Originally Posted by Bob in St. Louis
I like to chime in once more, if I may......
--in my opinion--
A guy that knows what he's doing can make great food on cheap equipment.
A guy that doesn't, needs better equipment to help him make "good" food...or at least help him to not screw it up.
Is that a fair statement?
AMEN! Jimi Hendrix played a piece of chit broken down strat yet he became one of the best guitarist of all time. Its all in the hands and the passion put into cookin' great food.
But as for the 300 dollar question... As already mentioned a WSM is a good all around cooker. Commercially made and worth the money. The other choice is a UDS. Also a great all around cooker, but requires building rather than simply buying. With that said, $300 for a UDS is a very very wide budget. A lot less could be spent on building one, but a $300 UDS would be totally sweet if built up right.
Offset wise, $300 will get you the Brinkmann Trailmaster and anything below that. Which is okay. If you really want the offset, go for it. You just have to learn the twitches and tweaks of the pit and put passion into your food. Every pit is different and putting in a little work to tend a fire builds character!!
So, go with your gut. Pick whatever you think you will enjoy cooking on the most. The worst thing you can do is buy a pit that will never get used, for whatever reason that may be..