The Joints

Below are, in alphabetical order, all the barbecue joints Porky LeSwine has visited across North Carolina (bold font) and all the ones he plans to visit someday (regular font).  Links to full reviews are provided where available.  If you don’t see your favorite joint listed, drop us a line and we’ll consider adding it to our list of places to visit.  The Google map embedded above features all of the joints listed below… or, rather, will someday when I’m done working on it.

An asterisk indicates that we think the joint is among the best in the state.  The letters in the parentheses mean as follows: E = Eastern-style, L = Lexington-style, H = Hybrid of both styles; w = primarily wood-cooked and g/e = primarily gas/electric-cooked, to the best of our knowledge.

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12 Bones Smokehouse, Asheville (H, g/e) -  Among President Obama’s favorite barbecue joints, famous for their blueberry chipotle ribs.  Need I say more? Yikes!  Honestly, it’s good food, at least as ecumenical (something for everyone and not focused on traditional ‘cue) barbecue goes, but don’t go there expecting a traditional NC BBQ experience.   B

A&G BBQ & Chicken, Carolina Beach (E, g/e) – Really bad barbecue, skip it and head straight to the beach.  D-

[See note] *A&M Grill, Mebane (L, w) – Still cookin’ with wood after all these years and it shows.I’m not crazy about their too-ketchupy dip, but the meat itself is full of flavor and the sides are good too.  A-  NOTE: Out of business as of July 2011.

Adams Roadside Bar-B-Q, Goldsboro (H, g/e) – Offering a little something for everyone (brisket, turkey, chicken, ribs, BBQ, etc.), Adam’s lacks the focus and execution of a great barbecue joint. C+

*Allen & Son Barbeque, Chapel Hill (H, w) – I was raised on this ‘cue so I am biased, but after eating BBQ across the state I still think Keith Allen’s place is among the best.  Make sure to try the homemade desserts.  A+

Allen & Son Bar-B-Q, Pittsboro (H, g/e) - Don’t be fooled, this Allen’s has nothing to do with the one in Chapel Hill other than being owned by “Son” Keith Allen’s dad way back when. This joint serves better than average gas-cooked BBQ, but don’t confuse it for the real deal.  B-

Alston Bridges Barbecue, Shelby – We’ll make it there someday…

*B’s Barbecue, Greenville (E, w) – Come for the barbecue, stay for the chicken, leave before the building collapses. Among the state’s best and most ramshackle barbecue experiences.  A-

Backcountry BBQ, Linwood – We’ll make it there someday

Backyard BBQ Pit, Durham (E, w) – Good but not great, with the wood-cooked meat hurt by its time on the steam table and a too-fine machine chop.  The wide selection of greens and other sides are good too.  B-

*The Barbecue Center, Lexington (L, w) – It would be easy for this joint to coast on its reputation, but The BBQ Center continues to produce excellent barbecue in the traditional manner.  And their epic desserts (e.g., giant banana splits) are worth trying too.  A

[See note] The Barbecue Joint, Chapel Hill (E, g/e) – Many Chapel Hill residents raved about this place, which should tell you all you need to know.  It featured mediocre, bland pork served with tasty albeit yuppified sides.  So long as you avoided the BBQ and you ate pretty well.  C [Note: the restaurant is out of business but the catering may live on?]

[See note] Barbecue Inn, Asheville (L, g/e) – Been a long time since I was there.  As I recall it wasn’t very good so I’ve not returned. NOTE: Out of business as of July 2011.

Bart’s Old North State, Chapel Hill (H, g/e) – This BBQ joint is hard to find, hidden as it is inside a bar called The Rec Room.  It’s probably just as well it is out of sight because the food doesn’t much deserve to be on display.  Mediocre.  C

Bibb’s Downtown, Winston-Salem – We’ll make it there someday…

Bill Ellis Barbecue, Wilson (E, g/e) – Good buffet but mediocre pork, Ellis’ seems to be coasting on its reputation.  B-

Bill Spoon’s, Charlotte – We’ll make it there someday…

B.J.’s Grill & BBQ, LaGrange (E, w) – Only serves BBQ on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The whole hog ‘cue is tender and flavorful, but go easy on the sauce, which is far too sweet for my tastebuds.  B

Black’s, Gastonia – We’ll make it there someday…

Blackbeard’s, Conetoe - We’ll make it there someday…

[See note] Blue Mist Barbecue, Asheboro (L, w) – Certainly the best ‘cue near the zoo.  Not great but quite good, and since Blue Mist has been around since 1948 and still cooks over wood they have earned my respect.  B  NOTE: Out of business as of July 2013.

Blue Note Grill, Durham (H, g/e) – A nice bar and grill but stick to the burgers and other such fare until they prove the know how to cook barbecue, or at the very least until they add hush puppies to the menu!  C-

Bob’s Bar-B-Q, Creedmoor (E, g/e) – Simply not good, sorry.  And its served off a steam table too.  D+

Brushy Mountain Smokehouse, N. Wilkesboro (L, g/e) - Middle of the road barbecue, but worth a visit for the homemade ice cream.  C

Bud’s Barbecue, Cumnock – We’ll make it there someday…

Bullock’s Bar B Cue, Durham (E, g/e) – Far better known regionally and nationally than it deserves to be, probably because of all the Duke University-affiliated folks who’ve come through the doors.  A pretty good family style restaurant but the barbecue is average at best.  C

Bum’s, Ayden – We’ll make it there someday…

Bunn’s, Windsor – We’ll make it there someday…

Byrd’s Barbecue, Durham (H, g/e) – Not good, not bad, just okay.  Offers three different types of sauce, which is never a good sign in my book.  C

Carolina Barbeque Chicken & Ribs, Newland – We’ll make it there someday…

Carolina Bar-B-Q, Statesville (H, w) – Two sauces are available and the spicy thin Eastern-style sauce is the good one, despite Statesville’s location in the heart of Lexington-style Q country.  Good ‘cue!  B+

Carolina BBQ, Wilmington (E, g/e) – Buffet style southern dining in the largest BBQ joint in the state (a former Food Lion grocery store).  Big space, big buffet. Unfortunately, the BBQ is mediocre at best.  C-

Charlie’s, Clayton – We’ll make it there someday…

Clark’s, Kernersville – We’ll make it there someday…

Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue, Raleigh (E, g/e) – Great atmosphere and palpable history.  Unfortunately, the barbecue is subpar.  At least you get free fried pork skins with your meal.  C-

Cookout, All Over the Place, (E, g/e) – Cookout is a Southeastern regional fast food chain known for its burgers and shakes, which is what you should stick to because they are delicious.  As for their BBQ, it’s edible but not sure why you’d bother.  C-

Cook’s Barbecue, Lexington (L, w) -  A hidden gem that locals have finally discovered.  Worth the drive for the succulent, smoky shoulders, although the meat doesn’t taste quite as good since they abandoned hand-chopping.  A-

Country Bar-B-Que, Greensboro (L, g/e) – About as good as gas-cooked ‘cue gets.  Also the only BBQ place I’ve ever seen next door to a strip club.  B

Deano’s Barbecue, Mocksville (L, g/e) – I finally made it to Deano’s just a short while after they abandoned traditional wood-fired brick pits for a Southern Pride gas cooker.  What a shame! Below average barbecue, and I can only assume the switch from wood is the reason.  C-

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Wherever You Can Find a Starbuck’s (H, g/e) – Dickey’s is to the nation’s barbecue scene what Smithfield’s is to North Carolina’s: the place to go if you want to know what middle of the road BBQ tastes like.  As Texan Jim Hightower says, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”  Spoken like a man whose tasted Texas-born Dickey’s barbecue.  C

[See note] Dillard’s Bar-B-Q, Durham (H, g/e) – One of the few joints in NC that serves ‘cue with a mustard-based sauce.  The pork is mediocre nowadays, but the novelty of the sauce and the many soul food offerings (from pig’s feet to turnip greens) are the real draw.  C [Note: the restaurant is out of business]

Doug Saul’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood, Nashville – We’ll make it there someday…

Eddie’s Cafe, Newton Grove (E, g/e) – For some reason Newton Grove and it’s big ol’ traffic circle has always appealed to me, but Eddie’s serves middle of the road BBQ.  C

Fatback’s, Fayetteville – We’ll make it there someday…

The Fire Pit BBQ & Smokehouse, Wake Forest (H, w) – If restaurants like this are the future of ‘cue in NC, I’ll have mixed emotions.  There is no allegiance to NC traditions, as they serve everything from brisket to ribs to God knows what, but bless them for finding a way to cook over wood (in a cooker imported from TX!) even in a strip mall.  Oh, and it’s pretty good. B

Flying Pig, Shelby – We’ll make it there someday…

Frontier Barbeque, Banner Elk (H, g/e) – Someday a great barbecue joint will come to the North Carolina mountains… and nobody there will have the palate to recognize it.  Frontier is a perfect fit for the touristy part of the state near Grandfather Mountain, as it serves something for people of all tastes (well, except me) and offers some ambiance to boot.  C

Fuller’s, Fayetteville and Lumberton (E, g/e) – Known for their HUGE buffet of Southern cooking.  Oh, and they serve barbecue somewhere on that steam table… but you might as well skip it in favor of the other offerings, including tasty fry bread (the owners are Lumbee Indian).  C+

Fuzzy’s, Madison (L, w) – Still cooking with wood after all these years (they opened in 1954), Fuzzy’s is a living legend that still knows how to play ball.  They’ve added some funny-for-a-BBQ joint items to the menu (turkey and swiss on ciabatta, anyone?) but if you stick to the ‘cue you’ll be pleased.  A-

Gardner’s, Rocky Mount (E, g/e) – A City that was home to one of the state’s oldest and best barbecue restaurants (Melton’s, which closed a number of years ago after one too many floods from the nearby Tar River) ought to outlaw barbecue restaurants like Gardner’s.  It’s gas-cooked, steam table buffet barbecue at its most generic.  Oy.  C-

*Grady’s, Dudley (E, w) – Way off the beaten path and easily worth the drive no matter where your starting point.  Easily among the state’s best.  A+

Grandpa’s Kitchen, Littleton (H, g/e) – Too dry, too bland ‘cue but the small town feel and friendly service make it worth a visit if you’re passing through Littleton.  C

Green River Bar-B-Que, Saluda (H, g/e) – It’s been a long time and I don’t remember much about this place, other than it offering multiple sauces including a SC-style mustardy sauce.  Bob Garner likes it so I’m guessing I did too.

Henry James Bar-B-Que, Asheboro (L, g/e) – It used to be that you could combine a trip to the zoo with good ‘cue (R.I.P. Blue Mist) but you are now stuck with places like this.  Trained monkey’s could make better barbecue.  C-

Herb’s Pit BBQ, Murphy – We’ll make it there someday if we ever make it to the far western corner of the state…

*Hill’s Lexington Barbecue, Winston-Salem (L, w) – This joint–really a large family restaurant–has been cooking pork shoulders over hickory coals since 1951 and they still crank out great ‘cue today.  Go for the elegant barbecue and stay for the  delicious banana pudding.  A

Hillsborough BBQ Company, Hillsborough (H, w) – Though they serve hand-chopped pork barbecue cooked over wood pits, the Company departs from local tradition by serving brisket, ribs and other smoked meats that extend beyond the North Carolina tradition. Good as ecumenical joints go, with the sides much better than average. B+

Hog Heaven, Durham (E, g/e) -  Amazingly popular for a joint that offers up perhaps the worst BBQ in Durham, a city that has no shortage of below-par barbecue.  C-

[See note] Holly Ridge Smokehouse, Holly Ridge (E, g/e) – At last I’ve found a decent barbecue restaurant near the beach.  Nothing special but a nice pork pit stop on the way to Topsail Beach. B- NOTE: Out of business.

Holt Lake Bar-B-Q & Seafood, Smithfield (E, g/e) – Judging from the large crowd dining there when I visited, Holt Lake has a lot of loyal fans who will disagree with my opinion that their BBQ is below average.  C-

Huey’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Mebane (L, g/e) -  The seafood must be good because the barbecue isn’t.  The wretched ketchupy sauce that accompanies it doesn’t help.  At least the slaw and hush puppies are good.  C-

*Hursey’s Bar-B-Q, Burlington (L, w) – Some of the most tender, flavorful pork in NC, and it’s best sans the too-sweet dip Hursey’s offers (instead a little Texas Pete does the trick).  Avoid the newer location, as I swear their pork lacks some of the wood-kissed flavor of the original location.  A-

Jack’s BBQ, Gibsonville (L, g/e) – Stick to the hamburgers, the ‘cue tastes like it is from a plastic tub.  D-

*Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue Place, Farmville (E, w) – An old fashioned BBQ shack with an almost-screened porch for a dining room; great food. A

Jackson’s Brothers, Sanford – We’ll make it there someday…

Jason Grill, Jason – This tiny shack in tiny Jason had the nerve to go out of business before I tried it (well, technically I tried twice and failed to find it open).  For shame!  We heard it was terrific.

[See note] J&G Barbecue, Burlington (L, g/e) – Undistinguished barbecue, not bad but not good.  C  NOTE: Out of business.

Jimmy’s BBQ, Lexington (L, w?) – It’s been a few years since I’ve eaten at Jimmy’s and I heard they may have switched to gas-cooking.  When I was last there, the meat was terrific and the spicy hot dip a perfect accompaniment so let’s hope that’s still the case.

Johnson Family BarbecueDurham (E, w) – Proof that wood/charcoal cooked barbecue can be plenty terrible.  I wanted to like it, really I did, but… D

Keaton’s, Cleveland – We’ll make it there someday… for the chicken!

Ken’s, La Grange (E, w) – They don’t serve barbecue every day of the week but when they do it’s pretty good.  B-

Kepley’s, High Point – We’ll make it there someday…

King’s Barbecue & Chicken, Kinston (E, g/e) – Probably one of the state’s best known BBQ joints, but not one of it’s best.  The ‘cue is fine but nothing special.  Notably, their “Oink Express” mail-order service ships ‘cue all over the country.  B-

*Lexington #1, Lexington (L, w) – If you haven’t been there yet, go.  Now.  Lexington #1 is one of an elite few joints that can claim to be the best in the state, though Wayne Monk and company are too humble to make that claim on their own behalf.  A+

Little Pigs, Asheville (L, g/e) – Decent barbecue for western North Carolina, as I recall, but I haven’t been there in ages so my memory is hazier than the Blue Ridge Mountains.

*Little Richard’s Barbecue, Winston-Salem (L, w) -  Really good barbecue and the vintage tobacco ads on the walls are almost reason enough to visit.  Plus, it’s located right near a street called Vinegar Hill Road!  A-

M&K Barbecue & Country Cooking, Granite Quarry – We’ll make it there someday…

Mac’s Speed Shop, Charlotte and Mooresville – We’ll make it there someday…

Mama Jean’s Bar-B-Q Shack, Durham (E, w) – Good barbecue served out of a truck (though a storefront is opening sometime in mid- to late-2010), with the meat cooked over charcoal and hickory chips.  Don’t forget to try some ribs or barbecue chicken too.  B+ NOTE: The storefront opened and promptly closed but the food truck seems to exist… good luck finding it though.

McCall’s Barbecue & Seafood, Goldsboro (E, g/e) – The barbecue served at buffet restaurants is not usually worth eating but McCall’s is worth tasting.  Very good barbecue and the rest of the buffet is tasty too.  B+

Moore’s Old Tyme, New Bern – We’ll make it there someday…

Morris Barbeque, Hookerton – We’ll make it there someday…

Mr. Barbecue, Winston-Salem (L, w) -  Solid barbecue, not great but better than average despite the striving-to-be-a-chain name and odd menu items like barbecue tortilla bowls!  B

Neil Holden Barbecue, Youngsville – We’ll make it there someday…

[See note] Nelson’s Barbecue, Lumberton (E, w). It’s a damn shame that this restaurant went out of business just months after its ambitious opening (wood-burning pits, a commitment to traditional NC BBQ, classic signage, even a federal stimulus grant).  As Yogi Berra might’ve said, if Nelson’s had lasted long enough, it would have lasted longer.  NOTE: Out of business as of April 2012.

Nunnery-Freeman Barbecue, Henderson – We’ll make it there someday…

Oakwood BBQ, Richlands – We’ll make it there someday…

Old Hickory House, Charlotte – We’ll make it there someday…

Ole NC Barbecue, Durham (E, g/e) – The pork is close to as bad as it gets, but the rest of the all you can eat buffet is okay.  They recently moved to a huge new building so presumably somebody is dining there.  D

Ole Time Barbecue, Raleigh (E, g/e) - Not bad for a gas burner, this is pretty standard fare for an Eastern-style barbecue joint. Nothing too special but nothing to shabby either.  C

The Original Q-Shack, Durham (H, g.e) – First location of what turned into a mini-chain, but no longer affiliated with the other locations (thankfully).  Pork BBQ so-so but other types of BBQ and sides are the reason to visit.  C

*(The Original) Parker’s Barbecue, Wilson (E, g/e) - A straightforward Eastern-style barbecue joint like God intended it (well, except that they no longer cook on wood-fired pits).  Still good stuff and plenty of history to soak up.  B

The Pig, Chapel Hill (E, g/e) – One of the tastiest and most innovative barbecue joints in the state for their menu-wide devotion to the whole hog, but the barbecue itself is middle of the road.  A-

The Pik-n-Pig, Carthage (H, g/e) – No fly by night barbecue restaurant, but rather a fly by day one… located at the end of a s small rural airstrip, making it as unique a setting as you’ll get.  Customers come by air and land to get what amounts to better than average, none too NC-traditional, barbecue.  B-

The Pink Supper House, Wallace (E, g/e) – Run by the Ladies Auxillary for many decades, it’d be a great story if this was great barbecue.  Perhaps it was once.  It is not now.  Generic, gas-fired pork and underwhelming sides. Oh well, the building is pink.  C-

The Pit, Raleigh (E, w) – Downhome upscale barbecue… or so we hear.  We still haven’t eaten at The Pit but you can follow the link for a “non-review.”  One of these days we’ll actually eat there and write a real review…

Port-A-Pit, Statesville - We’ll make it there someday…

Prissy Polly’s, Kernersville (H, g/e) -  Despite its Lexington-area location, Polly’s does a better job with Eastern-style BBQ.  Steer clear of the Lexington-style sauce and you’ll have a decent but not particularly memorable meal.  C+

Q-Shack, multiple Triangle locations (H, g/e) – Not good, stick to the unaffiliated Original Q-Shack.  D

Ralph’s Barbecue, Weldon (E, g/e) -  One of the largest barbecue joints in the state, maybe the largest, this I-95 institution unfortunately serves fairly institutional food.  Kind of fun for what it is, which is basically a meat & three for the masses.  B-

Ray’s Smokehouse & Grill, Gastonia – We’ll make it there someday…

Red Bridge’s Barbecue Lodge, Shelby (L, w) – I’ve still yet to make it to their restaurant but I’ve had their barbecue off site (long story), and on that alone I can recommend them.  I’ll save a letter grade for an actual visit.  TBD

Red Pig Bar-B-Q House, Mocksville – We’ll make it there someday…

Richard’s Barbecue, Salisbury (L, w) -  Very good barbecue in Salisbury, the town that may well be the birthplace of, ahem, “Lexington-style” barbecue.  The lineage of this place dates back to 1935 and their commitment to tradition extends to the wood-fired pit.  Bravo.  A-

R.O.’s, Gastonia – We’ll make it there someday…

Robinson Ferry Restaurant, Warrenton (H, g/e) – Downtown Warrenton is an interesting, historic place to visit and this barbecue restaurant keeps a good thing going in terms of the historic architecture.  As for the barbecue, well, it’s not the reason to visit.  C

Rock Store BBQ, Mint Hill – We’ll make it there someday…

Scott’s Barbecue, Goldsboro (E, g/e) -  One of the oldest and most historically signicant BBQ joints in the state, and they still bottle a mean sauce, but Scott’s ‘cue ain’t what it used to be.  Oh well, still worth a visit to pay your respects to one of barbecue’s first families. C

Sharron’s BBQ Hut, East Bend (L, w) – We’ll make it there someday…

Shaw’s, Williamston – We’ll make it there someday…

Short Sugar’s Drive-In, Reidsville (L, w) -  This joint is legendary and has perhaps the best name in the state, but the ‘cue ain’t what it used to be.  It’d help if I liked the unusual sauce, which I don’t much care for, but the meat itself lacks flavor.  C+

*Skylight Inn, Ayden (E, w) – Deserves its reputation as among the best in the state.  Classic Eastern-style ‘cue served with old school corn bread and slaw, and without a lot of hoopla… unless you count that capitol dome on the roof.  A+

*Smiley’s, Lexington (L, w) – Outstanding barbecue made the old fashioned way.  It takes some good ‘cue to stand out from the crowd in the barbecue Mecca of Lexington, and Smiley’s is among the best.  A-

Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N’ Bar-B-Q, Everywhere (E, g/e) - I see no reason to visit chain barbecue joints, but in a pinch Smithfield’s will do.  It’s pretty decent, consistent gas-cooked ‘cue.  C

Smokey Joe’s Barbecue, Lexington (L, w) -  I haven’t visited in several years, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt or a dash of Texas Pete, but it was very good on my last visit.  A-

Snook’s Old Fashion Bar-B-Cue, Clemmons – We’ll make it there someday…

Speedy’s, Lexington (L, g/e) – The sign outside that says “Best B.B.Q. Anywhere” isn’t justified, but Speedy’s is at least “Better Than Average B.B.Q. Everywhere.” B+

Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia, Lexington (L, w) – There is a lot of history here and Speedy’s Lohr’s place keeps churning out very good barbecue.  A classic Piedmont-style barbecue joint in a town full of tough competition.  B+

*Stamey’s Old Fashioned Barbecue, Greensboro (L, w) – One of the highest volume barbecue joints in the state, yet they’ve managed to keep cooking very high quality barbecue the old fashioned way (thanks to some huge wood-burning pits!).  A-

Stamey’s Barbecue of Tyro, Lexington- We’ll make it there someday…

Stephenson’s Barbecue, Willow Spring (E, w) – This place has a lot of loyal followers but it didn’t do it for me, and the ‘cue didn’t taste wood-cooked to me (though all reports are that it is).  Maybe I caught it on a bad day? C

Stonewall’s, Goldsboro (E, ?) – We’ll make it there someday…

Tar Heel Q, Lexington – We’ll make it there someday…

[See note] Tony’s Barbecue, Hillsborough (H, g/e) – Blessedly out of business before I started reviewing joints with a critical eye, but it surely would have been a… D

Troutman’s Bar-B-Q, Concord (L, w) – As I understand it, they don’t cook barbecue daily anymore, so the quality may vary more than most places from day to day.  Classic feel to this old school joint, though the food is a notch below very good.  B

We Bea Grilling, Durham (E, w) – A Durham soul food restaurant that prepares their own barbecue off-site in a charcoal cooker, or so I was told.  The barbecue, with skin chopped in like they do at places like Grady’s, has echoes of great Eastern NC barbecue but the execution is lacking.  B-

Whispering Pines Barbecue, Albermarle – We’ll make it there someday…

White Swan Bar-B-Q & Fried Chicken, Pine Level & other towns nearby (E, g/e) – More than meets the eye. Don’t be fooled by the gas station locations, this is actually pretty good ‘cue!  B

Whitley’s Bar-B-Que, Murfreesboro (H, g/e) - It’s main saving grace is that it is open on Sundays.  The ‘cue just ain’t good, and is not helped by the sauce, which is among the most ketchupy/Krafty I’ve tasted in NC.  C-

Whitley’s Restaurant, Lexington (L, w) - Not in the the same league as the top Lexington joints,  Whitley’s says it cooks over wood but the barbecue only tastes average. It’s okay ‘cue if you need a fix but given its location you may as well drive a couple miles to one of the state’s best joints.  Offers a 12-pound sandwich called “Hogzilla.”  C

Whole Foods BBQ Bar, Chapel Hill (H, g/e) - You know barbecue is the “in” food of the moment when a national natural/organic foods grocer like Whole Foods offers house-cooked ‘cue at its cafe.  And lo and behold their NC-style BBQ is not as bad as you might expect, though it’s nothing to get excited about.  C-

*Wilber’s Barbecue, Goldsboro (E, w) – A classic Eastern-style barbecue joint, consistently good day in and day out, no small feat for a place that serves as many plates of ‘cue as they do.  A

Wink’s King of Barbecue, Salisbury (L, w) – Very good barbecue in one of the state’s original barbecue towns.  Good wood-cooked flavor in the ‘cue, though I found it a bit mushy to rate among the state’s very best.  Not the king but royalty. B+

The Woodlands Barbecue Restaurant, Blowing Rock – We’ll make it there someday…

132 Responses

  1. Which good joint is closest to the Outer Banks? We go down there almost every Summer. Thanks,

  2. Hmm, the Outer Banks are a bit of a BBQ no man’s land so my recommendations depend on where you are driving from. If you have time to venture inland a ways, I’d recommend stopping at B’s in Greenville, Skylight Inn in Ayden or Wilber’s in Goldsboro…it’ll take you some time but the food will be worth the drive. Although not as good, Ralph’s off I-95 in Weldon may Hope that helps and happy to give more ideas if you tell me your route…

  3. Another good option on the way to the Outer Banks is Shaw’s in Williamston.

  4. Why is B’s in Greenville, not in your list? You obviously like it?

  5. Bob, as much as it pains me to admit this, I have yet to make it to B’s. I know its sterling reputation and promise to visit soon!

  6. As a long-time regular visitor to Lexington, I recommend you give Smiley’s a try. Very good ‘cue–Honeymonk’s is probably my favorite, but Smiley’s is close, and they are open on Sundays, so I end up there pretty often, since I often play music in Charlotte on Saturday nights and drive north on Sunday.

    BBQ Center is quite good, too.

  7. John, I will follow your advice next time I am in Lexington! I have been to BBQ Center (will review it here one of these days) and agree it is good. Honeymonk’s is still my favorite out there.

  8. Next time you’re out in the mountains (Asheville/Arden), 12 bones is worth a shot. Great ribs, haven’t tried the actual ‘cue yet.

  9. Simon, stay tuned… Monday’s post will discuss the Obama’s recent visit to 12 Bones. Thanks for the tip.

  10. AWESOME BLOG! I love it!

    You need to swing by either location of Ole Time Barbecue in the Raleigh area. The original is on Hillsborough St. heading into Cary (when it turns into Chatham, I believe) and the new location is located in Garner. The BBQ is good, but the real reason to go is to meet Jerry Hart, as big a character in NC BBQ as there is.

  11. Thanks for the restaurant recommendation, James. And thanks for the praise, glad you enjoy the blog and your comments are always welcome.

  12. I noticed that Moore’s in New Bern is not on your list. If you’ve not been I hope you can make it soon. I love the ‘que there.

  13. Speedy’s in Lexington. Best ‘cue ever. I regularly bring back ziplocks of frozen Speedy’s bbq in my carry-on to Chicago. Can’t believe you’ve missed it.

  14. Jennifer, I have gotten a few passionate emails about Speedy’s. Rest assured it is on my list, just gotta find the time! Thanks.

  15. Great site. I sent the link to my Jewish co-worker. He won’t eat swine, but he loved the site and sent it around to his buddies.

    Keep up the good work and the reviews. I’m always on the lookout for a new place to try.

  16. I noticed that the BBQ Lodge in Raleigh wasn’t listed. It’s been around for over 30 years, and the locals rave about it. Any experience?

  17. Thomas, I’ve yet to visit the Lodge. I’ve heard mixed things but one of these days I’ll find out for myself… and I’ll be sure to report back on it. Anyone else have an opinion on this one?

  18. Great website! …..and Another vote for Speedy’s….I love Speedy’s!

  19. I thought I was the only Jew who loves NC BBQ and pork products. Try Joe’s Old Fashioned BBQ in Whiteville and Fuller’s in Fayetteville and Lumberton. Ever been to the Nahunta Pork Center between Kenly and Pikeville, NC? Spotless and selling everything but the oink.

  20. Dan, always good to hear from a fellow BBQ Jew! Thanks for the restaurant recommendations. I have indeed been to Nahunta and agree that it is an amazing place. See http://bbqjew.com/2009/05/13/nahunta/

  21. Hey Porky! Good reviews! Great to meet you yesterday! We sure had some good tasting ribs! Glad I found this blog! I’ll post LOTS more later.
    Take care – (a.k.a. Another_Q_Review)

  22. Great meeting you too bbqtom, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your comments here. Until then, be well!

  23. love your Villas interview – what a great book! – and love your list. I wish you’d also identify who’s cooking only shoulder and who’s got whole hog (a lot of cue places lie about this) and especially who has skin chopped in.
    I think that’s one reason the Skylight cue is so outstanding. Of course it can be done perfectly – whole hog, cooked slow over hickory or oak, a little skin chopped in – and even so the results can be mediocre or inconsistent. So finding the great cue is a huge challenge.

  24. Thanks Fran, your ideas about listing which joints are whole hog, etc. are good, I’ll try and add that in when I get a chance.

  25. Greg, I’ll add it to the list.

  26. Try Troutman’s BBQ on Church Street in Concord. Cooked onsite over hickory wood and chopped when you order. Served dry with a their own vinegar – black/cayene pepper sauce on the table. Excellent red slaw. Quality of meat rivals any cooked anywhere.

    Carries on the cooking tradition of the old Red Pig – a five stool joint which used to be across the street in days gone by. Used to love to go in there as a boy especially during the winter. They cooked right there in front you as you sat at the counter and I never remember seeing the hand on the big dial thermometer on the wall drop below 90 degrees. Had to wait outside on the sidewalk to get a spot inside but the wait was always more that rewarded.

    Lots of tradition infused into the Troutman’s fare.

  27. Thanks T. Paine, your suggestion is good Common Sense befitting a guy named T. Paine. I’ll add Troutman’s to my list!

  28. Living in SC everything is mustard based. Being from NC that is a big problem. Charlotte is a 45 minute drive. Anyone have a favorite in Charlotte?

  29. I have never heard anyone make a real strong case for there being great barbecue in Charlotte, but I hope someone will correct me on that. If you have time to drive up the road a little ways to Salisbury, both Richard’s and Wink’s are worth a stop.

  30. have you tried bibbs downtown in winston salem. people crave that place. interested to see your review.

  31. I was at “Bib’s” back in the spring and found their pulled pork to be the best that I’d ever eaten to that point at a Q-joint (I’d only tried about 250 Q-joints in NC at that point – my total currently is 303 in NC and numerous outside of NC – I’ve had better since then). Another barbecue judge buddy of mine tried Bib’s during the summer and wasn’t impressed at all!
    Porky – what’s your take???

  32. Mike & Another_Q,

    I’ve yet to try Bib’s. I’ll add it to my list and get there one of these days, but there are some other joints that earned their stripes many years before so I gotta prioritize!

    Another_Q, I envy the amount of BBQ you consume, I can’t compete with you. That said, I would be surprised if there are 50 really good BBQ joints in the state, especially with only a few dozen actually cooking over wood, so I am not sure I want to visit 300+!

  33. Porky – I’ve actually rated 46 Q-joints in North Carolina as “REAL GOOD”. Unlike some folks, I don’t discriminate against those establishments that don’t cook over wood/charcoal. I judge strictly on moistness, tenderness, and flavor. A bit of smoke is always good, but too much is a turn-off. I like the flavor of the pork to come through (without being dominated by sauce or smoke or heat or anything else!).

    My visits to new Q-joints has become less frequent the last couple months, mostly because I am having difficulties finding “new” joints to try, as well as being involved with judging so many competitions. Still, I try!

  34. You should add the Gastonia-style BBQ joints to your list. There used to be a half dozen restaurants with this style – sliced or minced pork sandwiches, with secret recipe slaw. The slaw is what makes it good. To my knowledge, only 2 restaurants remain – R.O.’s (http://www.rosbbq.com/whole.htm) and Black’s (both came from R.O. Black and his descendants).

  35. Hey Tbone,
    I”ve eaten at and rated five Gastonia Q-joints and wasn’t very impressed by ANY of them.
    Alfred & Charlies; Hillybilly’s; Kyle Fletcher’s; Ray’s; and R.O.s were all marginal at best. Out of these 5, Ray’s Smokehouse and Grill (219 South Broad Street, Gastonia, NC 28052 – (704)867.4386) was the best with just a 3.5 (on my 1.0 – worst to 5.0 best rating scale). Ray’s Q was a bit dry yet fairly tender and a bit greasy, but the flavor was really good. Had a good rub and smoke taste with lots of bark chopped in.
    R.O.s only rated a 2.0 as the sliced pork had NO flavor and the sauce and slaw were mixed together and pureed with a strong chili powder flavor – NOT GOOD!
    The other three joints were in-between Ray’s and R.O.s as far as quality – tenderness, moistness, and flavor.

  36. You gotta add the Bridges BBQ (Alston Bridges on HWY 18 and Red Bridges BBQ Lodge on HWY 74) in Shelby to your list. Two of the best in the state.

  37. Absolutely, Miami Dan. Actually, Bridges is already on the list but I agree that the other Bridges needs to be there too. I’ll correct that soon when I add several others as well. Thanks!

  38. Try “Tar Heel Q” hwy 64w Lexington

  39. I sample BBQ on trips along the interstate btw Philadelphia and Florida. My current fav is Bill Ellis BBQ in Wilson, NC. Sweet and smokey whole hog where you can pick your own pieces off the pig if u want to! Only 7 mins off I-95. Also, on the western end, 12 Bones BBQ in Ashville may be the best I have ever had. Huge plates of Q and local boutique beers…doesn’t get much better.

  40. Bill Ellis’ cooks with gas, so if you tasted smoke there, it was a lie of the mind. Eastern style barbecue shouldn’t be sweet, either.

  41. If I may make a humble recommendation to your superb list of BBQ joints in NC, next time you’re out west, hit up The Woodlands in Blowing Rock. My sister went to App State, and took me to this joint when I was out visiting at Christmastime a few years back. It’s a fun, funky place with some damn good sweet tea and some really good BBQ (Western-style of course). I was raised in Wilmington and prefer Eastern-style, but am not so much of a puritan I can’t recognize some great BBQ regardless of the sauce. Keep up the good work!

  42. Will, I am going out on a limb and trusting you on this recomendation despite the fact that The Woodlands serves “Home style Mexican food as well [as barbecue].” Have to say that makes me skeptical… and intrigued.

  43. I see on your list of Joints to visit you have Black’s and RO’s, both in Gastonia. The big thing at these is the slaw. Very different but very good. It is actually the sauce also. I prefer their sliced pork. A big seller at both of these is a slaw burger. Just their slaw on a bun that has been slightly grilled on a flattop. You just about don’t miss the meat. This is not your typical NC Barbeque, but is very good and don’t forget to take some slaw home and try with just about anything.

  44. Looking for a good BBQ spot around the Wilmington area. Willing to drive a bit if worth the food. Any thoughts?

  45. As a native Wilmingtonian, I never drove out of town for BBQ, but I always enjoyed Flip’s BBQ & Jackson’s Big Oak BBQ. Both are good, not great, but they’re commendable local joints that have been around for a good while (Flip’s since the ’50s, Jackson’s since the ’80s).

    Jackson’s Big Oak BBQ: http://www.yelp.com/biz/jacksons-big-oak-barbecue-wilmington

    Flip’s BBQ: http://www.yelp.com/biz/flips-barbeque-house-wilmington

  46. Another couple Q-joints to check out in the Wilmington area include:
    “Carolina BBQ” (two locations) 2307 N.College Road (Murraysville) and 1602 S.College Road (near Oleander Drive); also “Casey’s Buffet Barbecue & Home Cooking” 5559 Oleander Drive.
    .
    These Q-joints are all buffets, and as most know the barbecue is usually kinda dry and chewy at buffets, but they are actually not bad.

  47. Doug Saul’s in Nashville is missing as a place to visit in the future.

  48. I was last at Doug Saul’s in Nashville several years ago, but their Q is really pretty good. Had good moistness but was just a wee bit chewy. Excellent “Eastern” flavor. I gave it a 4.0 on my 1.0(bad) to 5.0(best) scale.

    Some of the best hushpuppies (rings) that I’ve ever eaten! Good slaw and Brunswick stew too!

  49. Thanks for the tip, wb247, and thanks for the second, BBQ.Tom

  50. Enjoy Saul’s! It’s the last bastion of good ‘cue in the once-proud Nash-Rocky Mount area. I’m in the mountains these days, so I miss the good stuff!

  51. Thanks for the great site..
    Traveling down to Mrytle Beach from Jersey- any recommendations on where to stop along the way- I guess I’ll be traveling down I95. I’m looking for ribs more than “pulled pork”

  52. @ A Peace of Mind. Ribs, eh? I’m sorry to report that NC is not a rib state so you need to detour to Memphis or something. Pulled pork–or “barbecue” as we call it down here–is the thing to try, so I encourage you to check that out and leave the ribs alone. That said, if you are desperate for ribs you may find some on the menu (or ask if they are not, as some joints save them for those who ask). Right off of I-95 is Ralph’s Barbecue in Weldon, which is a decent place. If you can spare a bigger side trip, head to Wilber’s in Goldsboro or Parker’s in Wilson, which are not too far off of I-95. Wilber’s has ribs if you ask and get there in time. Good luck.

  53. best bbq near Wilmington?

  54. Hey Courtney, check out the posts above from January 7, myself and another guy make a few recommendations for places to check out in and around Wilmington. My personal favorite is Flip’s, but mostly because I played t-ball for them for three years as a kid, and they’ve been around since the 40s.

  55. Bill Spoon’s BBQ in Charlotte serves great eastern style BBQ. Family owned.
    Also, Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte and Mooresville have great Q and award winning brisket.

  56. Thanks Jim, I’ve added your recommendations to the list, though the idea of good Eastern-style BBQ in Charlotte sounds odd to me!

  57. My wife and I will be spending a few days in Raleigh next week. It’s tough to get good bbq up here in NH. Any recommendations for bbq near Raleigh? Great and informative site. Thanks.

  58. Hi John,

    Raleigh itself is surprisingly weak for BBQ, but The Pit near downtown cooks over wood and serves some good stuff if you can handle the upscale atmosphere. If you get a chance to make it 45 mins or so from Raleigh, you can head west to Allen & Son in Chapel Hill or east to B’s in Greenville or other places list on this site… just depends how far you want to drive. Enjoy your visit and let me know where you head.

  59. [...] The Joints В« BBQ Jew Avoid the BBQ and you'll eat well. C [Note: the restaurant location is out of business, but the Joint lives on as a … [...]

  60. Great website. Y’all ever get to my home state of Alabama (you’d love it – ever see ‘My Cousin Vinny’?), y’oughta check out http://greentopbbq.com. Puts all these here other ‘uns to shame. Grew up there but lived out west (AZ, CA) most of my working life (if you can call working ‘life’?). No good BBQ there. Then to TX where they so dumb they call beef brisket BBQ, not to mention ribs the size of fence posts. Then to NC and boy was I lookin’ forward to real BBQ and you know what? They’s better Mexican food here than in TX and the BBQ is tol’able at best (one exception is Original Q Shack’s ribs). ‘Course as you say, we’re all victims of our upraisin’ (though you gents seem to have liberalized as much as my son-in-law born an’ raised 80 foot above Amsterdam Ave in NYC – he agrees with me about The Green Top). Check it out first chaynct (that’s ‘chance’ in Alabamese) y’all get. I have added your website to my Favorites.

  61. Thanks for the note, John, although your spelling and grammar leave something to be desired (must be that famed Alabama education system!). Just kidding, of course, I really appreciate hearing from you. As for there being no good BBQ in NC, I am curious where you’ve been. There are a heck of a lot of mediocre places in NC so hope you’re making that statement as a white sauce loving Alabaman and not based on some gas-cooked pig at a so-so joint…

  62. Hello Porky, sorry to take so long in replying but I took your pointed, tongue-in-wherever-it-was comments to heart, and thought I should do more research on NC ‘cue. First, however, I’ll respond to your Eastern NC (vinegarish) questions & comments:
    1. my home state of Alabama is as proud of its educational system as it is of the exclusivity of its gene pool;
    2. I have tried the BBQ at: Allen’s Chapel Hill; Jim’s Chapel Hill; Original Q Shack Durham; and several non-memorable places both east and west. None of it was really bad, but the only one worth going back to was Q Shack, especially for the ribs.
    3a. WHITE SAUCE???!!! what the H*** is that? Never heard of it. I have tried the grayish-muckledum mustard stuff in South Carolina – but never again.
    3b. Alabama BBQ is heavily smoked; the sauce is primarily vinegar-based but not as thin as eastern NC; it has some sweetness but not NEARLY as much as western BBQ. It usually comes with no sauce and is so good you don’t need to slather stuff on it. Usually I add a very little sauce and some dill pickle slices.

    NEW RESEARCH: recently stopped at R&R BBQ in Concord (www.rrbbq.net).
    Had the basic pork BBQ sandwich (large), and performed a dispassionate analysis of same. Here ’tis:
    1. 2 sauces on the table; (a) vinegar-based with a little bite, very thin, & (b) smoky sweet, fairly thick;
    2. choices of 2 slaws: White (standard fare) and Red (with a bit of the vinegar sauce in it);
    3. Sandwich as delivered had plenty of meat but no significant smoky taste;

    Using basic dispassionate analytical processes, I tried the following combinations:
    a. plain sandwich with no refinements;
    b. with vinegar-based sauce;
    c. with smoky sweet sauce;
    d. b plus red slaw;
    e. b plus white slaw;
    f. c plus red slaw;
    g. c plus white slaw;
    h. and some variations/combinations of all the above.

    CONCLUSIONS:
    A. best was a blend of the 2 sauces, heavy on (a). A liitle red slaw was OK but I prefer it on the side.
    B. Nothing beat Alabama’s Green Top (I refer you once again to
    http://greentopbbq.com. Take a look at the menu photos and I’ll guarantee you won’t see no white sauce).

    Best regards,
    John Dendy

  63. CORRECTION: In CONCLUSIONS, I should have said “heavy on (b)” – the vinegar-based sauce. Darn! I knew i’d make a mistake sometime this year!

  64. You should add Moore’s on 17 going south of New Bern and Smokey’s Shack on 54 in RTP to your list.

  65. I grew up with Hursey’s in Burlington, so it is still my all-time favorite. Others I rank very highly are B’s in Greenville and Bunn’s in Windsor. I’m ashamed to admit, but I haven’t been to the very nearby A&M Grill, nor have I ever made the pilgrimage to Lexington.
    Before I go to the trouble of plotting all these places you’ve listed on Google Maps, have you already done that?

  66. Been to a few of BBQ joints in the Piedmont region you recommended (Stamey’s, Country BBQ, Lexington #1) and all have been fantastic.

    Was wondering if you have been able to find any decent restaurants in the mountain region yet. I’ve had varying success so far (Bandanas BBQ in Boone was decent) but was wondering if you had some more suggestions.

  67. Chris, in my admittedly limited experience hunting BBQ in the mountains of NC, I have not been impressed. That said, some people swear by 12 Bones in Asheville and I just got an email from someone extolling the virtues of Carolina Barbeque Chicken & Ribs and Pig Pickin’ Parlor in Newland. If yet to visit either… if you find good ‘cue there or elsewhere in the mountains, let me know!

  68. Porker, I have considered plotting the joints on a Google map but have not gotten around to it. If you are so inclined, I’d be honored to have your help and give you the credit and a free BBQ Jew magnet for your efforts!

  69. Porky:
    Went back to the Hillsborough BBQ last night. The food is still substandard. This was my 2nd trip to the resturant and I was very disappointed.
    I had the smoked turkey this time. The meat was extremely bland as well as the macaroni and cheese. The “smoke flavor was missing from the turkey. The “white”-cole slaw and hush puppys were good. There still was no old fashion potatoe salad. The best part of my visit was the improved draft beer selection.
    I hope the owner’s and chef keep working at improving the food and bring it up to the same level as its partner resturant, the Wooden Nickel.

    Rev Jimmy Joe
    .

  70. In the mountains, I have been happy with 12 Bones in Asheville. It is a bit different (somewhat hippified) with a contemporary spin on traditional BBQ and sides. However, they do the modern interpretation fairly well (like The Pig in Chapel Hill and UNlike The Pit in Raleigh). Supposedly, Obama likes to drop in when he is in town.

    For a point of reference, my favorites are Wilburs, Lexington #1, Stameys, and Hills.

  71. We opened in April in Wake Forest. Come give us a try

  72. I know this is sacrilege (then again the whole site kind of is) but the new Sonny’s location in South Charlotte on NC 51 is doing a good job with their Q. I’m interested to see how it would rate compared to what you have here.

  73. A really out-of-the-way place in the mountains is Hawg Wild in Pisgah Forest. They claim to cook with wood, but from the size of their smoker, I’m guessing it’s really gas-with-wood-chips. Regardless, it’s amazingly good ‘cue for that far west. Stick with the eastern-style. Located on Highway 276 just before it dives into the National Forest.

  74. As a student at UNC, I’ve been looking for a great place for ‘que around these parts. Thanks for the listing, I’ll have to go sample them.

    In response to the very first comment, if you are coming from the North, my favorite place on the way to the beach is Currituck BBQ in Coinjock, right on NC 158. They have the best Hushpuppies I’ve ever consumed.

  75. Thanks TarHeelAlex, make sure you check out Allen & Son on the very northern edge of Chapel Hill on Highway 86. You really need go no further than that, as it’s among the best in the state.

  76. Dear BBQ Jew –

    Sorry about the short notice, but I will be in Raleigh tomorrow (visiting from Chicago with another person from Chicago and one from NY). Coincidentally, we are all Jewish,

    Anyhow, we will be driving from the Raleigh airport to Greenville, NC mid-day tomorrow and were wondering if you had any suggested restaurants to visit, preferably along Route 264. Please let me know via e-mail at rbronstein@thesciongroup.com.

    Thanks a lot!

    Rob

  77. Rob, I have never eaten there, but will be in Greenville next week and plan to do so… try “B’s BBQ”, which has been highly recommended to me. It meets all of my personal specs for a great BBQ joint – namely,
    1. it’s in a shack,
    2. the inside walls are greasy,
    3. the meat is great, and
    4. you really don’t want to go to the restroom there.
    And by the way, it’s on B’s BBQ Road. Any place that has its own road can’t be too bad – I hope.
    When 264 turns north, continue toward town on Stantonsburg Rd; turn left at the next intersection (B’s BBQ Rd) and go a mile or maybe 1.5. Good luck, and let me know whether I ought to go there myself.

  78. Great place, just make sure you get there EARLY!!! As once they sell out they close! Usually closed by 2pm. True stick-burner! Sauce on the tables is in Crown Royal bottles. This is the only Q-joint in NC that I know of that DOESN’T have a telephone!
    Good luck!

  79. We’re driving south on a Tuesday from Danville, VA through NC via Routes 29 and 220 (through Greensboro, Asheboro, Rockingham) on our way to Florida. Any good ‘cue available on that route? Thanks.

  80. Get off 29 in Reidsville and go to the original Short Sugar’s for some of NC best BBQ

  81. A few more suggestions, Gary… Stamey’s in Greensboro, Blue Mist in Asheboro, or a side trip to Lexington if you have the time…

  82. Thanks for the suggestions guys. Sounds like there’s not too many options – especially in the southern part of the state. On the trip back we are gonna drive through Lexington, so that may be where I have to count on my NC ‘cue experience.

  83. Check us out
    check us on yelp

  84. I am going to be in concord nc, any good joints close to there without having to make the trip to Lexington? I won’t have a car and I don’t want to assume the person I am staying with wants to drive that far for ‘cue. Thanks!

  85. Some Charlotte area mentions/grades from a very picky perspective:

    Mac’s Speed Shop: Awesome restaurant in general (good atmosphere, good drink selection and prices, creative dishes), but the brisket was n’t very good. Thick, sweet, kethcupy sauce to try to drown out the poorly-cooked meat. Brisket ain’t easy to cook but I expected better. I’ve heard the pulled pork is good but the brisket gets a C-.

    Bill Spoon’s: outstanding eastern. You want to go to there. Been open since the early 60′s, authentic motley decor, great que, tea, and hushpuppies (though they don’t bring them out automatically, a pardonable sin). The slaw was only average but a small dent on an outstanding meal overall. A-.

    Lancaster’s (Mooresville): NASCAR Gone Wild. Yes, that is an entire school bus inside the restaurant, and yes, you must eat in it (you know you want to anyway). The que and hushpuppies are good but not great. The tea is quite good. B-.

  86. Porky,

    You doubted me on Bill Spoons! Glad you enjoyed. We miss Bill who passed a few years ago.
    Too bad you didn’t care for the brisker at Mac’s. They have won awards for it.
    I have been hitting Blue Mist outside of Asheboro. Great pork. Love the atmosphere.

  87. Porky, or others,

    Going to be in Lexington this week for 24 hours and going to try to hit 3 joints. What are the must haves if I can’t have it all?

  88. Honeymonk’s (Lexington BBQ #1), Smiley’s, BBQ Center…in my humble opinion. Been to the first two many times, and the third a couple. All are really good. Say hi to Tina at Smiley’s (she knows my whole, 7-person band by name, and we only show up once or twice a year).

  89. Cool, thanks John. Had just noticed Smiley’s on the joints list tonight, somehow overlooked them before. Lex #1 and BBQ Center were high on my list so good to know they are worth it. Will add Smiley’s to the tour as well.

    Any thoughts on one East Carolina joint to go to? Have visited Wilber’s and Grady’s before and would like to try something new. Skylight maybe?

  90. B’s has really fallen. The best Q in the state is at Oakwood in Catherine Lake. It is only available Friday and Saturday.

    12 Bones has the best ribs in the state.

    Blackboards in Conetoe has good Q, I vote it better than B’s. It almost rivals Wilbur but I am not sure if they have it everyday.

    If there isn’t a wood pile out back, its not BBQ

  91. Check out Oakwood BBQ In Richlands area near Catherine Lake. Much better than Smokehouse in Holly Ridge

  92. Anyone ever had Bart’s Old North State BBQ off Henderson St. in Chapel Hill? http://www.yelp.com/biz/barts-old-north-state-barbecue-chapel-hill

    Had a friend tell me about a “new bbq place in an alley off Henderson” last night, I did some internet research and assume he’s talking about Bart’s. Anyone know if he has another place in mind? Anyone been to Bart’s? Worth a trip down from Durham!?

    Thanks, fellow bbq lovers!

  93. As a Greensboro resident and well traveled BBQ junkie I have to disagree about Stamey’s being an A rated joint. They have been running on a old reputation for at least 10 years! Too bad…

  94. Check out Ron’s Barn in Coats. The BBQ is usually great and the other items on the buffett are traditional southern sides along with some seafood. Price is very reasonable as well!

  95. Belstaff News – Belstaff Bags Belstaff Jackets Men Belstaff Jackets Women Belsta

  96. Give John Boy’s BBQ and seafood in Elkin, NC a try. Best BBQ we get around Wilkes County.

  97. Where is Parker’s in Wilson? So well run, so delicious, for so many years.

  98. look up at the skies (google chemtrails) fake clouds blocking the sunlight… also america and england put chemicals in tap water and food to dumb down population… this is fact…. sorry to burst your bubble.. please research everything said

  99. David McGray, what are you smoking? Doesn’t seem to be pork!

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  101. It’s hard to come by educated people about this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  102. You are so cool! I don’t believe I have read through something like this before. So great to find someone with some unique thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

  103. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

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  105. Bunn’s in Windsor is in my NC Top 5…and that list includes the iconic Skylight Inn and Grady’s. For those heading to the OBX on 64, it’s worth the 17 mile detour. In fact, I’ve taken the trip to Bunn’s from Raleigh just for lunch. The cornpone is the best!!!

  106. Any recommendations for a joint anywhere on the I-95 corridor between Rock Mount and VA line. Have already done Ralph’s and Gardner’s (btw – did not see Gardner’s on the joint list)

  107. Try Doug Sauls BBQ in Nashville, NC. Its very good and they have all the fixins to go with it. It shouldn’t be too far off 95. Just be careful, they are only open Wed – Sat I think.

  108. It makes no sense to me that the I-95 corridor through NC is such a good BBQ desert but it is. I recommend a detour to Ayden, NC to the Skylight Inn. Take the path less traveled, you’ll be glad you did.

  109. Agree with Porky LeSwine! Best BBQ in the state (IMO).

    If heading North on I-95, Kings BBQ in Petersburg, VA (on Battlefield Dr) is very good, too. While not my NC style, it’s one of my favorites in my ‘non-NC’ category!

  110. Crater Road, that is…not Battlefield Dr.

  111. We are heading to Asheville for a few days in August and we really want to eat bbq but there seems to be a lack of choice in that area. We’re willing to drive up to 60 minutes from Asheville and we prefer wood cooked bbq. Any suggestions?

  112. Give Luella’s on Merrimon Ave a try. It’s pretty good. The president seems to like 12 Bones.

  113. My favorite Q-joint for pork in Asheville is Moe’s in the Biltmore Village (just outside the Biltmore Estate). For ribs I’d suggest 12 Bones. The other “good” joints are now closed (the Fiddlin’ Pig was my favorite!).

  114. With all due respect, skip the BBQ in Asheville and eat something else. Many excellent restaurants there…Early Girl is a personal favorite. if you must eat barbecue, 12 Bones is the best you’ll get but it has virtually nothing to do with Carolina barbecue….

  115. I should add that you should consider driving more like 90 minutes to visit Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, the nearest traditional wood cooked Carolina barbecue place I’m aware of .

  116. We’re actually driving from Saratoga Springs, NY to Washington DC (overnight stay) and then to Asheville, NC. The plan is to drive through from Washington DC to Asheville, NC via I81 and then I26E so if there are any places along the route we should stop at (or within 20 minutes of the route since it is a good 7 hours from DC) please let me know.

    Once in Asheville, I have a long list of places that I must eat at (Curate, Admiral, Seven Sows, White Duck, Cucina 24, Tupelo Honey) but we also plan to take one day (we’ll be in Asheville from Tuesday night through Saturday morning) and drive to Lexington, NC because that area seems to have the largest concentration of bbq places and we could plan to hit at least 3. Possibly getting take out at the last one since bbq reheats well and it’s a 2 hour drive back to Asheville.

    Then on the way home we’ll take a detour so we can hit Grady’s in Dudley and Wilbur’s in Goldsboro. It will make our drive home longer by a couple of hours but from what I’ve heard and read, the detour will be worth it.

    Thoughts on my crazy full itinerary?

    And thanks for all the suggestions thus far!

  117. Hop’s on Sunset Ave. Asheboro, NC is my favorite ‘que in the entire state with Woodlands in Blowing Rock and Stamey’s in Greensboro tied for second place.
    If you’re going to Asheboro, also check out Henry James BBQ (no relation to Daisy Miller I promise) — they have both a sweet and a more vinegary Lexington style sauce. They’re my number 3.

  118. jenh718, your itinerary sounds excellent. On your way into Asheville, you will be way too far waste to taste any good NC BBQ, but it should be a pretty drive. A day trip to Lexington wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Lexington #1. If you want a less well known place that also serves excellent BBQ in Lexington, try Smiley’s. Both of these places–and other ones worth visiting in Lexington area–are reviewed under The Joints link on my blog.And bravo for heading east on your way home to try Grady’s. Wilbur’s is good too, but I’d trade it for a detour to The Skylight Inn in Ayden if you can find a way. Happy travels!

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  120. If you visit Keaton’s don’t get the BBQ – get the whole chicken. Best around. The environment is unique and the service is subpar but there is a reason I visit twice a month from Lake Norman area with a group of 8. Whole chicken hot!!!!!!!! Home Run!

  121. Just got back from out trip to North Carolina. There are pictures of my food adventures on my Twitter account, jenh718.
    Asheville was an amazing city for food but this is a BBQ site so I’ll stay focused :)
    We did a day trip to Lexington from Asheville and we were able to eat at:
    Lexington #1, excellent food and friendly folks, I ran into an older southern lady in the bathroom who asked me where I was from and when I told her about our BBQ tour, she told me I couldn’t leave without trying some pig skin. She marched me out of the bathroom and up to the counter where she told the counter folks that I *must* have some pig skin. One of those charming, random road trip happenings.
    Smiley’s- my BF’s favorite from Lexington. Charmless but solid food.
    BBQ Center- I actually haven’t eaten this yet. We got a quart of meat and packed it in the cooler and it’s in my fridge now. We ended up having banana pudding (excellent) and their giant banana split before we hit the road back to Asheville.
    We had planned a route home to NY at the end of our trip that was supposed to take us to Grady’s and Skylight Inn. But Grady’s is only open until 4 on Saturdays and we didn’t want to have to rush.
    We instead went to Winston-Salem where we ate at Hill’s Lexington. Perfect BBQ, IMO. Hill’s and Lexington #1 were my top picks.
    After Hill’s we stopped at Stamey’s for our final road meal. I have to say, I was not really into Stamey’s. I thought the BBQ was only OK. We had sliced and chopped and I shouldn’t have bothered with the sliced because the chopped was much better.

    I’m already planning my next trip. I’d love to just follow the NC BBQ Society trail.

    Thanks for the tips!

  122. Thanks Jennifer, and I am envious of your travels and your style of vacationing!

  123. I also just got back from a BBQ tour of North Carolina. Here is the link to Dropbox with my report. I will say that once again Grady’s was sensational. I preferred both BBQ Center and Smiley’s over Lexington no. 1. I loved Hill’s in Winston-Salem and Allen & Son in Chapel Hill. Bill Spoons in Charlotte was very good, but the Old Hckory House, also in Charlotte was dreadful. I went to 10 barbecue restaurants in my six days. A fantastic trip.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ixv1joix9qdxotu/Barbecue%20tour-1.pdf

  124. Thanks for the report!

  125. Ran across your web site and enjoyed browsing. I read all of your joint listings and was impressed with your ratings A -F. But I got a little confused when I saw your B rating for Ralphs in Welldon. It left me wondering how bad some of the BBQ must be at these joints you rated C and D! And if Ralph’s a B … are your A ratings that much better. I don’t consider Ralphs very good BBQ. Have eaten at a few of places in western NC but can’t remember the names. I live in Maryland so you know we ain’t got much up here . Wish I was closer so I could sample many of your suggestions. Thanks for the website.

  126. don’t and want eat pork can you really be Jewish not Kosher but what I call American Kosher there is such a thing as “Brisket” which makes pork look and taste like dog sh=t shame on you

  127. I don’t know if this was a mean spirited comment. Mr. Wachter doesn’t spell or wriite very well.

  128. I just got back from another trip to North Carolina and Savannah. Grady’s and Allen and Son were among the best of a number of great places, including Little Richard’s in Winston-Salem and Richard’s in Salisbury, both of which I took from your website.
    Here’s a link to my dropbox report, but it’s been taking a long time to open.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/frtbnbvp5ahk2rz/North%20Carolina%20and%20Savannah%20barbecue%20tour.pdf
    Here is a link to my report on Roadfood.com
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/North-Carolina-and-Savannah-Barbecue-Tour-April-1016-2014-m776112.aspx
    My first night Passover Seder was at McCall’s!

  129. Surprised you haven’t checked out Carolina BBQ in Garner on Highway 70 (unless I missed it). Here’s the website: http://www.cbqnc.com/. It’s the opposite of “clean” bbq. Not wood-cooked as far as I can tell, though I haven’t been for a while, but pretty decent. Also thanks for this awesome website. Been exploring it for the last couple days.

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