The 15 Best Detroit BBQs You Must Visit

C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill | Courtesy of C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill
C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill | Courtesy of C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill
Photo of Tim Marklew
1 May 2018

Detroit is bursting with delicious barbecue restaurants. At both long-standing and exciting new places, you can find melt-in-the-mouth meats, smoky homemade sauces and classic soul food sides. We’ve compiled our top 15 bbq restaurants, bars, shacks and food trucks across Metro Detroit. Sure, everyone has their favorite joint, but variety is the spice of life, so why not try them all?

Slows Bar BQ

Restaurant, $$$
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Slows Bar BQ | © Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr
Slows Bar BQ | © Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr

Since opening in Corktown in 2005, Slows has become a barbecue sensation, attracting visitors from all over the city and much further afield, and garnering much praise in the process. It now has four locations for you to sample its famous eats, including the Yardbird sandwich, which finished in the top three on Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America.

Red Smoke Barbecue

Restaurant, $$$
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Red Smoke in Greektown is one of the best options for barbecue near to Downtown, and as the name suggests it specializes in a wide variety of dry rubbed meats slow smoked over hickory and applewood. Five signature sauces, including Michigan cherry molasses and roasted poblano, are ready to take the flavor to the next level. It also offers a full range of Michigan draft beers

Victory Smokehouse

Restaurant, $$$
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Behind Warren’s Victory Inn Bar & Grill, the Victory Smokehouse produces authentic American barbecue inside an old shipping container. Using a simple and classic method of smoking, it serves up meats including brisket, turkey breast, burnt ends and baby back ribs in three portion sizes, alongside sandwiches and sides. Don’t let the humble digs fool you, the Victory is a Detroit gem.

C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill

Restaurant, $$$
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C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill | Courtesy of C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill
C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill | Courtesy of C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill

Northeast of the city, the C.A.Y.A. (Come As You Are) Smokehouse Grill has a farm-to-table approach to barbecue, acquiring all its meat and produce from local farms. From the smoker, you can get baby back ribs, smoked Polish sausage and beef brisket, alongside the more unusual pulled squash. Chef Jeff Rose has worked a number of popular restaurants across Detroit.

Uptown BBQ & Soulfood

Restaurant, $$$
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For more than 25 years, Uptown BBQ & Soul Food has been serving up some of the city’s best barbecue. Dinner options include beef and lamb ribs, turkey and chicken wings, pork chops and baked chicken, all of which must be topped off with the famous Uptown BBQ Sauce, which has not changed since they opened in 1989.

Parks Old Style Bar-B-Q

Restaurant, $$$
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Another long-standing Detroit favorite, Parks Old Style Bar-B-Q in New Center has been around since 1964. The simple yet mouthwatering menu includes slabs of ribs, half chickens and pulled pork with a choice of sauces. You can choose from meat and bread only options, or get the full dinner which comes with two additional sides.

Bad Brads BBQ

Restaurant, $$$
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Bad Brads BBQ | Courtesy of Bad Brads BBQ
Bad Brads BBQ | Courtesy of Bad Brads BBQ

Bad Brads BBQ has developed into a Metro Detroit mini chain, with four locations to the north and northwest of the city. Though each location has a unique menu, they all concentrate on St. Louis-style ribs, BBQ chicken and platters of pulled pork, sausage, smoked turkey and beef brisket. You can even try their smoked meats on pizza.

Vicki's Foods, Inc.

Restaurant, $$$
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Vicki’s is a takeout institution on Detroit’s west side, offering a small menu of on-point barbecue, with recipes that have been developed for over 50 years across two generations of the Butler family. You can choose from ribs, chicken or French fried shrimp, and sides include coleslaw and fries. And don’t forget to grab some of their homemade barbecue sauce, a vinegar-based, St. Louis-style variant.

Bert's Market Place

Restaurant, $$$
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Located in Eastern Market, Bert’s Market Place is not only a barbecue restaurant but also a great venue for live jazz and blues. The menu includes ribs from the smoker, jumbo turkey wings and BBQ chicken, all served with classic soul food sides such as mac and cheese, candied yams and collard greens. The kitchen is always open late and live music takes place every night.

Woodpile BBQ Shack

Restaurant, $$$
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A Three Meat Combo | Courtesy of Woodpile BBQ Shack
A Three Meat Combo | Courtesy of Woodpile BBQ Shack

Smoked fresh every day, the meat at the Woodpile BBQ Shack is piled high on sandwiches such as the Brisket Reuben and the Woodpile (pulled pork, brisket, sliced sausage and bacon!) and in half pound servings. Other favorites include smoked jalapeno cheddar sausage and burnt ends, and wonderful local ice cream from the Treat Dreams Microcreamery in Ferndale.

Nunn's Bar-B-Que II

Restaurant, $$$
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With a barbecue legacy dating back to 1984, the secret to the famous “down-home” ribs at Nunn’s Bar-B-Que II is cooking them on a 10ft charcoal grill before adding them to the smoker. Other specialties include turkey ribs, rotisserie chicken, pigs feet, fish and jumbo shrimp, alongside great soul food sides and desserts.

RE BBQ

Food Truck, $$$
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Blink and you’ll miss this Ferndale food truck, which is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons. But, as they say, good food is worth the wait. Expect to find some of the best brisket, ribs, kielbasa, and pulled pork sandwiches in the area, alongside a weekly special that combines barbecue with exotic world cuisines.

Zeke's Rock 'n' Roll BBQ

Bar, Restaurant, $$$
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A Zeke's platter | Courtesy of Zeke's Rock 'n' Roll BBQ
A Zeke's platter | Courtesy of Zeke's Rock 'n' Roll BBQ

For fans of barbecue and rock ‘n’ roll, Zeke’s is the place. It has a bustling atmosphere, with regular live music and an exciting menu featuring such original creations as BBQ poutine, BBQ fried rice and BBQ pasta, as well as sandwiches inspired by Detroit legends including MC5 (Kick Out the Hams) and Iggy Pop (Raw Power).