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Best Barbecue In Minnesota

May is National Barbecue Month, and as the weather becomes balmy, our palate begins to crave grilled meats slathered with delicious sauces. You can fire up your own grill or drive down to one of these five fabulous local eateries, where sizable smokehouses deliver a flavor that is hard to match. For more options, check out this previous article, Best Barbeque in Minnesota.
Barbecue Pork Ribs
Best Dry-Rub Ribs
Big Daddy's Old Fashioned Barbeque
625 University Ave. W.
Saint Paul, MN 55104
(651) 222-2516

"The only time you put sauce on the meat is to cover up a mistake," say Pit Masters Ron, Bob, and Gene at this locally owned and operated enterprise. "That's why we serve our sauces on the side," they add. This Minnesota gastronomic epicenter located at University and Dale offers pork ribs, beef ribs, rib tips, and whole or half chickens that are hickory-smoked with dry rub and served up with a choice of mild or spicy sauce on the side. Try the juicy, tender, salty, smoky, fall-off-the-bone meat before deciding whether you want a sauce or not. Big Daddy's expanded last May with 21 seats indoors and 12 more on the patio, otherwise, Big Daddy's can set you up with a take home of mouth-watering meats with several sides.

Best Smoked Wings
Smoke In The Pit
3733 Chicago Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 315-3145

Order at the window from a short menu of entrees on the chalkboard. The beef brisket sandwich has a wholesome beef flavor nestled in a soft bun and lightly sauced. The ribs are good, too. They are a smoky, tender and moist but not quite falling off the bone. Nevertheless, wise patrons will always bring home owner and pit master, Dwight Alexander's, smoked wings. Sample the delicious smoked shell of the wings without the sauce. Then, bite into these moist morsels bursting with flavor. Who needs sauce when the tempting smoky flavor penetrates deep into the meat. The sauce is an interesting tangy tomato flavor with a hint of sweet, though there is not much need for sauce to enhance the flavor of any of these tender and juicy entrees. The crispy fried wings are good, too, with a savory and salty flavor.

Best Barbecue
(credit :CBS)

Most Authentic Southern Barbecue
Lee & Dee's Barbeque Express
161 Victoria St. N.
Saint Paul, MN 55104
(651) 225-9454

Lee earned a following by hauling coolers full of ribs and wings to factory-workers by day and to bar-goers by night. Lee and spouse Dee then opened this humble eatery 22-years ago. Now, daughters Linda Williams and Vickie Nash continue the tradition with dry-rubbed wings and ribs. They deep-fry their wings to a crispy perfection and smoke up some mean pork ribs. Lee and Dee's mark of southern authenticity comes from serving Minnesota's best light and crispy batter-fried catfish fillets. Order the Texas sampler basket and get this fantastic fish fillet plus a couple of wings and pork ribs, too. Photos on the wall attest to endorsement by Ice T, Ice Cube and Don King at this popular gathering place.

Related: Best Barbecue In The Twin Cities

Best Barbecue In Southern Minnesota
Piggy Blue's Bar-B-Que
323 N. Main St.
Austin, MN 55912
(507) 434-8485

Minnesota's home of ham has a hometown barbecue, too. Piggy serves smoked meat the proper way: dry-rub with sauce on the side. There are plenty of sauces to choose from if you need them, plus several other unique and delicious menu items such as the smoked turkey, corn puffs or fried pickles. The occasional jazz music adds to the atmosphere of the restaurant perfectly.

Big Daddy's BBQ
(credit: Big Daddy's BBQ)

Best Mesquite-Grilled Meats
Axel's Charthouse
1318 Sibley Memorial Highway
Mendota, MN 55150
(651) 686-4840

Axel's slow roasts its ribs on a mesquite grill and glazes this top quality cut with a tangy sauce. Beef-lovers may prefer the char-grilled filet mignon, an herb-crusted prime rib or the 20-ounce USDA choice marbled ribeye. For variety, you can order Axel's premium char-grilled steak served with Canadian cold-water lobster tail, walleye, crab, or Cajun-seasoned and covered with jumbo blackened shrimp and béarnaise. The pork chops come Cajun-style, served over an apple-pepper potato hash. Lamb lovers can enjoy smoked lollipop lamb chops served with savory Mediterranean herbs and vegetables. You can find an Axel's in Chanhassen and Roseville as well.

Related: Best Barbecue In The Twin Cities

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at

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