Great American BBQ Trails to Explore with Fido

Posted by Jessica Roberts

A culinary road trip is a wonderful way to get first-hand insight into the heart, soul and cultural heritage of a place. These barbecue trails present the perfect opportunity for you to eat your way through some of the most unique, delicious, and authentically American eateries with Fido by your side. Although the smoky, saucy cuisine will certainly be the highlight of your trip, you’ll also get the chance to explore some of the coolest towns in the American South on these dog-friendly adventures.

A Big Texas BBQ Trail for Pups with Big Appetites

“Meat me in Texas!” Photo by @the_brisket_frenchie

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the brisket. Beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage are among the most commonly barbecued meats in the state, and methods and flavors of serving Texas barbecue vary regionally and culturally.

Total Route Distance: 320 miles

  1. Leroy and Lewis BBQ - Austin, TX
    Fido’s foodie trek in the Lone Star State begins at a shady outdoor table with some smoky goodness from Leroy and Lewis Barbecue. Located in the heart of Austin, this unique joint offers a menu of “new school barbecue” like confit beef cheeks, smoky brisket burgers, salty bacon ribs, and even a number of barbecued vegetarian dishes like smoked eggplant parm and cauliflower burnt ends. Meats are locally sourced from nearby farms and ranches.

    Fido will surely want to spend some time in Austin, one of the 12 most pet-friendly cities in the U.S. Stay at a pet-friendly vacation rental that invites you to Live Large in the Tiny Shiny.

  2. Salt Lick - Driftwood, TX
    The second stop on your finger-lickin’ expedition lies just outside of Austin in the town of Driftwood. At Salt Lick, you can fill up on traditional Southeastern Texas slow-roasted dishes and grab a beef rib for your pup. Their signature sauce has no tomatoes but instead relies on sugar to caramelize and baste the meats. Be sure to save room for one of their classic southern desserts, like pecan pie or banana pudding.

  3. Two Bros BBQ Market - San Antonio, TX
    Your next stop is in San Antonio for some classic Texas BBQ served in “down-home” market style. Two Bros BBQ Market’s signature ’cue begins with a secret recipe dry rub and is followed by a low and slow smoke bath in custom-made pits to create meats with a crispy charred edge and robust flavor.

    After your fill of food, put your paws up at this Renovated Carriage House featuring a swimming pool and fenced yard for Fido to enjoy in preparation for the longest leg of your TX bbq trail.

  4. The Back Porch BBQ - La Grange, TX
    Right off the highway between San Antonio and Houston is a cozy converted old home turned BBQ house, the perfect place to stop for lunch. The Back Porch BBQ invites you and your canine companion to pull up a seat at the picnic table and order up some slow-cooked, home-inspired and down-right delicious BBQ, sides and desserts. The restaurant sits on a large property perfect for an after-meal walk.

  5. Goode Company Barbeque - Houston, TX
    Houston has some tough competition for mesquite-fired meat, but Goode Company Barbeque serves up tried and true Coastal Texas ’cue with deep smoky flavor alongside creative sides and old-fashioned sweets. This little barn is a true Houston gem where you can gather around good, honest Texan grub, hospitality and live local music.It’s the perfect spot to wrap up your pet-friendly BBQ trail in the Lone Star State.

    Make yourself at home in Houston at this 2-Bedroom Retreat with Furnished Backyard.

A Carolina BBQ Trail for Four-Legged Foodies

“Carolina barbecue’s the best, no bones about it.” Photo by @allaboutfitz

In North and South Carolina, “barbecue” means pork. It can be pulled from a whole hog or chopped from a slow-smoked shoulder or ham, but always derives from somewhere on the pig. The Carolinas are home to hundreds of barbecue restaurants, dozens of professional pitmasters and four distinct regional styles. This pet-friendly BBQ trail gives you and your pup the opportunity to sample all of them, plus one spot that offers a unique Korean-fusion twist on the dish.

Total Route Distance: 540 miles

  1. Skylight Inn BBQ - Ayden, North Carolina
    Known to the locals as Pete Jones' BBQ, Skylight Inn has been serving whole hog-style barbecue since 1947. The famously old-school establishment roasts meat the traditional way: long and slow over pits of wood. In true Eastern NC fashion, Skylight Inn BBQ sauce is vinegar-based, both fiery and with a touch of sweetness.

  2. Seoul Food Meat Co. - Charlotte, NC
    Your second stop is the Queen City, dog-friendly Charlotte. Seoul Food Meat Co. creates southern BBQ beef, pork, chicken, and even fish or tofu, with Korean-inspired flare. In addition to its delicious main dishes, the unique sides like Sriracha Cracklins and Kimchi Mayo Slaw are worth a visit all on their own. Fido will flip when he learns there’s also a fenced dog park on site, complete with an obstacle course.

    Check out all the other cool activities Charlotte has to offer with a stay at this funky Retro 1BR Apartment with Porch.

  3. Carolina BBQ - Spartanburg, SC
    Carolina BBQ’s juicy pork is hickory-smoked for more than 14 hours, then basted at the finish. Known as Pee Dee or Lexington-style barbecue, the resulting meal is exceptionally tender and juicy, with long strands of delicate pork steeped with tangy heat. Served on a white bread bun with southern sides like fried okra, it’s a perfect place to fill up on Carolina ‘cue.

    Break up the drive with a stop at Lake Murray, where you can “paws” for the night at this 3-Bedroom Lakefront Home with Paddleboard & Canoe.

  4. Maurice's Gourmet Barbecue - Lexington, SC
    By far the most distinguishing characteristic of this Midlands-style barbecue is the sauce. The unique yellow color comes from a mustard base, generously sweetened with brown sugar and finished with a tangy bite of cider vinegar and black pepper. Outsiders might be baffled by the unusual color, but it’s the perfect accompaniment to the rich smoked pork. Maurice’s Gourmet Barbecue also serves South Carolina’s signature side dish: Carolina Hash, a savory barbecue stew served over rice.

  5. Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ - Charleston, SC
    Charleston has become a major barbecue hub, offering a wide range of styles imported from all over the Carolinas, Georgia, and even as far off as Texas. At Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, the craft of cooking over coals has been refined into an art. Pitmaster and South Carolina native Rodney Scott has been working the pits since childhood, and his whole-hog meats command long lines out the door every day.

    If you haven’t had your fill of barbecue yet, this James Island Townhome with Fenced Yard has an outdoor grill where you can try your hand at making your own.

Memphis to Mississippi - A Pet-Friendly BBQ & Blues Trail

Goodest boys get goodest ‘que. Photo by @rexthenoladoodle

Blues and BBQ go together like macaroni and cheese, and the best spots to enjoy this dynamic duo can be found between Memphis and the gulf coast of Mississippi.

Total Route Distance: 400 miles

  1. Central BBQ - Memphis, TN
    Start your BBQ journey at one of the best dog-friendly BBQ restaurants around at Central BBQ. Partaking of this tangy and spicy ’cue will make you truly appreciate the virtues of a cracking dry rub. There’s no sauce used in the pit here; pitmasters instead rely on a secret combo of spices and smoke to tenderize and flavor the meat. Bring Fido to chill on the covered patio where you can listen to live music while you sample the variety of sauces and local beer on tap.

    Memphis has no shortage of pet-friendly accommodations, but this one-bedroom Duplex is walking distance from the restaurant and Overton Bark dog park.

  2. Abe’s Bar-B-Q - Clarksdale, MS
    Just across the state line in Mississippi is a nearly century-old establishment where you’ll find barbecue known to be so good, it might be from the devil himself. Abe's Bar-B-Q sits at The Crossroads, the landmark spot at Highways 49 and 61 in Clarksdale where legend has it that blues king Robert Johnson sold his soul and the blues was born. Abe’s famous sauce, The Come Back Sauce, is said to have the power to make anyone, even Old Nick, returning for more. And while Abe’s Bar-B-Q might be ungodly, it’s not un-dog-ly. Fido is welcome to join you at a pet-friendly outdoor bench.

  3. The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint - Ocean Springs, MS
    Your barbecue and blues trip culminates at the coast with famous baby back ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, baked beans, mac 'n' cheese, nanner puddin' and good times at The Shed. You and your pup will find no shortage of southern hospitality and great live music while seated at one of the many outdoor tables.

    Ocean Springs Beach is on the list of best dog-friendly beaches on the Gulf Coast, so take advantage and include a trip to dip Fido’s toes in the sand. Stay at this pet-friendly vacation rental on the Best Street In Downtown Ocean Springs.

Fido’s Favorite Missouri Barbecue Trail Loop

“Wait, you forgot my plate!” Photo by @woodyardbbq

There are so many barbecue joints in Missouri that it can be hard to narrow it down into a bite-sized trip. This Missouri barbecue trail loop starts and finishes in Kansas City, the self-proclaimed King of BBQ, and will satisfy any hankering you have for the state’s favorite cuisine.

Total Route Distance: 550 miles

  1. Woodyard Bar-B-Que - Kansas City, MO
    Woodyard Bar-B-Que was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” Andrew Zimmern’s “Delicious Destinations” and Nigella Lawson’s “Christmas Special.” But you don’t have to take their word for it. Order the award-winning half-slab of baby back ribs or the burnt end chili from a table on the large dog-friendly patio out front, or hang out in the newly fenced-in “Woofyard” around back.

    This Spacious & Modern Midtown Artsy 3-Bedroom Home is the perfect spot to rest before embarking on the next leg of your Missouri BBQ trail.

  2. Lutz’s Famous BBQ - Columbia, MO
    Head off on 70 East to Columbia, just over halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis. Here you’ll find Lutz’s Famous BBQ, a local favorite where you can sit at one of the outdoor tables with your pup and order fall-off-the-fork meats and classic sides in a down-home atmosphere. Try the Family Special, a meal for four folks for $51.15 that comes with a half-rack of ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, two quart sides, four rolls and a bottle of blue-ribbon BBQ sauce.

  3. Bogart’s Smokehouse - St. Louis, MO
    Arguably the best spot in the city for a slab of signature St. Louis ribs is Bogart’s Smokehouse. Bogart's chef uses a blowtorch to caramelize the fall-off the bone ribs, and the deviled egg potato salad is so good you’ll want a second helping for dessert. The restaurant has an outdoor picnic area where Fido is welcome to join you for some of the most flavorful barbecue in the state.

    Spend a night in the Soulard neighborhood at this Historic One-Bedroom Home, just a mile from the landmark Gateway Arch.

  4. Barnyard Smokehouse - Fulton, MO
    As you approach Barnyard Smokehouse in Fulton, the delicious smells will pull you right in. The restaurant takes farm-fresh barbecue seriously, processing hormone- and antibiotic-free meats right on site. Be sure to arrive hungry, as the most popular dish on the menu is the aptly named Huge Pulled Pork Sandwich. Sit outside the big red barn with your four-legged buddy, and maybe share a few morsels with him as there will be plenty to go around.

  5. Muddy Creek and Honky Tonk BBQ - Warrensburg, MO
    Continue your pet-friendly quest for ‘cue at Muddy Creek and Honky Tonk BBQ. Locals love the hot BBQ nachos, and the staff are always friendly. It tends to get pretty crowded during peak hours, but that's just a sign that you're in the right place. Plan to stay late as the restaurant is open until 1:30 a.m. on the weekends, with live music on the dog-friendly patio.

    This pet-friendly vacation rental is walking distance from Muddy Creek and makes the “pawfect” spot to digest the day's feast.

  6. Jones BBQ - Kansas City, MO
    As you come full circle back to Kansas City, check out the decades-old Jones BBQ. Recently featured in Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” owners and sisters Deborah “Shorty” and Mary “Little” Jones have been making their family’s secret sauce from scratch since childhood. This popular spot frequently sells out for the day, so show up early! All tables are situated out front on the patio, and Fido is welcome to join you at any of them.

Historic Georgia BBQ Trail for Dogs and Dawgs

Pull up a picnic table with your pup. Photo by Fresh Air Barbeque

Along with football and Coca-Cola, BBQ is a topic that Georgians have strong opinions on. Each of these establishments has relied on original methods and recipes to serve a historic taste of Georgia barbecue to customers for more than 40 years.

Total Route Distance: 200 miles

  1. Old Brick Pit Barbeque - Atlanta, GA
    Start the Peach State BBQ journey in the ATL, where Old Brick Pit Barbeque has been keeping the region's cooking traditions alive for over four decades. This true blue Georgia ‘cue is cooked in the original brick pit over hickory wood. Be sure to try Brunswick Stew, made from an original recipe passed down through the decades. Grab a seat with your dog at one of the eight outdoor tables.

    Each of the stops on this pet-friendly historic Georgia barbecue route are within an hour and a half from Atlanta, so this Beautiful Grand Old 1908 House is a perfect place to call home during your trip.

  2. Fincher’s BBQ - Columbus, GA
    Fincher’s has been in business since 1935, and the Pig Special Sandwich (pulled pork topped with slaw and tomatoes on toast) and award-winning sauce are two of the reasons why this establishment is a must-visit on any Historic Georgia Barbecue trail. This ‘cue was even served on NASA Space Mission STS-33 in 1969! Fido can join you for this out-of-this-world culinary experience at one of four pet-friendly outdoor tables.

  3. Fresh Air Barbeque - Jackson, GA
    At Fresh Air Barbeque, the old-fashioned wood-burning pit used daily was designed by restaurant founder Toots Caston in the 1940s and remains unchanged to this day. Three long picnic tables on the covered front porch of the restaurant invite you and your hungry hound to enjoy award-winning, tangy tomato and vinegar style barbecue on a bun with a large glass of sweet tea.

Have you and your pup embarked on a BBQ Trail? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by iStock/ViewApart.