I’m not going to lie. I’ve been nervous about writing an article that tries to tackle the best of the best of Richmond’s barbecue. It’s not because I don’t love barbecue, because I do. A LOT. Rather, what makes this such a difficult task is that fact that no two barbecues are created equally. And even more importantly, no two barbecue lovers are going to have the same opinion….ever.
Barbecue is a highly subjective topic. And it’s no wonder. Barbecuing styles and flavors vary from state to state and region to region, so that, often times, where we grew up will determine the style of cooking, cut or kind of meat, and particular sauce that we prefer.
Or perhaps it’s just that we like what we like.
Whatever the psychology, the fact remains, it’s impossible to judge barbecue while taking everyone’s individual tastes into account. Thankfully, we live in a region that takes their barbecue quite seriously and Richmond is full of amazing barbecue options – from super-casual quick service counters to destination restaurants that have garnered national attention.
For this edition of the “Best of Richmond,” we won’t try to influence your tastes or preference. But we will let you know about some of the best all-around barbecue restaurants that the city has to offer.
From all of the choices out there, we picked five that we felt offered the following:
- Outstanding flavor (regardless of the style of sauce and/or cooking)
- A range of menu options (different types of meat)
- Sides (because no proper BBQ meal would be complete without them)
The resulting list might just be one of our tastiest ones yet. Take a look at our favorite barbecue joints in Richmond and let us know what you think! Do you have a suggestion that maybe we overlooked? If so, let us know in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.
Buz and Ned’s has long been one of the most popular spots in town. They owe their popularity in part to features on the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, and Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay (spoiler alert: Buz and Ned’s won). But the real reason for their ever-growing popularity is that they really are just that good. They have earned every accolade they’ve received by staying true to their roots, which includes using recipes that have been passed down for generations. All their meats are slowed-cooked and accented with just the right amount of smokiness. The sauce, which is tomato-based, doesn’t mask the flavor of the meat, but complements it perfectly. I will warn you, Buz and Ned’s gets crowded at both of their Richmond locations and there’s often a wait. Be patient…and order the ribs. You’ll be glad you did.
Why we love it: The menu. Really, that’s all we need to say. But if you would like some elaboration, then by all means: Cajun fried pickles, fried okra, wings, shrimp, Brunswick stew, hushpuppies, cajun corn, potato salad, baked beans, and, of course, the standards of beef, pork, chicken. You don’t have to love one particular thing to be satisfied at Buzz and Ned’s. That’s not to say they don’t do their core menu (i.e, slow-cooked barbecue) well, it just means that everyone will be happy at Buzz and Ned’s – especially if you love well-cooked, tender and always delicious barbecue. And don’t forget, if you want to get your BBQ to-go, Buz and Ned’s offers a take-out menu perfect for parties or family dinners at home.
1119 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23230
Broad Street Location:
8205 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23294
4. Alamo BBQ
In the last handful of years, Alamo BBQ has risen in the ranks, quickly becoming a Richmond staple – and a legend on the barbecue scene. In 2013, The Daily Meal named Alamo #8 out of the “10 Best Spots for Ribs in the Country,” and featured them again in “America’s 35 Best Ribs” in 2015 and 2016. As you might guess from their name and distinct Southwestern décor, Alamo features Texas-style barbecue, with meats that are cooked to perfection with just the right amount of flavorful, but not overpowering, sauce. If you know anything about Texas barbecue, then you know that brisket is what it’s all about. And Alamo’s award-winning brisket is enough to make even the harshest critics happy. But if brisket’s not your thing, have no fear – the menu will more than satisfy any taste with chicken, pork, and even veggie options.
Why we love them: We love the diversity that Alamo brings to the barbecue scene. Yes, different states and regions pride themselves on their unique flavors and techniques. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all get along. It’s nice to have a little bit of Texas here in the RVA – and Alamo is the perfect barbecue ambassador. They keep things interesting with a Tex-Mex inspired menu that features unique burritos and quesadillas, as well as exciting sides like Texas Caviar, jalapeno mac & cheese, potato salad, collard greens, and more.
2202 Jefferson Avenue
Richmond, VA 23223
3. Ronnie’s BBQ
For down-home, no-frills, fall-off-the-bone barbecue goodness, Ronnie’s is a goldmine. This family-owned and operated business has spent years perfecting the art of barbecue – and there are many who would venture to say they’ve achieved it. The team at Ronnie’s, run by Ronnie himself, serves up good old fashioned beef brisket, ribs, hand-pulled pork or jumbo chicken wings that are perfectly infused with smoky flavors come with a spot-on, Southern style sauce. With fried fish, corn dogs and mouthwatering classic sides rounding out the menu, Ronnie’s is everything an authentic barbecue “joint” should be.
Why we love them: You won’t find as many menu options at Ronnie’s as you might at a bigger restaurant, but you don’t really need anything else. Everything they serve is carefully crafted, perfected and served up with a smile. Which brings us to our other favorite aspect of Ronnie’s – their customer service. At Ronnie’s you’ll feel like family, not just because everything has been cooked with love, but because the folks at Ronnie’s make customer satisfaction their #1 goal. And it’s that kind of care and attention to detail that has made Ronnie’s the favorite barbecue choice for locals and out-of-towners alike.
2097 New Market Road
Henrico, VA 23231
The HogsHead Café has been, continues to be, and probably always will be the go-to spot for many Richmonders. With consistently outstanding flavors, out-of-this world dry rubs and a menu as creatively diverse as the food is delicious. HogHead has earned it spot on our Top 5 list with ease. And that should be little surprise considering it has also earned recognition as one of the Top Ten BBQ Joints in the United States from Trip Advisor. With ribs that melt in your mouth and hand-pulled pork and chicken that is every bit as good, one thing can count on is that you won’t go home hungry.
Why we love them: At Richmond Mom, we’re all about finding the best options for your entire family – even when it come to barbecue. So while the HogsHead Café has earned its name for barbecue, make no mistake, we like the fact that barbecue is not all they do. If you are a BBQ aficionado, HogsHead is a MUST for finding fabulous barbecued meats. But if your entire family doesn’t share your passion, there are still tons of options to choose from, including burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, seafood, wings, salads, and more. And with a full menu of classic side like potato salad, coleslaw, fries and more, you’ll probably find that everyone wants to come back for more.
9503 W Broad Street
Henrico, VA 23294
At Deep Run Roadhouse, barbecue, comfort food and Tex Mex flavors come together in one perfect trinity of taste. This counter-service restaurant offers comfortable, but casual dine-in eating, catering or take-out in two great locations – downtown and in the West End. Their menu focuses on authentic, smoky barbecued flavors for their spareribs, briskets, pulled pork, chicken, sausage and portobello mushrooms. But you can also find spicy Tex Mex influence in their quesadillas, tacos (including fish tacos), and fajitas. Or, if it’s some good old-fashioned comfort you’re looking for, go for comfort food classics like fried pork chops and a side of sweet potatoes or maybe a juicy bison burger with potato wedges. There’s just no way you can go wrong.
Why we love them: We love that Deep Run Roadhouse offers an all-around amazing experience. From the cool, casual atmosphere to the menu that really does seem to offer something for everyone. They offer snacks, burritos, sandwiches, platters, burgers, sides – and even a kids’ menu. Choose to eat in – or grab a family pack to go. The incredible options are what set Deep Run Roadhouse apart. From a diverse menu to a variety of sauces that represent different “barbecue regions,” Deep Run is a win-win from start to finish.
West End / Gayton Road
12379 Gayton Road
Henrico, Virginia 23238
(804) 740-6301 ext.1
VCU / Laurel Street
309 North Laurel
Richmond, Virginia 23220
(804) 740-6301 ext. 2
(804) 740-6301 ext. 1
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