Pulled pork sandwich at Eli's BBQ (Photo: Erin Woiteshek)
Pulled pork sandwich at Eli's BBQ (Photo: Erin Woiteshek)

There's nothing quite like the smell of firing up the grill or smoker. And there's nothing better than feasting on some smoky meat that someone else cooked. We have a serious love affair with barbecue around here, so it's lucky for us that we have so many great choices of places to get it right here in the Cincinnati region. My family would eat barbecue every single day if I let them.

Craving the meat? Check out these fantastic places to grab a bite – because who doesn't love food that you can order by the "slab"?

Eli's BBQ

Hot dog and mac'n'cheese at Eli's BBQ (photo: Erin Woiteshek)
Hot dog and mac'n'cheese at Eli's BBQ (photo: Erin Woiteshek)

I've never been to Eli's BBQ when there hasn't been a line. But it moves quite quickly and it's SO worth the wait. The meat is smoked to perfection and the jalepeño cheese grits and jalepeño corn bread are out of this world. The mac-n-cheese is creamy and my kids say it's the best they've ever had. (And kids are pretty much mac-n-cheese connoisseurs.) The hot dogs are topped with barbecue sauce, cole slaw and fried barbecue! This is the perfect place to take the whole family.

Eli's BBQ is located at 3313 Riverside Drive in Cincinnati and at Findlay Market, 1801 Race Street in Cincinnati.

City Barbeque

Finger lickin' good BBQ at City Barbeque (photo: Erin Woiteshek)
Finger lickin' good BBQ at City Barbeque (photo: Erin Woiteshek)

I first tried City Barbeque at an event at the Cincinnati Zoo, and I was hooked. I am super lucky to have one right up the street from my house. They are "All Smoke - No Mirrors"! The bark and the smoke ring make it obvious that you are getting something good. The brisket is so, so good, and on Tuesdays enjoy "Rib Bone Tuesday" for $1.35 per bone. And they have fried pickles. Enough said.  

City Barbeque has a few local locations in Blue Ash, Eastgate, West Chester, Florence and Highland Heights.

Montgomery Inn

Wear the bib at Montgomery Inn (photo: Erin Woiteshek)
Wear the bib at Montgomery Inn (photo: Erin Woiteshek)

You can't talk barbecue in Cincy without talking Montgomery Inn, The Ribs King. They have been at it since 1951, so they know a thing or two about ribs. My in-laws request to go here everytime they're in town. I love the sauce. My kids love the chips. Everyone loves the ribs. Messy, tender, saucy and delicious. Wear the bib.  

Montgomery Inn has two locations: the original in Montgomery and the Boathouse on the riverfront in downtown Cincinnati.

Alabama Que

You've gotta try the turkey tips at Alabama Que, they're my fave. So juicy and flavorful. They use a signature dry rub and signature barbecue sauce. The gold sauce is mustard-based so it has a lovely vinegar tang that I just can't get enough of. My husband swears the cole slaw and the potato salad are the best. A day doesn't go by in winter or in summer that I don't drink iced tea, and Alabama Que has delicious specialty iced teas that use fresh fruit and loose tea leaves.

Alabama Que is located at 2733 Vine Street in Cincinnati.

Velvet Smoke

Going to award-winning Velvet Smoke for some smoky barbecue is a perfect day in my book. The barbecue is Kansas City-style, and it is delicious. You must try the burnt ends. Oh, and the brisket. Yeah, it's all amazing, but I could eat those burnt ends all.day.long. And my kids LOVE the baked beans and the mac-n-cheese.

Velvet Smoke is located at 10515 New Haven Road, Harrison, OH; with a take-out location (limited seating) at 5626 Cheviot Road, Cincinnati, OH.

Walt's Hitching Post

Walt's Hitching Post is a Northern Kentucky institution. It's been there my whole life. (Actually since 1942!) It closed for a little while, but it's back, baby! You have to come over the bridge to the Bluegrass State to get some of this fantastic smoked meat because there's only one location. I love the ribs and the chicken. It's too hard to choose – get both. The secret sauce is ridiculous, and on Mondays you can get a slab of ribs, homefries and a salad for 15 bucks. My dad always gets a steak and a bourbon, if that's more your style.

Walt's Hitching Post is located at 3300 Madison Pike in Fort Wright, Kentucky. 

Hot dog at Eli's BBQ (photo: Erin Woiteshek)
Hot dog at Eli's BBQ (photo: Erin Woiteshek)