Just because there’s no well-known “Pennsylvania-style barbecue” that chefs in faraway states try to emulate doesn’t mean that there aren’t great places to eat barbecue in our state.
So maybe Pennsylvania isn’t exactly known for its barbecue like Texas or North Carolina. But just because there’s no well-known “Pennsylvania-style barbecue” that chefs in faraway states try to emulate doesn’t mean that there aren’t great places to eat barbecue in our state. We’ve put together a list of eight restaurants across the state where you’ll find some incredible, often unique, barbecue dishes.
Federal Hill Smokehouse – Erie
In 2022, Erie’s Federal Hill Smokehouse beat out all the barbecue joints in the urban centers of Pittsburgh and Philly when “Food & Wine” named it the best barbecue in Pennsylvania. Federal Hill Smokehouse does, after all, inspire many people to drive several hours to experience their brisket, ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork, and sausages. Be sure to give yourself time to get there for lunch: the hours listed are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 3pm—or until they sell out of everything. One more pro tip? Try to save some room for the peach cobbler.
Double Wide Grill – Pittsburgh
Set up in an old gas station on Pittsburgh’s South Side, Double Wide Grill has a giant menu full of American classics, including some mouthwatering barbecue cooked over a wood fire. Besides traditional meals like brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, you can also order your barbecue atop mac and cheese or as part of a “TV dinner” that’s served to you on a divided dinner tray reminiscent of an old-timey TV dinner tray. The menu even includes vegan and vegetarian barbecue options, like the restaurant’s much-loved seitan wings.
The atmosphere at Double Wide is quirky, with decorations leaning heavily into the fact that the restaurant used to be a filling station. Bonus: the patio outside is dog friendly and a perfect place to relax in the warmer months.
Sang Kee Peking Duck House – Philadelphia
This Chinatown favorite in Philadelphia is not your traditional barbecue joint, but it’s still one of the places Philadelphians flock to for fantastic barbecue—in this case, Chinese barbecue. Sang Kee Peking Duck House has been serving its namesake duck since 1980, and today it’s one of the most famous dishes in the city. Other Hong Kong style barbecue favorites include many different variations of chicken, beef, and pork. Besides Chinese barbecue, the restaurant also serves a host of classic Chinese dishes.
Smoked Bar and Grill – Hummelstown
This popular barbecue restaurant located between Hershey and Harrisburg is a neighborhood joint not to be missed. At Smoked, you can order the usual suspects in a barbecue platter — baby back ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, etc. — but you can also try some fun variations with the restaurant’s smoked meats, like barbecue brisket mac and cheese, Carolina nachos (with pulled pork), brisket grilled cheese, poutine with brisket gravy, brisket salad, brisket tacos—OK, there are a lot of brisket options. But there are many more options that you can visit Smoked to check out.
Huff & Puff BBQ – Philadelphia
Huff & Puff BBQ prides itself on serving delicious barbecue “for everyone.” What they mean by that is while the restaurant serves St. Louis style ribs and 14-hour smoked Texas style brisket that Philadelphians love, Huff & Puff has also worked to perfect the art of vegan barbecue. Instead of just offering salad on their vegan menu, you can find corn ribs, pulled jackfruit, cauliflower burnt ends, and even smoked watermelon. Like a rack of meat, the latter takes 10 days to cook, from the salt brining process to the smoking. One of the three restaurateurs behind Huff & Puff is a vegetarian, so they know how to make vegetables taste great.
Soju – Pittsburgh
Soju, a restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood, is not exactly a traditional barbecue restaurant. But this Korean-American restaurant serves Korean BBQ that’s among the best barbecue in the city. You can order Soju’s kalbi (beef short ribs), bulgogi (thinly sliced beef filet), dwaejibulgogi (thinly sliced pork), or a combination of all three. All spend time in a delicious Korean marinade before being grilled and served alongside rice and banchan (small side dishes).
Zig Zag BBQ – Philadelphia
Zig Zag BBQ, a somewhat recent addition to the Philadelphia barbecue scene, has already inspired plenty of odes by food critics. The Kensington shop serves up the barbecue you know in an offbeat, welcome way. The twice-smoked and chopped brisket is the star here, but don’t sleep on a side dish of queso mac and cheese, garnished with a sprinkling of Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust. You can order meats by the pound or on a sandwich.
Grumpy’s BBQ Roadhouse – Allentown
Grumpy’s BBQ Roadhouse slow roasts some of the best barbecue in the Lehigh Valley. Besides the quality hickory-smoked ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork, the vibe is friendly, as if you’re hanging out in the chef’s house as you wait for your food. Grumpy’s also, interestingly enough, serves pretty good Cajun food. Plus, Grumpy’s often hosts live music, so you can pair your eats with some entertainment.
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