The 7 Best BBQ Restaurants in Grand Rapids (Local’s Ranking)

There’s a magic that happens when meat is cooked at low temperatures for hours and kissed with smoke the whole time.

Though I have yet to make the pilgrimage to the holy BBQ lands of Texas, I’ve been to BBQ hotbeds like St. Louis, the Carolinas, and… Maine? (Yes, Salvage BBQ was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.)

And while no one will mistake the Grand Rapids barbeque scene for Austin’s or Kansas City’s, we have some BBQ gems. Southerners may have discovered barbeque, but Yankees have put our own delicious spin on the smokey tradition.

Are you looking for brisket with the tenderness of a pot roast and the beefiness of a ribeye? How about fall-off-the-bone ribs slathered in KC sauce? How about some pulled pork piled high on a bun and drenched in Carolina gold?

Grab a wet nap and saddle up, partner. Let’s get some Q.

Map of the Best BBQ in Grand Rapids

The best BBQ in Grand Rapids: Two Scott’s Barbeque

This Leonard Street staple is named after its owners (both are named Scott). And Two Scott’s helped usher the BBQ scene into the Grand Rapids area.

Before Two Scott’s launched in GR, going to a local barbeque restaurant was a punishment. There’s an art to smoking food low and slow in a pit, and Grand Rapids lacked artists.

Two Scott’s to the rescue.

Two Scotts’s serves BBQ from open (11 a.m.) till close (3 p.m., or whenever they run out of meat, whichever comes first).

There are no alcohol sales at Two Scott’s, but take a quick walk across Leonard, and you’ll find The People’s Cider Co., Long Road Distillers, and The Mitten Brewing. A cider place, a distillery, a brewery, and world-class barbeque? What are you waiting for?

The best BBQ in downtown Grand Rapids: Slow’s Barbeque

slows bbq grand rapids

A Detroit institution, Slow’s launched a satellite location in Grand Rapids inside the downtown market. Strolling through the market and checking out the various upscale food stores (think: cupcakes, fishmongers, artisanal bread, and more) is my idea of a great weekend morning.

There are some excellent spots to grab a bite in the downtown market, and Slow’s is one of my favorites.

If brisket tacos are on the menu, don’t pass on them. Served on corn tortillas with raw onion and cilantro, they’re my idea of the perfect taco.

You also can’t go wrong with a meat and side combo plate. All the smoked meats at Slow’s are excellent, as are the sides. If sandwiches are more your thing, they’ve got great ones piled high with smoked meat.

  • Address: 435 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • Website: Slows BBQ

The best BBQ food truck in Grand Rapids: Two Bones Food Truck

Looking for the perfect Friday night in Grand Rapids? Head to Riverside Park for food truck night. 20 or so trucks form a circle in a field by the Grand River. Pack a cooler, and enjoy the summer sun.

While you’re there, grab some barbeque from the best bbq food truck in Grand Rapids – Two Bones. The line is a shoo-in to be the longest of all the food trucks, but that’s ok! The brisket is transcendent.

The wait is worth it.

Grab some friends and turn it into a tapas night. Grab a few things from every food truck and discover your favorite bite.

Check their website to see where Two Bones will next delight people with BBQ glory.

  • Address: Mobile food truck – check their website for events.
  • Website: Two Bones

The best smoked chicken: The Pit Stop

These guys won a KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society, the gold standard of BBQ competition) first for their brisket in 2001, which is sort of like a James Beard award in the BBQ world. A first place is a big deal and KCBS is a big deal, so it logically follows that a KCBS first in brisket might be the biggest deal.

In addition to catering (level up your wedding with food people actually want to eat), The Pit Stop storefront is open on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s a little far-flung from downtown Grand Rapids, but it’s the perfect option if you’re staying near the airport.

My favorite menu item is the chicken thighs – they’re juicy and flavorful, and every bite is BBQ bliss.

  • Address: 6479 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
  • Website: The Pit Stop

The best chain BBQ joint: City Barbeque

Even though City Barbeque is a chain, they smoke some excellent barbeque.

They use hickory for everything, which is a-okay in my book. I’m a backyard BBQ aficionado and a huge fan of hickory smoke. It’s sweet and leaves the meat with a beautiful mahogany bark.

As far as their sides go, I’m a sucker for their fried pickles. And their french fries are kid tested and approved.

City barbeque is a great place to go if you’re shopping on 28th street and need to stop somewhere nearby for eats.

  • Address: 3050 28th St SE, Kentwood, MI 49512
  • Website: City Barbeque

The best roadtrip BBQ: Greenbush Brewing Co.

I’m cheating a bit here, as Greenbush is in the delightful town of Sawyer, Michigan, about an hour and a half from Grand Rapids. But believe me, the drive along the lakeshore and the barbeque that awaits you will make up for it.

The heaping mounds of smoked meat will make you think the waitstaff accidentally gave you a double order. They didn’t. All that barbeque is yours to devour.

The pride of the southeast side: Daddy Pete’s BBQ

Daddy Pete’s is close to my place, so I’m there quite a bit. Everything is fantastic.

My go-to order, though? The “hot mess,” a decadent bowl of cheese, smoked meat of your choice, and baked beans, topped with creamy cole slaw. Say yes to the hot mess.