May is National Barbecue Month, and to mark the occasion, a food magazine took a stab at ranking the best and worst cities in the US for “enjoying a fantastic BBQ.” Perhaps predictably, chaos ensued.
Chef’s Pencil, based in Sydney, Australia, analyzed customer ratings from Needham-based TripAdvisor of all barbecue joints in America’s largest cities. It also ranked cities by the number of barbecue places per capita, as well as those with the highest number of top-rated barbecue eateries (a rating a 4.5 or higher).
But the results raised some eyebrows among readers, as the top of the list featured several cities not exactly known for their barbecue.
New Orleans and Oklahoma City were ranked as the top two cities, followed by Charlotte, Wichita, and Virginia Beach tied for third. Ranked next were Columbus, Seattle, St. Louis, Miami, and Newark.
Meanwhile, storied bastions of barbecue like Kansas City and Memphis were left completely off the top 10 list. And Texas -- home of the brisket -- was not only shut out of the top 10 list, but also saw four prominent cities placed in the bottom 10: Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Plano.
Chef’s Table seemed to acknowledge the apparent discrepancy in the rankings for Houston and San Antonio, noting: “Both cities are well known for their amazing food culture, which may have something to do with this bad overall rating,” the magazine said.
But many weren’t having it.
“This must be a joke,” said Texas politician Julián Castro, who tweeted a photo of a map from the Chef’s Table article highlighting the “top cities” to which there is no Texas representation.
This must be a joke. pic.twitter.com/5LIzBgznb9— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) May 13, 2021
California Representative Ted Lieu also took issue with the rankings.
“I’m from California where we put Kimchi on our BBQ, and even I know this map is wrong. Newark? Really?” Lieu tweeted.
Many others took to the platform to lobby for their city, or even denounce their own city’s high ranking.
“No Kansas City?” one user inquired.
“Seattle should not be on this list. Signed, a Seattlite,” another user tweeted.
“Nobody goes to St. Louis for BBQ unless they plan on heading 4 hours west to Kansas City,” one user said.
“I am insulted. There are only three types of BBQ that should ever be construed as real Q. Texas, KC, and North Carolina. All others are pretenders to the throne,” another user tweeted.
The outcry reached the point where TripAdvisor came out to disavow the rankings: “Very important,” the company tweeted with siren emojis. “We did not make those wild BBQ maps.”
🚨Very important🚨 we did not make those wild BBQ maps.— Tripadvisor (@TripAdvisor) May 13, 2021
The analysis has us... concerned. How does Texas go missing?? Worrying.— Tripadvisor (@TripAdvisor) May 13, 2021
Bringing up the rear were Anchorage, Plano, and Boston.
That’s right, Boston.
With an average customer rating of 3.82, Chef’s Pencil said you are more likely to step into an average barbecue restaurant than a great one in Boston, although “the odds are on your side” moreso than in Anchorage or Plano.
Curiously, there was no outcry over Boston’s low ranking. Maybe we’re just more mellow than the rest of the country about these things.
Brittany Bowker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.