By Dan Gentille - Thrillist

SELECTING THE BEST places to eat barbecue in America has always been a monumentally difficult task, but it's even more so now, thanks to a new generation of pitmasters that's combined with a still crafty old guard to make the landscape more meat-packed than ever. But just because something is a challenge doesn't mean you shouldn't try. So we ate smoked meat. We talked to people who eat and smoke meat. We engaged in both aggressive and passive-aggressive arguments about smoked meat. In the end, we settled on these 33 BBQ joints that are continuing America's grand traditions while also pushing them in exciting new directions. Happy arguing, but more importantly, happy eating.

Competition circuit phenoms and Food Network reality stars the Orrisons paint the picture of the ideal barbecue family. Everyone chips in, with Daddy-O making the sauce, Brad managing the pits, Mom handling the marketing, and Brooke making sure the ship doesn’t sink. Whole hog is their award-winning specialty at competitions, but at the ramshackle Ocean Springs restaurant, you can’t go wrong with any order. And the meat tastes even better with a side of live music.


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