Wood Shop BBQ Nate Watters

Up in Smoke

From finger lickin’ ribs to melt-in-your-mouth brisket, Seattle does barbecue right.

By Jackie Varriano

Bitterroot BBQ

5239 Ballard Ave NW; bitterrootbbq.com

Don’t miss the tender sliced beef brisket at this rustic, warmly lighted Ballard storefront. There’s also a mac and cheese menu loaded with mix-ins (the hot links are a winner). Big appetites should try the Cowboy Killer: a tray loaded with a half chicken, half rack of ribs, pulled pork, brisket, pretzel rolls, and four sides.

Jack’s BBQ

3924 Airport Way S and 228 Ninth Ave N; jacksbbq.com

Get a taste of Central Texas–style barbecue at this lively spot with locations in SoDo and South Lake Union. Belly up to the counter or to a table for platters of Lonestar fries topped with beef bacon and queso, dry-rubbed smoked pork ribs, Texas caviar, and beer-braised mushrooms. Thursdays are beef rib night and Friday features prime rib specials, and there’s often live music.

A photo of BBQ ribs set on a piece of white bread on a metal tray lined with pink paper. A white cup of mac 'n' cheese sits behind the ribs.

Wood Shop BBQ Nate Watters

Wood Shop BBQ

2513 S Jackson St; thewoodshopbbq.com

This Central District shop was born out of a yearning for authentic Kansas-style barbecue. Hickory-smoked meats take center stage—big beef short ribs, pulled pork, chicken thighs, and St. Louis-cut pork spare ribs, all smoked for up to 10 hours. Meat is sold by the pound, in sandwiches and layered atop rich mac and cheese bowls. On warm days, snag a picnic table on the patio.

Etta’s Big Mountain BBQ

2020 Western Ave; ettasbigmountainbbq.com

Just steps from Pike Place Market, Etta’s is the place for smoked turkey legs with sweet onion gravy, pit-smoked salmon spiked with a fennel relish, and barbecue butter shrimp with garlic bread. Try a soft pretzel slathered with either pimento cheese or peanut butter bacon spread for the table, and finish your meal with a slice of the triple coconut cream pie.

Lady Jaye

4523 California Ave SW; ladyjaye.com

This West Seattle smokehouse with an inviting patio is known for smoked bologna sandwiches, served on a squishy white bun piled high with dill pickle slaw and thin slices of smoked meat. There’s also a killer smoked bulgogi short rib sandwich with pickled radish and spicy mayo and a smoked tofu chili for vegetarians. Sides skew classic BBQ—black eyed-peas, coleslaw, and skinny, crispy fries with dill vinegar.

Emma’s BBQ

5303 Rainier Ave S; facebook.com/emmasbbq1

Grab pulled pork, beef brisket, or chicken by the pound at this super-casual sliver of a space in Hillman City, named for owner Tess Thomas’ mother. The dishes are lovingly prepared using family recipes, and sides are pure classic Southern soul food, including collard greens, cornbread, yams, baked beans, and potato salad. Do yourself a favor and save room for a slice of sweet potato pie or peach cobbler.


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