Des Moines ranked among the top 20 barbecue restaurants nationally

Des Moines is among the top 20 cities in the United States for eating barbecue, according to a new online ranking.

Iowa’s capital ranked 19th out of 200 cities surveyed for LawnStarter’s “Best BBQ Towns in America” ​​list. Cities were ranked from best to worst based on access, quality, barbecue accolades, and organized events. Some of the metrics included the number of “award-winning barbecue restaurants, customer ratings for smokehouses, and multiple barbecue festivals,” according to the website.

Des Moines was the only city in Iowa to crack the Top 200 list, but Midwestern cities took the overall win with three of the top five spots snagged by places in Missouri, with St. Louis taking the top spot. place, followed by Kansas City and Chicago. Three Texas cities – Austin, Huston and Lubbock – also made it into the top 20.

After:The 11 Hottest Restaurants in Des Moines Right Now: June 2022 Edition

Western states such as Southern California, Nevada and a few cities in Arizona “got burned” in the rankings.

And while the ‘cue is a Southern staple, a few unexpected US cities top the list: “Orlando, Florida (#5), Chattanooga, Tennessee (#9), and Little Rock, Arkansas (#11) , sizzled their way to the top, beating regions with well-known barbecue styles like Memphis (#61) and the Carolinas,” according to the website.

Enjoy ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken at Smokey D's.

Where to Find Steakhouses in Des Moines

Fancy a little barbecue this summer? We’ve put together a list of some of the best barbecues in the Des Moines metro:


  • Location: 1960 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines; 515-267-1227.
  • Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cactus Bob’s BBQ Corral

  • Location: 5955 Merle Hay Road, Johnston; 515-331-0057.
  • Hours: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Claxson’s Smoker and Grill

  • Location: 3131 Eighth Street SW, Altoona; 515-967-7979.
  • Opening hours: Open Sunday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Ribs with coleslaw and collard greens at Flying Mango in Beaverdale

flying mango


  • Hours vary by location.
  • Locations: Jethro’s BBQ ‘n Jambalaya, 9350 SE University Ave., West Des Moines; 515-987-8686.
  • Jethro’s BBQ ‘n Bacon Bacon, 9350 SE University Ave. West Des Moines; 515-868-0888.
  • Jethro’s ‘n Jakes Smokehouse Steaks, 2601 Adventureland Drive, Altoona; 515-957-9727.
  • Jethro’s BBQ n’ LakeHouse, 1425 SW Vintage Parkway, Ankeny; 515-289-4444.
  • Jethro’s BBQ n’ Pork Chop Grill, 5950 86th St., Johnston; 515-421-4848.
  • Jethro’s BBQ Southside, 4337 Park Ave., Des Moines; 515-630-6374.

Kue’d Smokehouse

  • Location: 245 Hickman Road, Waukee; 515-987-4972.
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; closed Sunday to Tuesday.

Rolling Smoke BBQ

  • Location: 1225 Copper Creek Drive, Pleasant Hill; 515-262-8219.
  • Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


  • Location: 8805 Chambery Blvd., Suite 250, Johnston; 515-252-9887.
  • Opening hours: Open Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Smokey D’s BBQ

  • Location: 5055 NW Second St., Des Moines; 515-243-2747.
  • Opening hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • Also at 601 Locust St. in the walkway; 515-282-4501. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Stu’s BBQ Catering and Concessions

  • Location: Merle Hay Mall, 3800 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines; 515-278-4018.
  • Opening hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday.

Arizona Republic reporter Amaris Encinas and Des Moines Register entertainment editor Susan Stapleton contributed to this story.

Virginia Barreda is a trend and general assignment reporter for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.

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