City: Murphysboro, Ill.
Address: 32 N 17th St.

Considered one of the best barbecue places in the whole entire world, the ‘cue at 17th Street Barbecue is all thanks to the meat-manipulating magic of Mike Mills. An award-winning artist of sorts, Mills brings all his heart and soul (and his audacious nickname “The Legend”) to the Heartland’s best barbecue joint.  Mills is the guy behind Magic Dust, a “top-secret” spice mix of paprika, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and more that gets sprinkled liberally all over his goodies including fresh chicharones, BBQ nachos, and the Bon Appetit-touted “best ribs in the U.S.” (cooked slowly over cherry and apple woods for six hours). 

Mills is so renowned for his barbecue prowess that he’s even authored a James Beard-nominated book called Peace, Love and Barbecue.  “Life is too short for half a rack,” is Mills’ motto. Well, the barbecue tycoon is definitely working with racks on racks on racks. And damn good ones, too.