BBQ Jew’s View: Little Richard’s

4885 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem, NC
336.760.3457
Website
Hours: Mon – Sat 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “Really smoking.”

Good Golly, Miss Molly
From the vintage metal advertising signs on the walls to the traditional wood-cooked pork to the location just down the street from Vinegar Hill Road (too good to be true but it is!), Little Richard’s feels like it has been around as long as the “other” Little Richard.  But the joint, named after owner Richard Berrier, wasn’t around in the early years of rock ‘n’ roll.  In fact, the joint only opened in 1991, making it a young’un by barbecue standards.  Still, over the past 18 years, Little Richard’s has established a well-deserved reputation as a purveyor of authentic Lexington-style pork.

I call this picture "barbekudzu."

I call this picture "barbekudzu."

No Tutti Frutti, Just Tobaccy
It’s fitting that in Winston-Salem, one of North Carolina’s proudest tobacco towns and inspiration for two of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s flagship cigaratte lines, cooking pork over smoky wood remains in style.  And on the day I visited Little Richard’s, the pork wasn’t the only thing smoking.  At a table next to a wall covered with vintage tobacco advertisements sat three Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Cook’s BBQ

366 Valiant Drive, Lexington, NC
336.798.1928
No website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “My only beef with Cook’s is brisket.” 

You're not lost if you've found this sign

You're not lost if you've found this sign

“Right Turn on Rockcrusher Road”
I don’t own a GPS unit; I’m early-2000s-old-fashioned and rely on Mapquest.  Still, I can imagine questioning the sanity of the computerized lady were she to instruct me to turn off Highway 8 and onto Rockcrusher Road, as visitors to Cook’s BBQ must do. But the drive to Cook’s is well worth it, as Cook’s serves some of the best barbecue in a town that serves some of the best barbecue in the state. 

I first visited Cook’s about seven years ago, when it had a small but loyal following among Lexington area diners.  At that time the restaurant was a modest-looking, modest-sized wood building built by founder Doug Cook with timber he milled himself.  Maybe it was seeing the humble wooden building after driving down a road I thought surely led to nowhere, or maybe it was the smoky aroma, or maybe it was just the quality of the food.  Whatever it was, my first meal at Cook’s seven years ago was magnificent.  I had only found my way back once since then, and when I pulled into the driveway this time and saw a large expansion on the original building my heart sank a bit.  But the aroma of hickory-smoked pork still hung thick in the air. 

 

Don’t Fear the Brisket
Although my meal at Cook’s seemed a little less magnificent than my memories of my first visit, the ‘cue still rates high.  The pork is tender and cooked to perfection, with a distinct wood-smoked flavor from the 10 or so hours the shoulders cook slow-and-low over the hickory coals.  Pitmaster Brandon Cook, the son of Cook’s BBQ’s founder (who now owns Backcountry Barbecue across town), firmly believes that cooking over wood is the only way to make barbecue. 

Not much has changed to this corner of the building over the years

Little has changed to this corner of the building over the years.

Cook’s BBQ doesn’t heed all sacred barbecue traditions.  Beef brisket earns a place on a almost distressingly diverse Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Stamey’s

2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, NC (2nd location here)
336.299.9888
Stamey’s Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “Deserves it’s fame.”

Just possibly the classiest sign in all of NC BBQ land.

Just possibly the classiest looking sign in all of NC BBQ land.

Location, Location, Location
Even if Stamey’s food was bad (and Lord knows it ain’t), I’d have to give them plenty of credit.  The members of the Stamey family are legends of NC barbecue, and smart businessmen to boot.  Their grand, lodge-style building right across the street from the Greensboro Coliseum, the site of dozens of ACC Tournaments over the past several decades, is evidence of that.  What better place to sell barbecue, and to spread your reputation, than across the street from a huge arena that attracts hoardes of hungry hoops fans from across the state and beyond?  The fact that the Coliseum opened six years after Stamey’s did shows either that the Stamey family was a bit lucky or they were really good businessmen. 

C. Warner Stamey, the founder of Stamey’s and one of the godfathers of NC barbecue (heck, he even brought the hush Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Grady’s BBQ

3096 Arrington Bridge Road, Dudley, NC
919.735.7243
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 Continue reading

How to Find Good Barbecue

It’s not easy to accurately judge a book by its cover, but your friends at BBQ Jew are always willing to try.  Our goal is to prevent you from wasting too much of your valuable time–or too many points on your cholesterol level–eating mediocre barbecue.  You deserve better.  Below are our tips (commandments?) for separating the wheat from the chaff meat from the gristle when it comes to finding good barbecue joints.

Viva le wood!

Viva le wood!

WOOD IS GOOD
– If there is a wood pile outside it’s worth going inside. The wood pile may be tucked away in the back, it may be right up front, but it must be somewhere if they cook with it. Once you find the pile, check for signs that it has been used recently and isn’t just there for decoration (this trickery has been reported, though if the BBQ Jew was king such deception would be a criminal offense).

NEW IS OLD NEWS – Be very suspicious of a barbecue joint if the building it is located in was built less than 20 or so years ago. Sure, there are some good joints that challenge this rule of thumb, but a shiny new building is at best a honkin’ big red flag.

PARKING LOT PARADISE – Glance around the parking lot. Ideally, there will be a diverse mix of beat up pickup trucks, vans with commercial tags, compact cars, lawyer mobiles (Mercedes, BMW, etc.) and more. If all those different people think the ‘cue is worth eating, you probably will too. Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: A&M Grill [Now Closed]

OUT OF BUSINESS AS OF JULY 2011!

401 E. Center St., Mebane, NC
919.563.3721
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “Damn fine swine, well worth your time.”

It’s the Barbecue, Stupid.
I love the A&M Grill, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart (then again, neither is reading online reviews of barbecue joints so you can probably handle it). The outside is unassuming at best and the interior is not what I’d describe as warm and cozy. But who cares? The barbecue is what matters, and the A&M delivers great ‘cue.

The Reeds hit the nail on the head when we asked them what they look for in a barbecue joint and they told us: “Barbecue… The meat’s what matters, at least as far as I’m concerned. I don’t give a damn about the décor or the ‘ambience.'”  They’re right: if the swine is fine, let’s dine! And if you can’t cook the swine, I ain’t got the time.

Not scenic, but still a glorious sight

Behind the A&M Grill: not scenic but still a glorious sight.

Hard Work Pays Off
In my humble opinion, the A&M serves some damn fine swine. The pork shoulders are wood-cooked the old fashioned way and the A&M’s efforts pay off in the form of succulent, tender, hickory-kissed pork that has plenty of outside brown. The Lexington style dip is thicker than I tend to prefer, with more ketchup than needed, but Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Allen & Son Barbeque

Sign of the Shrine

Sign of the Shrine (photo by drinkerthinker from Creative Commons)

6203 Millhouse Rd., Chapel Hill, NC
919.942.7576
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A+
Porky Says: “You can take me now, I’ve lived a good life.” 

Preface: It’s no coincidence that we decided to make Allen & Son the subject of our first review. Years ago, Allen’s helped convince the Rib Rabbi and Porky LeSwine to worship at the temple of barbecue and it remains one of our favorite joints.

For The Doubters: Or Why You Shouldn’t Not GoYes, it has a Chapel Hill address. Yes, many Chapel Hill residents wouldn’t know a barbecue pit from a hole in the ground if Bon Appetit didn’t feel the need to explain it to them. Yes, the food is more expensive than most barbecue joints, even very good ones, and the prices keep going up. (Economics 101 teaches us that this is the law of supply and demand, and we are confident the invisible hand will take care of society’s best barbecue interests.) Yes, Allen’s probably gets a lot of press because the national media prefers to spend the night at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill than at the Econo Lodge in Lexington. But Allen & Son deserves every bit of the acclaim it has received; Keith Allen and his crew serve some of the best barbecue in North Carolina. And, at the risk of diving head-first into an empty pool of hyperbole, this means Allen’s serves some of the best barbecue in the world. Continue reading