Know your meats.
Brisket? Burnt ends? Wings? Ribs? Don’t throw your hands in the air just yet. The different meat “terms” are just referring to different parts of the animal. The question to ask yourself as you make the decision is: do you want pork, beef, or chicken? Keep that in mind when you order and the confusing terms will become clear! Also note that some restaurants will charge barbecue by the pound. ¼ lb is good if you’re ordering alone, ½ lb is good if you’re alone but famished, and go 1-2 lbs if you’re ordering for a group.
Make sure you order extra sauce (unless you’re in Texas)
You can’t order barbecue without asking for extra cartons of sauce. Was there ever a time that you ordered barbecue and had too much sauce? (Answer is no, there is never too much sauce). However, if you happen to be in Texas, yes, we know, your barbecue speaks for itself and sauce is often times frowned upon, so act accordingly. It’s as easy as dropping a request in special instructions to add in a few extra sides of sauce.
Different cities have their specialities. Choose wisely.
Across the US, there are many variations of barbecue and boy are they different. Here is the cliff notes version:
– Texas: While Texas will admit they may not have invented barbecue, they will claim they have perfected it. In Texas, it’s about the beef, namely brisket. They’re also all about the dry rub — don’t you dare put sauce on Texas barbecue. Also, bonus, it’s a big state, so that means lots of regional variety.
– Kansas City: When we think of Kansas City barbecue, we think of sweet honey sauces that livin’ up the smoked meats. We also think of the hub of some of the best barbecue in the nation. You’ll find burnt ends and soul food sides like coleslaw and baked beans when you’re ordering Kansas City barbecue.
– Memphis: Tennessee barbecue is all about the smoking and the dry rub. Often times you can get meats served wet or dry, depending on your preference. Oh, and don’t forget the sweetness — TN barbecue is famous for having a sweet tang to finish things off.
– DC: In DC, the varieties of the nation make their way to our capital, and you can get just about any of the others listed here. Go crazy.
– Carolinas: Last but absolutely not least, is Carolina barbecue. Pork is king in the Carolinas, and so is sauce. They have developed a variety of sauces (four major sauces, and thousands of iterations of those), and they firmly believe that sauce is part of the magic that makes their barbecue so iconic.
Sides, sides, and more sides.
Coleslaw, mac n’ cheese, cornbread, baked beans, boiled potatoes, potato salad, mashed potatoes, stew, carrots and celery, chili, hush puppies, corn… don’t EVER forget to order sides. They’re the key to maintaining the perfect flavor balance when you’re scarfing down some epic barbecue.
Get messy, and deal with clean up later.
If you stress about staying clean the entire meal, you’re going to regret it. The napkins will pile high, you’ll be worried about keeping the plate clean, and you won’t enjoy your barbecue. Whether it’s ribs, wings, or brisket, carry out your eating like a champ, and use hand wipes at the end. Assign a plate as the bone plate, and whatever you do, if you’re having a first date, do not order barbecue. Oh and, opt out of utensils on the Grubhub checkout page — where we’re going, you won’t be needing those.