The South may not have won the Civil War, but its cooking has taken the North by storm. Connecticut has been invaded by and has happily surrendered to the barbecue chefs from Dixie and St. Louis. Chicken, meats, sauces and sides from Texas, Carolina, Tennessee have become standard fare in the heart of New England and almost every city and town from great big Hartford to little Sharon in the Northwest corner has someplace where the smoker is smoking and the sauces are bubbling. Here are just five of the top places to get great, authentic barbecue in Connecticut.

BarBQ Stamford
261 Main St.
Stamford, CT 06901
(203) 316-0278
www.barbqstamford.com

The Southern-style fare at BarBQ Stamford includes more than just barbecued meats, but as the name of the place so aptly indicates, barbecue is what they do best. Their claim to be Connecticut’s best country bar and BBQ is more than just puffery. They do present a beautiful, mouth-watering, luscious menu of top notch barbecue entrees at prices so affordable they would be a bargain even if they were only half as good. BarBQ Stamford’s St. Louis Cut Sticky Ribs in particular are a delight, especially for those who like the taste of mustard, which is the key ingredient in their marinade. The Memphis Dry Rubbed Baby Back Ribs are a treat for those who prefer a salty, peppery rib that is not dripping in gooey sauce. Either can be for $7. The Beef Burnt Ends, Sliced Brisket, and Grilled BBQ Shrimp are also very good. Perhaps the true star of the menu is the Competition ½ Chicken which is marinated, smoked and then finished in the over in their signature BBQ sauce.

Related: Top BBQ Spots in Connecticut

Grant’s House Of Bones BBQ
1 New Haven Ave.
Derby, CT 06418
(203) 516-5994
www.grantsbbq.com

Grant’s House of Bones BBQ has become so popular since opening its doors in 2011 that it now also has a food truck so it can take its barbecue to the people. Grant’s does all of the standard barbecue fare, but also offers some unique signature items, notably the BBQ Nachos and the BBQ Tacos. Grant’s also does BBQ Sliders and offers a BBQ Breakfast Burrito which can kick start any morning. There is fried chicken by the meal and by the bucket, salads, seafood and other delights on the menu. The BBQ sandwiches and smoked BBQ entrees are what have won Grant’s acclaim in the press and with patrons. Newcomers should consider ordering one of the two BBQ Samplers, not only because they are a bargain but also because they get to try two or three different entrees, rather than having to pick just one. There is also massive ribs and chicken family meal which showcases two of the things Grant’s does best.

When Pigs Fly South
29 W. Main St.
Sharon, CT 06069
(860) 492-0000
www.facebook.com/When-Pigs-Fly-South

Barbecue is about the menu not the venue, and about the smoker and sauce, not the seating and style. When Pigs Fly is probably the tiniest barbecue spot in the state if not the entire Northeast, but the quality of the food is in inverse proportion to the size of the place. The chef and owner Bennet Chinn does a marvelous job with his slow-cooked, dry-rubbed pork, beef, ribs and chicken. He then hand cuts to order and serves up plain or with one of four house sauces on the side. His sides are also splendid, especially the Shoepeg Corn Pudding and the Cheddar and Jalapeno Drop Biscuits. Bennet is the real deal, as is his barbecue. He hails from Atlanta and was raised by a mother who grew up in Memphis. He did study with top chefs and worked in major restaurants. Bennet’s southern roots broke through that formal training. Judge When Pigs Fly not by the size of the place, but by the taste of the food.

Related: Gone Country Top Southern Style Bars in Connecticut

Bear’s Smokehouse
89 Arch St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 724-3100
www.bearsbbq.com

Hartford needed a good barbecue joint and Bear’s is exactly that. With its Sweet Kansas City, Texas Pepper, Hot Sriracha and signature Grizzly sauces, Bear’s offers patrons a tour of the best the world of barbecue has to offer. Burnt Ends are always in demand, and there are sides and salads aplenty, including the “Sweet Mama Bear’s” romaine salad, which comes with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, cheese and choice of meat.

Wilson’s BBQ
1851 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
(203) 319-7427
www.wilsons-bbq.com

Wilson’s is not just barbecue, but “Real Pit Barbecue,” as its website, menu and staff proudly proclaim. That menu is “like an eating tour of the South,” and includes Texas-style brisket, Eastern Carolina pulled pork and ribs done like they do them in both St. Louis and Memphis. They have all of the traditional sides plus a signature Portuguese rice and bean dish named for the chef and owner’s mother. They are only open four days a week, Thursday through Sunday. When they are open, Wilson’s is always packed and for a menu full of good reasons.

Related: Top Barbecue in Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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