Best Cities for BBQ in America: Apartment Guide report

Some suprises reported in findings

Analysis from helped establish a list of “Best Cities for BBQ” in America by ranking them by density of barbecue establishments in these markets (as a percentage). The apartment directory team also looked at cities by barbecue joint density per capita and total number of barbecue eateries within cities. The results were revealed in a recent report. The top five cities were Memphis, Tenn., Minnetonka, Minn. Desoto Texas, Decatur, Ill., and Bowie Md.

Top 5 Best Cities for BBQ

Bowie, Md. (#5) is situated just outside Washington, D.C. Among the barbecue eateries found in Bowie: Chuck’s Wagon BBQ, Hardy’s BBQ and Barbecue everything, a local sauce company. According to, more than 9.6 percent of the 83 eateries in Bowie made their reputation on barbecue.

There’s plenty to do in Bowie, including ‘2,000 acres of parks and greenspace (about a fifth of the total land area), which includes more than 70 athletic fields, hiking and biking trails, the Bowie Playhouse and SportFit Bowie at Whitemarsh Park and the Bowie Ice Arena at Allen Pond Park, which also often serves as a de facto Main Street Bowie,” according to the guide.

Decatur, Ill. (#4). More than 9 percent of the 133 restaurants in this Central Illinois city are barbecue joints. According to the guide, 72,000 residents populate this city. Historically, it’s the first home of the Chicago Bears—they were known as the known as the Decatur Staleys from 1919-1920. Also, the first home of Abraham Lincoln. “Nearby, the Decatur Transfer House is one of the most historic buildings in Illinois, an important piece of architecture that was moved from the Square to neighboring Central Park in 1962 for modernization of U.S. Business Route 51.”

DeSoto, Texas (#3). says this city, just 20 miles south of Dallas, is the “King of Texas” when it comes to barbecue. The smallest town in the guide’s top 10, DeSoto residents have six barbecue joints, which is more than 10 percent of the 58 restaurants there. Local favorites include Ray’s Bar-B-Q and Evans Pit. “ It’s a city filled with urban parks and retail centers along with several attractions like the Windmill Hill Nature Preserve, the Victorian Nance Farm, helicopter excursions and Metroplex BMX, the longest BMX bike racing facility in the nation.”

Minnetonka, Minn. (#2). A total of five out of 43 restaurants are barbecue-centric in Minnetonka. Memphis and Texas barbecue have blended with Scandinavian and Viking traditions. This has led to the creation of local creations, including smoked lamb Valhalla Dip and barbecue smoked Lake Superior whitefish and trout. Most of the barbecue eateries are located in retail districts off Interstate 394 and State Highway 7.


“While Minnetonka is a suburban bedroom community for many that work in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, a number of people settle in the land of Great Water for work at Minnetonka’s Cargill, where the headquarters of the largest privately held corporation in America lie,” noted the guide. The average one-bedroom apartment in Desoto leases for $1,058 per month.

Memphis, Tenn. (#1). Known also as the River City, Memphis is the top city by density of barbecue eateries. There are 142 barbecue joints representing more than 12 percent of Memphis’ total. From Central BBQ and Payne’s to Charlie Vergos and the late Public Eye, these destinations demonstrate the popularity and heritage of barbecue in the city.

An apartment in this city, full of music, art, drink and eateries, will average about $960 per month, the guide reveals. “Mud Island is a stunning park set on an island just off the Mississippi riverfront with walking trails, museums, an amphitheater and a half-mile long, full-scale geographic model of the lower Mississippi River from confluence with the Ohio River in Illinois to the delta in Louisiana, with river water flowing southward into a replica Gulf of Mexico.”

Also, Decatur, Ill., Kansas City, Kan., Saint Cloud, Fla., Smyrna, Ga., and Gary, Ind. rounded out the top 10 cities for barbecue by density (see list below). For additional data and the top rankings by number of eateries per capita and also by total number of eateries, read the full report here.


Top 10 Best Cities for BBQ (by percentage of such eateries in market)

  1. Memphis, Tenn., 12.09
  2. Minnetonka, Minn., 11.63
  3. Desoto, Texas, 10.34
  4. Decatur, Ill., 9.77
  5. Bowie Md., 9.64
  6. Decatur, Ala., 9.30
  7. Kansas City, Kan., 9.22
  8. Saint Cloud, Fla., 8.96
  9. Smyrna, Ga., 8.90
  10. Gary, Ind., 8.79

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