While Steven Raichlen, author of Planet Barbecue and The Barbecue! Bible, says neither one will do ("the absolute best is actually wood because it gives you both heat and smoke," he claims), when forced to choose between gas and charcoal, it's charcoal all the way. "Charcoal burns hotter than gas and it's easier to smoke on a charcoal grill," he says.
And Julie Reinhardt, author of She-Smoke: A Backyard Barbecue Book, may be Karmel's tenth out of 10 because she agrees with Raichlen. "I like charcoal best both for its flavor and flexibility," she says. "With charcoal, I can make great slow-and-low barbecue, and also grill directly over the flames."
To buy: Char-Griller Smokin' Pro Grill & Smoker, $219 at Walmart.com