Pizza lovers can appreciate a pie with thin crust even if they prefer thick and chocolate ice cream fans can enjoy a cone of vanilla. But your definition of barbecue is often a direct result of where you were raised, and fierce culinary battles are waged over how to prepare the best barbecue. Meat might be slow-grilled over indirect heat or done quickly over direct heat, or may be slathered in sauce while cooking or grilled with a dry rub and served with sauce on the side. The sauce itself can be spicy, tangy or sweet, and the locale determines if the sauce has more vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise or ketchup. May is National Barbecue Month, so visit these excellent Sacramento spots for regional specialties.
Sandra Dee’s Bar-Be-Que & Seafood
601 15th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 448-6375
www.sandradeesbbq.com

Sandra Dee and Jeffrey Johnson operate this eponymous eatery, creating Creole dishes from recipes both new and generations old. Appetizers include fried frog legs or gator tail and smoked or fried turkeys are available whole or by the plate. Slow-cooked entrees including links, chicken, tri-tip, pork loin and ribs are served with Dee’s signature barbecue sauce. Oyster, prawn and gator Po-Boys are delicious, as are seasonal dishes like homemade Louisiana gumbo and shrimp creole. Sides include sweet, spicy corn and some of the best greens in town. Save room for red velvet cake and peach cobbler. A full bar serves drinks including Dee’s special lemonade, made with bourbon, triple sec, sweet & sour and housemade simple syrup.

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Burgess Brother’s Burgers
2114 Sutterville Road
Sacramento, CA 95822
(916) 594-9847
www.burgessbrothersburgers.com

Founded by Sacramento-native twin brothers Jonathan and Matthew Burgess, the Burgess Brother’s Burgers has a smoker out front to let people know that delicious barbecue is available. Many dishes are named in honor of emergency responder issues, such as the smoked and grilled Five Alarm burger or the Rescue Burger with grilled pineapple. Tasty condiments like the First Alarm smoked chipotle sauce can be purchased at the restaurant and other local grocers. Slow-smoked brisket, pulled pork, hot links, chicken and steak are available as entrees or sandwiches. The Code 4 Burger is made with a grilled Portabella mushroom, and the chili-bean bowl is made from a family recipe. Desserts include milkshakes in flavors like peach cobbler and sweet potato pie.

Tank House BBQ And Bar
1925 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 431-7199
www.tankhousebbq.com

Pull on your boots and sample excellent Texas style barbeque at this hip midtown eatery. Slow smoking and a spicy rub makes the baby back ribs a delight, and burgers, sliced brisket, links and chicken are equally succulent. Tater tots are king, with dishes like brisket and tot hash and “dirty tots” topped with cheese and chopped pork. Southern-style options include buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy, coleslaw, mac and cheese and sandwiches made with pulled pork, chopped brisket or smoked turkey. Relax on the outdoor patio with something from the eclectic beer collection or full bar.

MoMo’s Meat Market
5780 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95820
(916) 452-0202
www.momosmeatmarket.net

Come to MoMo’s for plates or sandwiches of moist and tender chicken, tri-tip and links. The ribs are excellent, and you can sample the meats to pick the one you like best. Classic sides include baked beans, potato salad, cornbread and greens, but MoMo’s also serves up deep-fried cabbage and mac and cheese made with pepper jack. Sauces and rubs are flavorful and lean towards the spicy side, and finish up the meal with sweet potato pie and peach cobbler.

Fahrenheit 250 BBQ
7042 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95826
(916) 476-4508
www.fahrenheitbbq.com

Sample Texas-style fare with California sensibilities, featuring fish and meats with labels like grass-fed, free-range, locally sourced, all natural and hormone-free. Everything from the pickled shrimp, tofu tacos and smoked trout and artichoke dip to the crawfish hoagie and signature barbecue sauces are made from scratch. Guests love the corn and crawfish fritters, brisket chili and pasilla pepper stuffed with pulled pork and aioli. A sampler with eight side dishes is available, and bowls with grits, meat, corn and jalapenos are popular entrees.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers business, employment, animal rescue, volunteerism and nonprofits. Her work can also be found at Examiner.com.