A hunk of brisket at VooDoo BBQ & Grill begins its journey suspended over a bed of pecan and oak logs. Coated in a dry rub of local spices, the meat slowly turns on a rotisserie rod for up to 16 hours, its skin crisping while the inside stays a warm pink. The chefs smoke all their beef brisket and pulled pork over logs from Louisiana-based trees to lend them the region's unique smoked flavor, even at the risk of confusing passing botanists. They lightly coat grilled sausages, chicken, and burgers in three signature sauces inspired by the state's Cajun recipes. To complement their menagerie of smoked and grilled meats, they sling a variety of southern sides such as corn pudding, greens, and potato salads. At each of the 13 locations, the aroma of roasting meat fills a space of dark-stained wood and wrought iron; dining rooms awash in a palette of reds, greens, and oranges buzz with the sounds of jazz and blues.
When preparing their signature Memphis-style ribs, the staff at Corky's BBQ abides by this old adage: slow and steady wins the flavor. Whether they're destined to be served wet or dry, each slab begins by smoking for 18 hours over hickory wood and charcoal. Wet ribs come slathered in barbecue sauce, whereas chefs rub house seasonings into the dry ribs by hand. That sort of down-home treatment is no anomaly for the franchise?all of its pork shoulder is also pulled by hand, rather than by an impersonal machine or dog wearing golf cleats.
Along with the ribs, barbecue chicken, beef brisket, and classic sides make up the bulk of the menu at Corky's locations in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
Smoke wafts out onto the patio of Squeal Bar-B-Q, tingeing the air with the sweet scent of roasting meats. Inside the locally owned and operated smokehouse, chefs glaze cuts of pork and chicken in daily-made batches of signature barbecue sauce, whose savory flavors helped earn them praise from outlets ranging from The Cooking Channel and TLC to the Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine. Squeal's meat fixation extends beyond the smokehouse; desserts meld bacon and chocolate, bartenders mix cocktails with house-infused bacon bourbon, and a flatscreen television broadcasts nothing but reruns of Green Acres that prominently feature Arnold the pig.
Boo Koo BBQ began not as a restaurant but as a sauce. When Lee Mouton’s experiments formulating his own barbecue sauces bred a particularly tasty recipe, he started entering it in competitions on a lark—and winning. Soon, a local shop approached him about selling his sauce in exchange for a bit of cash and a handful of magic beans. He obliged, and as the sauce quickly spread to other area retailers, Mouton also began to create his own food to sell at street festivals. Soon, catering offers started rolling in and Boo Koo BBQ expanded with its own food truck, which prowled the city streets to dispense emergency prescriptions of mouthwatering brisket.
Now a bona fide restaurant, Boo Koo BBQ slathers smoked meats and burgers in the same signature sauce that racked up accolades on the streets. Diners can dig into heaping platters of barbecue, or partake of international dishes with a Cajun accent, including pressed Cajun-Cuban sandwiches, boudin eggrolls, and Cajun banh-mi sandwiches.
Instead of playing favorites, the grill masters at Cou-yons Fa Tru Texas BBQ acquaint diners with virtually every barbecue tradition—from Carolina to Memphis and Texas to Louisiana, the menu stands as a flavor tour of American barbecue. Sliced brisket fresh from the smoker represents the Texan side of things, while tender, pulled pork shoulder bears the telltale tang of Carolina barbecue. The eight styles of meat pile onto sandwiches or tower on platters alongside Texas toast and classic sides such as corn on the cob or sweet coleslaw. To deck out special events, the staff can put together feasts for up to 500 people, ensuring party guests leave satisfied and tailgaters don’t try to eat the football.
At Churra's Brazilian Grill, guests chow down from a mouthwatering buffet of South American steakhouse cuisine, from tender steaks to traditional dishes and salads. Diners feast on morsels of rotisserie-roasted beef and sausages, sided with slivers of pineapple and melon, leafy greens, and ripe berries.