It's National BBQ Month

Steve Gillespie

Debby and I worked with each other for several years in Mississippi.

I think we got along real well right away, so it was no surprise when we found out we were both from Northeast Arkansas (me from Mississippi County, her from Craighead County).

Once at an event where she was helping out her son, who was in the food service industry, I ordered a barbecue sandwich from her. She asked if I wanted a regular barbecue sandwich, or an Arkansas barbecue sandwich. There was no need to explain. I said “an Arkansas one” and she plopped cole slaw on it for me.

Everybody’s different, everybody likes their barbecue a certain way, and I bet it’s an argument as old as fire, but did you see the Chef’s Pencil/TripAdvisor ratings regarding barbecue that were put out last week?

It outraged plenty of people on Twitter where “No Memphis?” was trending along with “No Texas?” in response to the Top 10 list of cities with the BEST barbecue: 1. New Orleans, LA; 2. Oklahoma City, OK; 3. Charlotte, NC; 4. Wichita, KS; 5. Virginia Beach, VA; 6. Columbus, Ohio; 7. Seattle, WA; 8. St. Louis, MO; 9. Miami, FL; and 10. Newark, NJ.

I retweeted writer Nichole Perkins, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, who posted the list of the 10 BEST barbecue cities shocked that Memphis wasn’t included, and the 10 WORST barbecue cities, which included Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and Plano, Texas. She wrote: “These ratings have to be from non-southern tourists who want bbq to taste like sloppy joes. This is unfathomable.”

And like me, she loves New Orleans, but noted people aren’t going there for barbecue.

Also on the 10 worst barbecue cities list were: Jacksonville, FL; Anchorage, AK; Omaha, NE; Aurora, CO; Philadelphia, PA; and Boston, MA.

San Antonio, Houston, and Memphis also had the “highest number of low-rated BBQ joints” according to these “ratings.”

Chef’s Pencil is an online cookbook where professional Chefs share their favorite recipes. It also describes itself as an international foodie magazine launched in 2009 by a Dutch chef based in Sydney, Australia. Chef’s Pencil worked with TripAdvisor to put these ratings out on “which cities are the best for enjoying fantastic BBQ.” TripAdvisor is an online travel company with a website and an app for user-generated content.

Oh well, it really is just a list, nothing to get upset about.

Having grown up less than 50 miles from Memphis, I will always have my favorite barbecue spots there. To be honest, the very best barbecue I’ve ever eaten was in Mexico in the 1980s. But, “best” barbecue is different from “favorite” barbecue. For some of us our favorite barbecue is really at home, shared with the people we love, made with the flavors we grew up with. Personally, I like to slow cook baby back ribs with Strawberry’s dry rub from Holcomb, Missouri. If I’m visiting my mom, who lives where she can’t find Wicker’s original marinade and baste, made in Hornersville, Missouri, I have to bring her a bottle of it for her barbecued chicken. She grew up around here, too.

May is National BBQ Month. I hope you’re able to enjoy it this year with your favorite barbecue and your favorite people.

Steve Gillespie is an editor with Paxton Media Group. Email him at

Steve Gillespie is an editor with Paxton Media Group. Email him at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.