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Travel Picks: Top 10 BBQ spots for Labor Day holiday

Sep 2, 2011, 7:20 a.m.
An attempt to set the record for the biggest barbeque in the world, in Montevideo, in 2008. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

6. Holly Hill, South Carolina

South Carolina isn't a particularly large state, but you'd never guess from its extraordinary variety of secret barbecue recipes. In the western part of the state, pork comes drenched in a thick, ketchup-based tomato sauce. Central South Carolina prides itself on a mustard-vinegar-brown sugar combination. And on the east coast, it's the whole hog served up in a watered-down vinegar and pepper blend. To taste the central "Carolina Gold" recipe, head to Sweatman's Bar-b-que in Holly Hill. Carnivores drive more than 100 miles for the mustard-style pork, and the pig-filled buffet makes each mile worth it.

7. Santa Barbara, California

On your next trip to the West Coast, make room in both your itinerary and stomach for Santa Maria Style Barbecue. Unique to the Santa Maria Valley in central California, the method starts with a fairly typical rub of salt, pepper and garlic. Then grill masters takes an unexpected and fabulous turn by cooking special cuts like tri-tip beef rump over red oak coals. Chefs at farmers' markets across the Santa Barbara region take pride in their smoked craft, so be sure to bring your appetite.

8. Honolulu, Hawaii

A visit to the 50th state is pretty much guaranteed to culminate at a luau. Most resorts in Hawaii offer a once-a-week celebration - stocked with leis, hula dancers and fire throwers - that tells mesmerizing stories of ancient Polynesia. Its feast is a spread that shares Hawaii's heritage through food, and the main course: a whole roasted pig. Called kalua pig, it's prepared in an underground pit, an imu, and paired with other Hawaiian dishes like poke, similar to a ceviche, and poi, a viscous dish made from the taro plant.

9. Doral, Florida

South of the equator, the epitome of barbecue excellence is found in Brazil, where churrasco - that's Portuguese for barbecue - is king. But you don't have to travel that far to find world-class churrasco. At the aptly named Churrasco's just west of Miami, you can choose from top-notch standards like grilled chicken, short ribs, and every cut of steak you could wish for. Pair these with sides like fried sweet plantains and black beans. 10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you like your barbecue extra spicy, look no further than Jamaican "jerk" barbecue, where meats are dry-rubbed or marinated in an aggressive mixture of fiery spices. But you don't have to travel to tropical locales to get your fill: The Jamaican Jerk Hut in Philadelphia has some of the best jerk this side of Cuba. Jerk chicken is the staple of the menu, but, if you're feeling brave, take it to the next level with the curry goat or oxtail stew. Whatever you choose, you can't go wrong. Just make sure to keep a tall glass of water at the ready.

(Edited by Paul Casciato)

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