The best and most authentic spots are always off the beaten path, and have a loyal following of customers that would wait in line for hours, sing their praises to the heavens… And probably not tell too many people, because they don’t want their sweet, sweet Q to run out before they get there.
These are the low-key spots where you can find reliably good smoked grub in and around the capital city.
1114 E Main St.
Custom smokers, the usual BBQ suspects, and the curiously tantalizing turkey ribs make up the backdrop for the finest customer service in the city.
3545 Cleveland Ave.
Run by a few former Buckeye football players and their pals, this spot is nestled back in an unassuming strip mall, but their food will leave you with a full belly and a smile on your sauce-covered face. Try the Polish girl, it’s a little bit of everything.
The Huntsman’s Smokehouse
8333 Market Exchange Dr., Westerville
Dine-in, take-out, or catering are all covered on this menu. Treat your party guests to a smoked meat nacho bar, or any of their savory entrees.
Pulled pork and chicken, plus a mean brisket, is a mouth-watering trio in itself. But add on their selection of delicious sides, and the fact that they cater, and you’ll want to put Smokeout on speed dial.
1580 Joyce Ave.
Nondescript storefront. Simple menu. Ribs smothered in sauce. But not in a bad way. These are all the makings of a hidden BBQ gem.
6091 Cleveland Ave.
It’s all about sauce and service at this outta-the-way spot. Grab the “dino bone” and start chomping.
2000 Norton Rd.
You don’t have to wait for the Ohio State Fair tocome back around for you to enjoy J.P.’s barbecue, but you will have to make a trip to the Bolton Field Airport. Why wouldn’t you? Once the weather warms, you can have putt-putt and horseshoes as sides.
5978 E Livingston Ave.
Shak Attack! Sink your teeth into their rich, BBQ pulled pork or pick apart their pulled pork nachos.
60 N Columbus St., Sunbury
If you’re gonna trek all the way to Delaware County, we suggest bringing back meat by the pound. The boys at Oak Hill say a pound feeds three people—but we won’t make you share.
H. Johnson’s Restaurant and Dairy
1119 Lockbourne Rd.
An original classic. If you haven’t been to H. Johnson’s and smelled the history in their old wood-paneled walls, you are disqualified from weighing in on Columbus barbecue. Time to update your credentials, in that case.