In his own words, Steven Raichlen -- host of PBS’s Primal Grill and author of The Barbecue! Bible (Workman Publishing Company, $23) -- has “spent 14 years traveling to more than 50 countries to document barbecuing and grilling in eight books and eight TV shows.” Meaning, he knows a thing or two about those unforgettable, out-of-the-way barbecue joints. Here are three of his favorite places.

Allen & Son Barbeque

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Keith Allen is a maverick, a fanatic, and a bit of a curmudgeon, but when it comes to North Carolina’s icon, the pulled-pork sandwich, no one does it better. His is the perfect ratio of meat to crust and smoke to vinegar, and includes a little mustard slaw for crunch. 6203 Millhouse Road, (919) 942-7576

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que Restaurant

Llano, Texas (75 miles northwest of Austin)
It has superlative barbecued beef sirloin and brisket you could weep for. This is also one of the last places in Texas where you can still find cabrito (crusty barbecued baby goat). 604 West Young Street, (325) 247-5713,

Daisy May’s BBQ

New York
Adam Perry Lang’s French culinary training makes him about the last guy you’d expect to turn his talents to barbecue, but his pork shoulders and ribs are as smoky as a blues bar round ’bout midnight -- and who else in Manhattan cooks and serves whole hogs? 623 11th Avenue, (212) 977-1500,


Before you go firing up the coals, you need to know what a choice cut of meat is and, more importantly, how to secure one. That all starts with “real animals,” which are raised in traditional (not commercial) settings, says Tom Mylan, head butcher at Brooklyn’s Marlow & Daughters, the first all-local, all-whole-animal butcher shop in New York City. If you start there, “You’re not going to be mad you have leftovers,” Mylan says. “It won’t be, ‘Ah, delicious barbecue sandwiches again?’ Trust me.”

Boneless-Beef Plate:
I’m totally over brisket. Both brisket and boneless-beef plate are braising cuts, but plate has more inter-muscular fat, which is key when you’re smoking something for 12 hours. I would even buy it with the ribs attached and cook them separately. Buy five pounds or more.

Pulled Pork:
I like Boston or top butt. You want the shoulder and you want it bone-in -- more flavor -- and it’s better if you get it from a local heritage breed. Commercial pigs aren’t really raised to be pigs; they’re raised to be the other white meat. Buy about 10 pounds.

There are a lot of different cuts of ribs, but I’m more of a pork spareribs guy, if you can get them with more meat. Again, you want as fatty a pig as possible, not the commercial stuff they sell at Wal-Mart.