Big Daddy’s Bar B-Q (address and info) , we tend to view it with a suspicious eye, worrying that its inclusion on the show will mean it’s soon to be a tourist trap, and not worth the hype. Harold Groetsema’s spot in the second-biggest city in Alaska took home top honors at the 2008 Alaska State BBQ Championship (they have a picture with Sarah Palin to prove it! Though the menu tends to cherry pick from states all over (Carolina pork, Kansas City brisket, etc.), the move here is to get the Arkansas baby backs slow-smoked over hickory, alongside some Texas Toothpicks (deep-fried jalapeños with ranch).
Or, if they’ve got the brined smoked turkey, skip everything else, and just do that.
They riff off the simple Texas tradition by using local Gambel oak and keeping the rub relatively straightforward, albeit spiking the salt and pepper with garlic, cayenne, and onion powder.
The focus on meat quality rather than sauce helps it stand out from the rest of the local sauce-drenched fare.
Brisket is the stand-out star, but if you arrive on a lucky day you might find anything from lamb neck to pastrami.
With a food so regional, each state had to be judged on criteria as unique as the snowflakey chars on a burnt end of brisket; some joints may be competitive circuit champions, while others are simply legends in their own neighborhoods.
We've already combed the map for the best burgers and pizza in all 50 corners of America (and DC), so it was time to take up the patriotic task of finding the most succulent barbecue in every state. It defines regional identities, unites/divides families, and commands zealous loyalty amongst patrons.