What's the Best Portable Barbeque Grill?

I used to be a die-hard woodsmoke barbeque guy. I scoffed at people who told me about their gas grills, because I, of course, knew that you can't really get the best taste in grilled food without real wood smoke or, in a pinch, charcoal. However, I have come around. I now use a portable gas barbeque grill, and I love it. Furthermore, I get no complaints about the taste of the food that comes off my grill—even from myself. So, with that background in mind, let's take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of portable barbeque grills of all types—gas and otherwise. And you can make up your own mind which camp you belong in.

Wood and Charcoal Grills

The main advantage — other than aesthetics, as described above—of portable barbeque grills that burn wood or charcoal is expense. You can get a pretty nice, all-purpose grill for around $100. In fact, if you live in a really small condo or apartment with very limited outdoor space, you can get a cast-iron hibachi grill that burns charcoal and takes up less room than a microwave for $25 to $50. Another advantage of wood and charcoal grills is that they are usually relatively lightweight. This makes these barbeque grills more portable, so you can take them to the lake, the campground, the tailgate party, or whatever. Some of these grills, like the Weber grill, can double as barbeque smokers, to a certain extent. So, if your main priorities involve price and portability, barbeque grills that burn wood or charcoal are probably your best bet. Before I leave the topic, however, I will add that companies like Brinkmann make wood and charcoal-burning grills that have just about every feature of the high-tech gas grills—except the gas. These cast-iron kitchens-on-wheels can come with side boxes for smoking, temperature gauges, venting systems that give you amazingly precise control over cooking temperature, and even mounts for a rotisserie! So, if you really are a diehard charcoal or wood griller like I used to be, and don't mind spending a pretty good bit of extra money, take a look at these guys.

Gas Grills

While gas grills, whether they burn propane or natural gas, are technically portable, in that they are mounted on wheels, you can't just toss them in the back of your SUV. A gas grill is oh, so convenient (the feature that finally sold me), and the side burners available with many models make it fun and easy to sautée or keep a pot full of something warm while you're grilling the main course, but portable is not the main word I'd associate with them. They're also more expensive than wood and charcoal grills. So, if you're setting up your ideal grilling space in the back yard and intend for it to be semi-permanent, and if you've got a little more budget to work with, gas grills may be the way you want to go.