Top 10 BBQ Restaurants in Raleigh, NC that Bring the Best Flavor in the South

All of the best places to go for great barbeque in Raleigh.

Nothing hits the spot quite like some good old fashioned southern BBQ. If you’re like most people below the Mason Dixon line, you’ve probably got some strong opinions about what exactly makes good southern BBQ, well… good. Is it the brine? The dry rub? The smoke? The sauce? No matter what camp you’re in, there are plenty of restaurants serving up some of the best BBQ in Raleigh that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater.

And those of you who are just visiting? Well, hold on. You’re about to experience BBQ like you’ve never experienced before! But before you can dig into a juicy pulled pork sandwich or pair your perfectly seasoned brisket with some classic coleslaw or greens, you’ve got to find your destination.

Whether you live in Raleigh, are just there for an afternoon, or have a friend or loved one who is there, this list will feature some of the best BBQ restaurants in Raleigh for a lunch or dinner you can find. There is sure to be a restaurant that piques your interest, or at least piques your appetite, and many of the ones on this list also happen to be supported by GiftYa.

As a reminder, a GiftYa virtual gift card is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A gift card that functions just like every other gift card. It lets you make purchases at a participating bar, restaurant, or store up to the face value of the gift card. However, unlike traditional gift cards. GiftYa digital gift cards come with a few additional benefits. 

For instance, unlike a traditional gift card, a GiftYa can be sent straight to your phone in seconds. That way you don’t need to deliver a GiftYa in person if you want to give it as a gift. You don’t even have to go to a store in person if you want one for yourself. You can just visit the GiftYa website and pick one up today. So, think about purchasing a GiftYa while you think about what restaurants you want to visit for the best BBQ in Raleigh.

Smokestacks Cafe

A family restaurant serving the best BBQ in Raleigh for over 10 years.

The food at this restaurant tastes just as good as it looks— and doesn’t it look good! Image courtesy of Instagram.

701 E Lane St | Historic Oakwood |

A community favorite in Raleigh, the staff at Smokestacks Cafe pride themselves on accommodating customers and serving the best of the best BBQ. During the day, it’s the perfect place to catch up on work or play a boardgame from the bookshelf. At night, enjoy a classy dinner and a bottle of wine on the outdoor patio while the weather allows!

On the menu at Smokestacks Cafe is:

  • Some of the best BBQ in Raleigh, along with
  • Chicken wings
  • Baked goods
  • Salads
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • And more!

“This little café is easily in my top 5 favorite restaurants in Raleigh, and probably my #1 for brunch. Foodies in the know apparently also agree with this assessment! It's a small neighborhood establishment with a homey feel.”  - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa for Smokestacks Cafe

Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ

Something for everyone at this restaurant!

There’s more than just hot dogs on the menu at Crave. Image courtesy of Instagram.

1028 Oberlin Rd Ste 248 | Raleigh | 

The name of the game at Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ is great food and an excellent dining experience. Inside the restaurant guests can dine in the lounge area or at the bar in addition to the regular dining room, and then outdoors are the patios with games and live entertainment!

On the menu is smoked brisket, pulled chicken, and pulled pork— among many other things. There’s also a self-pour beer wall that’s perfect for those that enjoy a craft or IPA beverage, and even some delicious dessert options.

“This is a new business. They have a great menu, good selection of beer, food was well presented, fresh ingredients. Speed of service was great. Facilities were spotless. Staff was friendly and helpful.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa for Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ

Shane’s Rib Shack

Great BBQ for dine-in, delivery, takeout, and even catering!

The atmosphere at Shane’s Rib Shack is truly unparalleled. Image courtesy of Instagram.

5811 Poyner Village Pkwy BLDG 101 Suite J1 | Raleigh |

First founded by Shane Thompson in 2002 and built on family, hard work, and delicious barbeque ever since, Shane’s Rib Shack now has locations in 11 states across the United States.

On the menu are sandwiches, burgers, sides, wings, tenders, fries, salads, drinks, desserts, and much more! There’s also a gluten-sensitive selection for customers to choose from.

“I enjoyed my food here. It was seasoned well and the Loaded Buffalo chicken fries were game changers. I had the smoked chicken, I would recommend [that] as well. It gave me Famous Dave's vibes.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa for Shane’s Rib Shack

Big Mike’s BBQ (AKA Brew n’ Que)

Bite into local pasture-raised BBQ and sip local craft beer at one of the best BBQ spots in Raleigh.

The portion sizes at Big Mike’s BBQ are true to the name— they won’t leave you disappointed. Image courtesy of Instagram.

1222 NW Maynard Rd | Cary |

If you’re looking for big barbecue flavor, it’s hard to do better than Big Mike’s. The laid back atmosphere will have you feeling right at home, and their menu will have you ordering extras to take home when you leave. Whether you’re a fan of pork, brisket, or chicken, there is definitely something on the menu for you. According to some patrons the meat is so tender and juicy no extra sauce is required.

Round out your meal with one of their classic sides like baked beans or corn bread, or try something more unique – Big Mike’s is known for their unique (smoked) take on potato salad, so make sure you include it in your order.

Plus, Big Mike’s Brew n’ Cue is all about the local Raleigh scene. The pasture-raised meat they serve comes from local farms, and the titular Brews that the Brew n’ Cue has on tap come from local craft breweries. Which means if you’re looking for a taste of Raleigh, you can get it here.

“You'd think it would be easy to find good bbq in North Carolina, but we had a heck of a time doing so. We stumbled upon Big Mikes and are so glad we can share a very positive review.” - Yelp Review

The Pit

Authentic whole-hog, pit-cooked BBQ and soul food.

This restaurant is also the perfect place to go for some of the best BBQ in Raleigh, even for takeout! Image courtesy of Instagram.

328 W Davie St | Warehouse District |

North Carolina’s barbecue is legendary – people travel from all over the country to get a taste of real southern BBQ, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at The Pit. Located downtown in Raleigh’s Warehouse District, The Pit proudly upholds Raleigh’s tradition of serving delicious, whole-hog, pit-cooked BBQ that the whole family can enjoy.

And we do mean the whole family – The Pit has an outdoor seating area, and you’re welcome to bring your dogs along, as long as they like BBQ too!

You’ll want to take a good look at The Pit’s menu before placing your order – in addition to classic BBQ staples like chicken, brisket, and pork you can find less common offerings like turkey. Pair that with deviled eggs, BBQ soul rolls, cole slaw, mac and cheese, greens, or any of The Pit’s other mouthwatering sides and you’ve got a truly excellent meal.

“Tried this place for the first time with my Husband and the food was AH-MAZING!! Complimentary hot biscuits and hush puppies with whipped butter. We shared the deviled eggs as an appetizer - very tasty.” - Yelp Review

The Redneck BBQ Lab

Big believers in God, family, country, and good ol’ fashioned BBQ.

You’ll want to try a little bit of everything on the menu at The Redneck BBQ Lab. Image courtesy of Instagram.

12101-b NC Hwy 210 | Benson |

Some might argue that making excellent BBQ is an art, but the folks over at The Redneck BBQ Lab have it down to a science. Their formula for serving up one of the best BBQ restaurant experiences in Raleigh? Simple: God, Family, Country, and good ol’ fashioned southern BBQ.

If you live in Raleigh and haven’t heard of The Redneck BBQ Lab, that’s because it definitely fits the definition of a hidden treasure. Hidden in a gas station at the 319 exit on I-40, The Redneck BBQ Lab might just be the best-kept secret in Raleigh’s food scene. Locals love the pulled pork sandwich, Brunswick stew, jalapeno mac, burnt tips, and beef ribs, so make sure when you visit, you visit hungry.

“We drove 45 minutes to take my in-laws to The Redneck BBQ Lab for dinner. My in-laws were here for the holidays and wanted to get barbecue. I told them if we were getting barbecue, we would get GOOD barbecue. ” - Yelp Review

Texas Pit BBQ

Mouthwatering BBQ smoked with mesquite wood shipped in from Texas in a customized smoker.

The perfect BBQ comfort food is on the menu at this Raleigh restaurant. Image courtesy of Instagram.

546 W Church Rd | Angier |

If North Carolina-style BBQ isn’t your thing, get a taste of the Lonestar State at Texas Pit BBQ instead. This place is the real deal, as far as Texas BBQ goes – they even have mesquite shipped in from Texas for their customized smokers to give their meat a truly authentic Texas BBQ taste.

To stay up to date on the latest news from Texas Pit BBQ, be sure to follow them on Facebook. Their website is, shall we say, minimalist, but like so many of us they’re all over social media.

“The brisket was my fav mixed with the potato casserole!! Loved the fried okra! So much flavor, and big portions. The wings were great and the ribs were too! Awesome BBQ sauce options in spicy and mild. Super friendly service as well!” - Yelp Review

Ole Time Barbeque

Serving Raleigh BBQ for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tailgates, and everything in between for 28 years and counting.

You’ll definitely have leftovers at Ole Time Barbeque! Image courtesy of Yelp.

6309 Hillsborough St | Bashford Ridge |

How much barbecue do you have to serve before you’re recognized as one of the all-time greats in the Raleigh BBQ restaurant scene? We’re not sure, but Ole Time Barbeque prides itself on having served over a million pounds of barbecue over the years, and we sure think that fits the bill!

This family owned and operated shop has been serving BBQ since 1993 and was truly a dream come true for founder Jerry, who used to talk about opening a BBQ shop with his grandfather. Don’t miss out on their awesome BBQ sauce!

“Hands down best bbq in North Carolina. If you love vinegary eastern Nc style bbq, cooked overnight, with a sweet tea and a plate of hush puppies, this is the place for it. Can't recommend enough.” - Yelp Review

Red Hot & Blue

Genuine American barbeque in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Don’t forget to enjoy a delicious drink with your BBQ meal! Image courtesy of Instagram.

6615 Falls of Neuse Rd | Raleigh |

Red Hot & Blue serves authentic, homestyle BBQ and has been for over 30 years. This full-service, blues-themed restaurant, is named after DJ Dewey Phillip’s radio show, which aired on WHBQ-AM in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950s.

The menu features a lot of regional BBQ favorites, such as St. Louis style ribs, Texas brisket, Memphis-style sandwiches, and much more besides.

“The food was fresh and very tasty and it came out quick. I will be back Tuesday before my flight so I can order and bring it back home with me  Maybe I'll share with my husband.” - Yelp Review

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque

Award-winning restaurant with great BBQ since 1938.

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque is even the perfect restaurant for special occasions. Image courtesy of Instagram.

327 S Wilmington St | Raleigh | 

Clyde Cooper’s has been serving delicious barbeque in Raleigh, NC, for 84 years, and has become a favorite both of those who live in the area and those who are just visiting. It’s been voted one of the top 10 barbeque restaurants in America.

Guests can enjoy trays, dinners, combinations, vegetable dishes, brunswick stew, sandwiches, sandwich specials, other specials, sides, drinks, desserts, and more! There’s also the option to order in bulk if you go for takeout! 

“The fried chicken is always hot and fresh. The macaroni and cheese is cheesy and baked and one of my favorite sides... I feel like it's safe to say this is the best hometown BBQ in Raleigh.” - Yelp Review

There you have it! All the best rated BBQ restaurants you can find in Raleigh. Raleigh is a major hub of business and commerce so it isn’t easy to narrow down the list of great BBQ restaurants to only what can fit in this post. But just from what we gathered for you here today you’ll be sure to find a location that's convenient for you with plenty of excellent options.

And remember, if you or someone you love is out in Raleigh, we marked off which BBQ restaurants accept convenient GiftYa digital gift cards. And you can use them at any of the locations we indicated on this list today. But even if you choose a BBQ restaurant that doesn’t accept GiftYa, you’ll be sure to find authentic southern barbecue. Raleigh and GiftYa definitely have something to offer.

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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