The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America

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#nachofail at Windy Acres BBQ

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I was the only customer at Windy Acres BBQ when I made an unplanned roadside stop in Kutztown, PA. When asked about this, the staff informed me that they had only been open a few weeks.  The staff recommended I try the barbecue nachos and I was happy to oblige.  I’ve have had some great nachos along the Barbecue Rankings Tour at places like Central BBQ in Memphis, but these were a #nachofail.  

Good nachos start with a base of quality chips.  These were the cheap, corn nacho rounds that always taste half stale.  The cheese was the nacho cheese you find at ballparks and gas stations.  When at the ballpark, the warm, cheese flavored chemical yellow goo is fantastic.  Anywhere else, though, it’s terrible.  The pork was underwhelming and the faux bacon was an insult to injury.

Windy Acres was a swing and a miss, but that’s all part of the adventure to find The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America!

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Schell’s Hot Dogs Bar B-Q

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Temple, Pennsylvania is home to what I call the Schell’s Megaplex.  This megaplex consists of the Dairy Swirl ice cream barn, a miniature golf course and “Schell’s Hot Dogs Bar B-Q”.

If there is an award in The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America for the most faux wood in a restaurant, Schell’s is Ikea-loads ahead of the competition.  From the wood grain floor tiles to paneled wood ceiling, wood paneled walls displaying wooden art to faux wood trash cans, paneled tables to employees who look remarkably like Pinocchio, the place is a hylophobic’s (fear of wood) worst nightmare.

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The Jorts photobomb makes this picture a keeper.

I asked the young lady behind the counter for their best barbecue meal.  She recommended the “Hot Dog with Bar-B-Q” so I said I would take one to go.  I settled at a picnic table outside to watch a few mini-golf shots and opened my foil wrapped hot dog.

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"That", you might be saying, "looks like a chili-dog."  Indeed it is!  "Bar-B-Q" at Schell’s is really more of a Sloppy Joe like concoction.  Throw it on a hot dog and you have a chili-dog.

I’m as big a fan of mini-golf as anyone, but if it’s barbecue you are looking for, skip Schell’s.

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Jersey…

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Despite it’s location in the Northeast and the recent closing of a couple of the major casinos, Atlantic City might not be a bad place to open a barbecue restaurant.  Why?  It’s full of tourists and I couldn’t find a real barbecue option.  Kelsey and Kim’s was the closest I could find, and, while it’s a nice little restaurant, it’s really a Southern Cafe with a couple of barbecue items on the menu.

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After failing to find a true barbecue restaurant in Atlantic City and donating a few bucks to Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal, I ventured back inland looking for barbecue.  I found a couple of spots including Carolina Blue and Henri’s “Hotts” Barbeque.  Carolina is a great place to go for a beer. I would avoid Henri’s.

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Filed under new jersey barbecue bbq henri's carolina blue kelsey and kim's

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The Rest of Philly

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I wrote about three of my Philly stops (Sweet Lucy’s, Percy Street and Jimmy’s) in more detail over the last few days, but it’s time to move on from Philly so I’ll sum up three more Philly stops at once.  Zachary’s (the two pictures above) was far and away the best of these three.

Despite the “Philly’s Best” blazing sign at Rib Rack…I suggest a cheesesteak at Geno’s or Pat’s instead (and I’m not picking sides in the great cheesesteak debate!).

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I was really quite disappointed with the brisket, mac ‘n cheese and yams from Phoebe’s.  Phoebe’s makes all of the local lists of best barbecue spots (probably because it is the only one more than about 10 years old), but it was one of the least enjoyable stops on the Barbecue Rankings Tour so far.  Nothing bad happened…except for bad food.

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Filed under philly philadelphia bbq barbecue phoebes zacharys ribrack

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Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse

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The GPS is usually my trusted sidekick as I visit new places across the country.  Unfortunately, from time to time, I’m steered off course and find myself on a closed road, at an abandoned building or on the wrong street.  As I approached Sweet Lucy’s, I was confident that I was on the wrong trail again since I was surrounded by nothing but fenced-in warehouses next to a railroad.  When I arrived at 7500 State Road, however, I realized that I had given up too easily and found Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse tucked into the corner of an industrial warehouse.

Sweet Lucy’s has received a lot of local press over the years and it started with being named the best food truck in Philly (a town teeming with food trucks).  The food truck evolved into the warehouse restaurant and now barbecue fans from all over the Philly area make the trip to take in some of, if not the, best barbecue in town.

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Brook and Jim Higgins have varied culinary backgrounds that includes Brook’s time at the Culinary Institute of America and fine dining experience.  The two met in a kitchen and have been cooking together ever since.  Jim attributed much of their success to a “fussing over everything” attitude and they keep a close watch over everything at Sweet Lucy’s.

I found the pork, chicken, wings to all be very, very good, but the ribs stood above the rest.  There is nothing particularly different about them, but with great flavor, char, consistency and spice, they were excellent.  Sweet Lucy’s also puts a lot of effort into their sides and the sweet potatoes and beans were both great.  

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