BBQ Jew’s View: Adam’s Roadside Bar-B-Q

Highway 70 West of the Wal-Mart, Goldsboro, NC
(919) 739.3859
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C+
Porky Says: “Hold the sauce!”

Drive By Barbecue
Adam's Goldsboro (9)
I had high hopes for Adam’s Roadside Bar-B-Q, in part because of the phrase “hickory smoked” on the sign outside and in part because there is another barbecue joint on Highway 70 in Goldsboro by the name of Wilber’s.  I figured Adam’s must be doing something right to compete in Wilber’s country.   Unfortunately, my sense is that what Adam’s is doing to compete is not to serve superior barbecue.  While Wilber’s focuses on the fundamentalist wood-fired, whole hog barbecue native to Eastern NC, Adam’s has gone whole hog into the new age of barbecue.  Need some “Texas-style” brisket? Adam’s has it.  Pork ribs?  Sure.  Chicken? Why not?  Turkey? Yes! NC-style chopped pork BBQ?  Oh yeah, that too.

As frequent visitors of this site know, when I review a barbecue joint I focus primarily on the Holy Trinity of North Carolina barbecue, namely chopped pork, slaw, and hush puppies/corn bread/corn sticks.  The rest of the menu, with some exceptions, is just noise.  Sometimes it’s delicious noise, sometimes it’s not, but it is not how I judge a North Carolina BBQ joint.

My experience at Adam’s was less than perfect from the start.  The folks who work there were nice but communication between the kitchen and the front counter was poor.  Below is what came out the 2nd time around after I tried to get my order of barbecue and brisket with sides of BBQ potatoes and slaw corrected. (They got the brisket right but struck out on the other three both times.)

Adam's Goldsboro (7)

Such things happen from time to time, and the owner resolved it to my satisfaction by apologizing and throwing in a free BBQ & slaw tray.  I appreciated that, though I still am curious how those BBQ boiled potatoes taste…

Less pleasant was the outdoor dining area, where I tried not to be bothered by the swarms of flies that hovered around my plate; honestly the most flies I’ve ever witnessed except on the Discovery Channel.  The flies combined with the distinct smell of sewage to send me running for my car after a few minutes.  (For the record, it had been pouring down rain and I suspect a septic system at the restaurant or nearby was struggling … sh*t happens!)

Neither the flies nor the distinct odor were appealing, but it was the pool of sticky, sweet sauce that drenched the ribs Continue reading

History of Barbecue in Goldsboro

Late last year Carl Eugene McBride, Jr. provided me with a re-revised history of barbecue in Goldsboro, NC.  Alas, I managed to bury his email in my inbox and just came across it again recently.  With apologies for the delay, here is Mr. McBride, Jr.’s new and improved essay.  As I said when I posted the original version, this document ought to be required reading for public school students in Wayne County!

Guy Parker’s Old Fashioned Barbeque Sauce

I used to regularly travel to Goldsboro for work and was always curious about the vacant but tidy Guy Parker’s Barbeque Restaurant near the edge of downtown.  I never did figure out the story behind the restaurant until seeing this interesting article.  Between Guy Parker’s and Scott’s, Goldsboro is becoming a barbecue town known as much for its ghosts (and their sauce) as for its existing restaurants.

NC Barbecue Final Four

According to the The Dispatch, a recent article in U.S. News & World Report ranked Lexington, NC the fourth best barbecue city in the country.  It’s hard to argue with the cities listed ahead of Lexington–Memphis TN, Lockhart TX and Kansas City MO.  Although if good, traditionally prepared barbecue per capita had been the main criteria I’d argue that Lexington–with its 20-some BBQ joints in the “metro area” and just 20,000 people–would be neck and neck with Lockhart.

Here are my picks for top barbecue cities (and towns) in North Carolina.  If you like, you can consider this the North Carolina barbecue Final Four.

Lexington – As noted in the national rankings, Lexington is the best barbecue town in North Carolina.  There are more traditional wood-cooking barbecue joints in little 20,000-person Lexington than any other locality in NC by a wide margin. (Are you listening Raleigh and Charlotte?)  Lexington’s annual Barbecue Festival that draws 200,000 or so swine worshippers is further evidence of the town’s barbecue supremacy.

Ayden – Home to the Skylight Inn (aka Pete Jone’s place), which serves some of the best barbecue in the state and is perhaps the quintessential Eastern NC barbecue joint, Ayden is a little town with a lot of flabor.  From the food at the Skylight Inn to the rural setting, it doesn’t get much more authentic than Ayden . Better yet, tiny Ayden is also home to the cafeteria-style Bum’s, which is a classic southern restaurant featuring barbecue.

Salisbury – It plays second fiddle to Lexington, but Salisbury deserves its own acclaim, as it is (ironically) the likely birthplace of “Lexington-style” barbecue.  Today Salisburyians (?) continue to cherish their barbecue and the town has a couple of solid, traditional wood burners–Richard’s and Wink’s–to back up their proud barbecue history.

Goldsboro – At one point Goldsboro was arguably the Mecca of Eastern NC barbecue, between the still-famous Wilber’s and the now shell-of-its-former-self Scott’s.  Although it’s barbecue is no longer worth tasting, Scott’s still makes some of the best barbecue sauce available ($1.99 or so at your neighborhood Food Lion, or $1 more at Harris Teeter if that’s how you roll).  The Goldsboro area’s proud tobacco and hog farming history add to its permanent status as a true barbecue town.

A (Revised) History of Goldsboro Barbecue

A little over a month ago I ran this post about an amateur historian’s take on Goldsboro’s rich barbecue history.  I recently was able to track down the author, Carl Eugene (“Gene”) McBride, Jr.   He not only agreed to allow me to continue to share his magnum opus porkus online but offered a new and improved version.  The revised version corrects a few minor errors and is available here for your reading pleasure: GoldsboroBarbecue. (I also updated the original post to link to this revised document.) It’s a terrific read so please do check it out.

So, who is this mysterious McBride fellow anyway?  A Goldsboro native who now lives in barbecue purgatory on the left coast, it turns out.  As Gene told me over email: “I grew up in Goldsboro until I went off to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1965. Although I now live in Los Angeles, I have visited Goldsboro every year since then. You are correct that Goldsboro is truly a barbecue haven.  I wish I had some of that ‘cue right now!”  If any Tar Heel travelers are planning a journey to the City of Angels, I am confident that Gene would be more than happy to pay your airfare if you simply bring him a plate of his precious ‘cue.

Wilber’s Barbecue

Wilber Shirley’s place in Goldsboro–the simply named Wilber’s Barbecue–is among the living legends of North Carolina barbecue joints.  It is also among the state’s best-known restaurants period, given its long history and prominent location fronting Highway 70 on the way to the beach (at least for those of us that still take routes other than Interstate 40 to the coast from time to time).  Hear from Mr. Shirley himself and get a behind the scenes tour of his wonderful restaurant in this nicely done segment from Time Warner Cable’s Around Carolina program.

Oh, and if you want to see another perspective on Goldsboro, you can watch this video instead.

A History of Goldsboro Barbecue

Goldsboro, a city of a little under 40,000 people in eastern North Carolina, has some of the state’s richest barbecue history.  Thus, I was particularly pleased to receive the below email, written by Johnnie and Peggy Hood, and forward to me by Dave Schiller, all of whom recently attended their 50th Goldsboro High School anniversary.  Better yet, the email included an attached history of Goldsboro barbecue written by Carl Eugene McBride, Jr., whom I am currently trying to track down to be sure he is okay with me including his writing on this site… I sure hope he is because it is excellent and deserves an audience.

“(Goldsboro, NC  10/01/11) —  What started out as a few friends going  to Wilber’s Barbecue for lunch morphed into a GHS class of 1961 reunion family  style luncheon at Wilberdean Shirley’s Barbecue Emporium.  Classmates  feasted on barbecue pork (of course), barbecue chicken, fried chicken, slaw,  potato salad, Brunswick stew, hushpuppies, and biscuits (sopping biscuits like  granny used to make).  For dessert we enjoyed banana pudding that, we were  told, Wilber himself stayed up all night cooking.

Conversation topics ranged from “whatever happened to ole so and so?” to stories  from those no longer living in eastern North Carolina about the putrid and  disgusting things some people put in their barbecue sauce.  Some were  shocked to learn that some well-meaning cooks put catsup, or mustard, or  molasses, or brown sugar, just to name a few things, in the sauce and then serve  it to unsuspecting guests.

It was agreed that the reason that we GHS graduates are so good looking, so  intelligent, and so healthy is probably the Goldsboro barbecue we consumed as  children.  Harriet Taylor Ross removed any doubt by providing a PDF file history of the holy grub from Goldsboro [Editor’s note: This link opens a fascinating, 19-page history of Goldsboro barbecue]… It should be required reading in all Goldsboro Public Schools along with other important stuff that’s no longer taught.

The fiftieth reunion is a once in a lifetime event.  We enjoyed  ours.”