BBQ Jew’s View: Grady’s BBQ

3096 Arrington Bridge Road, Dudley, NC
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A+
Porky Says: “I can now die happy.”

A sneak peek inside the pearly gates.

A sneak peek inside the pearly gates.

I thought about leaving my review at this: go to Grady’s.  That would have been enough said, but the folks at Grady’s deserve a little more good (albeit virtual) ink.  As far as I am concerned, Grady’s is among an elite few of the best barbecue joints in the state.  Unfortunately, their off the beaten path location has kept them in relative obscurity, even though they’ve dished out terrific barbecue for more than 20 years and many well known joints can’t hold a pig’s wax candle to Grady’s pork.

Luckily, it's what's inside that counts.

Luckily, it's what's inside that counts.

To say Grady’s is unassuming at first glance is an understatement.  Let’s start with the location.  Grady’s is in the tiny town of Dudley, about 15 minutes south of downtown Goldsboro–a town featuring the well-known joints Wilber’s, Scott’s and McCall’s–and just a few hundred yards north of a road called Squirrel Ridge Drive.  The building itself (pictured above) could easily be missed were it not standing all by itself on a quiet stretch of windy road, and were it not for the prominent woodpile and barbecue pit out back.  The hand-written menu features chicken and barbecue, with only a few other main courses available for those confused enough to not be contended with ‘cue.  And then there’s the name itself: Grady is actually pronounced “Graddy” (rhymes with “daddy”), which is the last name of owners Steve and Gerri.  Oh, and Grady’s is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, and only open until 3 p.m. Wednesday thru Friday (they’re open till 6 p.m. on Saturdays).  But all of these traits only add to Grady’s charm.  The joint is the real deal and its focus is where it should be: on making outstanding barbecue.

One of the state's best barbecue plates.
One of the state’s best barbecue plates.

Grady’s Eastern-style, whole hog barbecue is moist, rich, oh-so-smokey, flecked with outside brown and bits of skin, and hand chopped to perfection.  Divine swine for sure.  Jim Early of the NC BBQ Society sums it up by writing, “This ’cue is so good you don’t want to swallow it. It is one of the best eastern style ’cues one will ever taste – pure ’cue heaven on earth.”  I couldn’t agree more.  And the sauce, which one could do without given the quality of the pork, is among the best I’ve ever tasted.  It’s a fiery hot vinegar and pepper concoction that has a surprising depth of flavor.

The sides I sampled were great too.  The slaw is a fairly sweet, moderately mayonaissed and coarsely chopped mixture that is flecked with sweet pickle and complements the ‘cue well.  The hush puppies were fluffy and fried just right.  The blackeyed peas I ordered to round out my barbecue plate were delicious (cabbage, rice, boiled potatoes and potato salad were the other vegetable options on the day I visited, so it was a tough choice).  My only regret about my lunchtime trip to Grady’s is that I was unable to return later that day for dinner.  Like I said at the beginning, go to Grady’s.

38 Responses

  1. Wow. Just hit Grady’s for the first time, largely on the strength of your review. I am blown away. That is most def the best Eastern Style ‘cue I’ve ever had.

    And it may the best, without qualification. I need to do a little more field research. I would like to go to Grady’s for lunch and then hit Honey Monk’s in Lexington for dinner all in one day. That would be a great day, indeed.

    Thanks for the great tip. Grady’s is a treasure of a place. And the owner’s son very kindly let me and my “posse” take a gander at the pits. Very exciting!

  2. BBQ Dave, very glad you enjoyed Grady’s. Thanks for your note and have a good holiday weekend.

  3. Love Grady’s…go there every time I go home to Seven Springs. And love your blog–what a find!

  4. only the best BBQ on the planet

    going to Grady’s is a spiritual experience

  5. One note on its location. It’s not even IN Dudley, which is 5 miles away. But it is so worth the trip. And the Gradys are very, very fine folks indeed.

  6. I was there again this past weekend–delicious as always!

  7. Now I’m jealous, oliviadish.

  8. Decided to take a little road trip and try Grady’s for the first time. 104 miles round trip but worth the effort to find this jewel. I’ve not had the pleasure of eating BBQ that was this good since we quit cooking pigs over a cinder block pit at the old tobacco barn. I love me some ‘Que and this is the best I’ve had in a long, long time.

  9. Large ‘cue plate with butter beans and cabbage today. Awesome!

    One of the sauces (not that the ‘cue needs it but I just had to try it) was “thick” with red pepper. I thought at first it would be too spicy but it was absolutely perfect.

    The best thing about having a business project in Goldsboro is being minutes away from Grady’s.

    I think it might be better than the Skylight Inn.

  10. John,

    Shame on you for making me hungry!

  11. […] Enough of my review, let’s get back to the expert.  Here is Mr. LeSwine’s review of Grady’s: […]

  12. Well, I made my third trek to Grady’s last week over the past year and to say the least, I was very disappointed. I took a couple of friends with me to show them what the real stuff is all about. I know, I know, it’s one of only four BBQ joints in the state with an A+ rating. And the place exudes the atmosphere needed to be a true joint, with the concrete block construction and pit house beside it. But the experience was less than impressive for all of us.

    Each time I’ve eaten there, it was worse than the time before. This latest time, I found the BBQ to be sweet, as if sugar had been mixed in the sauce. Adding several applications of the various sauces on the table did little to help. I expect my cue to be sour on the tongue. The “boiled” potatoes were more like they were mashed and the boiled cabbage was mush. Neither had any flavor and the vast addition of salt did little to help. And the price isn’t cheap for the small plate.

    So I won’t be going back again. Sorry to disagree with this august board, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  13. Thanks for the comments Dave from ENC. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. Plus, I’ll stick with Grady’s and you can have Cooper’s and we’ll both be happy! Seriously, thanks for the note and sorry you made all those trips to Grady without success.

  14. Another trip to Grady’s today. Large ‘cue plate with collards and cabbage.

    Dave, are you sure you’re eating at the same Grady’s? Everything was fantastic as always. I eat here at least a dozen times a year since I have business in Goldsboro.

    I can kinda see what you mean about the ‘cue having a slight sweetness to it but I find it to be close to perfection. Lots of crunchy brown bits too.

    There was a photographer and writer for Saveur magazine doing a photo shot (terrible day for it since it was pouring rain) and a story. We arrived just in time to listen to the interviewing the Grady’s.

  15. Well John, I think I was at Grady’s. White concrete block building at the corner of Arrington Bridge and Sleepy Creek Roads? I know, it’s blasphemy to speak poorly of a top-rated joint, but ………………….

  16. Most, people that eat bbq assume that its suppose to always be spicy. No it don’t if you like spice add spice. A true Bbq person would appreciate good cooked meat. Wilbur’s and Grady’s to me are both different but equally as good, depending on what you like. Most people are cooking with gas and calling it cue, and most of you guys are loving it. Well sorry to disappoint you, but there isn’t any craft or art in a gas cooker confused!

  17. Made another trip to Grady’s today and I think the BBQ gets better every time I eat there. I agree with Dino about the gas…..the best ‘cue comes from slow cooking over wood coals. I’m not above eating pork cooked with gas but for overall taste, it can’t touch Mr Grady’s ‘cue. Still the best I’ve come across…..

  18. Dave says there are 4 in NC that are A+. Can someone share the names as I have a trip passing thru NC next week?

  19. Hi Neal, enjoy your trip to NC. See the complete list of reviews/grades at:

  20. p.s. Also google “NC Barbecue Society Trail” and you’ll find a few more great places that I’ve yet to review.

  21. I just found your website and my favorite BBQ place; bravo bravo clap clap clap! I grew up less than a mile from Grady’s BBQ. Now I go back to visit my parents and enjoy Grady’s BBQ frequently… Yes, Be jealous, be very very jealous!

  22. Welcome aboard, Skip, and yes I am jealous.

  23. Well I didn’t want to hit you with too much at once, but the farm where I grew up…….. was a hog farm …….. we just had to put one of those guys on the “Hog Heaven” once or twice a year. Homemade sauce, oak wood and charcoal cooked for about 8 hours…. let your imagination run wild.

  24. Went to Grady’s yesterday with 3 companions. We were concerned that Grady’s could not live up to the reviews here and on other sites. Thanksfully, we were wrong.

    This is easily the best Eastern BBQ we have ever had. Smoke was spot on, the crunchy skin was perfect and the sauce is great, but the meat really doesn’t need any.

    The sides were also delicious and the tea was fresh.

    This place is worth the drive, no matter how far you travel.

  25. I finally tried Grady’s and it was as good as advertised. Great BBQ and collards. Can’t wait to go back.

  26. Sorry to be so tardy, but there are four joints in NC with the premier A+ rating. Allen and Son, Skylight Inn, Lexington BBQ (#1), and Grady’s. Of interest, 3 of 4 are eastern style bbq.

  27. I’ve had the pleasure of eating BBQ from Grady’s since they opened and I’ve never been disappointed. While living in Dudley, there was nothing better than a BBQ sandwich after a morning in the woods. Since getting married and moving to DC, it’s a must for my wife and I to stop by for dinner and several pounds to take home. Keep up the good work.

  28. I had the pleasure of going to Grady’s in January 2012. The barbecue was great, but I kept seeing customers walking by with the fried chicken. I just had to try it. With my first bite I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
    I’m hoping to go back this spring and I’ve been afraid it was all in my head and I’ll be disappointed this time. Reading all the reviews helps!

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  31. After I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!

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  33. Comments about Grady’s made it sound interesting and Terri made the pilgrimage there one recent Saturday. It was worth the trip. Great Eastern NC BBQ and some of the best fried chicken we’ve tastes.

    I had seen a couple of comments here about the fried chicken and decided to try it as well. Luckily for me they gave a BBQ and fried chicken plate. The fried chicken was nice and crispy and not greasy at all.

    The hush puppies were nice and fluffy. Terri enjoyed the cabbage. The green beans and boiled potatoes were ok. They could have used some seasoning.

    A word of warning, be sure to have cash on you. They don’t take plastic, and the closest ATM would be miles away.

    Grady’s definitely lived up to its reputation as one of the great ‘Que spots here in NC. It was worth the drive from the Triangle to eat there. Luckily they have the combination plate so one does not have to decide between enjoying the ‘Que and fried chicken.

  34. I’m glad you made it there, Steve, and thanks for your report!

  35. I love what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve added you guys to my personal blogroll.

  36. […] BBQ Jew (May 11 2009) Southern Foodways Alliance (Dec. 2011) Our State (Jan. 2013) […]

  37. I have lived in Saint Paul, MN for almost 30 years, but I grew up in Goldsboro where my parents still live. I crave for Eastern NC bbq, and when I visit my folks, I usually stop at Wilbur’s or McCall’s before I even go mom and dad’s house. I learned of Grady’s on my last visit. IT WAS THE BEST I ever had! The atmosphere was real, the sides were wonderful, and the BBQ was better than I have ever had! A true gem in the middle of the sticks!

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