Y’all. I’m almost afraid to make a “Top 5-04 hidden barbecue” list.
“Well, why is that?” you might be asking.
It’s because people are passionate about their barbecue and people who really love barbecue have opinions on what makes good barbecue and they like to share those opinions. So much so, that when culinary magazine Chef’s Pencil used TripAdvisor review rankings to name New Orleans the “top city” for barbecue, people LOST THEIR MINDS! They didn’t think New Orleans belonged on the list, much less in the top spot.
And it wasn’t just national barbecue lovers who were up-in-arms. It was New Orleanians, too! I’ve never seen so many people mad to win something.
I understand why though- it’s because barbecue people know good barbecue and will attest to the fact that New Orleans, while we have some good smoky spots, isn’t an official barbecue town.
While New Orleans can’t compete in the barbecue department with the likes of Kansas City or Memphis, I do think we have some really good barbecue options around here.
If you google “New Orleans barbecue”, you know what popular spots will come up; I wanted this list to focus on the smokers who are a bit off of the beaten path.
Maybe you’ve had some of these or maybe you haven’t, so here’s my Top 5-04 list of “hidden” (not-so-hidden) barbecue joints in New Orleans.
# 5. The Backyard
To get this barbecue party started, I wanted to ease into a cool little lunch spot that serves sandwiches and sides. Owner Jason Tournillon has created a perfect spot at The Backyard, a place that truly does live up to its name with a big backyard area that’s perfect for drinking beer and relaxing on a nice day.
As far as the food goes, The Backyard keeps it simple with that summer barbecue vibe. You’ll find sandwiches like brisket, pulled pork, turkey, chicken and sausage, as well as a burger and hot dog on the menu. Sides are simple but classic with fries, tater tots, potato salad and slaw.
What I ate: While most barbecue places have a platter option, The Backyard is all about the sandwiches. I went with the pulled pork sandwich ($10), which comes topped with The Backyard’s chimmi-slaw. I like to get two sides in these situations, so I opted for the tater tots ($3) and the Muffuletta Deviled Eggs ($6), which are technically an appetizer but I wanted to mix it up.
The sandwich was great and The Backyard’s famed “not sweet” BBQ sauce was a perfect touch. The portion of pork was generous and the slaw did a good job of adding a crisp bite to the sandwich. The deviled eggs were so unique! Made with olive salad and topped with crisp genoa salami, I think this is a “must try” appetizer.
The Backyard got my #5 spot because this place was made for summer. Who wouldn’t want to munch down on a tasty sandwich while enjoying a beer in someone else’s backyard? Let the folks here handle the grill, you just relax.
# 4. Walker’s Southern Style BBQ
The Walker family has been in the food game since 1992 and has traveled to food festivals all over the country, giving people a taste of what they have to offer. In 2001, the Walkers began selling their famed Cochon de Lait Poboy at Jazz Fest and, from there, they opened Walker’s Southern Style BBQ in the East. Here you’ll find pork, brisket, ribs, sausage and wings in a small, walk-up space that is take-out only, at least for now.
What I ate: The special of the day was the Boudin plate ($9), so I got that and sides of potato salad and mustard greens. The boudin didn’t disappoint- it had a nice spice to it, without being overwhelming and the flavor was on point. I was also impressed at the generous portion of boudin, as well. The sides were great; both the potato salad and the greens balanced the boudin well.
Walker’s got my #4 spot because the food is tasty and the service is fast. Although they are only offering their food to-go at the moment, there are some outdoor tables and benches if you want to stick around and enjoy your lunch there.
# 3. Smoked
Smoked is a barbecue haven tucked into an unassuming strip right off of Jefferson Hwy. Steve and Maureen Mock opened Smoked in 2018, when they decided to take Steve’s barbecue skills from the backyard to the brick and mortar. The menu here has offerings of brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken and salmon, which is a unique choice for a barbecue place. Sides include potato salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw, baked beans and much more. They even have a breakfast menu and desserts!
What I ate: Brisket with potato salad and mac and cheese ($18). Man, this brisket came out smoky and tender! There’s amazing flavor to the meat and the restaurant’s selection of sauces such as hickory, sweet and pineapple Bourbon, kick the tastes up to the next level. Potato salad is a favorite barbecue side for me and here it’s delicious, smooth and flavorful. The mac and cheese was excellent, had a bit of pimento flavor to it and a nice creamy texture.
Smoked got my #3 spot because the food was great, and so was the service. Owner Maureen came around to every table and made sure that everything was up to the restaurant’s standards. And here’s a secret- there’s a bar next door and, if you want a beer with your barbecue, you are more than welcome to bring your food to the bar and enjoy it there.
Platters: $12-$18 +$5 for extra meat
Sides: $3/small; $6/large; $12/pint; $24/quart
# 2. Très Bon Cajun Meats
Here at Très Bon, owner William “Billy” Newton is serving up all the Cajun meaty goodness you could ever crave and you’re going to smell it as soon as you enter the parking lot. Très Bon’s menu includes pulled pork, brisket, grit bowls, cracklins, and ribs- and that’s just scratching the surface. Their sandwiches include smoked brisket with pimento cheese, BBQ pork and slaw, and pulled pork with garlic mayo. If that’s not enough for you, Très Bon offers deep fried Oreos and a Maple Bacon Sundae and they have a fridge full of sausage and other goodies packed up just waiting for you to take home- talk about “very good”!
What I ate: Pulled pork platter with corn grits and andouille mac ($13). This platter was delicious. First of all, the portions were huge! The pulled pork was actually pulled pork and not a pile of pork shavings covered in barbecue sauce that you tend to get at some other spots. It was juicy and smoky perfection on a plate. I never think of corn grits as a barbecue side, but Très Bon is here to change all of that- creamy and rich, they were perfect with the pork. The andouille mac was in a league of its own- VERY cheesy and the andouille was a nice touch, but totally not necessary as the mac spoke for itself.
Très Bon got my #2 spot because of the huge portions and cool atmosphere. Look around and you’ll see old matchbooks on display, an extensive hot sauce collection and even vintage pinball machines. Really though, it’s all about the delicious food at a great price.
Sides and desserts: $4-$7
# 1. Gonzo’s Smokehouse & BBQ
When I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was making a barbecue list, he asked if I was going to Gonzo’s Smokehouse. While I had heard of this spot, I wasn’t schooled on the glory of Gonzo’s, so I made a plan to hop into my car and drive 19 miles to Luling to check out this restaurant that boasts lines every Friday.
Owner Jason Gonzalez has had his Gonzo’s storefront for about a year, but his food has already amassed a loyal following of fans far and wide. He works all week getting his meat ready for the public and his selection is spectacular: brisket, beef ribs, pulled pork, burnt ends, turkey breast, chicken thighs and barbocoa boudin, all served by the half-pound or pound (or more!), and cut fresh when you order. They’re only open on Fridays, so be sure to get there early before they sell-out. Even better, Gonzo’s takes pre-orders (up to 50 a week), if you want to make sure that you will be in that tasty number.
What I ate: The brisket plate ($12) with brisket mac ($4.50) and corn grits with Gouda cheese ($4.50). As soon as Jason sliced up this meat in front of me, I could see why this place has already made a name for itself. Big chunks of juicy, thick brisket cooked to perfection with a gorgeous crust that made my mouth water. Digging into it, I was not only blown away by the flavor, but how tender it was. It crumbled nicely under my fork and I was easily able to cut through it like butter.
The brisket mac was THICK. That’s the only way I can describe it- they were generous with the cheese and the bits of brisket mixed in pushed it to the next level. The corn grits with Gouda cheese is made with butter and the menu promised they would be creamy; I wasn’t disappointed. The flavor of both of these sides was beyond rich and totally worth the drive.
I made Gonzo’s my #1 pick because, as I was eating here, I was actually planning my next visit. I was making plans to order ahead, so that I could sample the boudin, pulled pork and turkey. I was contemplating getting another order of the brisket mac to-go. Needless to say: Gonzo’s gave me everything I could want in a barbecue place; the food here is what I think of when I think of good barbecue.
Meats: $6.50 to $12.00
Sandwiches: $12.00 to $15.00
Sides: $4.00 to $4.50
A little lagniappe…
While, these spots didn’t make the top 5, they’re worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some tasty barbecue.
Little Korea BBQ
A Korean restaurant might not be your first thought when you think of barbecue, but You should definitely pay this spot a visit. Little Korea BBQ has a menu with barbecue faves like BBQ chicken, pork belly and beef short ribs. They even have the option of grilling your own food at your table, if you feel like having a culinary adventure. If you’d rather let the kitchen do the cooking, that’s an option as well.
What I ate: Garlic Samgyupsal ($17) – Garlic pork belly that was delicious and tender and served with white rice and sautéed vegetables. I also got a side of the Baked Corn Cheese ($8) which is sweet corn covered in a thick layer of mozzarella cheese and baked; it comes out sizzling and it’s a combination that you wouldn’t expect to work, but totally does!
Moe’s Original BBQ
Moe’s might be a chain, but this spot gets a nod for being super affordable. With a menu that includes well-priced sandwiches, platters, a kid’s menu and catering options, there’s no reason why Moe’s shouldn’t be an option when looking for something tasty and smoky. The fact that it won’t cost you and arm and a leg is a huge bonus here.
What I ate: Pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese and potato salad ($9). I’m a firm believer that good barbecue doesn’t need sauce and Moe’s proves that. The delicious pork speaks for itself, but I added some sauce, just for a little more “zing”.
The mac and cheese and potato salad were perfection and I am happy to report that I left Moe’s feeling more than satisfied. I especially loved how friendly the staff here was and how fast the food came out; when I’m hungry, I don’t want to wait!
There you have it. My Top 5-04 hidden (not-so-hidden) barbecue list with a little lagniappe, just to hold you over. If that’s not enough to make your mouth water, I don’t know what to tell you.
I know I missed some places, so be sure to let me know some tasty local barbecue spots that should be on our radar!