Should You Avoid Ordering A Burger At A Barbecue Restaurant? We Asked An Expert

Burgers on smokey barbecue grill
Burgers on smokey barbecue grill - Photovs/Getty Images

Barbecue and burgers are arguably the two most iconic all-American dishes. Since they're both meat-centric, you might think it'd be easy enough for a barbecue restaurant to make a mean burger. We asked expert pit master and third-generation owner of Bear Creek Smokehouse, Robbie Shoults, for his take on whether it's a good idea to order a burger at a barbecue restaurant.

Burgers may be grilled, but barbecue is smoked, a difference that might as well be worlds apart. Grilling is hot and fast, while smoking is low and slow, developing much more complex tasting notes. Nevertheless, Shoults says "If a barbecue joint is smoking their hamburger patties on the pit, it will be one of the best you've ever had!" A pit master is an expert on timing and flavor infusion, and Shoults believes this expertise can be applied to burgers. He knows from experience, proclaiming that he "love[s] smoked burgers as they are full of flavor and impart a beautiful pink color on the inside after being smoked."

Still, using a low and slow method on a comparatively thin cut of meat like burgers does have its perils. Shoults admits, "If a pit master leaves the hamburger patty on the smoker for too long, it could eventually get dried out." So, you'll have to trust that the pit master is attentive enough to pull a burger out at the right time.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

More Signs Of A Good Barbecue Joint Burger

Brisket burger with cheese sauce
Brisket burger with cheese sauce - paulzhuk/Shutterstock

Back in May of 2024, Tasting Table interviewed a different barbecue expert who argued against ordering a burger at a barbecue restaurant and advised readers to stick to the menu items that the restaurant specializes in. Of course, smoking meat is a specialized skill that results in a very different taste and texture than a grilled burger. However, Shoults thinks that certain barbecue specialties would actually indicate the likelihood of a good burger. "If you go to a barbecue joint that has mastered brisket, they will certainly be able to cook you one of the best burgers you've ever eaten," he exclaimed.

Smoked brisket is a succulent, fatty, smoky cut that is often recommended instead of or in addition to the typical ground chuck. So, if your local barbecue joint makes an especially good brisket, there's a better chance that the burger is worth ordering. After all, a burger that's as juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender as smoked brisket would be delicious. Plus, scratch-made barbecue sauce and classic sides like coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, pickles, onions, and baked beans would all make for incredible burger toppings.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.