The Best American Barbeque in Melbourne

Updated 3 weeks ago


In the States there’s really no such thing as “American” barbeque – only Texan, Alabaman, Virginian and so on. Each state has its own tastes and traditions. And in many cases, there are several regional styles within a single state.

This is hard to tell from Melbourne where barbeque (or “barbecue” if you want to be really authentic) often mishmashes different styles. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the meat is good quality and it’s cooked low and slow in a proper smoker. We’re doing well on both fronts. If you’re after charred, succulent and profoundly flavoursome meat – these are the best places to go in Melbourne. Don’t forget your favourite hot sauce, and a side of mac’n’cheese, potato salad or slaw.

  • Owner Chris Terlikar learned his craft in Austin, Texas. Naturally, he smokes a mean salt-and-pepper brisket. But Bluebonnet's real strength is that Terlikar was a talented chef before barbeque. Everything he creates is gold, from gooey miso-glazed brussel sprouts to smoked potato mash with brisket gravy.

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  • Tucked away in an industrial estate, this Texas-style joint is one of Melbourne's best-kept barbeque secrets. Recipes from a third-gen Texan pitmaster power the offering, which includes smoked specialties such as beef brisket and short rib backed up by classic sides.

  • Open midday to midnight, this intimate bar has a surprisingly large beer garden. Walk through to find a 1.5 metric tonne smoker slowly tenderising beef brisket, pork shoulder, chicken wings and German-style smoked cheese kransky.

  • Inspired by a road trip across the US, head honcho Lance Rosen returned several times to New York and Kansas City in order to be trained by the best in the barbeque business. Visit his down-home diner on Fridays for a 14-hour Angus brisket showcase, or come Sunday when the venue becomes Southern Grace Diner, where meat-and-three reigns supreme.

  • Apart from the cooking style – low and slow – there's little here that's authentically American. And actually, that's what makes Dexter such an interesting spot. Borrowdale pork ribs are cooked over three days then glazed with caramel, and there's the famous meat doughnuts, an unholy pairing of sweet and savoury.

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  • Fancy Hank's got smoking in 2012, when decent barbeque was still rare in Melbourne. Back then it was a mobile catering operation. It still does that on request, but for the full experience it's best to visit the HQ, where Texan-style brisket, baby-back ribs with plum glaze and smoked chicken are all pulled from Puffing Billie, a two-and-a-half-tonne offset smoker.

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  • Chef Shayne McCallum and his team take influences from various places, but there's a definite Texan and Tex-Mex slant to the menu here. Alongside the classic brisket, you'll find pork-jalapeno-cheddar sausages; grilled corn with habanero mayo; and pulled-pork nachos. All the meats are prepared in a beastly $20,000 smoker imported from the States.

  • This dim basement is a cross between a barbeque joint and steakhouse. From the former genre, there's 20-hour Rangers Valley brisket and saltbush lamb shoulder with confit garlic and tomato braise, both smoked over ironbark. From the latter, steaks from O'Connor Beef and Rangers Valley dry-aged in-house. Meatmaiden lives up to its name.

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  • The menu at this New Orleans-inspired bar is driven by its Southern-style smoker out in the courtyard. All meats are pit-smoked over iron bark and fruit woods for up to 12 hours, and you can expect everything from pull-apart beef brisket to pork shoulder and burnt ends.

  • Apart from the fresh beer, Carolina pulled pork and 18-hour Texan brisket are two big draws at this converted warehouse. Still, don't look past the vegan meals – barbequed jackfruit sanga, Beyond Beef cheeseburger and loaded nachos.

  • Al Malel had two barbeque educations: his Uruguayan grandfather's lessons on the asado, and watching American-style Youtube tutorials. Thus, at Bluestone, Black Angus brisket is flavoured with shallots, but short rib is served with the herby South American sauce, chimichurri. Also on offer: Cuban pulled pork.

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  • This American barbeque joint goes through a whopping 200 kilos of brisket a week. There’s also a killer range of burgers, fried chicken and even some star vegan picks, all accompanied by local beers.