BBQ Jew’s View: Grandpa’s Kitchen

149 E South Main Street (Hwy 158), Littleton, NC
(252) 586-3211‎
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Where Would Jesus Dine?”

When Pigs Fly
As I near the aptly named little town of Littleton, the speed limit on Highway 158 drops from a generous country road limit to a stingier limit befitting the bucolic setting.  As I reach the edge of a small historic (or at least old) business district, a sign catches my eye: “Grandpa’s Kitchen, Area’s Finest BBQ.”  Also the area’s only barbecue, I think to myself, but no matter.  An unpredictably flashing neon sign spells out “Bar-B-Q” and, as if by instinct, I steer my car into the small parking lot.  A hand carved wooden pig with eagle wings greets me outside the front door. I have arrived.

If pigs could fly...

If pigs could fly, they'd wallow in the mud in the sky

Grandpa’s Kitchen is one of those places that is a pleasure to dine at, even though it’s barbecue is nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact, the barbecue is downright mediocre, but the quaint location, the warm atmosphere, the interesting decor (everything from pig statuettes to a Frederick Douglass picture) and the friendly staff make up for it.  It’s a cozy little place and, at least on this Sunday evening, is doing steady business with a diverse clientele of old and young, black and white, and locals and out of towners. 

Order at the counter and grab a bottle of sauce

Order at the counter and grab a bottle of sauce

The menu is refreshingly focused, offering barbecue and sides such as hush puppies, greens, black eyed peas, and slaw, but not much more.  (Turkey stew, a dish I’ve never had, is on the menu as well as turkey BBQ.)  Given that this is my third barbecue meal in the past two hours, I am thrilled to see that Grandpa’s offers a BBQ tray, which is somewhat of a rarety for joints east of Burlington.  I am amused when my tray arrives in a styrofoam hotdog container rather than the usual waxed paper tray.  Functional, if not traditional. 

I am less than thrilled by the barbecue, which is coarsely chopped to a good consistency but is bland and slightly dry, and with no wood-cooked flavor.  However, the ‘cue is helped by spiking it generously with some of Grandpa’s classic Eastern-style vinegar sauce.  (Steer clear of the ketchup-heavy sauce they also offer, which would even make many Lexington-style fanatics uncomfortable in its over-the-top ketchupiness.)  The slaw is a good specimen of typical Eastern sweet mayo slaw.  The hush puppies are fried perfectly and have an almost funnel cake-like taste and consistency; they taste so close to the ones down the road at Ralph’s in Weldon that I wonder if they use the same mix.

Editor's note: I ate a hush puppy before taking this photo

Editor's note: I ate a hush puppy, or maybe two, before taking this photo

As I finish my tray of barbecue, a small white sign hanging below the pass-thru from the kitchen to the front counter catches my eye.  It is a reminder to the staff that reads: “Every plate that passes thru this window should be prepared as if it were for Jesus.”  Even though the food is just average, the sign shows the owners care and the sentiment sends me back out the door to my car more than satisfied with my meal.

One Response

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