What Are The Most Popular BBQ Restaurants In Kentucky?

Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Fans of smoked meats and succulent sauces in Kentucky must venture well outside the state’s largest cities to find the best barbecue the Bluegrass State offers.  

That’s the takeaway from a breakdown of Google Trends search volume that BetKentucky.com conducted, which showed restaurants in Paducah, Bowling Green, and Russellville as the top places for BBQ in Kentucky.  

We take a much-needed lunch break from Kentucky sports betting updates to bring you the best BBQ Kentucky has to offer.

With National BBQ Month kicking off on Monday, and Kentucky ranked as the eighth-best state for BBQ according to WorldPopulationReview, we figured it was high time to spotlight some of the most popular BBQ spots in The Bluegrass State, such as Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn and Hoskins BBQ. 

Top Kentucky BBQ Restaurants by Search Volume

BetKentucky.com utilized Google Trends to calculate the most popular BBQ restaurants by search volume from May 1st, 2022, until September 6th, 2022. The BBQ restaurants chosen were determined by OnlyInYourState

Here is what we found:

RankRestaurantLocationSearch Volume
1Starnes BarbecuePaducah, KY44%
2Smokey Pig Bar-B-QBowling Green, KY23%
3Roy's Bar-B-QueRussellville, KY15%
4Hoskins BBQMayfield, KY13%
5Moonlite Bar-B-Q InnOwensboro, KY5%

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Breaking Down The Best Of Kentucky BBQ

Based on search volume, it seems that Kentuckians really enjoy their BBQ to come from rural outposts.  

The three most popular places, in terms of Google Trends search volume, were located in Paducah, Bowling Green and Russellville — all of which are near the state’s borders with Illinois or Tennessee.  

The closest of the top five to the state’s population centers of Louisville and Lexington is Owensboro’s Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, which is just over 100 miles from the former and 180 miles from the latter.  

The other four are located either in south-central Kentucky or on the western fringe of the state, bordering the Illinois line.  

That distance doesn’t seem to deter Kentucky residents from jumping in their car and hitting the road, though, as Paducah’s Starnes Barbecue had the most search volume of any BBQ joint in the state, at 44%, followed by Bowling Green’s Smokey Pig Bar B-Q (23%), Roy’s Bar-B-Que (15%) and Hoskins BBQ (13%).  

Moonlite finished in a distant fifth place, search volume-wise, at 5% — closing out the great BBQ battle for the Bluegrass State.  

With summer around the corner and temperatures amping up by the day, now’s the time to hit the road and load up on your yearly dosage of smoked meat and sauces.  

That’s where the quintet of Kentucky BBQ restaurants comes in handy, as there are plenty of options to choose from in the months ahead.  

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Christopher Boan is a staff writer for BetKentucky.com. He has covered sports and sports betting for more than seven years and has worked for publications such as ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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