Around since: 2012. New permanent location opened in 2020
Fans of Smokin’ Aces will recall when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stopped in for lunch at its original Government Street take-out location—the forerunner to a rebranded, larger full-service spot in Denham Springs that owner Brian Medlin has been working on for the last year. Standout menu items include the pecan-smoked, Texas-style ribs and brisket. Don’t miss the Crazy Fries topped with cheese, brisket or pulled pork and barbecue sauce.
Restaurateur TJ Moran was one of the first to make ribs a thing in Baton Rouge, thanks to his slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone baby backs served in a setting awash in LSU sports memorabilia. While tender ribs are the cornerstone item, the restaurant has expanded into smoking St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and turkey over seasoned oak. The $90 multi-meat “Legend” platter is free to the single diner who can finish it.
Industrial salesman and avid cook Mickey Watson got hooked on barbecue while living in Memphis, where he participated in the Memphis in May barbecue competition and got inspired to open his own restaurant. After moving back to Louisiana, he launched Buddy’s, a competition-style barbecue concept with two locations. Using a combination of oak and either hickory or pecan, Watson smokes not just pork, beef and chicken, but cracklins, too. They’re wildly popular.
From smoked hamburgers and rib plates to homemade pork sausage and boiled seafood, this Mid City haunt is the brainchild of Von Raybon, a pitmaster and mobile caterer who formerly served his signature ’que in front of the Radio Bar. Raybon uses a Memphis-style dry rub on pork, ribs, chicken and brisket before smoking them onsite over pecan wood. Pit-n-Peel’s homemade sauce is a thick ketchup-based formula that errs on the sweet side.
Lip-smacking slow-smoked brisket is king at Pimanyoli’s, the brainchild of the late Edward “Piman” Perrilloux and his wife Yolanda, nicknamed “Yoli.” Diners slather on Piman’s secret 21-ingredient vinegar-based sauce tableside, where they might also enjoy the Delta-style tamales the restaurant makes certain days of the week. Beef, chicken, pork and ribs are slapped with a housemade rub before a trip to the pecan-fueled smoker.
Like the name implies, hickory is the hardwood of choice at Wayne’s in Livingston, where the meats are rubbed with housemade seasoning blends, (one for brisket and pork butt;another for St. Louis-style ribs), and smoked in a large Southern Pride smoker. Wayne’s also smokes ham, turkey, chicken and sausage.
While a Southeast United States chain with roots in Florida, Sonny’s has been part of the Baton Rouge barbecue equation since the late ’70s. The meats here are slow smoked over oak wood in two stainless steel wood-burning rotisserie smokers, says owner Hunter Moody. The menu’s No. 1 seller is baby back ribs, with pulled pork a close second. Sonny’s Redneck Egg Rolls, a fan favorite, are stuffed with pulled pork, pepper jack cheese and homemade coleslaw and served with smoked ranch dip.
Hole-in-the-wall Deep South Barbeque is a carnivore’s heaven. Order your barbecue on a po-boy dressed traditionally or with barbecue sauce, or opt for a sandwich stuffed with your favorite meat. Barbecue plates, served in take-out boxes, come with a choice of ribs, chicken, sausage, beef brisket or pork, two side dishes and buttery Texas toast. Order sauce on the side, or your meat “dipped.” Don’t miss the vermicelli mac-and-cheese and the “hot glazed” bread pudding.
Opened in Monroe in 1977, Podnuh’s has two locations in Baton Rouge owned and operated by concept founder John Hopper and his brother, Jarrell. The Hoppers’ long-established style includes a ketchup-based sauce and a preference for smoking over red oak. Podnuh’s marinates its St. Louis-style ribs and chicken in a wet marinade first, while coating pork butts in dry rub. The brisket, prepared without seasoning, gets its flavor exclusively from smoke.
7026 Florida Blvd. 2648 South Sherwood Forest Blvd.
Perhaps Sherwood Forest is aiming to be a new barbecue mecca in Baton Rouge? Sauce & Bones opened just next door to Podnuh’s a couple years ago. And while it serves up all the brisket and ribs you can ask for, the restaurant stakes its claim on wings. You can get them doused in one of 13 different sauces—all of which you can sample at a sauce station at the entrance. They range from classics like honey barbecue to a quite literally blue magic sauce. Besides the traditional sides, the sweet, croissant-like honey roll is a favorite.
Founded in New Orleans, VooDoo’s barbecue style is a nod to Louisiana’s diverse foodways. The dry rub, for example, is made with Cajun, Creole and Caribbean spices that add earthy sweetness and warmth. Once rubbed, the pork butt, chicken, brisket and ribs are smoked over pecan and oak. The multifaceted signature Mojo sauce is both sweet and tart.
Open last spring, Bayou Smokehouse is a hidden gem defined by Texas-Louisiana style barbecue smoked 14 to 16 hours over applewood, hickory and pecan. Serving lunch only from Tuesdays through Saturdays, the Smokehouse is known for its brisket and rib combo platter, which includes homemade sides like baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and white cheddar mac-and-cheese. Spicy barbecue nachos come topped with your choice of meat.
Watson area residents consider Firehouse BBQ one of the area’s best-kept secrets and a must-stop if you like St. Louis ribs, sliced brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sausage. Select your favorite protein (or two) and combine it with simple sides like potato salad, coleslaw, fries and baked beans. Meats are also available by the pound for take-home meals and catering.
Editor’s note: The barbecue spots featured in this cover story don’t cover everything on the local scene. Let us know some of your favorites by commenting on this story at 225batonrouge.com or emailing us at [email protected]
This article was originally published as part of our Baton Rouge BBQ cover story in the March 2020 issue of 225 Magazine. Click here to read more.