America’s best BBQ?

Could it be Lonnie Ray's BBQ, in Harrisburg, Missouri?  That's about half an hour outside of Columbia, Missori.  I ate there yesterday and I am still staggered by the encounter.  It is one of the two or three best barbecue experiences of my life and possibly #1.  It doesn't seem to be written up by any of the standard sources (here is one good web review).

The proprietor, Mike, is also a true scientist and scholar and gentleman.  He studied with Mike Mills and he will engage you at length on how to render fresh lard, why Kansas City barbecue has declined, and the importance of the wood source.  He has studied — and I do mean studied — Texan, Kansas City, and even North Carolina styles.  The pulled pork was my favorite dish and I usually don't like pulled pork much at all.  Both the sauces and the atmosphere get an A+ as well.  He is now studying how to cook tamales.  If only everyone in the scientific community had his attitude.

I am serious in my claims for this place.

Here is their Facebook page, you know what to do.

Comments

if you don't usually like pulled pork, why did you like it here? what was different / better?

You should write the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show and ask them to visit.

Wow, provocative words. I want more details on what you had and compare it to other memorable places so we can see your reference points on cue.

I'm sitting here in Columbia, Missouri, and contemplating a drive. Glad you enjoyed Central MO, Tyler.

The next time you're in Hyde Park, take a taxi (or bike) down to Uncle John's BBQ at 69th and Calumet for house-made hot links. The rib tibs are great too - the owner used to be a butcher until he started barbecuing full time a decade+ ago.

ESR had a post about barbeque and variations a while back, interestingly there were very few mentions of Missouri or Kansas City BBQ in 144 comments.

Has Tyler ever offered a credible theory for why it's impossible to get world-class BBQ in any major urban area? These folks who make all this incredible BBQ could be millionaires many, many, many times over if they brought it to New York, LA, Chicago or some other outpost of actual civilization. Even if New York's smoke regulations are too strict or its land prices too high, they could bring it to Morristown, NJ or some such accessible place.

> Columbia's morphing into a nice little foodie town. Here's the best blog on food in the area--

last i heard (15 years ago though) columbia MO had the highest per capita number of fast food restaurants in the US (and by inference the world, and the universe too).

>Has Tyler ever offered a credible theory for why it's impossible to get world-class BBQ in any major urban area?

Good BBQ requires smoke; lots of wet, heavy smoke. You just can't get away with it in the city.

I'll tell you one exception: Brother in Law's BBQ on Divisadero in San Francisco. Get the brisket with macaroni salad and cornbread.

@pftompkins is looking for good bbq reqs on twitter. he travels a lot, so be sure to tell him about every place you know of.

I've been to Lonnie Ray's myself, and I prefer Oklahoma Joe's BBQ in Kansas City. Try the Z-Man if you ever go there.
Lonnie Ray's is 3rd or 4th in my book, but I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

A second for Leatha's. We make sure to stop there every time we're in Hattiesburg (and before that when it was in Foxworth, MS).

I will testify to mustard based pork bbq in lowcountry South Carolina, a taste I grew up with and love to this day. But today I sing the praises of The Shed, a ramshackle pit a few miles north of the Gulf outside Vancleave, Mississippi. They were famous long before The Food Network visited...twice...based on their showing in competition in Memphis and Kansas City, and the sweet barbecue fall off the bone quality of the pigs and chickens piled high and local blues (unless it's raining) every night. Exit 57 off interstate 10, head north a quarter mile to the campground.

"last i heard (15 years ago though) columbia MO had the highest per capita number of fast food restaurants in the US (and by inference the world, and the universe too)."

that was 15 years ago. You could actually come here and see/taste for yourself.

Wow, I had to do a double take to make sure I read "Harrisburg, MO" correctly. My sister-in-law teaches first grade there. It's such a tiny, tiny little town, and in pretty rough shape economically, too. But I can't wait to visit her again and try this place.

Tyler, were you giving a talk at Mizzou?

Tyler, I'm going to have to defer to Cham on this one. Granted, I've never stepped foot in Missouri, but if you were able to spend some free time in Raleigh earlier this month?

Chan's comment was spot on. My roommate and I are completing the NC BBQ society tour through the state, one at a time. Allen and Sons in Chapel Hill still wins.

Scoop wrote >>Has Tyler ever offered a credible theory for why it's impossible to get world-class BBQ in any major urban area?>>

Hmmm ... apparently, Kansas City and Memphis have been demoted.

Scott's BBQ in Lexington, TN is the best BBQ in the world.

Yikes, BBQ is like religion. There are several major religions each with it's own panoply of denominations, sects, and heresies. To get really great BBQ you have to be in Memphis. http://www.neelysbbq.com/

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