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17th Street Bar & Grill

Barbecue geeks don't visit the original 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, Illinois, so much as make a pilgrimage there. Founder Mike Mills is a legend in the barbecue scene, an unprecedented three-time winner of barbecue's best-known award, the Grand World Championship at Memphis in May's Super Bowl of Swine. As if Mills hadn't received enough acclaim, in a televised special on the Food Network Bon Appétit declared the ribs at 17th Street the nation's best. Now, you can sample these ribs (and pulled pork, brisket and more) at the O'Fallon, Illinois, location of 17th Street (1771 West U.S. Highway 50; 618-622-1717), which is much closer to St. Louis. But why not take the extra time to travel to the source? After all, barbecue is all about taking time: Mike Mills smokes his baby-back ribs for as long as seven hours over apple- and cherrywood. Order a whole rack of ribs (a better deal than the half-rack) while you're there. You won't be able to finish it in one sitting, but you'll have something to snack on during the drive home.

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