Northern Smoke: Barbecue in West Michigan

You don’t have to go down south for great barbecue—West Michigan is full of it. 

Yes, it’s true! Even though we may be known for olive burgers and wet burritos, there are plenty of grillmasters around who know how to treat meat right. Whether it’s brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends or sausage, your smokey cravings can be satisfied, and then some.

Unfortunately, we just recently lost one of the top picks in town: Daddy Pete’s BBQ. After 11 years in business, this beloved eatery was forced to close down “due to recent health issues.” Godspeed and thanks for all the meat.

On the bright side, we still have plenty of options in town! Next time you’re craving a hearty meal that’ll warm you from the inside out, check out one of these barbecue joints near you.

Two Scotts Barbecue
536 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Consistently voted best barbecue in Revue’s own Best of the West, Two Scotts’ tagline is “Regular guys. Exceptional barbecue.” They serve up the whole menu of dry, spice-rubbed meats, including pulled pork, chicken, brisket, sausage, wings, burnt ends and ribs. Get it on a sandwich—or, I prefer to order meat by the half-pound, along with a classic side like pimento mac & cheese. Then I load up to-go cups of their delicious sauces, which range from Hot BBQ to SC Mustard, Verde and Dog Sauce. It’s simple food done unforgettably well. 

The Pit Stop
6479 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids

The Pit Stop is known for their award-winning event catering, but you can stop in on Thursdays and Fridays for a take-out taste of this beloved barbecue. They have Texas brisket, pulled pork, chicken parts, smoked turkey and smoked sausage, but the real star might just be the smoked corned beef, available on Thursdays only. For an extra special experience, get the Micknuggits—double-smoked corned beef burnt ends slathered in smoked drippings and Colonel Angus mustard sauce.

Main Street BBQ
210 E. Main St., Lowell

Generous helpings, tasty sauce, hometown vibes—Main Street BBQ is a favorite in Lowell for many reasons. They have all the usual suspects, along with jumbo wings and fried catfish, not to mention a huge sandwich menu that includes burgers. Make sure to get some homemade sauce too, whether it’s North Carolina Vinegar, Alabama White, Kansas City Sweet or South Carolina Mustard. 

Dr. Rolf’s Barbeque
477 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
17 S. 2nd St., Grand Haven

Only so many BBQ joints see enough success to spread their wings, but Dr. Rolf’s has pulled it off, with two locations on the lakeshore. Founded by Muskegon physician Dr. Rolf Hissom and run by his family, they use unique recipes developed and perfected over many years. Along with all your favorite smoked meats and sides, you can try out the famous Chicken Things; marinated grilled chicken thighs smothered in buffalo sauce, served with blue cheese dressing and celery.

Hog Wild BBQ 
154 W. Lakewood Blvd., Holland

For some of the best barbecue in Holland, consider Hog Wild, known for its cozy atmosphere and succulent sauces. Order by the meat with ribs, pulled pork, brisket, hot link sausage and roasted chicken, then pick from one of over a dozen sides—from sweet pea pasta to jalapeno potato salad or chicken corn chowder.

2814 Portage St., Kalamazoo

What began as a food truck is now a Kalamazoo favorite. That’s because Bomba’s has a special touch, focusing on bold Mexican-influenced BBQ. Of course you can get your meat and sides, but we suggest trying out one of Bomba’s specialties like the Chopped Brisket Tacos or a Cali Steak Burrito. 

TNT Lil Brothers BBQ
1622 Bloomfield Ave., Kalamazoo

Owned by high school sweethearts, Terrance & Tisha (TnT), Lil Brothers is barbecue with a touch of soul. They have pulled pork, brisket, Polish sausage, fish, burgers, “and all the fixin’s you love.” Get a Big-T with three meats and one side for just $12, or something unique like The Boony Mac, with two salmon patties and rice. But most of all, make sure you try the ribs. 

CLOSED: Slows Bar BQ
435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

We included Slows on this list before they decided to close on October 8th. With alcoholic options, brisket nachos, smoked chicken burritos, vegetarian options and more, Slows was one of Revue readers' favorites for a reason.