Every wednesday I review a cookbook to help weed out the good the bad and the ugly. This week I am reviewing America’s Best BBQ, 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses and Restaurants. This book is co-written by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk. Both barbecue legends. Even being barbecue legends I don’t know how they pulled this one off. They went into the best barbecue restaurants in America and came out with recipes for some amazing food.

Starter and Appetizers

Like most cookbooks this one is broken up into sections based on courses. Chapter one discusses starters and appetizers. They have included recipes from Onion Rings from Leonard’s Pit Barbecue in Memphis, Tennesee to the famous Burgoo from the Moonlite Bar-B-Q in in Owensboro, Kentucky. The one killer appetizer that I found in the book was Fried Cheese Stick Grits from Memphis Minnie’s Barbecue Joint and Smoke House in San Franciso. A new take on the southern tradition of grits. If you were wondering how these guys came away with such good recipes from the restaurants, Ardie says that they were ready to arm-wrestle for the cheese stick grits recipe.

Main Dishes

This is the heart and soul of barbecue, the main dish.  Ardie and Paul have recipes for Memphis-style ribs from Jack’s Barb-B-Que in Nashville, Tennesee – The cooking method for Pit Bar-B-Que from Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que and the recipe for Pork Butt from the 17th Street bar and grill in Murphysboro, Illinois.  When I was in college there was a BBQ joint in Milwaukee called Speed Queen and they had the best rib tips.  I have always wonder the best way to cook ribs tips.  While not Speed Queen’s recipe, this book has the Rib Tip recipe from Lem’s Bar-B-Q house in Chicago.  They are slow cooked and the excerpt includes the recipe for Lem’s spicy gravy. 

Sides and Condiments

Every great barbecue restaurant has amazing sides.  This section includes sides and condiments from some of America’s most notable restaurants.  Like, the famous fries from Arther Bryant’s In Kansas City and Barbecue Beef Rub from Goode Company Barbecue in Houston, Texas.  Ardie and Paul pulled out all of the stops in this book.  The best of the section though is a recipe for Eastern North Carolina Coleslaw from Stamey’s in Greensboro, North Carolina.  This is not your traditional coleslaw as it uses a ketchup base.  According to Ardie and Paul, “The sour notes in the slaw complement the sweetness of the pork.”  Sounds like I might be making this next week.


Yes, barbecue restaurants serve dessert.  From the Apple Dumplings at Rooster’s Bar-B-Q in Harrison, Arkansas to the Banana Cream Pie from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que in Decatur, Alabama.  But the best in my opinion, Deep Fried Oreos from RUB (Righteous Urban Barbecue) in New York City.  I usually make a pancake batter but they swear by a mixture that start with white cake mix.  Hmm.  Sounds delicious.  Time to fire up the fryer.


If you love barbecue then you have to get this book.  Secret family recipes revealed for some of your favorite items at famous barbecue landmarks.  On top of that this book is full of great stories about the proprietors and pit masters.  I wish I was a barbecue legend so that I could walk into a famous barbecue joint and walk out with the recipes.  But like me, you don’t have to as Ardie and Paul did all of the work for you.  Make sure to check out page 186 for Paul and Ardie’s take on the top ten barbecue restaurants.

America’s Best BBQ  is available wherever books are sold and is available on Amazon for around $14.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Does this book contain the recipe for the blue cheese bowl from Ridgewood BBQ? I would LOVE to have that recipe!

    • Melissa,

      The book does contain the recipe for the Blue Cheese Bowl from Ridgewood Barbecue. It is on pages 24-25. What can I say, this book has everything.

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