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With summer in high gear, it’s time to devour smoky barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and grilled oysters—because there’s no better way to celebrate summer than with a BBQ. Come hungry and ready to get messy because these BBQ joints (including one simply called The Joint) are the real deal. In recent years, New Orleans has earned a reputation for having the best barbecue in the country—and we can see why.

Central City BBQ

Many locals and out-of-towners rank this as the best BBQ in New Orleans, and for good reason. Their smoked brisket is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the ribs just fall off the bone. Don’t miss the Cowboy Candy (barbecue pork belly with chili), brisket burnt ends, smoked turkey, pulled pork sandwich, crispy brussels sprouts, pork nachos and brisket chili cheese fries.

1201 S Rampart St; 504-558-4276, www.centralcitybbq.com

 The Joint

With the slogan “Always Smokin’” as its foodie philosophy, you know you’re getting authentic BBQ. Their pork ribs are smoked onsite, yielding tender and tangy pull-apart bites of meat. Other standout dishes span brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, and locally-made chaurice sausage. As the name implies, it’s a “joint,” which means it’s not fancy—something the locals appreciate.

701 Mazant St; 504-949-3232, www.alwayssmokin.com

Blue Oak BBQ

There are so many unique menu items to try here, from Pork Belly Cracklin’s to Brisket Debris, tiny brisket pieces stuffed into a cheddar cheese quesadilla. Of course, Blue Oak also serves traditional dishes like pulled chicken sandwiches, chopped brisket sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, rack of ribs, burnt ends, baked beans, and potato salad. And everyone raves about their spicy and sweet fried chicken sandwich. Wash it all down with a potent Mango Bourbon Mule.

900 N Carrollton Ave; 504-822-2583

Drago’s

Known for their charbroiled oysters, this longtime restaurant also features BBQ shrimp, fried oysters and crawfish meatballs. However, the legend of their charbroiled oysters started in 1993, when one of the restaurant’s managers brushed garlic, butter and herbs on a fresh batch of oysters, topped them with Parmesan and Romano cheese and grilled them in their shell. Since then, they fire up 900 dozen charbroiled oysters a day.

2 Poydras St; 504-584-3911, www.dragosrestaurant.com

Fine Dining
Fine Dining
Fine Dining

Walker’s BBQ

A cross between BBQ and New Orleans cuisine, the Cochon de Lait Poboy is a carnivore’s fantasy come true. The porcine sandwich with coleslaw started at Jazz Fest, and was so popular that the Walker family opened this restaurant devoted to the pursuit of BBQ. Smoked chicken wings (hot or BBQ), smoked beef brisket and burnt ends are also good eating! If you’re with a big crowd, order the “Cochon Feast,” which includes three pounds of smoked pork, six French poboy breads, dressing, sauce and shredded cabbage—enough for six people.

10828 Hayne Blvd; 504-241-8227, www.cochondelaitpoboys.com/

Nola Crawfish King Seafood & Barbecue

What started as a food truck 21 years ago, is now a brick-and-mortar eatery in the Gentilly neighborhood. Which makes it a lot easier to satisfy your cravings for crawfish and BBQ in one shot. On the BBQ side of the menu standouts include “The Pit Boss,” smoked prime brisket with pickles on a Leindenheim roll; “Soul Roll,” an egg roll stuffed with ground smoked pork and mac and cheese; pulled pork, smoked ribs, smoked sausage and smoky beans.

5321 Franklin Ave; 504-259-0828, www.crawfishking.com

Frey Smoked Meat Co.

Six generations in the meat business are on full display at this BBQ restaurant in the French Quarter. Come for the smoked meat: pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage and pork belly. Stay for the gourmet mac and cheese, especially their bacon and pepper jack version. And don’t forget the brisket chili, fried ribs (OMG!), hot fried chicken sandwich and seasonal shakes. The whole restaurant smells of smoke, which is a good thing!

4141 Bienville St; 504-488-7427, https://www.freysmokedmeat.com/