Davis Love III Names America's Greatest Barbecue Joints

Thursday June 4th, 2015
Davis Love III outside of Southern Soul Barbeque in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Courtesy of Southern Soul Barbeque

Low and slow. It works on backswings. And on briskets. So says barbecue aficionado and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, who takes time out at Tour stops to sniff out top smokehouses. Here are seven of his go-to spots for slow-cooked meat.

Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ, Fort Worth, Tex.

A tip from a member in the locker room of a Fort Worth country club led Love to this out-of-the-way find, in a wood-sided building with a dirt parking lot and spare ribs that are more than worth the drive. “You go to some places, and you can tell that the ribs have been sitting around and they’ve just warmed them up,” Love says. “But the ribs here are unbelievable. They take such pride in them, everyone they serve could be in a competition.”

Build up an appetite at: Cowboys Golf Club, Grapevine (32 miles away)

Hard Eight BBQ, Stephenville, Tex.

A rodeo cowboy buddy alerted Love to this rustic redoubt, where hulking cuts of meat slow-cook in big open pits. “It’s one of those places where they chop up your meat and weigh it on a plate,” Love says. Which you then weigh down further with corn-on-the-cob, baked potatoes and other hearty sides.

Build up an appetite at: SugarTree Golf & Country Club, Lipan (46 miles)

Rendezvous, Memphis, Tenn.

A place so famous, you wonder if it could really live up to its billing. It does, Love says. “It’s just classic. It’s in a basement, down an alley, and you go in there, and you’re lucky you get Percy, an old waiter who’s been there forever.” You also get the lamb ribs. “They’re pretty much perfection,” Love says. “Best I’ve ever had.”

Build up an appetite at: Mirimichi, Millington (18 miles)

Southern Soul, St. Simons Island, Ga.

Long before Guy Fieri featured it on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, this was Love’s beloved hometown barbecue haunt. Ribs, brisket and sausage? Absolutely. But the guys in charge aren’t afraid of branching out. Pastrami,xgd prime rib also get slow-cooked here. “I’ve even had quail,” Love says. “They put all kinds of stuff in their smoker, and they kill it with everything they do.”

Build up an appetite at: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach (80 miles)

Home Team BBQ, Charleston, S.C.

Purists insist that the best barbecue doesn’t need sauce. “I’ll go with that,” Love says. “If I’m having spare ribs at Billy’s Oaks or lamb ribs at Rendezvous, I don’t need sauce. But if you’re having chicken or pulled pork, a good sauce goes a long way.” And it’s hard to do much better than the crew at Home Team. “They’ll go with everything from a down-home Alabama white sauce with their chicken to a fancy peach vinegar sauce for their pork.”

Build up an appetite at: The Ocean Course at Kiawah, Kiawah Island (21 miles)

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, Atlanta, Ga.

How serious is Love about ’cue? He has his own competitive crew, the DL3 BBQ Team, which recently lost a cook-off to the boys from Fox Bros. “It was a beef rib contest,” Love says. “But they were also doing a pork belly tostada. I’m telling you, you put smoked pork belly fat on a cracker, that’s almost cheating it’s so good.” But no hard feelings. Especially not when he’s in Atlanta. “They get pretty inventive without getting too chef-y,” Love says. “You’re getting the real deal.”

Build up an appetite at: Bear’s Best, Suwanee (35 miles)

Dinosaur Bar-b-Que, Rochester, N.Y.

Believe it or not, good ‘cue isn’t restricted to the South. “When we play Oak Hill, I’ll make the detour here,” Love says of Dinosaur, which has nine locations around the northeast and Chicago. Ribs, brisket, pork shoulder. You name it. “They do all of the classics well.”

Build up an appetite at: Greystone Golf Club, Walworth (17 miles)

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