Whether it’s coming from a campfire or wafting off a big pile of meat, there’s just something about smoke—especially in the autumn months.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of barbecue joints in and around Annapolis. Whether you’re a rib-lover, all about the brisket or, like me, a pulled pork devotee, you’ll find a top-notch version of your favorite smoky meat someplace around town. The restaurants below are a few of my favorite local barbecue haunts.

Adam’s Ribs

Ask around and you will probably hear locals tell you that Adam’s is the barbecue they grew up eating; the pulled pork sandwich is the gold standard to which I compare every other pork sandwich I try.

When Adam’s opened, several decades ago, the menu was short, the sauce was sweet and thick and the double-fried French fries were a thing of beauty. Today, there are six locations around the area and the fries are still fantastic, but the menu has expanded and diners now have a choice of several sauces. But I still go for the pork, doused with that sticky, tomato-based sauce. It’s hard to beat.

Annapolis Smokehouse and Tavern

This Bay Ridge eatery does a good job with classic barbecue dishes, but I especially like some of the more adventurous items on the menu. The Easportorican, for example, is a truly tasty take on the Cuban sandwich, featuring pulled pork and smoked ham, and the pulled pork-stuffed egg rolls are one of the better appetizers in town.

Mission BBQ

You can find outposts of this patriotic barbecue joint up and down the East Coast these days, but the original Mission BBQ is located in Glen Burnie (there are also two Annapolis locations). I’ve been a fan since the early days; I like Mission’s commitment to serving freshly made food quickly and I especially love the Old Bay-scented Bay-B-Que sauce.

Chad’s BBQ

Chad’s has long been a favorite among people who really know ‘cue. The Edgewater joint is locally famous for its subtly smoky meats and bacon jam-topped burger. Even the governor gets in on the action at Chad’s; he’s a fan of the wings, now dubbed “Governor’s wings” in his honor.

Pit Boys

The menu at Pit Boys includes traditional pulled pork barbecue, but the Annapolis carry-out is best known for their pit beef, ham and turkey. “Pit” sandwiches are Maryland’s spin on the barbecue format; instead of being smoked over wood, the meat is cooked over an open pit then sliced thin and piled high on a sandwich.

Pit Boys’ version of open pit cooking is a good one; the beef is my favorite, but all three meats are worth a try.

The BBQ Joint

Though barbecue started as a hobby for Andrew Evans, the Culinary Institute of America-trained chef behind the menu at The BBQ Joint, there’s nothing casual about his approach to smoked meats. Evans and his crew turn out serious barbecue at their four locations in Maryland and Washington, D.C., including one in a Pasadena shopping center.

Everything at The BBQ Joint is worth a try, from the pork to the thinly-sliced fried pickles to the dry-rubbed ribs, but the moist and meaty brisket is especially good. Smear it in a puddle of “swicy” (sweet + spicy) sauce – you’ll be hooked from the first bite.

The Hideaway

Located in a hidden Odenton location that was, for years, home to a popular crab house, The Hideaway has been turning out solid smoked meats and ribs since the spring of 2015. The smoked fried chicken – smoked for three hours then quickly fried – is juicy, smoky and especially good.