2022’s Best Cities for BBQ Lovers

Staff Report

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Smoked, sauced, grilled — we love our barbecue. But which are 2022’s Best BBQ Cities in America?

With Fourth of July around the corner and our mouths watering, LawnStartercompared 200 of the biggest U.S. cities based on 18 hallmarks of a true ’cue hub.

To separate the top sirloins from the chuck roasts of barbecue scenes, we considered the number of award-winning barbecue restaurants, barbecue festivals, experience hosting a “master-level” competition blessed by KCBS, and, of course, highly rated BBQ joints.

See the 10 barbecue scenes that smoked the competition (or came under friendly fire) below, followed by some highlights and lowlights from our report.
2022's Best Cities for BBQ
Rank City
1 St. Louis, MO
2 Kansas City, MO
3 Chicago, IL
4 Springfield, MO
5 Orlando, FL
6 Overland Park, KS
7 Kansas City, KS
8 Austin, TX
9 Chattanooga, TN
10 Houston, TX
2022's Worst Cities for BBQ
Rank City
1 Paterson, NJ (tie)
1 Sunnyvale, CA (tie)
1 Ontario, CA (tie)
1 Paradise, NV (tie)
1 Spring Valley, NV (tie)
1 Enterprise, NV (tie)
1 Sunrise Manor, NV (tie)
8 Lancaster, CA
9 Miramar, FL
10 Aurora, IL

Highlights and Lowlights:

  • Show-Me Some BBQ: This year, the Mother of the West is also the mother of BBQ: Missouri cities filled out three of the top five spots in our ranking. St. Louis brings home the gold. Last year’s ’Cue Capital, Kansas City (No. 2), and Springfield (No. 4) follow closely behind, with a boost from hosting acclaimed barbecue contests in recent years. 

    All three cities are home to award-winning barbecue, but Kansas City style smokes the competition with its impressive number of Accolades (No. 1).

  • A Southern Staple: Barbecue is more than food in the South — it’s part of the region’s identity. Some Southern cities are known for their BBQ scenes, but this year some unexpected cities topped America’s traditional smokehouse meccas. 

    Orlando, Florida (No. 5), Chattanooga, Tennessee (No. 9), and Little Rock, Arkansas (No. 11), sizzled their way to the top, beating regions with well-known BBQ styles like Memphis (No. 61) and the Carolinas. 

  • Dry Meat in the Desert: Pitmasters are a rare sight once you go west of Texas. The Southwest, particularly Southern California, Nevada, and some Arizona cities, got scorched in our ranking. Las Vegas suburbs and California cities Ontario and Sunnyvale tied for last place alongside Paterson, New Jersey. 

    Each of these cities fared poorly across the board, failing to curb residents’ meaty cravings. Barbecue lovers in California and Nevada might need to resort to mailing it in

Our full ranking and analysis can be found here: https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-bbq-cities/