Take Your Pick of Southwest Illinois' Best BBQ

A micro-BBQ region is making waves in the world of slathered, smoked meat; St. Louis style barbecue, drenched in heavy, notably sweet sauce, has secured its flavor as an American staple on both sides of the Mississippi- bring your hungry to southwest Illinois for a big taste of Midwest BBQ!

Come Home to BBQ!

Cross the river into Alton and discover Big Boys Q -- the place to go for pulled pork, wings, and golf at The Woodlands Golf Club. Or go to upper Alton to Lovett’s Soul Food for rib-tips, snoots, or a pork steak sandwich. Head south to Wood River and indulge in St. Louis style ribs, brisket, and BBQ tacos at Fire N’ Smoke or stop in Cottage Hills at The Pork Barrel for pork steaks, pulled pork and chicken, or ribs- a tiny but mighty venue that locals swear by.

In Edwardsville, be sure to try Doc’s Smokehouse- voted Best of the Best BBQ in America in 2021 for dishes like pork belly, burnt ends, loaded brisket nachos, and spareribs. Another fantastic pit stop for barbecue in the college city is Sugarfire, known for their award-winning pulled pork and brisket entrees.

Local Favorites

A family favorite, Red Top BBQ of Collinsville specializes in saucy pork steaks, ribs, and snoots and Edley’s Bar-B-Que in Glen Carbon serves mouthwatering burnt ends, brisket tacos, and BBQ chicken.

Going back north, Godfrey is home to two barbecue favorites: Carver’s BBQ and Chic N' Pig. Carver's, a local tradition since 1999, serves pulled pork and chicken, house-smoked ribs, and pork steaks, all slathered in house-made sweet or vinaigrette BBQ sauce. Chic N’ Pig, close to Lewis and Clark Community College, has a BBQ drive-thru- try the Chic N’ Pig loaded salad, pulled pork waffle fry nachos, or the Adobo pork street tacos!

For barbecue on the Mississippi, Hawg Pit BBQ has you covered- try the footlong pulled pork hot dog, house-smoked ribs, or BBQ pork steaks while listening to live music by the water! Driving further into Jersey County, Pig on a Wing brings their own take on BBQ to Jerseyville- visitors can’t get enough of the pulled pork slaw grilled cheese or Pig on a Wing pulled pork nachos!

Here's a Thought ...

Did you know? Barbecue’s origins can be traced to Native American culture and the first immigrants. Used as a form of preservation, niche pockets of early America began experimenting with smoked meat. It’s not known who invented the sweet sauce that compliments BBQ so well- but the French were making something similar using mostly butter, meat drippings, and herbs as early as 1693!

BBQ Burgers?

Looking for a sauced burger? Abella’s in Carlinville smokes brisket and makes BBQ burgers that shine on the menu. Going East, the Shine On BBQ food truck, whose home base is Hillsboro, offers BBQ ribeye, brisket, and pulled pork sandwiches- catch them touring the area or maybe at the Flock Food Truck Park in Alton!

Can’t get enough barbecue? Come to the Smokin’ On Main BBQ Festival in Collinsville this year where top restauranteurs will compete for the best dish, spice shops will show off their newest sauces and rubs, and food stands will be cooking up some of the best BBQ in the Midwest! Find information on these savory restaurants and more on Rivers and Routes’ Eat and Drink page!

About the Author

Kayla Howland

Kayla Howland is a local writer and artist who lives in Alton, IL with her Cairn Terrier, Ripley. She enjoys fiction and non-fiction writing, graphic design, painting, drawing and photography. Kayla is a graduate of Southwestern High School and Lewis & Clark Community College. She has worked doing freelance graphic design, photography and commissioned paintings since 2012.