The Best BBQ In Seattle guide image


The Best BBQ In Seattle

If you're looking to eat some serious Seattle BBQ, head to one of these spots.

Seattle might not be known for BBQ, but don't count us out. We have some great spots that could hold their own against states that mass-produce “Home Of The World’s Greatest BBQ” plaques. Whether you’re looking for a family-style spread, fancy homemade bologna, no-nonsense pulled pork, or just somewhere to stock up on wet-naps for your glove compartment, there’s a Seattle BBQ spot for every situation. 


Lil Red Takeout & Catering

Just like airport TSA agents screaming about portable electronics at the crack of dawn, a great meal at Lil Red is guaranteed. This Columbia City Jamaican restaurant serves the best BBQ in town, along with soul food and a menu of specials that work together to make the ultimate comfort meal. Whether your order involves chunks of smokey rib tips to toss back like Skittles or brisket that’s so soft it possesses the ability to fold into an origami meat sculpture, the only wrong move here would be to skip the garlic mashed potatoes or spiced mac and cheese. We think about both more often than TSA agents fantasize about the day that belts might be outlawed.

This West Seattle smokehouse knows its way around wood like Steve Martin knows his way around a banjo. Their repertoire is intense—between homemade bologna, slabs of pork belly, and tofu “burnt ends”—and it’s all incredibly worthy of a trip across town or clearing your calendar with no regard to the people you’re letting down. Yes, these smoked meats are good enough to blow off helping that friend move. Best part is, there’s always a daily special to keep things interesting, like a Sunday-only smoked delmonico cheesesteak with tallow-grilled onions and whiz, or the Thursday-only smoked wagyu cheeseburger with smoky singed edges and a perfectly pink middle that has us seriously contemplating buying a Traeger. 

Maybe it’s December and you’re craving the warmth of smoked beef, or maybe it’s the middle of summer and there is just no way you’re lighting up a grill. Wood Shop BBQ in the CD always comes in handy. Their meat options—like ten-hour smoked short ribs, brisket with the perfect ratio of fatty to meaty pieces, and pork ribs that we have trouble sharing—are consistently exceptional. Not to mention their extra-creamy jalapeño mac and cheese topped with pulled pork is a creation so significant it deserves a spot in the Time 100 issue.

Hinoki proves that BBQ doesn’t have to follow any rules to be excellent. The Japanese BBQ at this food truck next to Saint Bread in the University District stands out from the city’s many hot links and brisket slices. Instead of brown sugar and artificial hickory flavoring, smoked-and-charred chicken thigh gets basted in tangy yum-yum sauce. Miso-caramelized pork belly nuggets have a perfect cure, and umeboshi-spiked BBQ sauce glazes turkey tsukune like a salty plum blanket. Round out an order with sides like fried squash blossoms or togarashi-topped street corn and sit on their laidback gravel patio that feels like one big cookout.

This tiny house that looks like it was plucked from a country road and dumped along Stone Way has an incredible lineup of usual suspects, like pork ribs and smoked chicken thighs. But it’s the sandwiches where things get really good. And since Roro serves their sandwiches in miniature form, it’s wise to prioritize the sliders. That way, you can experience pastrami that competes with the best Jewish delis in town, a homemade turkey club, and something called the buffalo chop, a.k.a. a pile of pulled pork and brisket chunks coated in buffalo sauce like chicken wings along with a drizzle of tangy ranch. Also not to be missed is the very refreshing succotash.

The smoked meats at this Lake Forest Park staple are pretty tasty across the board, but the jalapeño-cheddar link is Briley’s greatest contribution to the Seattle BBQ universe. With the snap of a sizzled brat but the gentle chew of a hot dog, these links are studded with pockets of spicy peppers and gooey cheese like chocolate chips in a cookie, all while split and scored for optimal charred surface bits. Sure, a plank of brisket will do, but we’d much rather house a metal tray absolutely slammed with sausages. And in a city full of sad, dry chicken and vegetable-based afterthoughts, Briley’s saucy pulled thigh meat—and seasonal produce like honey butter zucchini or lemony broccoli—really rule. Add on a square of cornbread and live your life.

Emma’s in Hillman City has pretty limited hours and tends to close at random times to moonlight as a food vendor at Lumen Field, so if you drive by and see the lights on, (safely) pull a u-turn and immediately stop in. The pulled pork sandwich at this small counter spot is borderline scientifically engineered. It has enough spicy BBQ sauce to completely cover and moisten the meat, but not so much that it soaks through the bun. Use this place when grabbing quick takeout to eat at the lake, or to just devour in your car with Paramore playing loud enough to drown out the sounds of your own chewing. 

When choosing between locations of Jack’s BBQ, it’s important to note that the original in Sodo is the only one truly worth seeking out—and not just because this superior location has ceiling mirrors above the cutting boards where you can watch the oddly intoxicating reflection of brisket being chopped. The food here is also much better than the other Jack’s outposts. They have tender pork ribs coated in a thick pepper crust that peels off like tree bark, and the jalapeño cheddar hot links are so snappy that it sounds like a poetry slam in there. However, it's the excellent side of corn pudding with sweet whole kernels suspended in a cornmeal custard that should grace every stainless steel picnic tray. Enjoy it all among the wooden beams, neon beer signs, and one too many animal skulls.

Right across the street from Jack’s BBQ in Sodo is Raney’s Bar & Grill—yet another BBQ spot. And while that may seem repetitive, they are two very different restaurants. This small bar with a profound lack of tourists has plenty of bottles of Jameson beyond the bar, sports playing on the TV, and a concise menu of four meats in different forms—sandwiches, burgers, plates, and a la carte. The pulled pork sandwich is particularly tasty. It’s light on the sauce, and topped with grilled onions, tart cabbage slaw, and sliced white cheddar that adds a nice salty pop, all smashed on sturdy ciabatta. A side of peppery mac salad ties it all together. 

To get your hands on a spicy BBQ sauce affectionately named the “hole burner,” head to this Pioneer Square spot. At Hole In The Wall, you’ll find subtly sweet baked beans, a paprika-dusted potato salad that keeps its chunky integrity, and most importantly, the lipstick sandwich. This sandwich tops all other BBQ pulled pork sandwiches in the city, with pickles that cut through saucy shredded meat and coleslaw that adds a fresh crunch, all smothered in even more lipstick sauce, which is a tangy mustard-leaning sauce that makes the whole dish a lot more savory and light. 

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photo credit: Nate Watters

The Best BBQ In Seattle guide image