Aimee O'Keefe

13 Best American BBQ Restaurants in Melbourne | Man of Many

Our list of the best American BBQ Restaurants in Melbourne goes like this.

Best American BBQ in Melbourne at a Glance

And on the sixth day, the meat gods declared “let there be smoke”, and barbecue was born. And it was good. Or something like that. The folks at Up In Smoke are devout worshippers at the altar of smoke and fire, producing some of the finest barbecued meats in Melbourne.

1. Up in Smoke

The first thing to know about Houston’s Barbecue is that it gets busy. Like sold-out busy. The meats are outstanding, with brisket and pulled pork being the standouts on our visit. If you’re heading there with a friend grab the meat platter for two and sample the best from the smoker. Another note, the benches you see in the photo above are about all the seating you’ll find at the venue, with no indoor seating available.

2. Houston’s Barbecue

While the menu draws inspiration from all over the American South, the Cajun and Creole flavours native to New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf Coast define the barbecue experience at Le Bon Ton. The pit-smoked meats are treated to the low and slow experience for a full twelve hours, and the extensive bar features a range of exotic absinthes. If you’re having trouble choosing from the extensive a-la-carte menu, we recommend the Southern Pride share plate – it is sure to satisfy all BBQ lovers.

3. Le Bon Ton

Any smokehouse classifying itself as a ‘meat project’ with popular dishes including salted caramel short ribs and hot meat doughnuts has our attention. Dexter is a favourite among Melbourne BBQ lovers; it’s been featured in Timeout’s best cheap eats, praised as one of the city’s most exciting and one of the nation’s best venues, and the burgers have been listed among the top three in Melbourne. Can we just come back to hot meat doughnuts for a minute, though? No idea what they are, but you’re damn right we want one.

4. Dexter

If it’s a barbecue-for-breakfast kinda day, Third Wave Café is the place to be. We love its signature dish Green Eggs, which combines scrambled eggs and slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and is one heck of a way to kick off your day. Third Wave Cafe is open all day, every day, but you’ll want to stick around for supper to get the full American Barbecue experience. Rumour has it the fall-off-the-bone tender pork ribs, served with two different kinds of BBQ sauce, are the best in town.

5. Third Wave Cafe

A Texan barbecue expedition convinced Chris Terlikar, head chef and owner of Bluebonnet Barbecue, that some things are just too good to be left in the Lone Star State. Now, Melburnians flock to this Brunswick East restaurant and gather under the vaulted ceiling and distressed-brick walls of the dining room, or around the bar constructed from reclaimed railroad sleepers, for a taste of iconic southern smokehouse staples.

6. Bluebonnet

Drawing inspiration from both North and South America, Bluestone American BBQ is a truly international culinary experience. Leaning on the traditions of the US barbecue belt, the Uruguayan heritage of the head chef, and the distinct influences of Australia’s trendiest city, this Melbourne smokehouse will not disappoint.

7. Bluestone American BBQ

You may know it as one of Melbourne’s most recognisable craft beer brewers, but you’d be remiss to think Bad Shepherd Brewing Co.’s bag of tricks ended there. The flagship brewpub in Cheltenham offers some of the best BBQ in Melbourne, with the same dedication that goes into its award-winning beer shining through loud and clear in the signature dishes. If being led into temptation ends at a table with a plate piled with barbecue next to an ice-cold IPA, consider us tempted. We love the Vegemite-rubbed Brisket, it truly is something else.

8. Bad Shepherd Brewing Co.

Do you think about what you’re going to eat 22 hours before you eat it? Fancy Hank’s does. That’s how long the folks at this BBQ joint treat their selection of Victorian free-range produce to the low and slow experience in their two-tonne, custom-built smoker. Out in the restaurant, the space is bright, the banter is top-notch, and the bar is stocked with local beer, wine and spirits. What more could you want from one of the best American Smokehouses in Melbourne?

9. Fancy Hank’s Barbecue Restaurant

Whether you’re peckish for beef brisket, pulled pork, or some of the best ribs in the city (heck, you can order the platter and get a little of everything), Meatworks Co has you sorted. The space—a converted mechanic’s shop with a steampunk/canteen vibe—is bright and filled with the aroma of slowly smoking meat and the various glazes and spices with which they’re encrusted. Oh, and just so you know, nothing goes at Meatworks Co without Betsy’s say-so. Betsy is the 450kg, jet black, hand-build beast of a smoker responsible for the barbecue delights upon which you are gorging. Be sure to thank her on the way out.

10. Meatworks Co

When it comes to world-class barbecue, smoke is more than just a means to an end; it’s an integral ingredient. That’s why the folks at Meatmaiden source their Ironbark woodchips all the way from the Blue Mountains of NSW. Their steaks, Wagyu beef from coastal Tasmania, are dry-aged in a custom cabinet for up to 40 days just to make sure when you sink your teeth into a T-Bone it’s the best damn cut of meat you’ve ever eaten. Not a big fan of shortcuts, these fellas. But boy, does it show. We can’t go past the dry-aged duck breast served with smoked leg yakitori and beetroot.

11. Meatmaiden

Inspired by the streets of New York and Kansas City, this Caulfield South hot spot is all about the meat, and not much else. Come down on Fridays for a 14-hour Angus brisket showcase, or come on Sunday when the venue becomes Southern Grace Diner. We can’t go past the Diablo – chopped brisket with jalapeños, toasted peanut chilli salsa, Hot Boy BBQ sauce, sour cream, coriander, pickled and raw onion “slaw” in a potato bun.

12. Southern Grace Diner by Big Boy BBQ

An intimate bar with a big heart and even bigger eats, Fat Nancy’s has a 1.5 metric tonne smoker for all your tendering needs. We love how you can build your own plate here—choose from your meat—brisket, pork shoulder, smoked cheese kransky or smoked chicken wings, and pair with sides of your choice (the mac and cheese goes down more than alright).

13. Fat Nancy’s

With a team of keen foodies, the editors at Man of Many have had the chance to sample the best American BBQ in Melbourne. Where they haven’t had a chance to visit, they’ve turned to food critics and expert reviews in compiling their list. Man of Many’s editors have taken into account, price points, opening times, and food choices, while also making a concerted effort to highlight a few brunch spots outside the CBD. Moreover, we leaned on author Aimee O’Keefe’s own expertise – as a North Melbourne local she knows a thing or two about where to go for top-quality feeds in and around Melbourne.

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If you’re looking for other things to do in and around Melbourne, we’ve got you covered. You can check out our list of fun things to do in Melbourne, or If you’re hungry for something other than BBQ, check out our list of the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne or the best steak restaurants in Melbourne. If you’re full, we can also help you with your search for the best live music venues in Melbourne.

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