Regional BBQ Styles


Today is National Barbecue Day, so be sure to get out and grub on some delicious BBQ! Not sure what BBQ style to choose from? I’ve put together a cheat sheet of regional BBQ that is famous all over the U.S. and found right here in the Golden State.


Memphis, Tennessee Barbecue

Known for heavy, slow smoking, dry rubs, and sweet-tangy barbecue sauce. Meat is usually focused around pork, served as a rack of ribs or pulled to perfection. Although ribs can be served wet, Memphis is famous for its dry rubs.

Check out Memphis Minnie’s Bar-B-Que Joint & Smoke House in SF for Memphis style BBQ.


Alabama Barbecue

Alabama is famous for its smoking pork (ribs, shoulder, or butt), ham, and chicken, all served chopped, pulled, and sliced. The meat is usually served on top of a sandwich with coleslaw and dill pickles. Their sauce, which is usually used on chicken, is super unique, made with mayonnaise, apple-cider vinegar, lemon juice, horseradish, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.

Check out My Father’s Barbeque in Carson for some Alabama style BBQ.


Kansas City Barbecue

Also known as the barbecue capital of the world, Kansis City is known for its use of variety of meats, such as pork, beef, sausage, and chicken. These meats are smoked over hickory wood and covered with a tomato-based sauce. Restaurants in Kansas City are recognized for serving burnt ends, and soul food sides such as coleslaw and baked beans.

Check out Kansas City Barbeque in San Diego for some old-fashioned Kansas City style BBQ.


Santa Maria, California Barbecue

Located in Santa Barbara County in California, Santa Maria-style barbecue is famous for its top-block sirloin and its tri-tip. These meats are rubbed in seasoning (usually salt, pepper, and garlic salt), strung on skewers, and cooked over red-oak coals. Side dishes that accompanies these meats are usually salsa, grilled French bread with melted butter dipping, and pinquito beans, also known as pink kidney beans that grow in the Santa Maria Valley.

Check out Santa Maria BBQ to taste the traditional barbecue styles of Santa Maria in California.


BBQ Beef Brisket

 Texas Barbecue

Known as the cattle country state, Texas is famous for its beef briskets. This meat is smoked slowly for 6 to 12 hours in a long, low brick pit, used by a pulley system that raises and lowers it so it can be fully cooked. Texas BBQ varies by location in the state of Texas: East Texas uses pork as much as they do beef, which is served with hot sauce on a bun; central Texas rarely uses sauces and sandwiches, and instead serves brisket alone; West Texas cooks its meats over mesquite wood in an open pit with little to no sauces (also called “cowboy-style barbecue”); South Texas is influenced by Mexican culture and flavors.

Check out Holy Smoke Texas Style BBQ in Bishop for some Texas style briskets.


Kentucky Style Burgoo

Kentucky Barbecue

Barbecue in the state of Kentucky is mainly focused around mutton, the meat of mature sheep. Three sauces are mainly used with this meat: a mild sauce with a tomato-base; a hot sauce with a lot of peppery flavor; and a Worcestershire based sauce, also known as “black dip”. Other meats such as ribs, pulled pork and beef briskets are also served in many barbecue restaurants throughout the state. One unique side Kentucky is known for is burgoo, which is a spicy stew made with mutton.

Check out Maw n’ Paw BBQ in Fresno for some “slow smoked Kentucky style barbeque”.


Hawaiian BBQ (Image Courtesy: Lunch Pig)

Hawaiian Barbecue

Hawaiian’s version of BBQ is very different than traditional BBQ that is well-known in the states.  Hawaii’s method of BBQ is referred to as “kalua pork”, which describes a method of cooking pork in an

underground oven, also known as an imu. The oven is filled with hot lava rocks, and lined with banana leaves. A whole pig that is cleaned and seasoned in sea salt is wrapped in chicken wire and then placed in the pit, and covered in wet burlap and a layer of sand and is set to cook for eight hours. The pork is shredded and served with a side of white rice and poi.


Check out L&L Hawaiian Barbecue for some traditional style Hawaiian BBQ.

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