When it comes to dining out with family and friends is there anything better than a classic BBQ restaurant? In our opinion, a good BBQ chain restaurant is very hard to beat.
Although BBQ chain restaurants mostly serve Southern comfort food, the industry has exploded all over America.
In fact, there are now well over 2,000 different BBQ restaurants to choose from. Serving tender, juicy, strong-flavored meats, awesome sides, and the best sauces, we’re given plenty of options when it comes to picking the best restaurant to eat at.
However, with so many options available, picking out the best can be tricky. Today, we want to make things easier for you. We’ll do that by showing you the very best BBQ chain restaurants in the United States (see also ‘23 Most Popular Chain Restaurants In The United States‘).
In this article, we’ve listed the best restaurants you need to visit. Our list includes favorites such as Dickey’s BBQ, Famous Dave’s, and Bill Miller BBQ.
Let’s get started!
1. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
The first BBQ chain restaurant on our list is Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. In all honesty, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit might just be the most iconic barbecue chain in America. Operating in 457 locations across the country, Dickey’s prides itself on serving the very best BBQ food.
With a wide range of beautifully flavored meats available and a long list of tasty side dishes, you can rest assured that the whole family will find something they can enjoy.
The most popular food items include barbecue wings, pulled pork, and brisket. In terms of sides, the BBQ beans, mac & cheese, and waffle fries steal the show.
There’s a good chance you’ve already been to Dickey’s before, but if not, you seriously need to. Aside from serving high-quality, tasty meats, every ingredient in the restaurant is humanely sourced.
2. Famous Dave’s BBQ
Next up, we have Famous Dave’s BBQ. Despite serving tasty Southern comfort foods, Famous Dave’s BBQ was actually founded in Minnesota. Its meteoric rise in success and popularity has seen over 200 individual restaurants open all over the United States.
There are also three restaurants located outside of America.
This BBQ chain restaurant, like Dickey’s, has an extensive list of treats to choose from. The restaurants’ menu includes single plate options, combos, and their famous Feasts. If you’re planning on dining with family or friends, the Feasts option is perfect.
Feasts come with three different types of meat and your choice of six side dishes. Popular side dishes include mac & cheese, rice, and BBQ beans.
It’s also worth noting that Dave’s runs some of the best discounts in the U.S.
3. Bill Miller BBQ
Bill Miller BBQ was founded in 1950 in San Antonio, Texas (see also ‘17 Of The Very Best Taco Spots To Find In San Antonio‘). What started as a simple egg and poultry business evolved into a full-scale barbecue chain serving some of the very best BBQ foods you’ll find anywhere in America.
Currently, Bill Miller BBQ has 75 different locations throughout Texas. The brand is so popular in Texas that the restaurant’s original location now has a street named after it.
When you visit Bill Miller’s you’ll be greeted by the sight of pit-smoked beef brisket, chicken, pork spare ribs, turkey, ham, sausage links, and more.
The restaurant offers these delicious meats as large barbecue plates or combo meals. The menu also offers classics like fried chicken and mac & cheese.
For those that enjoy a BBQ breakfast, there’s a morning menu too.
4. Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ
As you’re probably already aware as a BBQ lover, BBQ restaurants found in Texas are generally held to a higher standard than restaurants in the rest of the country. Texans are super proud of their barbecue meats, expecting only the very best.
Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ is one of those restaurants that offer just that.
Almost 60 years old, Cooper’s has a number of restaurants across Texas. The chain is so popular and so highly thought of that it even opened its own mail-order business.
The long list of meats Cooper’s serves are hot-smoked “cowboy-style” over a smoldering fire made using mesquite embers. This imparts wonderful flavors and keeps the meat lovely and tender.
The most popular meats are ribs, brisket, jerky, ribeye, and prime rib.
5. Soulman’s Bar-B-Que
The next BBQ chain on our list is Soulman’s Bar-B-Que. Operating in 19 different locations, this BBQ chain might not be as popular as others on this list, but it certainly packs a punch.
Founded in 1974 by the Hallet family, this family-run restaurant still uses traditional family recipes to produce meats that are flavorful, tender, juicy, and succulent. The most popular food item served at Soulman’s is the BBQ ribs.
However, the pulled pork, sausage, beef brisket, chicken, ham, and hot links, all of which are smoked over hickory wood also offer plenty. You can order the meats on its own or with one of the tasty sides.
Our favorite sides at Soulman’s include creamed corn, spicy potatoes, house-smoked beans, and potato salad.
6. Woody’s Bar-B-Q
Woody’s Bar-B-Q started out in Jacksonville Florida over 30 years ago. Now, the brand has over 24 franchised restaurants spread across the United States in locations such as Tennessee and New York.
As the brand continues to grow, so does its following. This is down to the fabulous service guests receive, fair prices, and, of course, the beautiful food on offer.
Whether it be the fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, smoked prime ribs, or the Carolina pulled pork, Woody’s has something for you.
The sides at Woody’s also deserve a mention. Aside from selling classic side dishes, Woody’s also offers some extras. This includes a tasty Brunswick stew, corn nuggets, and fried squash.
7. Corky’s Ribs And BBQ
If you live in Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, or Arkansas, you’re probably used to seeing Corky’s perky pig logo on a daily basis.
Offering Tennessee-style barbecue food, Corky’s is a hugely popular BBQ chain that first opened in Memphis. Corky’s menu offers everything you would normally expect from a BBQ restaurant. When it comes to meats, you can choose from pork, steak, beef, and chicken options.
While the dining experience is great, the best thing about Corky’s is its home party delivery. Corky’s offers a meat delivery service that will deliver up to six pounds of smoked meat to your door.
They also deliver frozen meats up and down the country if you want something that is extra tasty for dinner.
8. City Barbeque
Next up, we have City Barbeque. Despite being founded in Dayton, Ohio, City Barbeque is one of the best BBQ restaurants in America when it comes to serving the best Southern comfort food.
Offering an authentic barbecue experience across the Midwestern United States, the smoked meats at City Barbeque are smoked on-site every day. This provides guests with the freshest dining experience.
This chain is the best BBQ restaurant for those that follow a gluten-free diet. All of the chain’s meats and several side dishes are 100% gluten-free.
One thing we love about this chain is how they support local communities. Any food leftover is given back to the local community.
The Nashville Hot Chicken is a firm favorite.
9. Mission BBQ
The next BBQ restaurant chain on our list could be the most patriotic restaurant America has to offer. This chain was founded with the American people, primarily those that serve the country in mind.
The restaurant fundraisers and donates tens of thousands of dollars to responders and veterans every year. They also give back to local communities.
Anyway, onto the food. Mission BBQ serves up a wide range of beautifully smoked meats. From pulled pork to chopped brisket, they have it all. The seasonings and rubs on offer are also pretty spectacular.
You’ll find the delicious flavors of Mission BBQ in more than 16 states, so why don’t you
check out your local joint.
10. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
If you’re looking for one of the best-hidden gems in America, you should check out Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. This is only a small chain but it’s still easily one of the best BBQ chain restaurants in the United States.
Based in New Jersey and New York, the restaurant boasts some of the best barbecue food items in the Northwest. The menu is fully customizable and suited to any diner. You can customize chicken, pork, brisket, and even catfish dishes to suit your palette.
Classic sides are also on offer, but if you want to try something more unique go for the deviled eggs. Wash your sandwich, burger, or combo plate down with a refreshing craft beer.
11. Jim N Nick’s BBQ
Considering it’s a chain restaurant, Jim N Nick’s BBQ does a great job at providing its diners with that local, family-run business feel. This is impressive when the chain spreads over several states.
All the food at Jim N Nick’s is made fresh daily. Better still, all the meats are smoked on-site. Compared to other restaurants, the menu here is quite small, but that doesn’t restrict you in terms of what you can order.
There is still a wide range of smoked meats and sides to choose from. This chain also offers more American classics like brisket chili, cheesy loaded baked potatoes, and brisket chili fries.
We can also highly recommend trying the banana pudding for dessert. Like other restaurants on this list, any leftovers are given back to the local community to reduce waste and help those in need.
12. Smokey Bones
The next BBQ chain restaurant can be found in more than 60 locations across the East Coast and Midwest. The chain continues to grow with more locations opening every year.
This Southeastern BBQ joint offers a more upscale barbecue dining experience. The brand offers a lot more than ribs and brisket. The extensive menu also features a wide range of barbecue soups, salads, and sides.
The standout menu option at Smokey Bones is the mile-high burger. Insanely big, we struggle to understand how anyone could fit this burger in their mouth. This is definitely an option for those extreme barbecue enthusiasts amongst us.
The delicious Smokey Bones pickle chips also deserve a mention.
13. DreamLand BBQ
DreamLand BBQ is an Alabama BBQ chain that has 10 different locations. On top of that, the company also runs stalls at most stadiums.
This BBQ restaurant actually started in Tuscaloosa in 1958. It quickly rose to fame thanks to its hickory-smoked ribs and divine sauce. Today, those recipes remain a big part of what DreamLand BBQ does. This makes it a solid choice for anyone that seeks more authentic, traditional BBQ flavors.
Offering homely vibes and Southern comfort, the menu continues to grow and currently offers meats such as chicken, sausage, chopped pork, and beef. There are also a range of sides to choose from and the best ribs you’ll ever try.
14. Shane’s Rib Shack
Shane’s Rib Shack was opened by Shane and Stacey Thompson in 2002. At first, the restaurant was a literal shack that sat alongside Highway 155 in Georgia.
Using Shane’s grandfather’s recipes, the shack quickly took off, before more restaurants opened. In the years that followed, an incredible 85 new restaurants opened across 10 states. This number continues to grow.
Without a doubt, the meteoric rise of Shane’s Rib Shack is down to its impressive menu. There are loads of options to choose from but the highlights would have to be the smoked wings, barbecue pork, baby back ribs, loaded baked potatoes, and chicken tenders.
15. Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse
Established in 1910, Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse is one of the oldest BBQ restaurant chains on this list. Opened by William Jennings, this restaurant chain now operates in five different locations. Those locations can be found in and around the Dallas And Fort Worth World metroplex.
With old fashioned decor and a cracking atmosphere, this is the place to go if you want to be transported back in time and treated to plenty of nostalgia. In terms of food, the restaurant offers traditional Texas-style barbecue food including chopped brisket, ribs, pulled pork, jalapeno sausage, ham, turkey, and chicken.
The hearty side dishes on offer include coleslaw, green bean casserole, and potato salad. Sonny Bryan’s is also known for its monster onion rings.
16. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
The penultimate BBQ chain restaurant on this list is L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. If you like trying new things, this is definitely the best BBQ restaurant for you. Deviating from traditional barbecue restaurants, L&L Hawaiian offers its guests Hawaiian themed barbecue food.
The signature Hawaiian flavors give the meat an exciting, powerful flavor that you’ll just love. For those of you that like things more traditional, there’s also a wide range of classic barbecue options available too.
The meats L&L offers with an island twist include pulled pork, ribs, and chicken. There are also seafood options such as shrimp on the menu. Originally opened in Hawaii, you can now find L&L restaurants all over the Southwest and beyond.
17. Full Moon Bar-B-Que
The final BBQ restaurant on our list is Full Moon Bar-B-Que. For many years, Full Moon Bar-B-Que has been referred to as the best BBQ house in Alabama. To be honest, it’s not hard to see why.
While it may be a smaller chain, Full Moon has extremely high-quality dishes on offer, all of which contain the very best, freshly, slow and low smoked meats. Found only in Alabama, Full Moon has been in the business for 35 years. In those 35 years, they’ve curated their own recipes to unlock new flavor combinations.
The dish most people love at Full Moon’s is the stunning vinaigrette slaw. Get this side dish with a rack of barbecue ribs if you want the best Full Moon experience.
There you have it, 17 of the best BBQ chain restaurants in America. Our list has shown you just a handful of the best restaurants you’ll find in America if you want delicious BBQ food.
While this list could have gone on and on, we strongly believe that we’ve shown you the best of the best. Whether you’re looking for a traditional experience or something a little more unique, there’s a restaurant on our list for you.
All you have to do now is decide which restaurant you want to try first. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Largest Barbecue Chain In America?
America has a wide range of large BBQ chain restaurants. However, the biggest has to be Dickey’s. Dickey’s is the world’s largest barbecue franchise. Founded over 70 years ago, the chain has more than 400 locations in 43 states. This number continues to grow.
Which State Is Best Known For BBQ?
While BBQ food might be incredibly popular across the whole of America, Tennessee sits at number 1. Tennessee is closely followed by Missouri and Texas, with both states also loving their barbecues.
Who Invented The First BBQ?
The first BBQ was invented in 1952 by George Stephen. The welder used a metal buoy and three steel legs to make the grill. Grills today aren’t too different to the first grill he made. They still share a very similar design.
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