Independence Day in America is synonymous with fireworks and barbecue. Many, if not most of us, will do some grilling on the Fourth of July—be it on a balcony or rooftop hibachi, backyard Big Green Egg or $20,000 custom outdoor grilling island.
Then again, maybe you don't have room to grill or barbecue, or perhaps you just don't have the inclination to spend what is assured to be a hot day toiling over an even hotter grill. No worries. Just leave your barbecue needs to the pros. These folks can provide you with everything you need to throw a great Fourth of July cookout—without the cooking.
The staff at Bandits Grill & Bar (3176 E. 6200 South, Cottonwood Heights, 801-944-0505, banditsbbqutah.com) has been smoking meats over oak wood fires since 1989. With catering packages priced as low as $12 per person, it's not just smart, but economical, to let them do the smoking. The slow-roasted, wood-grilled tri-tip here is legendary, and you'll be, too, should you choose to serve it to your guests.
One of the best kept barbecue secrets in the state is Layton's Holy Smoke BBQ & Grill (855 Heritage Park Blvd., 801-614-5011, hsbbqlayton.com). A great choice for your faux backyard barbecue is to offer guests Holy Smoke's pulled chicken. Whole chickens are lightly smoked, then the barbecue experts remove the skin and bones, leaving nothing but tender, tasty morsels of light and dark chicken meat. It's perfect for making pulled chicken sandwiches for your outdoor activities.
For a funky slice of Texas, be sure to stop by Kaiser's Bar-B-Que & General Store (962 S., 300 West, SLC, 801-355-0499, kaisersbbq.com). Situated in an old meat locker, Kaiser's is the real deal. Pulled pork here is juicy and tender, and the brisket is sensational. I'm especially fond of the tender pork ribs, with their perfect bark, and so will the folks lucky enough to enjoy the holiday at your place with Kaiser's supplying the meats. In case you need party decorations: What other barbecue joint do you know of can you purchase a pair of steel-sculpted pink flamingoes while your meal is being prepared?
It's hard to imagine Salt Lake City without a Pat's BBQ (155 W. Commonwealth Ave., SLC, 801-484-5963, patsbbq.com). Pitmaster Pat Barber has been satisfying the staunchest of barbecue aficionados for decades, as well as supplying a unique venue for live music. If you have 100 people or more showing up, Pat himself will park his smoker at your place and do the cooking. Otherwise, try Pat's customized "BBQ-in-a-Box" to feed your hungry revelers.
Now, if you know anything about Utah barbecue, you surely know of Tommy "T" Brown: former restaurateur, award-winning barbecue master, musician and all-around great guy. You'll find his food and fixins at the Q4U BBQ Truck (q4ubbqtruck.com), at various locations around the Salt Lake Valley on any given day. T's incendiary hot link sausages are sure to turn up the heat on your patriotic gathering long before the fireworks begin to crackle and pop.
Everything at R&R BBQ (multiple locations, randrbbq.com) is excellent—from St. Louis spare ribs to deep-fried okra—but if barbecued brisket is your thing, this is the place. And, since R&R sells items like brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and more by-the-pound, it's perfect for any celebration.
A longtime staple of the local barbecue scene, venerable SugarHouse BBQ (880 E. 2100 South, SLC, 801-463-4800, sugarhousebbq.com) has the right stuff. The specialty here is Memphis-style barbecue, with a focus on flavorful dry rubs and properly smoked meats rather than smothering sauces. I simply can't resist the Carolina-style pulled pork with housemade Carolina Pig Sauce, and neither should you.