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BBQ Bucket List: Let's Get Fired Up!

Barbecue is like football: Some folks are born into a regional fandom they identify with and worship their whole lives. And then there are the onlookers who say, “Calm down, it’s just meat.” So, let’s get one thing straight: When it comes to barbecue, it’s never just meat. Whatever (and wherever…Kansas City, Hawaii, North Carolina, Memphis, South Texas, Central Texas, East Texas, West Texas, etc.!) your style may be, we can all agree that barbecue is delicious…and fundamental.

In that spirit, we prepared a bucket list of the best barbecue in town. Pour yourself a glass of something cold, grab a big stack of napkins, and get ready to taste a carnivore’s rainbow of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and more, along with some seriously scrumptious sides. It’s time to get your grub on. Finger licking encouraged!

J Wild’s Livery brings Texas-style barbecue to Historic Folsom with prime brisket from Creekstone Farms, half chickens, succulent ribs, and a whole mess more. The brisket is moist and juicy and a fan favorite for good reason. Get in early to get your fill! And don’t sleep on their sides; offerings like cowboy cornbread, charro beans, and slaw guarantee you’ll be too big for your britches by the time you leave! 614 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-353-0140,

J Wild‘s Livery


Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q in El Dorado is a treasured foothills landmark and not just because the historic bar and restaurant serves up delicious barbecue (but it’s a surefire way to win hearts and stomachs). Set yourself down for a tasty half- or full- rack of ribs rubbed with 12 spice and served sauced with Red's own creation. Feel empowered not to share—it's your right to enjoy a tasty mess of ribs all by yourself. And make sure you order their signature cocktail, too: the legendary Gold Cadillac! 6221 Pleasant Valley Road, El Dorado, 530-622-2901,

Poor Red‘s Bar-B-Q


Hog Wild Bar-B-Que specializes in “low and slow” Texas-style barbecue, seasoned, and cherrywood smoked with sauce on the side (of course). The baby back ribs with a sweet rub are a clear winner and while their original sauce is the go-to, you also can’t beat their spicy or chipotle sauces. Oh, and don’t forget to sample their award-winning sides and desserts (all made fresh daily!) like sautéed green beans, macaroni and cheese, ranchero-style pinto beans, and four-berry cobbler. 38 Main Street, Placerville, 530-622-3883,

Hog Wild Bar-B-Que; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Back Forty Texas BBQ (local locations in Shingle Springs and Roseville) gives folks authentic Texas barbecue. Get your Fred Flintstone on and enjoy a half or full slab of their beef ribs: these suckers are BIG, meaty, delicious, and not for the faint of heart. Don’t forget a side of BBQ beans or fried okra and be sure to grab yourself a true Texas treat with an order of banana puddin’ for dessert! 1201 Orlando Avenue, Roseville, 916-726-4040,; 3977 Durock Road, Shingle Springs, 530-676-4040,

Back Forty Texas BBQ; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Quick Dish specializes in authentic Brazilian barbecue (churrasco) and the BBQ plates don’t disappoint. Choose from picanha (Brazilian cut of steak), homemade sausage, tri-tip, salmon, chicken breast, or their latest (and dare we say greatest) offering: costela (Brazilian-style beef ribs that are seasoned with rock salt and cooked low and slow until they melt away from the bone). Whichever plate you pick, it comes with rice, French fries, black beans, and salad. For a meal to (really!) remember, make sure to order one of their refreshing beverages like mint pineapple juice, passion fruit juice, or cashew juice. 322 East Bidwell Street, Folsom, 916-293-9374,

Quick Dish


Smokey Pit Barbeque has been quietly serving up delicious Texas-style ’cue for 10 years. Die-hard fans fight it out over the pulled pork sandwich and the tri-tip sandwich, but we can also confidently say the ribs are not to be ignored, nor can the chopped brisket. Oh, but the smokey chicken! You see the dilemma here. But tying it all together is the sauce—sweetly spicy and so good they sell it by the pint—and the quart! Note to self: BBQ sauce lip balm? Is that a thing? 160 Harrison Avenue, Auburn, 530-889-9080,

Smokey Pit Barbeque; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Buckhorn BBQ + Grill (local locations in Folsom and Rocklin) gives the people what they want: barbecued meats and lots of it! Choose from offerings like char-roasted tri-tip, black pepper baby back ribs, smoky garlic pulled pork, BBQ chicken, and much more; and then team it up with mouthwatering sides like “Jake’s Yummy Beans,” “Granny Apple Slaw,” and everybody’s favorite: cornbread muffins. Hoo-wee! 5430 Crossings Drive, Suite 104, Rocklin, 530-387-5115; 250 Palladio Parkway, Suite 1339, Folsom, 916-496-9649,

Buckhorn BBQ + Grill


LBB Gastropub & Smokehouse is serving up delicious smokehouse barbecue, like St. Louis-style smoked ribs (longer and meatier than a baby back) and their specialty pulled chicken with Alabama white sauce (if you know, you know; and if you don’t know, you deserve to treat yourself to this Southern barbecue secret). What pairs perfectly with any, or all, of the above offerings? A pint (or two) of Loomis Basin Brewing’s delicious IPAs, ales, lagers, or pilsners. What better way to whet your whistle? 3640 Taylor Road, Suite C, Loomis, 916-824-1527,

LBB Gastropub & Smokehouse


Sierra Grill Smokehouse specializes in a fresh approach to traditional Southern-style barbecue and let me just say: They’re not messing around. Come see about their St. Louis ribs, Texas-style brisket, smoky pulled pork, beer can chicken (marinated in their signature beer brine), and smoked turkey breast. If for some reason that leaves you hungry for more, there’s the legendary “Wagon Wheel of Wings,” which involves more than a pound of smoked wings; to which I say, heck yeah! Happy trails to me! 2515 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn, 530-823-7600,

Sierra Grill Smokehouse; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Big Island Hawaiian BBQ serves authentic Hawaiian barbecue with a traditional style that hits you like a tidal wave. Starting with the classic plate lunch, take your choice of kahlua pork, chicken katsu, kalbi short ribs, or loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and brown gravy) and pair it with a couple scoops of rice, a scoop of Hawaiian mac salad, and shredded cabbage. Is that the ocean I hear? Bonus: Spam musubi is on the menu (if you know, you know). If you’ve ever craved the taste of Hawaii, or you’ve never experienced the exciting blend of flavors, stop by for a meal’s worth of vacation! 1016 Riley Street, Suite 5, Folsom, 916-790-8271,

Big Island Hawaiian BBQ


Stubby’s Breakfast & BBQ opened in July 2022 and they’re already gaining local fans with their flair for big breakfasts and talent for meats of the “low and slow” smoked variety. Grab a barbecue plate and load that sucker up with their signature smoked brisket or wrap your laughing gear around the tri-tip sandwich (smoked tri-tip from Longhorn Meat Co. with melted provolone, mushrooms, bell peppers, and white onions). Whatever you favor, make sure you add beer baked beef beans (say that three times fast!). 1020 Northside Drive, Cool, 530-906-0680,

Stubby's Breakfast & BBQ; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


The smoked tri-tip tacos from Roundhouse Deli may just be the Roseville region’s best-kept secret. Thinly sliced, juicy smoked tri-tip on a parmesan-crusted crunchy tortilla? Yes, please. These babies are popular—and only available when their trusty streetside smoker is fired up on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so get there early to get your fill. 604 Church Street, Suite A, Roseville, 916-786-9023,

Roundhouse Deli; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Daddy O’s Smokehouse boasts a third-generation smokemaster, and the ‘cue harkens back to grandfather’s North Texas roots. They pride themselves on scratch-made food and tender slow-smoked barbecue done right. Take your pick of succulent ribs, tender juicy brisket, smoky pulled pork, tri-tip, hot links, or chicken; and be sure to pair some of that with a mess of the best darn collard greens you’ve ever tasted, tangy slaw, or candied yams, because you absolutely must. Don’t miss their happy hour either, featuring $10 lunch plates between 2-3 p.m. But let’s be real: Every hour is happy hour when the barbecue’s this good! 3581 Mather Field Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, 916-821-9020,

Daddy O’s Smokehouse



Hosting a party? Having a wedding? Your guests will be gushing after you serve them barbecue from one of these catering-only companies. 

T-Bone’s BBQ & Catering has been honing their craft as a competition pitmaster for over a decade and brings that award-winning talent to events all over the area. From brisket and tri-tip to fall-off-the-bone baby backs, prime rib, and even bone-in ham, they’ll feed you right. Plus, there’s killer sides like three-cheese bacon macaroni and cheese, pit-smoked BBQ beans, and green beans with three types of smoked sausage. If you don’t call them to cater your next event, we sure will! Roseville, 916-701-8227,

T-Bone’s BBQ & Catering; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Wildwood BBQ is ready to feed all your friends with their endless array of tender smoked barbecued meats: from pulled pork, prime rib, and pork tenderloin, to brisket, tri-tip, ribs, BBQ chicken, and teriyaki smoked chicken. I don’t know about you but that covers my personal food pyramid. Just remember to save room for some sides; you can’t go wrong with headliners like Western-style beans or bacon-wrapped asparagus. They also offer vegetarian and vegan meals; after all, it's not really a party unless everyone can chow down! Folsom, 916-820-6224,

Wildwood BBQ


Cowabunga BBQ specializes in slow-smoked Southern barbecue with competition-grade skills. From succulent smoked brisket, juicy tri-tip, and tender pulled pork, to comforting sides like BBQ beans with bacon, crowd-pleasing macaroni and cheese, and much more, they’ll make your next gathering a tasty event not to be forgotten! Citrus Heights, 916-595-1671,

Cowabunga BBQ ; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Don’t be surprised to see a line of cars surreptitiously following Buckethead BBQ along their routes. It’s popular for good reason. And you should see their trailer: It’s like a shiny RV buffet table of meat. Fans are all about the tender juicy brisket and killer pulled pork. Did we mention the sandwiches are BIG, the pickled onions are pink, the baked beans are tasty, and the Southern slaw is tangy? There’s not much more you can ask for from your barbecue. Roseville, 916-792-0751,

Buckethead BBQ


The Ring of Fire focuses on true Southern barbecue, rubbed and slow smoked, like the brisket that’s smoked for 16 hours, whole chicken (brined for 24 hours and smoked over apple and oak), and tender St. Louis-style ribs that are full of flavor. Sides? Try the baked beans—made with four kinds of beans, bacon, and chuck, and finished on the smoker—and triple-smoked macaroni and cheese. Honestly, why are we still talking? Clearly, they’re coming to your next event. Folsom, 916-223-1667,

Daddy O’s Smokehouse; Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


Locally Made Rubs & Spices

A high-quality, flavorful rub and/or spice blend can be the difference between a good piece of meat and a great one. Here are some local companies we love and encourage you to support.

The Espresso Spice Rub from Allspicery is a Sacramento triple-threat collaboration featuring beans from Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters, spices from Allspicery, and V Miller Meats’ signature blend of spices that will make your next grilling session one to remember. Put it on pork, beef, or even vegetables, and thank us later! 1125 11th Street, Sacramento, 916-389-7828,



Gio’s Rub & Stuff sells both rubs and spices, including their “Sweet Heat” rub that’s kicked up with house-made smoked pepper powder, and the “Flying Dutchman” sweet coffee rub partnered with Rancho Cordova’s Black Sails Coffee. Find them at your favorite farmers’ market (including those in Old Town Auburn, Historic Folsom, and the Roseville Fountains) or online. Citrus Heights, 916-793-7700,

Gio’s Rub & Stuff


O'Callaghan's Spiced Rubs specializes in spicy, flavor-forward rubs. Choose from “The Savory,” a Thai chili and brown sugar blend that kicks up everything from pork to tofu; “The Bold,” featuring roasted coffee with a pinch of Thai chili that’s perfect for your next steak; or “The Spicy,” which delivers zesty flavor on veggies, meats, and more. Order the goods online or purchase them at local places like the California Welcome Center in El Dorado Hills and Kings Meats. El Dorado Hills, 408-915-7019,

O'Callaghan's Spiced Rubs


PawPa Flavor sells an extensive line of seasonings that include “Original Rub,” a no-heat Spanish/Mexican-inspired blend guaranteed to bring the flavor; “Mango Habanero Rub,” which brings a sweet heat; and “Boujee Steakhouse Rub” featuring a bright, peppery, extra-fancy flavor. Available online and locally at Raley’s, Bel Air, and Ace Hardware. Roseville, 916-747-7628,

PawPa Flavor


Grilling Tips

The heart of grilling lies in the technique—it’s what separates the master grillers from the masses. Sure, recipes are important but skills matter most. Thus, here are nine tips for better BBQ. 

• Preheat your grill
Preheat your grill with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes. With all the coals glowing red, or all the gas burners on high, the temperature under the lid should reach 500 degrees. The heat loosens any bits and pieces of food hanging onto the grate, making it easy to brush them off. Preheating your grill also helps prevent food from sticking to the grate and gets the grate hot enough to sear properly.

• Keep your grill clean
When bits of food are stuck to your cooking grate, and the grate is hot, clean it with a stainless-steel brush. This step is not only for cleanliness; it also prevents your food from sticking.

# Keep the grill lid down
Here are four important reasons why your grill lid should be closed as much as possible.
•    It keeps the grates hot enough to sear the food.
•    It speeds up the cooking time and prevents the food from drying out.
•    It traps the smokiness that develops when fat and juices vaporize in the grill.
•    It prevents flare-ups by limiting oxygen.

• Grilling time and temperature
By monitoring your time and grilling temperature you avoid overcooking your food. Use a timer! If you’re grilling in a colder climate or in a higher altitude, the cooking times will be longer. If the wind is blowing hard, it will lower a gas grill's temperature and raise a charcoal grill’s temperature.

• Direct vs. indirect heat grilling
Direct heat (when the fire is directly below the food) is best for relatively small, tender pieces of food that cook in 20 minutes or less. Indirect heat (when the fire is on either side of the food) is best for larger, tougher cuts of meat that require more than 20 minutes of cooking.

• Maintaining grill temperatures
Most grills are designed to give you complete control over the heat inside of the grill. By having consistent, reliable heat source and proper venting, the grill can maintain low or high temperatures effectively. The dampers on the top and bottom of the grill control the airflow inside the grill. The more air flowing into the grill, the hotter the fire will grow and the more frequently you will have to replenish it. To slow the rate of your fuel burning, close the top vent as much as halfway and keep the lid on as much as possible. The bottom vent should be left open whenever you are grilling so you don’t kill your fire.

Under normal circumstances, a typical charcoal briquette fire will lose about 100 degrees of heat over 40-60 minutes. A typical lump charcoal fire will lose heat even faster. Gas grills have individual control knobs so that you can easily regulate the heat, create different grilling zones easily, maintain heat levels as low as 200 degrees to over 550 degrees, and shift from direct to indirect in minutes.

• Tame the flame
Too many flare-ups can burn your food. Keep the lid on as much as possible to limit the amount of oxygen inside the grill, which will help extinguish any flare-ups. If the flames are getting out of control, move the food over indirect heat temporarily, until they die down. Then move the food back.

• Caramelization is key
One of the biggest reasons for the popularity of grilled food is its seared taste. To develop this taste for maximum effect, use the right level of heat and resist the temptation to turn food often. Your patience will allow for caramelization, or browning, creating tons of flavors and aromas. As a rule, turn food only once.

• Lighter fluid: no way!
It's a liquid product that evaporates. Who wants that and its foul chemical fumes under their food? Chimney starters and lighter cubes are much cleaner and much more effective.

Reprinted with permission from Weber


Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill 22", $579 at Country Elegance, 4496 Missouri Flat Road, Placerville, 530-622-9338,

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill 22"


Best BBQ Subscription Boxes

If you—or someone you know—is a big barbecue fan, then a BBQ subscription box is the gift that keeps on giving. From sauces, rubs, and spices, to marinades, meats, and more, the boxes featured here will ensure your next cookout is a sizzling success.

Try out a new-to-you-product and master your BBQ skills with a subscription to Grill Masters Club, whose passionate team of pitmasters curate unique boxes filled with five (or more!) premium sauces, dry rubs, seasonings, marinades, tools, and accessories. Every box also comes with an eight-page booklet featuring original recipes created for the respective month’s culinary theme. $40.99+,

Grill Masters Club


Hungry for restaurant-quality BBQ (ribs, pulled pork, brisket, etc.) from the comfort of your crib? Pig of the Month is for you! Their “BBQ of the Month Club” comes inclusive of fully cooked meat (yes, all you have to do is reheat and eat!) and fun extras, like fluffy rolls, bacon baked beans, secret seasoning mix, BBQ sauce, or smoked sausage. $95+,

Pig of the Month


High-quality, humanely raised meat and seafood that’s precisely portioned and packaged? Enter Butcher Box—a company that literally delivers with curated (or customized) boxes. Whether you’re craving grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, crate-free-raised pork, or wild-caught seafood, you can ’cue with confidence knowing their offerings are convenient, cost-effective, and downright delicious. $146+, 

Butcher Box


Hog Wild Bar-B-Que photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup. J. Wild's photo by Samantha Yuma and Yarcenia Garcia. Poor Red's Bar-B-Q photo courtesy of Poor Red's Bar-B-Q. Quick Dish photo courtesy of Quick Dish. Cowabunga BBQ and Wildwood BBQ photos by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup. Buckethead BBQ photo by Brittany Phillips Photography. Sierra Grill Smokehouse photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup. Big Island Hawaiian BBQ photos by Quang Nguyen. Stubby's Breakfast and Roundhouse Deli photos by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup. Intro photo  © New Africa - Weber grill photo courtesy of Weber. Daddy O's Smokehoue photo by Taylor Gillespie ©stylemediagroup.  Other photos courtesy of their respective companies or organizations.

Photos by Taylor Gillespie © and wholly owned by Style Media Group—please don’t steal our copyrighted photos. For more information about our editorial photos, please click here to contact us