A good indication of a great barbecue spot? That they sell out regularly. Barkley’s does so quite often, so get there early if you want to try the beef ribs, smoked chicken, or pulled pork sandwiches. If you’re not headed up to Strawberry Mansion, where its brick-and-mortar restaurant is located, check the restaurant’s Facebook page to see if the food truck is out and about—it often parks at the Berlin Farmer’s Flea Market or Linvilla Orchards. The BBQ joint also delivers using Black and Mobile, a delivery service that specializes in black-owned restaurants.
How to book: Takeout only. Call 215-763-7427 to order ahead or place your order in person. Delivery available through Black and Mobile.
Big Bad Wolf is strip-mall barbecue at its best. The spot’s signature item is pork-belly bites, which are smoked until they’re flavorful and juicy, then sliced, breaded, fried, and soaked in a sweet and spicy sauce. Big Bag Wold has plenty of other items, but the pork belly bites are the money shot.
How to book: No reservations. Call 484-480-4676 to order pick-up.
Seafood towers are trendy, but what if barbecue towers are the next big thing? Try one at Craft Hall, stacked with three different meats and three sides with options like spare ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket paired with collards, mac ’n cheese, and cornbread. In addition to being a barbecue spot, Craft Hall is part brewery: Mainstay Independent Brewery’s beer is brewed on site, so it’s a good spot for an evening of drinking.
Deke’s is another spot that does the Philly barbecue mash-up of a brisket cheesesteak, as well as a couple of other sandwiches inspired by this city’s obsessive love of hoagies. Also notable: the mac ‘n cheese, a requisite barbecue side, is made with large shells and plenty of cheddar and is completely amazing. The Germantown location also has daily happy hour specials, for those wanting to get their drink on.
How to book: Takeout only at the 4901 Ridge Avenue location. Walk-in only at the 137 Berkley Street location.
Fette Sau (German for fat pig) is the place to go with a big crew when you want to settle in for an evening of rowdy drinking (and lots of smoked meats). It’s counter service, which makes it easy for everyone to order and pay for themselves, and the long picnic tables make it easy to pile in a group. The brisket is generally good as are the burnt end sandwiches, which combines both pork and beef. It’s also a great spot to go with a group that includes vegetarians, as the sides are so good that I’ve been known to go for those alone.
How to book: Walk in or order takeout or delivery online
Henri Hott’s is the place to stop on your way to the beach, or on your way home from a day-trip when you’re sun-tired and just need some good meat. The restaurant has suspended the beloved buffet for now, but you can still fill up on ribs, brisket, and smoked chicken, as well as fried shrimp, crab cakes, fried chicken, and many freshly made pies and bundt cakes.