There’s nothing more American than barbecue, and who better to serve it than those who served our country? It doesn’t matter if you prefer Carolina-, Memphis-, or Texas-style BBQ; or whether you like ribs, brisket, pulled pork, or chicken. There are some great Veteran-owned barbecue joints all across America that can satisfy your craving!
Here are 6 Veteran-owned BBQ companies you should try:
1. Leon’s World’s Finest Bar-B-Que, Texas
Leon’s World’s Finest BBQ is a local, “hole-in-the-wall” barbecue joint serving authentic Texas pit BBQ sandwiches and platters plus sides, desserts, beer and wine.
The owner, Leon O’Neal, is an 81-year-old retired Army cook and two-time Vietnam Vet who can usually be found in the small dining room of his restaurant, chatting up the customers with a friendly smile. Affectionately referred to as “Dr. Bar-B-Q,” Leon’s been serving barbecue in Galveston for more than 40 years.
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His signature dish? A 14- to 16-hour, slow-roasted brisket. Other popular items include ribs, mac-and-cheese, beans, cornbread, rum pound cake, and boudin; but make sure to visit early before all the good stuff sells out!
2. MacQue’s Barbecue, California
Founded in 1986 by retired U.S. Marine, Mack, and his wife, Charlie Thomas; MacQue’s Barbecue has provided quality smoked meats, scratch-made side orders and their fabulous varieties of barbeque sauces to the Elk Grove area for almost three decades.
Popular dishes include the Bart Sandwich, Link Trio, Pork Ribs, and Tri-Tip; paired with classic southern sides like red beans and rice, baked beans, and potato salad! Just make sure to save room for Mama Ruth’s classic peach cobbler or Uncle Ray Ray’s bread pudding!
3. Battle Tested® Craft Barbecue Sauce, U.S.
Growing up, Mike Otis’ dad Ed, a World War II Army Veteran, had a delicious, secret barbecue sauce family recipe from the 1920’s that he refused to share with Mike. Whenever he would ask for the recipe, Ed would tell him that he wasn’t old enough to handle it — until his 21st birthday. Tucked inside his birthday card, Mike found a 3×5 index card with the recipe written on it, which he still has to this day!
From that original index card, Mike, a U.S. Air Force Veteran himself, spent 40 years making his sauce for friends and family, tweaking the flavor until his friends finally convinced him to take the sauce to market — and so Battle Tested® Craft Barbecue Sauce was born.
While they don’t have a brick-and-mortar barbecue restaurant, they offer four “disruptively delicious®” sauces available for purchase online and in more than 800 stores nationwide. Plus, when you purchase a bottle of Battle Tested Barbecue Sauce, 5% of those proceeds are donated to a Veteran-run 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
4. The Patriotic Pig, Texas
Owned and operated by U.S. Army Veteran Marc Smith and his wife, Gina, The Patriotic Pig started in September 2016 as a catering business, but has since grown to include a food truck and a brick-and-mortar restaurant in North Richland Hills, Texas.
Serving up nothing but authentic Texas barbecue, popular items at The Patriotic Pig include BBQ by the pound, brisket tacos, jalapeno cheddar brisket burgers, bacon bombs, burnt end beans, and deviled egg potato salad.
5. Swig & Swine, South Carolina
Former Navy cook Anthony DiBernardo started Swig & Swine in 2013 and is one of the only places in South Carolina that cooks the whole pig, nose to tail, over wood. Their smokers are manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and everything is made in-house, from their pickles to their pastries.
You can find Swig & Swine at one of their three brick and mortar locations: Charleston, Summerville, and Mount Pleasant. Last year, they also debuted the Swig & Swine food truck, the “Pig Rig,” which allows them to serve up smoked meats and southern sides at local breweries, events, and workplace parking lots 5 days a week. If you’re out of state, check out their signature BBQ sauce and Swig & Swine swag online.
6. Fox’s BBQ, Tennessee
Founded by U.S. Army Veteran Jessie Fox, Fox’s BBQ is an established barbecue company based out of Clarksville, TN that specializes in hardwood hickory-smoked BBQ. The community loved their barbecue so much that Fort Campbell actually solicited the former soldier to open shop on post, where they operated for four years before moving to Clarksville.
Fox serves up mouthwatering ribs smoked over hickory wood (wet or dry), as well as brisket, pork and smoked sausage. A favorite at the restaurant is the loaded fries, topped with chicken or pork and drizzled in cheese, and splashed with Fox’s special sauce.
Have you tried one of the Veteran-owned barbecue companies on our list? Share any Veteran-owned BBQ brands you know in the comments below!