In the past (both 2012 and 2013, to be exact), The Daily Meal compiled an “Ultimate BBQ Road Trip” around America. The first consisted of 42 restaurants across 4,561 miles and 16 states — a trip that would take two to three weeks to complete. The second time around, we covered 60 restaurants across 5,120 miles and again 16 states — which would take as long as a month to finish. While these journeys should absolutely be referenced for any barbecue road trip, neither is practical as a whole, as you’ll likely end out of vacation days, out of money, or out of room in your stomach for all that delicious barbecue grub.
With that in mind, we decided to put together an actual, realistic road trip. It includes 14 restaurants, which can be visited in only a week’s time if you don’t mind driving a few hours before each meal (and eating barbecue twice a day). With one exception (sorry), no segment takes longer than four-and-a-half hours, and a few are as close together as an hour.
How did we accomplish this itinerary? Basically, we took the best of the previous two trips (which included some great info and recommendations from the Southern Foodways Alliance), narrowed each state down to one restaurant (an excruciatingly painful process), and eliminated locations that were too far away from each other and would slow the trip’s progression. The resulting 14 essential eateries now cover 2,995 miles in 14 states — and for the first time ever, this trip is entirely practical as a whole.
Save up your gas money, strap on your seatbelt (and a bib), and get ready for some good eating.