WV's Best BBQ
From good ol' country cooking to secret sauce, sink your teeth into the finest ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket from some of the state's best barbecue joints.
Hickory House, Jane Lew
The Hickory House is a hike from just about anywhere, but folks come from all around for the irresistible pulled pork barbecue. As their slogan states, “The hickory wood makes it taste good!” And for repeat customers, it’s all about the sweet, secret sauce—so secret, in fact, owner John Butcher refrains from any comment. He simply says, “We like to keep folks guessing.”
With a new portable smoker, the Hickory House will be taking their home-cooked cuisine on the road with appearances at a festival near you—just look for the little log cabin! John credits the majority of their success to his wife, Susan, whose attention to detail ensures each visit to the Hickory House leaves guests satisfied and spreading the word. John says, “Our secret is we use only the best ingredients.”
The loaded pulled pork barbecue potato—a perfectly baked potato stuffed with cheese, scallions, and a hefty helping of their famous pork barbecue. It’s a fun twist on the traditional sandwich. Start your meal with an order of homemade sweet hot pickles served with lots of extra brine, and finish up with one of their homemade desserts like the coconut cream pie.
What folks are saying:
“My favorite place is Hickory House! Great food and service. Well worth the drive. Lots of traditional BBQ plus some originals,” says Kayla Poling, via Facebook.
“Their pork barbecue is great—the sauce is just right and they serve it with wonderful coleslaw,” says Pam Rumbach, via Facebook.
“I absolutely love the Hickory House! Not only for their mouth-watering pulled pork sandwich, but also for the down-home feeling you get as soon as you walk through the door. When you bite into the sandwich, you can tell immediately it’s one of those secret family recipes that’s been handed down over the years,” says Corey Jo Phillips, via Facebook.
Hickory House, 1137 U.S. Highway 19 North, Jane Lew, WV 26378; 304.269.7373
Smokey Ray’s, Philippi
Slow-smoked brisket and barbecue with secret, made-from-scratch sauce make Smokey Ray’s Family Restaurant and Sports Bar the place to be when it’s time to eat in the small, historic town of Philippi. People travel from near and far to get a taste of Smokey Ray’s perfectly grilled platters and otherworldly sandwiches—creations like the Texas Manhandler, with flavorful beef brisket and a slice of smoked Italian sausage smothered in barbecue sauce on a warm, homemade sandwich roll. At dinnertime the place is packed, and Smokey Ray can almost always be found smiling in the kitchen in his signature fedora and tie. Smokey Ray and his wife had been mixing ingredients together for years, searching for that perfect formula, until one day, it just happened. Since then, their masterpiece has been sampled all across the country. “Everywhere I’ve been, people have been trying to buy my sauce, and I ain’t sellin’ it,” Smokey Ray says.
Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sundays.
—Laura C. Wilcox
Smokey Ray’s, 109 North Main Street, Philippi, WV 26416; 304.457.2646
Dirty Ernie’s, Fayetteville
Fayette County is not only home to world-class whitewater rapids, but also a legendary rib joint since the early 1990s. Just a quarter mile from the New River Gorge Bridge on U.S. Route 19 sits a tourist favorite—Dirty Ernie’s.
Owners Mike Price and Brad White have worked at the establishment since they were teenagers at Fayetteville High School, and when the original owner, Ron Taylor, was ready to retire, they stepped up to the “plate” to keep serving up customer favorites. Mike says, “We both worked in corporate chains but knew if we ever got a chance to have our own place in our hometown, we would.”
In addition to the classic barbecue ribs, Mike and Brad have expanded the menu to include new signature dishes like homemade hot wings, deep-fried pickles, chili, and the Italian classic braciole—a pounded flank steak filled with breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasoning then braised in sauce—all done “dirty style.” Sweet-toothed customers will delight in Dirty Ernie’s Dirt Cake as a chocolaty end to a big meal.
What folks are saying:
“Their ribs are big, meaty, and the sauce is fabulous. If you haven’t had the experience, you are really missing out!” says Brenda Ramey Kerwood, via Facebook.
Dirty Ernie’s, 310 Keller Avenue, Fayetteville, WV 25804; 304.574.4822; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dee Jay’s, Weirton
Dee Jay’s is located in Weirton, but it’s known throughout the region as one of the best places around to get barbecued ribs. Chances are, you could run into a Steeler, Pirate, or Penguin while you’re there, as the eatery’s reputation even extends into Pittsburgh!
Dee Jay’s famous rib sauce is made with a secret ingredient, identified only as “TLC” and said to be so consistent that if you were there 10 years ago and now, the taste would be exactly as you remembered it. Serving more than 2,500 customers on an average weekend, this restaurant is well-staffed and ready to do “whatever it takes,” which is also their motto, according to manager Pat Kittle. While the fish and steak entrées are popular, the ribs are by far the bestseller. The bright, tropical island décor, accented with two large neon palm trees marking the entrance, gives Dee Jay’s a lively, vacation-feel atmosphere. Owner Dewey Guida recently celebrated his 30th anniversary in this award-winning BBQ rib business.
Dee Jay’s, 380 Three Springs Drive, Weirton, WV 26062; 304.748.1150
The Q Company, Martinsburg
Mitchell and Sara Matzek grabbed the bull by the ribs! After winning Food Network’s “24 Hour Restaurant Battle,” they’ve created a Texas-style barbecue joint in Martinsburg that will knock your socks off. Tucked behind the Dirty Dawg Saloon, this innovative eatery churns out slow-smoked pulled pork, ribs, and beef brisket that will melt in your mouth. Their coleslaw, baked beans, and potato salad are the perfect accompaniments.
The owners aren’t the only ones claiming that Q is the best BBQ in the Eastern Panhandle. Since opening in April, fans have created a stampede. Their outdoor dining area is outfitted with picnic tables and a covered bar. Honky tonk music punctuates the experience. If you’d rather enjoy the flavors of a Texas Roadhouse in the privacy of your own home, the Matzeks have a robust catering menu.
Barbeque Sundae, a creative concoction of pulled pork topped with baked beans and a layer of coleslaw.
The Q Company is open 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with extended hours to come.
The Q Company, Dirty Dawg Saloon, 1017 South Queen Street, Martinsburg, WV 25401; 304.616.6604
Buddy’s All-American BBQ, Huntington
One part relaxing, one part just plain fun, Buddy’s Bar-B-Que in Huntington is repeatedly voted best eatery in the Huntington Tri-State area for its barbecue and wings. Customers love to find a spot on the screened-in porch and order up the pulled pork sandwich or jumbo wings with ice-cold ales on a warm day. Barbecue sandwiches come on toasted buns, and entrées come with a choice of sides such as crispy steak fries, coleslaw, hush puppies, or garlic toast. Buddy’s is also known for hosting musical acts and bike nights.
—Laura Treacy Bentley
Buddy’s All-American BBQ, 1537 3rd Avenue, Huntington, WV 25701; 304.522.YUMY
Smoke House BBQ, Glenville
Smoke House BBQ owner Michelle Ramsey is a third-generation southern barbecue restaurateur with a winning recipe on her hands. Her southern-style BBQ—using the moist shoulder meat of the hog—is combined with a secret dry rub and slowly smoked for 10 hours in a mixed veil of oak, apple, and hickory, making a trip from most anywhere well worth the drive. The coarse, chopped, classic pulled pork sandwich is the restaurant’s bestseller, accompanied by your choice of homemade sweet or hot sauce, which is also offered by the pint to take home. Satisfying sides include hand-cut fries, homemade coleslaw with a sweet kick to complement the smoky pork, barbecue baked beans, and fried corn on the cob smothered with garlic butter.
If pork’s not your thing, the Smoke House menu runs the gamut with great options like the barbecue chicken or one of many other lunchtime meals. Top it all off with one of the eatery’s scrumptious homemade desserts such as mandarin orange cupcakes or hot fudge cake. Mark your calendars for Friday nights, too, as live bluegrass plays from 6 to 9 p.m. to complete the down-home feel.
What folks are saying:
“This is the best BBQ I've ever had! You have to try it,” says Kim Dulaney.
—Carla Witt Ford
Smoke House BBQ, 10 North Lewis Street, Glenville, WV 26351; 304.462.8989