… what’s barbeque?

Smoked meat. Literally, that’s it. We spell it “barbeque,” but you can spell it “barbecue,” “bar-b-q,” “BBQ,” whatever—as long as it’s smoked for a long time at a low temperature over indirect heat, it counts. Every City Barbeque joint smokes its award-winning barbeque in on-site smokers stocked with local hickory wood.

What style of barbeque do you serve?

Ours. We started City Barbeque with a roster of tested, award-winning competition recipes, but we’re continually tweaking and re-testing to make sure the BBQ we serve is the straight-up best barbeque around. Even if our ‘que reminds you of the best brisket you had in Texas, or incredible pulled pork from the Carolinas: other than “the best BBQ,” we don’t limit ourselves to any particular region or style.

Is everything really smoked on site?

You betcha! Every City Barbeque joint has three smokers on site. We feed them local hickory wood and never turn them off: they’re working 24 hours to smoke all our award-winning barbeque. And don’t forget our scratch-made sides and desserts! Our teams in every joint whip them all up fresh every day, too.

Why are you sold out of [this delicious thing I wanted to order]?

Short answer? It takes up to 18 hours to smoke our barbeque, so we had to decide yesterday how much we needed to throw on the smokers for today. We do our best to smoke the right amount, and we get it right most of the time, but we can’t always know who all’s gonna come in the next day, or what they’ll order. And since everything is made fresh (sides and desserts, too, not just the smoked stuff), depending on what we sell out of, it can take us up to 18 hours to make more.

Long answer? The best barbeque joints—the ones that sell the most authentic BBQ—are the ones that sell out. Trust us, we wish we never sold out, but we also know that serving the best barbeque means we’ve gotta do things the right way: no shortcuts, no leftovers, no microwaves. So if there’s a full moon and everyone decides to order brisket, we may sell out. If it’s Rib Bone Tuesday and a high school reunion rolls in, we may sell out, even though we’re slinging bones as fast as we can smoke them. When food is truly made on site, from scratch, it takes a long time, and since we won’t serve you anything less than our best, we can’t really speed up that process at all. We always anticipate demand as best as we can, but if we’re sold out of what you wanted, we hope you’ll understand the care that goes into it (and come back and get it next time)! In the meantime, ask us for a sample: we’d love to help you find your new favorite menu item.

Well then what happens when you don’t sell out?

Each of our joints has one freezer: its sole purpose is to store any surplus food at the end of the day. Every week, volunteers come to collect all that leftover ‘que (which freezes really well) and deliver it to folks in need in our communities. Learn more about our Food Rescue program here.

What’s the deal with your ribs?

We serve St. Louis–cut pork ribs. You may hear us refer to them as “bite off the bone,” rather than “fall off the bone.” Fact of the matter is, barbeque competition standards say you should be able to bite a rib, pull away the meat with your teeth with a gentle lil’ tug, and see a bite mark from where you took that bite. (Hard to visualize? Honestly, the easiest way to picture it is to go to City Barbeque, buy a slab, and test it for yourself). If ribs are falling off the bone, they’re overcooked.

What on your menu is gluten-free?

All our meats are gluten-free: just be sure to order them without the bun or Texas toast. Gluten-free sides include our baked beans with brisket, green beans with bacon, collard greens with pork, famous potato salad, and sweet vinegar slaw. That said, our kitchen is not a gluten-free environment, and it's always possible that cross-contamination may occur. If you have a severe allergy to gluten, please let us know: we'll change gloves and take every precaution in our shared kitchen to reduce the risk of cross-contamination as much as possible.

Is your barbeque served with sauce on it?

Barbeque is personal and folks have feelings about sauce, so our beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, and smoked sausage are served without it. Sauce things up at our sauce station or leave your BBQ bare, it’s up to you! Our pulled chicken is served with a white ‘Bama barbeque sauce mixed in; our smoked chicken and St. Louis–cut ribs are both brushed with a touch of our Original sauce.

I heard you can cater fancy weddings! Is that true?

You heard right: we cater thousands of weddings each year. Some are casual backyard receptions, but we are perfect for big fancy formal weddings, too—passed apps and all! We can be as low-key or as buttoned-up as you need, and we promise we’ll bring our best barbeque and our friendliest folks for your big day.

Y’all ain’t from around here, are ya?

Sure we are! The folks cleaning collards, slicing brisket, and opening the front door for your kids all live down the block, or went to your high school, or see your same dentist. City Barbeque was born in Ohio, yeah, but our teammates are your friends and neighbors (and the charities we support are all in your community, too).

Do you franchise?

We don’t franchise, but we are always looking for folks passionate about serving competition-quality ‘que!

When are you building a City Barbeque near me?

That’s the thing about taking care of our teammates: we don’t grow just to grow, but rather grow to provide opportunities for our teammates to grow and advance. So to answer your question, we have no idea. But if you’re hurting for a City Barbeque joint near you, we definitely want to know: drop us a line at info@citybbq.com and let us know where we should start smoking next!

My meat is pink! Is it undercooked?

Not at all: every meat we serve is fully cooked. That pink color is called a “smoke ring,” and it’s an indicator of how slowly a piece of meat is cooked in a smoker (technically the pink comes from a reaction between the myoglobin in the meat and the nitrogen dioxide in the smoke). Long story short, that smoke ring is a good sign that the barbeque you’re about to enjoy was cooked low and slow.

My chicken is pink! Is it undercooked?

No way. Trust us, we smoke those chickens for a looooooong time—that pink color is actually an indicator of how slowly they cook in our smokers. Just like a smoke ring in a brisket, pork shoulder, or turkey breast, that pink color comes from a reaction between the myoglobin in the meat and the nitrogen dioxide in the smoke. And, just like all the smoked meats we serve, our chickens are fully cooked, well done, and super tender.

My meat looks burnt! Is it overcooked?

Nope: it might look burnt, but to a lot of folks, bark is actually the best part of BBQ. It’s an incredible, mouthwatering crust that forms when spice rub and hickory smoke hang out on a piece of meat, under low heat, for a long period of time. If you smoke at too low a temperature, you won’t get any bark; smoke too high and you’ll char any chance you had of forming one. It takes patience, the perfect temperature, and—let’s be real—a killer rub recipe to achieve that perfect, chewy crust.