Breaking News at Allen & Son’s

On Friday I visited Allen & Son’s in Chapel Hill for the first time in months (the location north of town on Highway 86, not the unrelated and inferior Allen’s south of town).  As usual, not much had changed since my last visit: great food, friendly service, and prices slowly creeping toward $11 for a large plate yet somehow still worth it.  And then my jaw dropped.  As I perused the menu to decide whether to get a BBQ plate or sandwich I saw it, the first major change to the menu I can recall besides pricing.  A barbecue tray!

This may not sound like big news to you, but Allen’s has never before–in the 25-plus years I’ve been visiting–offered a tray.  It has always had a sandwich and a plate but never a tray.  But there it was, a recent addition to the carved in stone menu sitting in front of me.

The silver tray with a paper tray nestled inside: classy!

At many BBQ joints that offer a tray, “plate” means BBQ, slaw, hush puppies and fries and “tray” excludes fries.  Trays also tend to offer slightly smaller portions than plates, a nice feature for folks like me who often eat at more than one joint when visiting unchartered barbecue territory.  At Allen’s the regular plate does not include fries (though there is a fries added option), so the difference between the plate and tray appears to be quantity.  As you can see in the picture above, the tray offers plenty of food for a modest appettite, and is a couple of bucks less than a plate.  Next time I visit I’ll bring my postal scale and do a more scientific comparison between the two options…

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