Nothing says good Southern food like proper barbecue. And, while we were all raised on many versions of what proper barbecue should be, Kentuckians will agree on this: Louisville has great barbecue all over town. Finger-lickin’, napkin-decimating good, truth be told.
Here are ten great places around town to eat BBQ. We are sure we missed some great ones, as there are so many. But this is a good place to start.
Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ
102 Bauer Avenue, St. Matthews
This is Kansas-City style BBQ, which basically means slow-smoked meat covered in a tomato-based sweet sauce. In addition to their meats, Momma’s is known for their burnt ends, chicken wings, homemade mustard and pickles. The chicken wings have no sauce, just a dry rub, and they are fantastic. As for the mustard, you can’t leave the place without buying a jar. Catering and take-out are available. www.mommasbbq.com
Jucy’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q
7626 LaGrange Rd, Pewee Valley
Jucy’s is an icon here in the Louisville community. Located in Pewee Valley, they have good brisket, smoked pork tenderloin, great sides and really good desserts, especially pies. Mark on your calendar that Monday nights are “All You Can Eat Ribs” night. They cater so many events in Louisville, you probably have eaten Jucy’s food without ever setting foot in their restaurant. They do big and small catering jobs, tailgaiting, box lunches and carry-out. www.jucysbar-b-q.com
Mark’s Feed Store
Five locations: Middletown, Dixie Highway, New Albany, the Highlands, and Fern Creek
Mark’s is another mainstay in Louisville, with five locations around town. They serve Eastern Kentucky Style barbecue, which is smoked and then topped with their signature sauces. Also noteworthy is their buttermilk pie, onion straws and Birds in a Nest (chicken wings served over onion straws). Catering comes in many forms here, from just a bare-bones setting up a buffet to a full-service wedding reception. Carry out and mail delivery options are also both available. www.marksfeedstore.com
921 Swan Street
Yes, we know it is basically a restaurant/dive bar–in the basement of a home with only about ten tables. But food reviews here are amazing and even though they are not a typical barbecue restaurant, their barbecue selection comes with the highest recommendations. Lamb and pork ribs, brisket (served on a slider, a pretzel bun or in a taco), and the baked beans are all the headliners here. Take your chances and go early to get a table. There are no reservations, no call-ahead seating, and no catering. There IS carry-out. Kinda makes you want to go there more to see what all the fuss is about, right? www.louisvillehammerheads.com
FABD (aka Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot)
3204 Frankfort Avenue
You can’t miss FABD; they are the place with all the smokers right on the sidewalk on Frankfort Avenue, near Cannons Lane. Walkers and runners on Frankfort get a special treat when they pass of all the delicious meats being smoked all day. Everything is great here, but two things to try that might seem out of the ordinary are their smoked salmon and their bean soup. Trust me. They have a full-service bar and catering for any size event. They also have a great mantra: “I didn’t claw my way up the food chain just to eat vegetables.” www.frankfortavenuebeerdepot.com
River Road BBQ
3017 River Road (near Zorn Avenue intersection)
Located next to the bike shop on River Road, this place has huge pulled pork sandwiches and great brisket, good enough that you don’t need any sauce for it. However, they are known for their unique sauce and for their very generous portions. Carry-out and catering for up to 200 are available. www.facebook.com
116 W. Main St., New Albany and coming soon to Market St. in NuLu.
Feast came on the scene in New Albany with a beautiful new restaurant a few years ago. They have all the normal barbecue selections but also offer “vegetarian, gluten-free, and soy-free options, but no vegan options. Sorry, kind of; we are a BBQ place after all.” Try all of their “snacks” including the fried pickles and crispy pork cakes. They also have a great selection of local beers and bourbon, most notably their bourbon slushies, featuring such flavors as orange dreamsicle and ginger. They also offer carry-out. www.feastbbq.com
Shack in the Back
406 Mount Holly Rd. Fairdale
This is another Louisville icon, set in a log cabin dating from 1896. Besides your typical barbecue fare, they also offer revered turkey ribs and smoked bologna. Another “must try” is the barbecue parfait, recently reviewed by Louisville.com. They offer call-in, carry-out and drive through service in addition to their full service catering. shackinthebackbbq.com
1153 Logan St. (corner of Oak and Logan in Smoketown)
Don’t let the Rastafarian graphics fool you, as this is a true barbecue restaurant. This popular Smoketown establishment has rave reviews on its beef ribs, pork ribs, riblets and smoked wings. Also known for its soul greens, homemade corn muffins, and pork belly. They offer carry-out and catering services as well. Fun fact: their restaurant doubles as a consignment store, where everything is for sale. www.smoketownusa.com
Old Hickory Pit
6106 Shepherdsville Rd., Newburg
Old Hickory Pit serves Western Kentucky style barbecue and they are the only Louisville area restaurant that offers barbecued mutton (in case you were looking for that). Pork here is “as tender as your Mother’s heart.” Other notable menu items there are the pan fried cornbread, the fried apples and the red velvet cake. They offer carry-out, catering and delivery for large orders. They have no website nor any online presence, but you can find their menu here: www.menupix.com
Just to leave you with this funny… Where I’m from, there is only Texas barbecue, then everything else. Here’s a great map put together by Texas Monthly showing you just what I mean.
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