But life is never simple, and so it goes with Miami's barbecue scene.
These days, Miami barbecue is the story of the people who make it — chefs with passion, tradition, and a love for smoke and meat — setting up on our sun-bleached streets to bring us a taste of their heritage.
And that's precisely what makes Miami barbecue so good. When viewed through the melting-pot lens, it's easy to see these creations as equal parts soul, love, and family.
Below, listed in alphabetical order, are Miami's ten best barbecue spots.
4 Rivers Smokehouse2660 N. University Dr., Coral Springs
4rsmokehouse.com Founder John Rivers first established his barbecue empire in Winter Park, Florida, in 2009 — but he'll tell you it was never designed as a restaurant. Instead, it was Rivers' "barbecue ministry," hosting cookout fundraisers to help those in need. After several years of large-scale events supporting local schools, churches, and charitable organizations, the 4 Rivers Winter Park restaurant was born. Today, 4 Rivers has been featured in publications including Bon Appétit, Saveur, Food & Wine, and Southern Living for its cross-regional approach to barbecue. The restaurant is best known for its specialty: the signature 18-hour smoked Angus brisket. The fast-casual setup carving station also allows you to select cut-to-order meats served platter-style or as customizable bowls and burritos with options like pulled pork, chicken, and burnt ends (there's a vegan version, too) and Texas sausage. Pair them with any of the 16 mix-and-match sides. They are made fresh daily and include barbecue beans, baked cheese grits, fried okra, collard greens, and smoked jalapeños.
Apocalypse BBQ9980 SW 104th St., Miami
apocalypsebbq.comWhen the pandemic hit, Miami native Jeffrey Budnechky's work as a freelance marketer ground to a halt. A self-described backyard barbecue enthusiast, he took his ten years of grilling experience and said, "F the apocalypse, let's just make barbecue." What began as a handful of orders using a 22-inch Weber grill has since turned into one of Miami's favorite pop-ups, serving a variety of meats that now emerge from the chef's professional 125-gallon tank smoker. Along the way — including an appearance at the 2021 South Beach Wine & Food Festival under his belt — he made a promise to himself to help define South Florida barbecue. To do so, Budnechky marries the flavors of his Brazilian-Argentinian roots with his wife Lara's Cuban heritage. That means pulled pork smothered in a colada-infused barbecue sauce he calls "oro negro;" massive dino beef ribs dusted in a homemade coffee rub and finished with a lacquering of the chef's own Bustelo-infused cafecito sauce; and four-hour, slow-smoked pork-belly burnt ends braised and glazed in his "guava lava," a guava-mango-habanero sauce. Only his Texas-style brisket toes the line of tradition, slow-cooked and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
Bo Legs BBQ533 NE 83rd St., Miami
hiphopeatery.comIt used to be that the telltale smoky aroma of Bo Legs BBQ would lead you straight into the heart of North Miami Beach, where a family-run business by chef/owner Kevin Dority operated just shy of three decades. Dority — AKA Bo Legs — grew up eating his family's barbecue on their farm outside Charleston, South Carolina. When he decided to share those memories with the masses, he created a following for his menu of smoked meats like ribs, sausage, and brisket to turkey legs and jerk chicken, much of it slathered in secret sauces with recipes that date back to the early 1970s. Today, South Florida restaurant group Hip Hop Eatery has officially relaunched Bo Legs BBQ inside Skatebird Miami in partnership with executive chef Marco Molinet, whose goal was to breathe new life into the North Miami staple. Find the duo's oak wood-smoked meats paired with any of Bo Legs' signature sauces and sides, including longtime staples like mac and cheese, collard greens, and Bo's signature baked beans made with a sweet combination of maple, honey, and molasses and a meaty hint of ground chuck for an authentic Carolina take on the traditional side.
Drinking Pig BBQ845 NE 151st St., Miami
drinkingpigbbq.comYou'll find this pop-up down a one-way street on the northwestern edge of North Miami, where a simple setup attracts diehard barbecue fans. Drinking Pig BBQ is a joint effort by Kyu executive chef Raheem Sealey, his wife, former Kyu chef Yohanir Sandoval, and former Kyu sous chef Mark Wint. Together, this trio turned their pandemic downtime into a thriving backyard business offering brisket, sausage, pork, and chicken. Touches of their combined cultural influences give each piece of meat a unique flair, from the sofrito- and thyme-infused rub to the secret seasoning blend in the handmade sausage. Sides include collard greens cooked in a stock made from smoked chicken bones and baked beans prepared with scraps of brisket and short rib. Don't miss Sandoval's cornbread, a cakelike treat that offers a sweet-and-salty take on the classic barbecue staple. The pop-up is open Friday through Sunday from noon until sold out.
Hometown BBQ1200 NW 22nd St., Miami
hometownbbqmiami.comBilly Durney, chef/owner of Hometown BBQ in Miami's Allapattah neighborhood, will tell you: "Stay humble, stay focused, stay hungry." It's easy to check that last box when visiting the Miami outpost of his New York City eatery, beloved for its Texas-style take on barbecue meats of all kinds. Durney's meats are pit-smoked over a live fire, making for some of the hottest barbecue in South Florida. At the Allapattah location, find everything from baby-back, spare, and beef ribs to brisket, turkey, and chicken — all served as a platter or sandwich alongside traditional sides. Like spicy? Grab a slice of the jalapeño-infused corn pudding and housemade cheddar jalapeño sausage. Don't miss highlights like the chef's jerk-encrusted bacon, sticky fried rib tips smothered in a Korean barbecue sauce, or (on weekends only) pastrami.
Izzy's Brooklyn Smokehouse3585 NE 207th St., Aventura
izzyssmokehouse.comIzzy's Brooklyn Smokehouse chef/owner Sruli "Izzy" Eidelman recently opened his third location — and the first in Florida — in Aventura. In 2015, Eidelman opened a kosher barbecue restaurant in New York City, offering high-quality, slow-cooked meats (sans pork) to the city's meat-loving masses. Described as Texas-style with a Brooklyn-Jewish twist, the menu is 100 percent kosher, but any meat lover can appreciate Eidelman's star menu item, an 18-hour smoked brisket seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of paprika. Izzy's serves top-quality meats smoked on the premises in an all-wood smoker and finished on a live-fire, wood-oven pit, with the finished product sold by the half-pound or as part of rice-based bowls, tacos, atop nachos, or part of super-sized sandwiches. The menu also includes beef ribs, turkey, and chicken — but, as you might expect — no pork. You won’t miss it with specialties like the house dino beef short ribs, a two-week brined and smoked pastrami, smoked lamb ribs, or the popular fried, smoked chicken sandwich topped with the house hot sauce and a zippy horseradish mayo.
La Traila Barbecue8030 NW 154th St., Miami Lakes
latrailabbq.comFormerly a “first come, first served” pop-up, La Traila Barbecue, Miami's Texas-style craft barbecue pit spot, has opened a brick-and-mortar location in Miami Lakes. Founded by Austin native and pitmaster Mel Rodriguez, and Miami native/ Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, the barbecue joint offers ample indoor and outdoor seating. Platters and meat by the pound include smoked pulled pork, smoked sausage, pork spare ribs, and Texas-style brisket. Try the "Brisket Sundae," which starts with a mac-and-cheese base, layered with baked beans and creamed corn, then topped with smoked brisket, cotija cheese, crema, and the house sauce. Or, for a taste of Miami-Texas fusion, order brisket y queso empanadas or smoked pork rib croquetas.
Saint City BBQ9302 NW 22nd Ave., Miami
Facebook.com/Saint-City-BBQMake no mistake: This isn't a coffee shop. Sure, the sign at Saint City may read "coffee shop," but the grills behind the building say nothing but smoked meat. This is a barbecue joint through and through, housed inside the Saint City Church of God in Miami's West Little River neighborhood. For over 40 years, the restaurant has been dishing up its take on Southern-style soul food via slabs of sauce-lacquered ribs and barbecue chicken. A rib sandwich is as simple as it gets: a short stack of ribs served with two slices of white bread. Sides include giant pots of vegetable-studded, country-style baked beans, pigeon peas with rice, mac 'n' cheese baked under a thick layer of melty cheese, and tender stewed collard greens.
Shiver's BBQ28001 S. Dixie Hwy., Homestead
shiversbbq.comBefore they're served, Shiver's baby-back ribs spend 12 hours in a sauna of hickory smoke. A half-slab of the ribs comes with a side of "squealing pig skins" — potato skins stuffed with a mound of pulled pork, jalapeño peppers, and a mix of jack and cheddar cheeses. But that's not all you can get at one of the oldest barbecue joints in Miami, which dates back to the 1950s, making it even older than Shorty's in Kendall (see below). As the story goes, Shorty Allen and Shiver's were business partners who went on to open separate restaurants — but Shiver's opened a year earlier. No matter who owns the title of "Oldest Barbecue Joint in the Magic City," one fact remains: Shiver's barbecue is as good as barbecue gets. Here you'll find it all, from smoked chicken and spare, baby-back, and beef ribs to brisket, burnt ends, and pulled pork. More than a dozen sides include the usuals, along with a hash-brown casserole, jalapeño cheese grits, and fried green tomatoes. Don't miss the weekly "off menu" special, which might be brisket burgers, rodeo nachos, or beef chili.
Shorty's Bar-B-Q9200 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami
and other locations
shortys.comShorty's claim to fame is 70 years of barbecue "perfection." The truth is — even after all these years and four locations strong — Shorty's BBQ remains one of Miami's favorite spots to snag finger-licking barbecue. Since 1951, not even a fire, Hurricane Andrew, or a recession could keep the original location from serving its famous butter-drenched corn on the cob, pulled pork, ribs, and housemade sweet tea. Whether you're in Davie or Miami, you get the area's best barbecue values, including under-$10 spare rib or quarter-chicken weekday meal specials, Texas-smoked beef brisket, and massive hickory-smoked pulled-pork plates drenched in barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw, fries, and garlic bread.