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The Best Barbecue Joints in All 50 States

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The key to great barbecue is to keep it simple: meat slow-smoked over wood. America’s barbecue scene is diverse, ranging from roadside shacks to full restaurants serving craft beer and brisket. Many barbecue joints create an admixture of styles from key cities like Memphis, Kansas City, and St. Louis, and states like Texas and the Carolinas. And even though the meat is the star of the show, what would a good barbecue meal be without a few solid sides? Here's our roundup of the best barbecue joint in every state.

1. ALABAMA // SAW’S BBQ

Location: Homewood, Alabama

Last year, Men’s Journal highlighted Alabama barbecue, including Saw’s. In fact, Saw’s has garnered a lot of acclaim since opening in 2009. Newcomer Saw’s Soul Kitchen opened in 2012, and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks co-owns a third location, Saw’s Juke Joint. They serve barbecue with Alabama’s signature white sauce—made with mayo—and a baked potato stuffed with pork, which the Alabama Tourism Department proclaimed as one of the top 100 dishes in the state to try before you die.

2. ALASKA // BLACK JAXX BBQ

Locations: Soldotna and Homer, Alaska

Their remote location in Alaska may lead some to think of exotic meats, like moose, but Black Jaxx's weirdest offering is bologna. Their menu is fairly minimal: spiced meat sandwiches like pulled pork and brisket and traditional sides, served out of a food truck. Because of Alaska’s weather, they’re only open during the temperate spring and summer months, which makes their offerings even more special.

3. ARIZONA // BIGFOOT BBQ

Location: Flagstaff, Arizona

As their website reads, “Nothin’ fancy, just thoughtful consideration.” That consideration entails a good combination of fire, smoke, and spice. Try the BBQ Tour (pulled pork, beef brisket, short rack of ribs) or the Bigfoot Steak and Cheese (brisket, onions, cheese, and peppers). They also have some things for meat-averse vegetarians: “Everybody is welcome at Bigfoot, and to prove it we got non-meat bbq.” Finally, an inclusive addition to the barbecue kingdom.

4. ARKANSAS // SMOKIN’ BUNS

Location: Jacksonville, Arkansas

Arkansas's Smokin' Buns's menu runs the gamut, from traditional meat to pig skins (potato skins with pulled pork) and piggie pie (Fritos topped with smoked beans and pork). Catfish, shrimp, and blackened salmon platters are also available, served with hush puppies, battered fries and coleslaw. An Arkansas Times review stated Smokin’ Buns has the best brisket in the state, and that some Texans even compared it to the famous barbecue found in Austin.

5. CALIFORNIA // COPPER TOP BBQ

Location: Big Pine, California

The Golden State’s barbecue claim to fame is the Central California Santa Maria-style of barbecue: tri-tip. The best is located inside a window-serve joint in Big Pine, nestled in a valley between the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains. Copper Top smokes tri-tip, St. Louis-style pork ribs, and chicken, and was named the best restaurant in the U.S. last year according to Yelp, so there must be something good in that mountain air.

6. COLORADO // GEORGIA BOYS BBQ COMPANY

Locations: Longmont and Frederick, Colorado

In order to smoke the highest quality of meats, Georgia Boys purchased a XLR 1600 Southern Pride Smoker—“the finest and most advanced wood-burning barbecue pit available,” reads the website. The restaurant’s divided into two locations: The Shack, in Longmont, focusing on a small barbecue menu, and The Smokehouse, in Frederick, which has a bigger menu, draft beers, and the Barnyard Challenge: six pounds of meat in a cast iron skillet. If you don’t finish it, you’ll be memorialized on their wall of shame.

7. CONNECTICUT // PIG RIG BBQ

Location: Wallingford, Connecticut

The Pig Rig uses an Ole’ Hickory Smoker and their motto is "Go Pig Or Go Home." They coat a secret dry rub on the meats, and offer Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, the Jamaican topped with homemade jerk bbq sauce, and the PigMac topped with smoked macaroni and cheese. If you're not in the mood for pork, they also have chicken thighs, baby back ribs, and beef brisket platters.

8. DELAWARE // BETHANY BLUES BBQ

Locations: Bethany Beach and Lewes, Delaware

Barbecue joints aren’t typically found within a stone's throw of the ocean, but you can walk there from Bethany’s. The home of what they call Delmarva Penisula barbeque, named for the restaurant's location, was lovingly formulated after researching famous smokehouses in Austin, Texas, New York, and ones all across Tennessee. Everything is wood smoked between four and 16 hours, but try their signature St. Louis ribs, all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, and non-barbecue East Coast favorites like crab dip.

9. FLORIDA // AL’S FINGER LICKING GOOD BAR-B-QUE 

Location: Tampa, Florida

Menu items like Terrance's chopped beef, Aunt Nita's black-eyed peas, and of course Al's ribs give this family-run barbecue joint a personal touch. It all started as a concession stand in 2003, but now Al's is housed inside a bungalow in Tampa's historic Ybor City neighborhood. Al’s expertise centers on Tennessee-style dry rub and tomato-based sauce, good enough to be named one of Yelp’s top 10 best restaurants in Tampa Bay. Try Tia's TGIF Mac and Cheese, named after Al's daughter and served Fridays only.

10. GEORGIA // SOUTHERN SOUL BARBECUE

Location: St. Simons Island, Georgia

Another coastal location that would make more sense for a seafood restaurant, Southern Soul promises the aura of oak-smoked meats near a scenic locale. They smoke their pork, turkey, chicken, and brisket for at least 12 hours, and pit-fire their prime rib. Brunswick stew and Hoppin’ John—traditional southern dishes—are also presented on the menu.

11. HAWAII // UNCLE BOBO’S SMOKED BBQ 

Location: Kaaawa, Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu certainly knows its ‘cue. Using a combination of hickory and tropical woods, at Uncle Bobo's they smoke their meats with a “low and slow” method. The menu covers everything from pork shoulder to barbecued Sloppy Joes, and serves Redneck rice (with bacon drippings) and other Hawaiian favorites such as shaved ice and a healthy acai bowl.

12. IDAHO // BBQ4LIFE

Location: Boise, Idaho

Opening a part barbecue and part vegan restaurant might seem contradictory, but there’s something for every dietary need here. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy the vegan bread pudding, smoked vegan potato salad or vegaloaf, while carnivores happily dine on pecan wood smoked sausage sandwiches, a Big Foot sandwich (pulled pork, mac and cheese, barbecue sauce on Hawaiian bread), and tri-tip.

13. ILLINOIS // BLACK DOG SMOKE AND ALE HOUSE

Locations: Urbana and Champaign, Illinois 

The first location opened in Urbana in 2009, and a second location, in Champaign, opened last year. Using a custom-made smoker, Black Dog cooks Polish sausages, free-range chickens, burgers, and spare ribs. They also make a line of sauces, including Georgia Peach (sweet), a hot mustard sauce, and a habanero sauce. To wash the meat and all the spiciness down, several craft beers are on draft.

14. INDIANA // RIP’S FAMILY BBQ

Location: Connersville, Indiana

Rip’s mainly offers Memphis-style barbecue, but Texas and Carolina can also be enjoyed. They use apple and hickory woods to smoke the meats listed on their vast menu, consisting of pork nachos, salads topped with meat, pork egg rolls served with barbecue sauce, pork-stuffed burritos, a smoked turkey sub, and the Beale Street (pulled pork topped with coleslaw).

15. IOWA // MOSLEY’S BARBECUE AND PROVISIONS

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Mosley’s has only been open for a year, but their Carolina-style barbecue has made a great dent in Iowa’s barbecue scene. Their bone-in pork butt (which is actually a shoulder) is pit-smoked for 12 hours, hand pulled, and topped with a couple of housemade sauces. Their red rib sauce isn’t the sticky variety, and their Gold Standard sauce is “sweet, with a kick.” They also offer St. Louis-style ribs, chicken, various sides like their jar of bacon (yes, a full $4.50 jar of hickory smoked bacon), and pitchers of southern sangria and craft cocktails.

16. KANSAS // JOE’S KANSAS CITY BAR-B-QUE

Locations: Kansas City, Leawood, and Olathe, Kansas

Though Kansas has much barbecue to offer, Joe’s Kansas City is the hands-down favorite—all the time. They have four locations throughout the state, including the original location (formerly known as Oklahoma Joe's), established in 1996 at a former gas station, and a private event space called The 180 Room. Joe’s has become such a brand, you can get it shipped to you. Their restaurants serve championship-winning barbecue, such as beef brisket, smoked ham, sandwiches like the Z-Man (brisket, provolone cheese, onion rings), and a whole section of “just ribs.”

17. KENTUCKY // RED STATE BBQ

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

A little known fact: Kentucky has its own style of barbecue, and it’s quite different in the Bluegrass state. Though many Kentuckians enjoy traditional barbecue like smoked brisket and sausage, some prefer specialty food like mutton (sheep) and the state's official dish, burgoo (meat stew). At Red State, you'll find the more traditional version of smoked chicken, pork, and sausage served with a selection of domestic and craft beers. Try the BBQ Parfait: Your choice of meat and two sides served in a clear Solo cup for $5.

18. LOUISIANA // BIG MIKE’S BBQ

Location: Houma, Louisiana

New Orleans’s The Joint frequently gets named the Best BBQ in Louisiana, but an hour outside of NOLA in Houma, the family-owned Big Mike’s challenges that reign. Their varied menu offers smoked brisket, grilled boudin, crawfish, ribs, burgers, and Creole rice. Try the Big Bertha Que for your next large gathering: three whole chickens, three pounds of sausage, three pounds of ribs, three pounds of brisket, and three pounds of pork—all of which should feed around 50 people.

19. MAINE // SMOKIN’ GOOD BBQ

Location: Bethel, Maine

Using an orange trailer, Smokin’ Good makes “real pit bbq.” The menu includes hot chili, North Carolina pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, hot links, and Dave’s Double Wide Family combo, with full slabs of ribs and a whole chicken. Coming in a close second is Portland’s Elsmere BBQ, which has grass-fed beef, seafood sandwiches, and oysters on their menu.

20. MARYLAND // THE BBQ JOINT

Locations: Easton and Pasadena, Maryland; Washington D.C.

Singling out the best barbecue in the Maryland/D.C. area is tough, especially with choices like Andy Nelson’s Barbecue, Mission BBQ, and Big Bad Wolf’s BBQ in the area. But former-chef-turned-pitmaster Andrew Evans keeps it simple at his four BBQ Joint locations in Maryland and D.C. They cook St. Louis ribs and whole barbecued chickens, and serve Texas cheesesteak, skillet cookies, sloppy Joe sliders, and pork rinds, and have an extensive list of craft beers and cocktails to boot.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // BLACKSTRAP BBQ

Location: Winthrop, Massachusetts

Since their opening in 2010, Blackstrap—named for a type of molasses used to make their barbecue sauces—has made grit fries, hand-cut onion rings, smoked chicken, burnt ends, Texas brisket, catfish, and habanero-watermelon slushies in a laid back and playful atmosphere. Blackstrap has daily specials and sometimes even hosts themed nights like a Golden Girls screening party.

22. MICHIGAN // SADDLEBACK BBQ

Location: Lansing, Michigan

A lot of good barbecue thrives in Michigan, but only one place is named after the British saddleback pig. Saddleback—which opened last year in REO Town—smokes ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder, and they’re so dedicated to their craft they have an overnight shift to monitor the smoking. They sell boxed lunches, brisket rib chili, and their Wednesday special is "Wu-Tang Wings."

23. MINNESOTA // SCOTT JA-MAMA’S

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The menu is so tiny, you could conceivably try everything on the menu at least once, but Scott Ja-Mama's offers full-, half-, and quarter-racks of ribs, half and quarter chickens, steak sandwiches, and pork sandwiches. Their famous twice-baked potato and slaw comes with every platter, and you can check out the eclectic memorabilia on the walls while you wait.

24. MISSISSIPPI // LEATHA’S BAR-B-QUE INN

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Though Leatha died in 2013 at age 90, her restaurant lives on. She started the Inn in 1976, and wrote a book about her rise from poverty to becoming the “barbecue queen” of Mississippi. The menu consists of chicken, pork and beef ribs, wood-grilled steaks, and a “secret recipe” slaw. Apparently quarterback legend (and local) Brett Favre is a regular.

25. MISSOURI // BOGART’S SMOKEHOUSE

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Barbecue chains reign in Missouri (e.g. Jack Stack), but Bogart’s only has one location and a minimal menu. That gives the staff more time to focus on the meats: ribs, pulled pork, tri-tip, burnt ends, and sides like deviled egg potato salad, and barbecued pork skins. Their VooDoo sauce hits an eight on a hot scale, but they also feature more mild sauces, like their Pineapple Express. So far their attention to detail has paid off—Yelp named them one of the top 100 restaurants in the U.S.

26. MONTANA // THE NOTORIOUS P.I.G.

Location: Missoula, Montana

We’re not just picking this place because of its punny name—it is a great name, though—but because they feature a tour of the best kinds of barbecue: Memphis-style ribs, Kansas City burnt ends, Texas-style brisket, tri-tip sirloin, and, a curveball: New York pastrami.

27. NEBRASKA // LIPPY’S BBQ

Location: Malcolm, Nebraska

Lippy’s specializes in “naked barbecue,” which means they don’t add any sauce to their meats, instead letting the high-quality meat speak for itself. Their menu includes a beef brisket sandwich, Memphis-style pulled pork, brisket fajitas, and a Mix-Up Sandwich Meal: brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken.

28. NEVADA // JOHN MULL’S MEATS AND ROAD KILL GRILL

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The location started as John Mull’s Meats and Deer Processing, until third generation owner Chuck Frommer took over the business in 1981. Deer and other meats are no longer slaughtered on the premises, and the space has evolved into a catering company, a meat market, and a small picnic-style lunch and dinner spot. You can pick up pork offal and goat meat by the pound from the market, or you can have them prepare the food for you: half-chicken dinners, five-bone rib dinners, hot links, mac and cheese, and cobbler.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // GOODY COLE’S SMOKEHOUSE & CATERING

Location: Brentwood, New Hampshire

The husband and wife team behind Goody Cole’s use an Oyler Barbecue Pit—which can hold up to 1200 pounds of meat—to hickory-smoke their meats for 12 hours. One of the owners hails from Texas, so she knows a thing or two about smoking barbecue well. The results are mouth-watering turkey, kielbasa, beef brisket, and a "world famous" St. Louis-style pork rib, dry seasoned with their own secret recipe.

30. NEW JERSEY // HENRI’S HOTTS BARBEQUE

Location: Hammonton, New Jersey

As if one plate of barbecue wasn’t filling enough, now you have the option of endlessly stuffing your face with pulled pork, black-eyed peas, ribs, whipped yams, and meatloaf at Henri's all-you-can-eat weekend buffet (or, thankfully, you can also opt to take your buffet to go). During the week, Henri’s serves a regular menu with many of the same items, including platters, wings, sandwiches, and burgers, which are just part of the reason Henri's has won the Best BBQ in South Jersey title for five years in a row.

31. NEW MEXICO // WATSON’S BBQ

Location: Tucumcari, New Mexico

Tucumcari Ranch Supply is home to a general store that sells livestock feed and sundries, but it’s also where owners Jimmy and Stella Watson smoke meats for their restaurant, Watson’s. They have Frito pie, a Bucky Special (brisket and sausage), a turkey leg plate, and a New Mexico green chili stew, as well as a full (not barbecued) donut menu.

32. NEW YORK // BIG W’S ROADSIDE BAR-B-QUE

Location: Wingdale, New York

New York City may have tons of barbecue options, but take a 90-minute drive outside the city and visit Big W’s in Wingdale. The “W” stands for owner/pitboss Warren Norstein, who started his barbecue adventure in 2003, on the side of Route 22. His chickens are smoked over wood for six hours, hence the name “slow chicken.” Besides poultry, their menu offers sandwiches and spare ribs in portions “truly sensible,” “sensible,” and “roadside.” If you’re feeding a lot of people, choose the For The Table meal: one whole rack of ribs, whole chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork, and six sides for $99.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // HIGH COTTON

Location: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge wins a lot of barbecue brackets, but North Carolina has other barbecue joints. Enter the Outer Banks’ High Cotton, which serves up family-sized portions of eastern North Carolina 'cue. The hand-chopped pork is smoked on hickory for 12 hours, and they also make mean southern fried chicken, chocolate pecan Chess pie, hushpuppies, and Texas brisket.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // SPITFIRE BAR AND GRILL

Location: West Fargo, North Dakota

In 2011, Spitfire won first place for chicken in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbeque. The chicken is spitfired, their ribs are pit-smoked, and their burgers, fish, and steaks are wood-fired.

35. OHIO // ELI’S BBQ

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

In 2012, Elias Leisring started Eli’s in a tent, selling his sandwiches and meat platters at Cincinnati’s Findlay Market. He has since upgraded to two brick-and-mortar locations, including one at Findlay. Last year, Yelp named Eli’s one of the top 100 places to eat in the U.S.—the only Ohio restaurant on the list. For a mere $6, you can get a brisket sandwich, or for a couple of dollars more, a full slab of ribs, rib tips, and smoked all-beef franks. Besides the meats, their jalapeño cheddar grits are also tasty.

36. OKLAHOMA // BURN CO. BARBEQUE

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Burn Co. opened in 2011, and they smoke meat (baby back ribs, drumsticks, bologna) and sausages (Polish, pork, venison, bratwurst), and serve sides of smoky baked beans, hand cut coleslaw, and grilled potato salad. Some of their meats are available to take home, so you can grill them up on your own, but the restaurant goes through about 40 gallons of barbecue sauce and 125 pounds of rub each week. Their food is so good that Alton Brown recently said it was the “best barbecue we’ve had on the road so far.”

37. OREGON // BO-MACK’S BBQ EXPRESS

Location: Albany, Oregon

Podnah's Pit is a revered place in Oregon and Portland, but Bo-Mack’s is a true family affair. Owned and operated by a nine-member family, Bo-Mack’s serves complimentary cornbread with fresh whipped honey butter during meals, which are based around dry-rubbed meats smoked for 14-18 hours, as well as a selection of sides like creamy garlic mashed potatoes. They make their own sauces, too, from Sweet and Sassy to the Ghost Pepper-spiced Hooligan.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // HARVEY’S MAIN STREET BBQ

Location: Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

Harvey Schademan and his wife got their start in the barbecue business 30 years ago, selling half chickens on the side of the road. Since then, Harvey has won several barbecue competitions, which he attributes to his ribs being less sugary than typical Kansas City-style ribs. The large menu includes gumbo, cherry-smoked pulled pork, smoked brisket nachos, wild boar, and burgers, and after a 2014 fire destroyed their original building, Harvey's reopened last year with more than twice the seating capacity. Plenty of room to fill up on their "flavory and savory" plates.

39. RHODE ISLAND // BECKY’S BBQ

Location: Middletown, Rhode Island

At Becky’s, they barbecue their pork and beef for 18 hours, and then hand-pull each cut. Since 1998, they’ve offered family style meals, sandwiches, platters, sides like Becky’s three-bean bake, and hickory-smoked ribs. Unfortunately, Becky Bowden, the restaurant's namesake founder, passed away, but her husband, Bob Bringhurst, carries on with their friendly barbecue legacy.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // SWEATMAN’S BAR-B-QUE

Location: Holly Hill, South Carolina

You will have to drive an hour from Charleston to Holly Hill to find the Sweatman's barbecue place, located inside a an old farmhouse. For 40 years, Sweatman's has served plates with meats, hash, and slaw, and an all-you-can-eat plate of "ribs and skins." Plus, you can get banana pudding for less than a buck. As one Eater commenter wrote, “Any votes other than Sweatman’s have never made the drive.”

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // BIG RIG BBQ

Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Big Rig takes a naked, "sauce optional" approach to barbecue. “Try it first without it, and if you need it, add it,” reads their website. Located in front of a Home Depot, everything Big Rig does has a no-frills approach to cooking; they joke that they don't even own a can opener. But the product is superb, which co-owner Bob Brenner's recent Food Falls Tourney win can attest to.

42. TENNESSEE // PEG LEG PORKER

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

In the Volunteer State, swine is king. Peg Leg pitmaster Carey Bringle opened his restaurant in 2013 (the eatery's name is a good-natured nod to the bone cancer that claimed his right leg as a teenager), and fare is as southern as it gets. Favorites like pimento cheese, smoked green beans, barbecued pulled pork, and pork rinds are served alongside Kool-Aid pickles and "Memphis sushi" (a sausage and cheese platter with saltines). They also sell a variety of bourbon, including their own batch called Peg Leg Porker Tennessee Straight Bourbon.

43. TEXAS // THE SALT LICK BBQ

Locations: Driftwood and Round Rock, Texas

It’s not hard to find good barbecue in the great state of Texas, but you’d be hard-pressed to find something like Salt Lick. The original location in Driftwood, Texas started smoking their 'cue in 1967, and the brand's popularity grew from there (there are more than 10,000 reviews on its Facebook page, a testament to the widespread appeal). Also located in Round Rock, the two locations serve brisket, a vegetable plate, samplers, turkey, and homemade pecan pie. And, if you're in the mood for something truly Texas-sized, you can order a gallon—yes, a full gallon—of their house barbecue sauce.

44. UTAH // BAM BAM'S BBQ

Location: Orem, Utah

Owner Cameron “Bam Bam” Treu started competing in the Kansas City Barbecue Society contest circuit, and in 2012 he won grand champion at the Best Dam BBQ Challenge. At his namesake restaurant—which opened in 2013—Bam Bam smokes Central Texas-style meats like chopped beef, sausage links, and turkey for 14 hours. Pick a meat and pile it on their BBQ Swachos (their barbecue-covered nachos).

45. VERMONT // BIG FATTY’S BBQ

Location: White River Junction, Vermont

At Big Fatty’s New England barbecue joint they serve brined chicken wings, beef brisket, five pounds of whole slab ribs, and Texas brisket. And here, being a "Big Fatty" is an accomplishment: To complete the Big Fatty’s Challenge, you must eat four pounds worth of pulled pork and fries on a bun in under an hour.

46. VIRGINIA // BBQ EXCHANGE

Location: Gordonsville, Virginia

Pork belly and smoked tofu aren’t exactly traditional components on a barbecue menu, but the BBQ Exchange takes a unique approach to classic barbecue fare. Their sauces consist of Virginia-style smoky bacon, sweet Kansas City-style, and hog fire made with hot peppers. As a reminder of their southern roots, the Exchange also has fried green tomatoes, collared greens, and Brunswick stew on the menu.

47. WASHINGTON // CAMPFIRE BBQ

Location: Seattle, Washington

Campfire's well-reviewed brisket and Memphis-style ribs are made with locally sourced meat that's organic and sustainable. The sauces—bourbon, beer, and mustard based—use ingredients from local distilleries and brewers. Paying tribute to their Pacific Northwest location, Campfire also offers agave-glazed salmon, barbecued eggplant, and sometimes wild game like elk.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // DEM 2 BROTHERS & A GRILL

Location: Charleston, West Virginia

Only one brother runs the joint—Adrian “Bay” Wright—but he is the youngest of 10 kids. As Wright says on the website, the eatery is “located on the best-smelling corner in Charleston.” Wright visited his hometown of Charleston and cooked roadside ribs for a weekend, and with some coercion from his family, decided to stay indefinitely and open the place. The menu features Big Bay’s ribs, fish, chicken, sweet potato casserole, wings, and on Soul Food Sundays, Wright offers ox tail, collard greens, and fried chicken.

49. WISCONSIN // LD’S BBQ

Location: East Troy, Wisconsin

LD’s is known for their sandwiches, which are piled high in a mix-and-match style of multiple meats. The Shane is made with half chicken and half brisket, the Z-Drake adds pulled pork to the Shane, and the Hocking contains smoked sausage and pulled pork. If meatloaf is your thing, come Wednesdays when they sell it as a special.

50. WYOMING // POKEY’S BBQ & SMOKEHOUSE

Location: Gillette, Wyoming

For the folks at Pokey’s, their “dinner” menu is “lunch for you cityfolks,” and "supper" [PDF] is served evenings Tuesday through Sunday. Their beef brisket, kielbasa, smoked pork chops, steaks, shrimp, and samplers come with a trip to their salad bar, two sides, and cheesy biscuits. And the sides—tater salad, ale-battered onion rings, fried green tomatoes—are just as crucial as the meats. So what separates Pokey’s from the rest of the barbecue joints in town? Their “wild thang" [PDF] menu: ostrich, gator tail, kangaroo, buffalo skewers, and—for the most adventurous of eaters—python.

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The Best Pie in All 50 States
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Pi Day isn't until March 14, but there's another pie-centric holiday on the calendar. Pie Day falls on January 23, and we're sharing our picks for the best pie in every state. Whether you prefer a classic apple or go for more unusual flavors (raspberry rhubarb jalapeño, anyone?), celebrate Pie Day with one of these delectable options.

1. ALABAMA // PIE LAB

Two pies on a table at Pie Lab.

Location: Greensboro, Alabama

This trendy community space serves fried chicken salads and various wraps and paninis, but the highlight are their pies, made with exceptionally buttery crusts. Have a slice of coconut cream or chocolate chess pie while you enjoy good conversation and a friendly vibe. And if you have a hankering for a real taste of home, chef Seaborn Whatley says they'll even try to duplicate an old family favorite if you happen to have your grandmother's recipe book on hand.

2. ALASKA // BEAR TOOTH THEATREPUB

Slice of caramel turtle fudge ice cream pie.
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska

The Bear Tooth Theatrepub is more than a dine-in movie theater—it's also a restaurant, draft brewery, and concert venue all in one. But after you've finished off some fresh Alaskan fish tacos, save room for the caramel turtle fudge ice cream pie. Made with an Oreo cookie crust, the pie manages to perfectly balance chocolate fudge, vanilla ice cream, and smooth caramel.

3. ARIZONA // PIEFECTION

Slice of lemon meringue pie.
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Location: Mesa, Arizona

This pie-only bakery focuses on top-notch ingredients such as fresh whipped cream, wild blueberries, and bars of authentic Belgian chocolate. The country apple pie, made with cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg (and can be made gluten-free with a day's notice), is a real standout. Or, cool off from the Arizona heat with a slice of lemon meringue, topped with beautifully toasted, swirled meringue.

4. ARKANSAS // FRANKE'S

The sign for Franke's Cafeteria in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Harold Wright, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Opened nearly a century ago in 1919, Franke's boasts three locations in Little Rock today. The cafeteria is popular for its burgers and candied sweet potatoes, and for its selection of outstanding pies, such as egg custard, chocolate cream, and sweet potato coconut.

5. CALIFORNIA // THE MADONNA INN BAKERY

pie from The Madonna Inn Bakery
Courtesy of The Madonna Inn Bakery

Location: San Luis Obispo, California

The whimsical Madonna Inn has provided rooms to travelers on California's Central Coast since 1958, and the hotel's bakery, situated inside the Copper Cafe, is a must-needed sweet stop along Highway 101. The magnificent pies come in flavors such as caramel Dutch apple, apricot, cherry, and cream cheese.

6. COLORADO // 3.14 SWEET & SAVORY PI BAR

Close-up of a pie.
Courtesy of 3.14 Sweet & Savory Pi Bar

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

3.14 Sweet & Savory Pi Bar is a fun bakery that pays homage to everyone's favorite mathematical constant. Pies here are creatively named; a few standouts are the Nutty Professor (peanut butter chocolate pie), I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts (coconut cream), and Wicked Southern Dutchman (Dutch apple pie with Kentucky bourbon).

7. CONNECTICUT // SIXPENCE PIE COMPANY

Slice of pie topped with bananas.
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Location: Southington and New Haven, Connecticut

Two friends who loved baking started Sixpence Pie Company at a local farmer's market, and have since opened two brick-and-mortar stores. Besides savory shepherd's pie and chicken pot pies, you'll find seasonal sweet pies and a mouthwatering sugar and spice pie, made with banana and Nutella.

8. DELAWARE // CANNON'S CUSTOM CAKES & BAKERY

Close-up of pecan pie.
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Location: Newark, Delaware

Since 1985, Cannon's Bakery has provided elaborate custom cakes for parties and special occasions, the result of mother-of-five Leah Cannon's well-known prowess at making cakes for friends and family. But you don't need a wedding or graduation as an excuse to take home one of the shop's delicious pies; pick up a pecan or apple pie, or a seasonal sugar-lattice fruit pie.

9. FLORIDA // JOE'S STONE CRAB

A slice of key lime pie.
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Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Back in 1913, Joe Weiss moved from New York to Miami to try to improve his asthma. The lunch counter he opened has morphed into a Miami Beach landmark that serves stellar seafood and perfect pies. Although key lime pie is the classic choice here, the chocolate pecan and apple pies are also marvelous.

10. GEORGIA // SUGAR SHACK

Slice of large chocolate pecan pie.
Courtesy of Sugar Shack

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

At this cozy coffee shop in a shopping center, you'll find dessert cases filled with tantalizing full and mini pies. The apple crumb and peach crumb pies are light and energizing, and the chocolate pecan pie has a richness that will make you feel sublime.

11. HAWAII // LEODA'S KITCHEN AND PIE SHOP

Rows of small chocolate macadamia nut pies.
Jennifer Cachola, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Lahaina, Hawaii

Located on the west side of Maui, Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop serves what it calls "glorified grandma comfort food." The macadamia nut chocolate praline and coconut cream pies are certainly comforting, in the way that only sugar and grandmas can be.

12. IDAHO // BIG CITY COFFEE AND CAFE

Cherry pie scone from Big City Coffee and Cafe
Courtesy of Big City Coffee and Cafe

Location: Boise, Idaho

Big City Coffee in the Linen District blurs the line between pies and scones with its spectacular cherry pie scone. The enormous creation is loaded with fruit and has a uniquely flaky, granular crust.

13. ILLINOIS // BANG BANG PIE & BISCUITS

Large crumb pie on a blue checkered background.
Courtesy of Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Stop at Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Logan Square or Ravenswood for a tart apple cherry crumble pie or the best lemon pistachio pie of your life. Made with a shortbread crust, the pie contains lemon curd, buttermilk custard, and candied pistachios. The store also offers baking classes so you can learn to make your own pie creations at home.

14. INDIANA // MOM'S HOMEMADE PIES

Slice of gooseberry pie.
iStock

Location: Kokomo, Indiana

Mom's Homemade Pies takes its name seriously. You won't find any mixers, which means that all the pie crust here is tender and silky. The gooseberry pie is loaded with fruit and the butterscotch cream pie will make you nostalgic for a simpler, sweeter time.

15. IOWA // DELUXE

Pies from Deluxe
Courtesy of Deluxe

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Deluxe is an adorable French bakery located just one mile from the Iowa River. The bakers here use fresh, organic local apples to make an excellent double butter crust apple pie, and the strawberry rhubarb pie is also noteworthy for its subtle balance of sweet and tart.

16. KANSAS // THE UPPER CRUST PIE BAKERY

Pie from The Upper Crust Pie Bakery
Courtesy of The Upper Crust Pie Bakery

Location: Overland Park, Kansas

Opened by two sisters and their mom, this neighborhood bakery delights visitors with its authentically Midwestern approach to pies. Although most people love the peach raspberry and coconut custard pies, don't overlook the yummy brown sugar buttermilk pie.

17. KENTUCKY // ANNIE MAY'S SWEET CAFE

Pie from Annie May's Sweet Cafe
Courtesy of Annie May's Sweet Cafe

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

All of the treats at this allergy-friendly bakery are free of soy, gluten, peanuts, and tree nuts. But what the pies lack in allergens, they make up for in bold flavor. The store's glorious fruit pies are simple, pure, and absolutely delicious.

18. LOUISIANA // COWBELL

Slice of apple pie with caramel drizzle.
iStock

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

This restaurant's name might make you think of the old Saturday Night Live skit, but once you dine at this dog-friendly eatery, you'll definitely say that you need more Cowbell. To chase the skirt steak or carne asada tacos, order the apple pie. It's served with crème anglaise and caramel, making for a tantalizing gustatory experience.

19. MAINE // TWO FAT CATS BAKERY

Close-up of a blueberry rhubarb pie.
iStock

Location: Portland, Maine

Two Fat Cats Bakery is a truly special place devoted to baking pies (and other desserts) from scratch. Bakers hand roll every pie, use authentic New England ingredients, and advertise fruit pies based on the harvest months. For wild Maine blueberries, order the divine blueberry rhubarb pie in May or June. For this time of year? The Lemon Shaker or Bourbon Pecan pies will do the trick

20. MARYLAND // RENATA'S TASTY BITES

Close-up of a decorative pie crust.
iStock

Location: Columbia, Maryland

After moving from Croatia to the states, Renata Alanovic opened this delightful store in Columbia. Customers love her handmade sweet and savory pies and pastries, especially the wonderful cherry and pecan pies, all with extra embellishments on the crust.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // MIKE'S PASTRY

Takeout box at Mike's Pastry.
Kimberly Vardeman, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Massachusetts

With locations in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, Mike's Pastry has a strong presence in the greater Bean Town area. Grab a few Nutella cannoli and chow down on a slice of authentic Boston cream pie while you admire the ricotta pie's flawlessly golden top.

22. MICHIGAN // SISTER PIE

Three decorative pies on a tray.
Courtesy of Sister Pie

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Sister Pie treats pie with the utmost respect. Bakers make the crust by hand with unbleached flour and French butter, and they source local ingredients at peak ripeness for pie fillings. The salted maple and honey lemon meringue pies will blow your mind.

23. MINNESOTA // THE BUTTERED TIN

The Buttered Tin pie
Courtesy of The Buttered Tin

Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

This cafe and bakery in Lowertown serves coffee and pie that hit the spot when you need an extra boost to get through the day. You'll find different crusts made of butter, graham cracker, or sugar dough, and flavors range from a tart green apple to pumpkin chiffon.

24. MISSISSIPPI // WALKER'S DRIVE-IN

Two fried fruit pies.
iStock

Location: Jackson, Mississippi

If you're in the Fondren arts district, you must head to Walker's Drive-In for a slice of the fried pie of the day. Depending on the day, you might enjoy an upside down blueberry pie or a chocolate pecan pie, served with bourbon vanilla ice cream.

25. MISSOURI // IT'S EASY AS PIE

Four pretty, mini pies.
iStock

Location: Fenton, Missouri

If you find it hard to pick just one flavor of pie to eat, It's Easy As Pie has you covered. Order their Cutie Pies for a dozen assorted mini pies that will make your tastebuds ecstatic. Or get a whole bananas foster pie, which contains creme brûlée infused with dark rum.

26. MONTANA // BLACK CAT BAKE SHOP

Half of a huckleberry lattice pie.
iStock

Location: Missoula, Montana

This charming family-owned bakery is popular for its stollen (a German fruit and nut loaf) and stupendous pies. The huckleberry pie earns raves for its effortless balance of sweet and tart flavors.

27. NEBRASKA // MODERN LOVE

Modern Love pie
Courtesy of Modern Love

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Three words: vegan comfort food. After you chow down on latkes, seitan gyros, or wild mushroom schnitzel, get ready for some of the best pie of your life. The apple ginger pie is served with a coconut whip, and the blood orange coconut cream pie is made with a snickerdoodle crust.

28. NEVADA // WET HEN CAFE

Large apple pie with a slice missing.
iStock

Location: Reno, Nevada

Wet Hen Cafe is located in a nondescript strip mall, but don't overlook this homespun spot. Generously stuffed with apple slices, the apple pie is huge, heavenly, and served with cinnamon sauce.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // CHEZ VACHON

Cranberry pie with a bowl of cranberries beside it.
iStock

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

This superb restaurant serves heaping plates of poutine as well as a huge selection of fruit and cream pies. Highlights include the pistachio cream and cranberry walnut cheesecake pies.

30. NEW JERSEY // THE PIE STORE

The Pie Store pie
Courtesy of The Pie Store

Location: Upper Montclair, New Jersey

Anglophiles love The Pie Store for its impressive selection of British groceries. You'll find plenty of savory pies (shepherd's pie, chicken and mushroom) as well as spectacular sweet pies, like their Key Lime. They make their fruit pies, like the cran-apple or raspberry-blackberry-apple, with a double crust, or stop in Saturday or Sunday to get the weekend-only coconut custard and chocolate mousse pies.

31. NEW MEXICO // TUNE-UP CAFE

A strawberry rhubarb pie.
iStock

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

The husband-wife team at Tune-Up Cafe serves an eclectic mix of tamales, pupusas, and homemade, gluten-free pies. Order the pie of the day a la mode for a taste of blueberry, maple pecan, or strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla bean ice cream.

32. NEW YORK // PIED PIPER PIES

pies from Pied Piper Pies
Courtesy of Pied Piper Pies

Location: Highland Falls, New York

At Pied Piper Pies, the crust is flaky and the filling is satisfying. Whether you sample a quiche, pot pie, or sweet pie, you'll be able to taste the care and love that goes into each creation. Pro tip? Get the Samoa or Snickers pies for a sweet blast of nostalgia.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // THE PIE HOLE

A slice of s'mores pie.
Courtesy of The Pie Hole

Location: Durham, North Carolina

With locations in southern California, Tokyo, and Durham, The Pie Hole has perfected the art of making pie. Toasted marshmallow creme, dark chocolate mousse, and a graham cracker crust comprise the stellar s'mores pie.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // MEZZALUNA

A piece of caramel apple pie.
iStock

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

This upscale restaurant behind the Fargo Theatre is known for its filet mignon and insanely decadent desserts. The caramel apple pie is served with vanilla bean ice cream, but it's small, so you'll want to savor every bite (or order two).

35. OHIO // MAMA JO HOMESTYLE PIES

Slice of chocolate mousse pie.
iStock

Location: Amherst and Medina, Ohio

If you don't appreciate lard's essential role in making the perfect pie crust, stay away from Mama Jo Homestyle Pies. For everyone else, enjoy a slice of Buckeye cream pie, which contains silky layers of chocolate and peanut butter mousse.

36. OKLAHOMA // THE MERCANTILE

The Mercantile pie
Courtesy of The Mercantile

Location: Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Hands down, the best pie in the Sooner State can be found at The Mercantile. This store and cafe owned by Food Network superstar Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman) serves exceptional pecan pie made with toasted Oklahoma pecans, brown sugar custard, and bourbon vanilla whipped cream.

37. OREGON // PETUNIA'S PIES AND PASTRIES

A sour cherry pie.
iStock

Location: Portland, Oregon

This charmingly alliterative bakery makes small batches of vegan, gluten-free pastries using a blend of millet flour, almond meal, and flaxseeds. It's hard to pick favorites, but some of the best pies here are the lattice top sour cherry and double crust blackberry peach.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // OAKMONT BAKERY

Oakmont Bakery pie
Courtesy of Oakmont Bakery

Location: Oakmont, Pennsylvania

For 30 years, Oakmont Bakery has been famous for its Paczki (Polish stuffed doughnuts), but the homemade pies are in a league all their own. The Dutch apple seems like a must-order in Pennsylvania, but the spiky tufts on the coconut meringue are impossible to pass up.

39. RHODE ISLAND // THE WAYLAND BAKERY

The sign at Providence's Wayland Bakery.

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Pies at The Wayland Bakery come in eight-, nine-, or 10-inch pans, but when it comes to this 90-year-old bakery's pies, bigger is better. Standout flavors include sugar-free apple, coconut custard, and lemon meringue.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // HAROLD'S CABIN

A slice of buttermilk pie.
iStock

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood, Harold's Cabin is a restaurant and corner store with a small rooftop garden. Head there on a Saturday or Sunday for breakfast and enjoy sitting with other people who won't judge you for partaking in buttermilk or cranberry apple pie first thing in the morning.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // THE PURPLE PIE PLACE

The Purple Pie Place pie
Courtesy of The Purple Pie Place

Location: Custer, South Dakota

The Black Hills region is famous for two attractions: Mount Rushmore National Memorial and The Purple Pie Place. Customers rave about the freshness of the blueberry pie and the creative mix of flavors in the raspberry rhubarb jalapeño pie.

42. TENNESSEE // PAULETTE'S RESTAURANT

A slice of chocolate whip pie.
iStock

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

For four decades, Paulette's Restaurant has been a destination for fine dining and celebratory meals along the Mississippi River. Although the key lime pie is killer, get the Kahlua-mocha parfait pie. Nicknamed the K-pie, this extravagant dessert's crust is made with pecans and coconut.

43. TEXAS // PIE IN THE SKY PIE CO.

Pie In The Sky Pie Co. pie
Courtesy of Pie In The Sky Pie Co.

Location: Conroe, Texas

Drive 40 miles north of Houston, and you'll find Pie In The Sky Pie Co., a cafe and bakery that churns out a large selection of carefully curated pies. If you can handle the heat, get a slice of red hot apple pie, made with Red Hots cinnamon candies.

44. UTAH // THE DODO

A slice of Toll House pie at The Dodo.
Sam Klein, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Named after the extinct Mauritian bird, The Dodo serves humongous, heavenly slices of pie. Flavor options for the towering slices of pie include Toll House, banana cream cheese, and chocolate almond mousse.

45. VERMONT // THE HARTLAND DINER

A slice of cream pie.
iStock

Location: Hartland, Vermont

Located on Route 5, this neighborhood diner is the perfect spot for a cup of joe and a slice of maple cream or chocolate cream pie. The servings are generous, including the giant dollop of whipped cream that practically hides the delicious pie underneath.

46. VIRGINIA // THE HORSESHOE

The Horseshoe pie
Courtesy of The Horseshoe

Location: South Hill, Virginia

If you're seeking the simple elegance of Depression Era pies—full recipes made with limited ingredients such as milk, sugar, eggs, and butter— head to this diner that has been open since the '30s. The former blacksmith shop now serves timelessly delicious buttermilk, brown sugar, and lemon chess pies.

47. WASHINGTON // SIMPLY SOULFUL

A slice of sweet potato pie.
iStock

Location: Seattle, Washington

A family recipe for sweet potato pie inspired a mother and daughter to open Simply Soulful, a soul food and pie joint in Madison Valley. Sip espresso as you dig in to a sweet potato, apple, or mixed berry pie.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // OLIVER'S PIES

Oliver’s Pies pie
Courtesy of Oliver’s Pies

Location: Wheeling, West Virginia

Run by the Oliver family, Oliver's Pies makes handmade pies with the utmost care. The Dutch apple and peach pies are stuffed with fruit, and the chocolate peanut butter cream pie is rich and velvety.

49. WISCONSIN // STOCKHOLM PIE AND GENERAL STORE

Stockholm Pie and General Store pie
Courtesy of Stockholm Pie and General Store

Location: Stockholm, Wisconsin

Head to Stockholm Pie and General Store for an espresso bar, Wisconsin cheese, and pies galore. After chowing down on chicken pot pie, try the caramel apple crunch pie, which contains hand peeled and sliced apples, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel sauce.

50. WYOMING // THE PIE TIN

A slice of sour cream raisin pie.
iStock

Location: Wheatland, Wyoming

You'll find cakes, cookies, and quick breads at this bakery and catering company, but the pies are truly special. The pumpkin and pecan pies are stellar, as are the more unusual butterscotch and sour cream raisin pies.

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technology
5 Things to Know About Amazon Go, the Company's Fully Automated Convenience Store
Stephen Brashear, Getty Images
Stephen Brashear, Getty Images

In Seattle, Amazon’s latest retail experiment is offering a whole new way to buy groceries. Launched on January 22, Amazon Go is a convenience store that requires no checkout whatsoever. It’s equipped with technology that can track which items you pick up—basic food items, pre-made meals and meal kits, booze, etc.—and automatically charge you through an app on your phone. You can be sure that if this pilot store is successful, you’ll see more Amazon Go stores roll out in other cities, too. Here are five things we know about the experience, according to The New York Times’s account of visiting.

1. YOU CAN’T GET IN WITHOUT THE APP.

The store doesn’t have a typical entrance. Instead of entering an open shopping space, visitors first have to pass through automatic gates that resemble the ones that you have to pass through to get into a subway station. To enter, you need to open up the Amazon Go app on your phone and scan your unique code. Once you’re in the store, Amazon’s AI will track the items you pick up and add them to your virtual cart, charging you for them when you leave.

2. YOU WON’T FIND ANY SHOPPING CARTS—OR LINES.

Because there’s no checkout, you don’t need a cart. Instead, you put your items into whatever bag you plan to carry them out in. Since the store is a convenience store, not a full supermarket (1800 square feet compared to the usual 42,000 or so of a grocery store), you probably won’t have so many purchases that you’d need a cart, anyway. And the lack of a checkout process means that you don’t have to wait in line to leave, either. All your purchases are being tracked in the app, so you just have to walk out the door. Amazon will send you an electronic receipt a few minutes after you leave.

3. HUNDREDS OF SMALL CAMERAS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING YOU.

Amazon is staying tight-lipped on how exactly the technology that it uses to track purchases works, but it involves sensors and hundreds of small cameras that can see everything happening in the store. “Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix,” according to the Times. The machine learning and computer vision it has developed can tell not just if you’ve picked an item off the shelf, but if you’ve put the item back and decided to purchase something else.

4. YOU MIGHT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SHOPLIFTING.

There are very few retail experiences that allow you to simply pick up an item and walk out the door without handing anyone cash or a credit card, so making purchases at Amazon Go is likely to feel super weird for most of us. As you slip items into your bag and leave, you may feel like you’re shoplifting, the Times’s Nick Wingfield notes. But that doesn’t mean that you could get away with stealing something if you wanted to. Wingfield tried to trick the cameras by covering up a pack of soda before he took it off the shelf, but the cameras still managed to notice his purchase and charge him for it. A reporter for Ars Technica also tried to fool Amazon’s technology by picking multiple items up and putting them back in different places, but was unable to trip up the app’s shopping cart.

5. YOU’LL STILL SEE EMPLOYEES.

You may not need help checking out, but you may still need to interact with a human. If you want to buy alcohol, an employee waiting in the beer and wine section must check your ID before you can take that six-pack off the shelf. There are also various Amazon employees wandering around to help sort out technical issues and restock shelves, as well as chefs that you can watch prep meals in the kitchen.

But overall, you can easily get through an entire shopping trip without ever speaking to another human—or waiting in line.

[h/t The New York Times]

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