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‘Throw the whole map away’: People are up in arms over best and worst barbecue city rankings

  • May 13, 2021

With May being national barbecue month, international food magazine Chef’s Pencil released its best and worst cities to get barbecue, and some people on social media disagreed vehemently with the rankings.

The publication, launched by Dutch chef Paul Hegeman in 2009, used data from TripAdvisor for the ratings. “We analyzed TripAdvisor ratings of all BBQ joints in the nation’s top 75 largest cities and ranked the cities based on their average rating,” according to the post. Chef’s Pencil looked at 2,020 establishments offering barbecue on their menu that had at least five reviews.

Despite using data from Tripadvisor, the travel company voiced “concerns” about how the data was presented.

“Tripadvisor has no association with this BBQ study presented by Chef’s Table (sic). In fact, we have concerns about the use of and presentation of Tripadvisor data within the study, inclusive of how they ranked cities against each other,” Elizabeth Monahan, Tripadvisor spokesperson, said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Here are the best and worst barbecue cities, according to Chef’s Pencil, along with their score (out of five):

Top cities for barbecue in the U.S. 

  1. New Orleans, LA- 4.31
  2. Oklahoma City, OK- 4.26
  3. Charlotte, NC- 4.25
  4. Wichita, KS- 4.25
  5. Virginia Beach, VA- 4.25
  6. Columbus, OH- 4.24
  7. Seattle, WA- 4.23
  8. St. Louis, MO- 4.21
  9. Miami, FL- 4.18
  10. Newark, NJ- 4.18

Worst cities for barbecue in the U.S.

  1. Anchorage, AK- 3.60
  2. Plano, TX- 3.82
  3. Boston, MA- 3.82
  4. San Antonio, TX- 3.86
  5. Aurora, CO- 3.90
  6. Jacksonville, FL- 3.92
  7. Houston, TX- 3.93
  8. Philadelphia, PA- 3.93
  9. Omaha, NE- 3.93
  10. Fort Worth, TX- 3.94

Chef’s Pencil also crowned the Blue Door Smokehouse in Lexington, Kentucky, as the best barbecue restaurant in the country.

The rankings found their way to social media, and people were upset about a number of things, such as Texas cities not being found in the top 10 but showing up in the “worst” ranking. 

Visit Houston responded with laughter. The city of Houston was rated seventh worst by Chef’s Pencil.

Some people questioned why Seattle and Newark, New Jersey, made the list, though others credited Portuguese barbecue for Newark making it.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.

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