Writing about barbecue is like writing about politics — no matter your position, a lot of people are going to hate you. The word "best" is subjective, but to barbecue aficionados, it is indisputable that their favorite haunts are the unrivaled kings of all things smoked, marinated, and rubbed. Regional tastes also play a role. The term "hole-in-the-wall" is, of course, also open to interpretation. This article attempts to capture the overlap between the barbecue joints that are undeniable contenders for best in their city or state with rave reviews from locals, but that serve their masterpieces in an atmosphere that is neither pretentious nor haughty — "hole-in-the-wall" is a compliment, not an insult.

Note: While many restaurants may be closed to dine-in customers due to COVID-19 restrictions, all of the restaurants on this list are at least offering delivery, takeout, or outdoor seating. Be sure to call ahead to confirm.