Food & Drink

The Best BBQ Spots in Seattle

Published On 03/19/2015 Published On 03/19/2015

Unlike Memphis, Austin, or Kansas City, Seattle is a seafood town. So it isn't surprising that, for years, it seemed like the only place to find BBQ, America's most famous contribution to the culinary tradition, was some hole-in-the-wall spot like Pecos or... uh, Hole in the Wall BBQ. Not anymore. In the last few years, an abundance of seriously good meat-slingers have opened across the city, meaning you can finally get great Kansas- or Texas-style 'cue without actually going to those states (or to some former gas station in SoDo). Unless you want to, 'cause Pecos is still on our list of Seattle's best BBQ joints.

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

The Barbeque Pit

Central District

Open from noon-7pm, this small Central District hole in the wall is run by a formidable man named Pookey. And Pookey's been known to stock his smoker with fallen branches collected from the streets of the CD. Trust Pookey. From beef brisket and succulent pork ribs to sweet potato pie, lunch is well worth the wait here.

Pecos Pit Barbecue

Pecos Pit Barbeque

SoDo

This lunch-only spot regularly draws long lines to its service window, from which it serves up incredibly messy brisket, pork, or chicken sandwiches, and not much else. The vivid red smoke ring on the brisket has been known to make novices think it’s raw. But don’t worry -- when the meat is this good, you don’t need much else... except, maybe, a hot link... or a few sides, like smoked potatoes, or BBQ beans, which you can enjoy at the handful of tables scattered outside (if there’s room).

The Boar's Nest

The Boar's Nest

Ballard

Nestled in Ballard, this authentic BBQ joint boasts a robust menu of Texas-inspired eats, like boneless fried chicken and fried bologna, plus BBQ plates that are "piled high," and both half and full slabs of signature ribs. It also has a wide array of trademark sauces inspired by Southern states, with names like Kansas, Alabama, and... um, roasted habanero.

Cask & Trotter

Cask & Trotter

South Lake Union

This small, cozy spot in South Lake Union is a vegetarian’s worst nightmare, thanks to its seriously mouth-watering selection of smoked meats (including pork ribs, pulled pork/chicken, pastrami, brisket, etc.), 11 different kinds of sliders, and much more. It also boasts a sizable whiskey and vodka selection, and has a happy hour from 3-6pm with $3 sliders, drafts, and wells.

Jack's BBQ

Jack’s BBQ

SoDo

With all the fixings, from buttermilk hush puppies to Frito pie, this Central Texas-inspired BBQ joint serves its meat with your choice of sides, plus bread, pickles, jalapeños, and BBQ sauce (if you ask for it). Note that Jack's is closed on Sunday and Monday, though all the others days are fair game.

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

Bourbon and Bones

Ballard

Helmed by a North Carolina native who brought his killer fried chicken recipe when he moved to the Northwest (it involves a marinade of lemon, thyme, cayenne, and garlic), B&B is the place to go for slow-smoked pork shoulder, brisket, house-made andouille sausage, and smoked pork belly bacon. It's also one of Seattle's best whiskey bars, so don't skip out on one of its fine bourbons -- served in a miniature Mason jar, of course.   

Bitterroot BBQ

Bitterroot

Ballard

Presumably not named for what you'd have to call everyone else in The Roots after years of Questlove getting all the attention, this exposed-brick and aged wood-decorated spot boasts a custom smoker that's putting out serious 'cue. Like what? Try the house-cured and -smoked pork belly, ribs, a smoked pork shank, or a platter packed with a half chicken, brisket, baby back ribs, pulled pork, and three sides, called the "Cowboy Killer." Oh, and don't forget the bar in back, which is pouring American whiskeys, bourbon, and craft brews.

Drunky's Two Shoes BBQ

Drunky's Two Shoe BBQ

Fremont

Owned by Nate Rezak -- the same guy behind 9 Million In Unmarked Bills, who's also a serious Seattle BBQ vet -- this Fremont BBQ "shack" is winsomely and exuberantly decorated to evoke a kind of cartoonish Southern charm. But you probably won't notice any of that when you smell the meat that's been smoking for up to 16 hours on green alder, or taste the chicken brined for three days, then wrapped in caul fat before it's cooked, or spread the smoked bone marrow on a piece of bread, or... oh, you get the idea.

Hole in the Wall BBQ

Hole in the Wall BBQ

Pioneer Square

It's technically not a hole in the wall; just a small shop next to an alley. And since 1989, a father and son have been serving up slow-cooked 'cue (the meats are smoked for 16 hours with oak and fruit woods) that's so good, it's won them a state BBQ championship twice. But come lunchtime, when it's packed with workers from all the nearby office towers, it sure feels like... well, whatever's smaller than a hole in the wall.

Wood Shop BBQ

Wood Shop BBQ

Multiple locations
Managed by a pair of dudes (one of whom owns the venerable Hallava Falafel food truck) who are steeped in the BBQ traditions of Kansas and Texas, this mobile meat operation serves a wide array of sandwiches (like the Texas chicken, made with a peppery chopped thigh, or the hickory-smoked pulled pork, served on brioche with buttermilk slaw) and large plates, highlighted by the Woody, which is really just a heaping bowl of smoked jalapeño mac & cheese topped with meat.

Briley's BBQ & Grill

Brileys BBQ & Grill

Lake City

Bringing barbecue with a touch of Louisiana to the far northeast corner of the city, this new-ish roadside meatery is outfitted with a smoker that cranks out 120 racks of ribs at a time... or would, if it weren't also being used to make house sausage "hammers," brisket, pork, etc. by the pound. Some of the latter is put on buns to make eight different kinds of "sandys," including the jalapeño-cheddar sausage-based Iron Horse, and the Rock Dawg with chopped brisket. And whatever you do, don't sleep on the "side pieces," including gumbo, hush puppies, and more.

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Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor who still misses the BBQ at Pinky's Kitchen, but can practically smell the meat smoking at Two Shoe BBQ from his house, so he's getting over it.

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1. The Barbeque Pit 2509 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Central District)

From beef brisket and succulent pork ribs to sweet potato pie, lunch is well-worth the wait at The Barbecue Pit. Just keep your eyes peeled for the flaming sign nearby Garfield Playfield.

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2. Pecos Pit Barbecue 2260 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98126

Peso Pit has mastered the art of barbeque for 33 years , which is why its Big 'N' Messy pulled pork sandwich is legendary smoked goodness.

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3. The Boar's Nest 2008 NW 56th St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

You can't go wrong with a place that has its own line of signature sauces, which is just one of the reasons The Boar's Nest is a BBQ treasure in Seattle. Sauces aside, the menu lists Southern favorites like flavorful, tender meat options and sides like hand-battered friend mac and cheese, tangy collard greens, and soft corn bread. This spot is great for a casual night out and good ol' comfort food.

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4. Cask & Trotter 711 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 (South Lake Union)

This cozy spot in South Lake Union has a seriously sweet selection of smoked meats (including pork ribs, pulled pork/chicken, pastrami, brisket, etc.), 11 different kinds of sliders, and a sizable whiskey and vodka selection. Check them out during happy hour from 3-6pm for $3 deals.

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5. Jack's BBQ 3942 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA 98108 (Sodo)

With all your fixings from buttermilk hush puppies to Frito pie, this Texas-inspired BBQ joint will make you feel like you're really in the lone star state. Their slow-cooked meat is served with your choice of sides, plus bread, pickles, jalapeños, and BBQ sauce. Jack's is closed on Sunday and Monday, but who could really eat BBQ seven out of seven days a week? (Our max is five.) But after just one hearty serving of their smoked goodness, you'll be tappin' out until next week.

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6. Bourbon & Bones 4350 Leary Way NW, Seattle, WA 98107 (Fremont)

Boasting "smoked meat, fried chicken, and whiskey," Bourbon & Bones is serving up everything you need to have an authentic BBQ experience in Fremont. What's better than whiskey cocktails? Whiskey cocktails served in mason jars.

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7. Bitterroot BBQ 5239 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

Nothing beats the smell that emanates from Bitterroot's custom smoker and fills its reclaimed brick- and wood-laden space. Specializing its own bbq formula they've dubbed "Northwest style," this waterside Old Ballard spot dry rubs their ribs, briskets, roasted chickens, and pulled porks and comes with four house-made sauces: apple- and cola-based sweet, tangy Carolina mustard, spicy chipotle, and garlic vinegar. The tiled bar in the back is the icing on the cake with flights and specialty cocktails from their impressive aged whiskey collection.

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8. Drunky's Two Shoe BBQ 4105 Leary Way NW, Seattle, WA 98107 (Fremont)

Drunky’s—named after a gold-toothed cartoon horse—meat is slow-smoked over green alder wood for up to 16 hours, creating a distinctively fresh flavor. The menu includes brisket, free-range chicken, and St. Louis-style pork ribs along with vegetarian-friendly sides. The welcoming atmosphere of southern hospitality and barbecue culture is decorated with a large antler chandelier and boar’s head.

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9. Hole in the Wall Barbecue 215 James St, Seattle, WA 98104 (Pioneer Square)

This place is great for grab-and-go food. Hole in the Wall serves sandwiches, chili, ribs and sides, made fresh daily and served only for lunch. Service is friendly and prices are reasonable. Try the pulled pork— it’s a classic done well. You’ll enjoy every bite of this real-deal meal.

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10. Brileys BBQ & Grill 15030 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155 (Lake City)

Baileys is servin’ up some fan-favorite Louisiana-style BBQ. Seasonal specialties include Briley fries (potato fries with bbq cause and brunswick stew), a catfish basket, and spinach salad. Drinks depend on rotating tap options from local microbreweries and wineries. The family-friendly spot also offers kids’ proportions.

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