a wad of absorbent napkins is a selection of choice sides, which is why the combo plates at Z Best Barbecue cover all needs. Slow-cooked prime rib and fried chicken are the top-selling meats (obviously), but they'd hardly be worth a mention without your pick of two sides, be they potato salad and mac & cheese or coleslaw and green beans. There's all the hot sauce you could need, whether or not your hockey team of preference was hot on the ice at the nearby PGG Paints Arena.

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6. Showcase BBQ 6800 Frankstown Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15208

The big-time menu favorites at this Southern-style joint include the brisket sandwich (served between two pieces of Texas Toast) and the ribs (with your choice of hot sauce that's really hot). Classic BBQ sides like cornbread and greens round out the delicious BBQ menu.

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7. Smoke Barbeque & Taqueria 225 E 8th Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15120

Where there's smoke, there's fire... or serious tacos, in the case of Smoke Barbeque & Taqueria in Lawrenceville. The casual, cowboy-chic spot combines Texas-style barbecue with Mexican taco accoutrements to create a new kind of taco experience than the one you're used to. You can smell the smoker the second you step in, and better yet, taste it in meats like brisket on a housemade tortilla with hot pepper, onions and mustard sauce. Beverages continue the fusion novelty, with tomato water and horchata helping to cool you down after some jalapeño-apple slaw.

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8. Double Wide Grill 2339 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

The patio at Double Wide is great for people watching, and there's a special section for dogs! The restaurant focuses on barbeque meats and vegan options, plus there are more than 30 craft beers on tap. DW frequently offers meal deals and hosts community events, so any day is a great day to stop in for some food and good times.

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9. Union Pig and Chicken 220 N Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

At this East Liberty spot, meats are smoked with local maple and cherry wood, allowing the unique aroma and distinctive flavors to seep into high-quality meats. Try the Meaty Mac to go with your main course— the creaming mac and cheese is loaded with with brisket, pork, crumbled blue and wasabi oil. Desserts include a seasonal pie-in-a-jar, bourbon chocolate chip cookie (served with milk!) and selection of homemade ice creams sourced and made locally.

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10. The Dream BBQ 7600 N Braddock Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15208

You could find Dream even in your sleep— it often smokes meats right on the sidewalk, enticing your tastebuds before you can even see the restaurant. Dreams serves combinations of meat and sides for some buttery-goodness that satisfies. In addition to the crispy, melt-in your mouth ribs, try the full chicken wings with sweet honey mustard sauce and yams sweetened with brown sugar.