The 10 Best Barbecue Restaurants In Louisville, Kentucky

Photo of Lani Seelinger
9 February 2017

What Louisville, Kentucky probably brings to mind first is big hats, fast horses, and mint juleps, but while you’re there for the Derby, you’ll probably get hungry – and then you’ll discover that at its heart, Louisville is great for foodies. Barbecue has always been a big part of Kentucky’s local culture, and here are our picks for the 10 best places to get it in the state’s largest city.

Louisville Skyline | © Christ Watson/WikimediaCommons

Mark’s Feed Store

Bar, $$$
To say that Mark’s Feed Store is a Louisville legend would be an understatement. Since they opened in 1988, they’ve been voted to have the best barbecue and ribs in Louisville nine times in Louisville Magazine, in addition to being featured in numerous national press outlets like Southern Living and Saveur Magazine. You’ll come for the meat – the delicious ribs, barbecue sandwiches, or the Kentucky classic burgoo (a spicy stew) – but you’ll stay for the sides, which are amazing. This is a place where you’ll definitely leave wanting more, but no fear – you can buy some of their sauce on your way out.

Smoketown USA

Restaurant, American, $$$
Smoketown USA combines local history with great ‘cue to make for a truly unmissable experience. The owners bought the buildings, which were built during the Civil War as part of a farm, in 2002, and restored them to tip-top condition in order to open up the restaurant in 2007. They decorated the place with various odds and ends that you can even buy if the mood so strikes you, which creates an eclectic and cozy atmosphere. And then, of course, there’s the food. The Ribs are really something special, and even vegetarians will find something to eat with their black bean or Portobello burgers and their wide array of side dishes.

Momma’s Mustard, Pickles, & BBQ

Restaurant, $$$
Pulled pork sandwich
Pulled pork sandwich | © jeffreyw/WikimediaCommons
Momma’s owner draws his roots not from Kentucky, but from Kansas City, where he grew up with a mother who inspired both his career choice and the name of his restaurant. He and the restaurant’s chef went to Kansas City to be trained by the best in the field, and the result is the simple goodness that Momma’s offers. The menu isn’t long, but it’s got all you need for a truly satisfying meal. For meat options, you’ve got ribs, pulled pork and chicken, smoked turkey, and spicy sausage, and you can get all of these by themselves or as sandwiches. They’ve got all your favorite sides – green beans and mac and cheese included – and if you’re still looking for something a little heartier, go for the chili.

Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar

Bar, $$$
Kentucky isn’t just known for its barbecue – people around the world connect it with something else entirely – whiskey. Doc Crow’s, which is located on Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row, is the perfect place to put these two Kentucky classics together. And it’s not just Kentucky, either. You can come to Doc Crow’s to get barbecue all the way from Texas to North Carolina, and everywhere else in between. Don’t feel like barbecue? Their menu also includes fresh salads, seafood, and some classic southern specialties like po’ boy sandwiches, shrimp and grits, and fried catfish. Have a look through their whiskey menu, and don’t forget to save room for some delicious bread pudding or pecan pie for dessert.

River Road BBQ

Located right on the mighty Ohio River, River Road BBQ embraces the true spirit of the city. As soon as you open your car door, the smell of smoked meat drifting out from the smoker will embrace your senses and pull you in. They are most famous for their brisket, which is tender and flavorful. The most popular sides are the coleslaw, baked beans, and especially the potato salad, but you really can’t go wrong. This is a no-frills sort of a place and the amount of seating inside is limited, but once you taste the food, you’ll see that they’ve spent their energy on perfecting that.

River Road BBQ, 3017 River Rd, Louisville, KY, USA, +1 502 592 7065

Ditto’s Grill

Ditto’s isn’t your typical barbecue joint, but that doesn’t mean that their food is any less delicious. Barbecue is just one of the styles of cuisine that influences their menu, so you’ll find the southern dishes you know and love with completely new and exciting twists. Assuming you’re coming for some meat, their burgers really show off their grilling skills and creativity, but their beef and pork chops are also excellent. Other barbecue-themed options include sweet potato fries, Buffalo wings, and some classic sides, like the loaded baked potato and the mac and cheese. When you can’t quite decide whether you want some ‘cue or not, this is the place to come.

Ditto’s Grill, 1114 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY, USA, +1 502 581 9129

Feast BBQ

Restaurant, $$$
A relative newcomer on the scene after their 2012 opening, Feast BBQ has made a name for itself as the trendiest ‘cue place around. However, they can back up that trendiness with some seriously good smoked meat and sides. Their menu is only a page long, but it’ll still take you a while to make a decision – will it be a sandwich? A platter? Or—wait for it—tacos? This is a great place to come with your vegetarian friends, as they’ve even got crispy smoked tofu as one of their main dishes. They also have an excellent beer list and a great dessert menu (s’mores chocolate chess pie, anyone?) for anyone who can stomach a little more.

Ole Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que

Bar, Restaurant, $$$
You’ll recognize the down home Ole Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que joint when you pull up because of the pink pig sign out front. Once you step inside, you’ll find quality food in an informal, comfortable location. The service is famously friendly, and the meat is delicious and smoky. Try the smoked mutton specifically – it’s a Kentucky specialty, and it can be difficult to find elsewhere. Their fried cornbread is another unique item on the menu that is definitely worth checking out, and you can wash everything down with a tall glass of their refreshing sweet tea. This is a perfect stop for a quick, tasty meal that’s guaranteed to please you.


Restaurant, American, $$$
Rob-A-Que has a restaurant where you can come to get a tasty meal to eat there or at home, but they also offer so much more, from catering and ready-to-heat dishes to their Q-School, so that everyone can learn to smoke and grill meat like a master. Their menu is simple yet flexible – whichever meat you choose to get, you can get it in sandwich form, by the pound, or in a Q-pack, or a complete meal with all the decisions made for you. Besides all the usual meaty suspects, don’t miss their smoked salmon and cheesy hash browns. Make sure to have your dessert stomach prepared for a true southern classic, banana pudding.


You’ll feel like you’re walking into a fire station when you walk into FDKY – which is exactly what the owners of this feisty barbecue joint want. They’ve got their own particular flavor, which comes from their three unique sauces that you’ll find on every table – KY Sweet (sweet, tomato-based), KY Rain (tangy, vinegar-based), and Chicago Fire (spicy). They’re especially well known for their award-winning pulled pork and their spicy sausages, which are really not for the faint of heart. Another very popular option is their weekly Fryday Fish, but come early – the fish won’t last forever.

FDKY, 9606 Taylorsville Rd, Louisville, KY, USA, +1 502 785 4273

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