January 16, 2017

THE Perfect Plate of Barbecue, Round II

by Deborah Miller

Two weeks ago, Elijah Gaddis fired up a plate for debate in celebration of National BBQ Month! We asked you what would make up YOUR perfect plate of barbecue, including sides — and from where? To all of you who responded, thank you.

Top left & center: BBQ King Top right: Bob's Bar-B-Q Lower left & right: Woodlands Barbecue, Hillsborough BBQ Company

Top left & center: BBQ King
Top right: Bob’s Bar-B-Q
Lower left to right: Woodlands Barbecue, Hillsborough BBQ Company

Here’s what you all had to say:

Joe S:
Sorry, but I can’t agree about eastern-style — the meat is uneven tasting (which is a result of their “whole-hog” nonsense), unlike the Piedmont shoulders-only cooking. Also, I much prefer red slaw to that yellow stuff found east of Asheboro; I also like hushpuppies much more than corn bread or sticks.

My votes: Lexington #1, the best barbecue, slaw, ‘pups and tea in the state; Alston Bridges in Shelby; Kyle Fletcher’s in Lowell/Gastonia. Sentimental favorite: BBQ King in Charlotte.

Joe S. adds:
Oh, yes: So few places in the east cook REAL BBQ — everyone has gone to gas or electric cookers. Wood coals is still the only legitimate way of cooking ‘cue!

I admit to a lacking objectivity– my BBQ teeth were cut in the East– but B’s Barbecue is, hands down, the best pulled pork in NC.

They have a road named after them for pork’s sake. It’s not just the food, either, the entire atmosphere is one of old-time good eatin’. You should definitely try it; but get there early– 10 ish- because when the pig is gone they close up shop.

B’s Barbecue in Greenville is wonderful and it is truly a pig pickin. They cook a pig and when it is gone, B’s closes its doors. Also- Boss Hogs in Little Washington, NC is pretty durn good!

Meghan/Hickory, NC:
Woodlands in Blowing Rock has phenomenal chopped pork, smoked wings & ribs. I’m in love with the beef brisket from JD‘s in  Morganton. Sorry, can’t speak to slaw.

Susan/Graham, NC:
The Depot, Dobson, NC. Their ribs are to DIE for. Period. End of story. (Do ribs count?)

Nancy/Chapel Hill, NC:
I like the Hillsborough BBQ Company because they have great pork but they will smoke anything! Also. the sides are traditional but often with a twist,like several kinds of beans in the baked beans, and three kinds of slaw. They have some large tables outside where you can meet new people and have a very homey feel.Come over and I’ll buy you some.

I always loved Bob’s Barbecue in Creedmoor best.

Lee/Hickory, NC:
Parker’s ‘cue is always good. Hushpuppies from Fuzzy’s. Slaw from Lexington BBQ.

I don’t have any favorite places, but I sure do miss the Carolina Barbeque I first tasted in 1962 — the vinegary kind that had little red flecks of peppers in it (they served it a lot at the school I went to in Wake Forest). I haven’t had any of that since we moved from Chapel Hill in 1969. The Texas style barbeque is really good (especially when made with a slow-cooked brisket), but Carolina is still my favorite!

Lexington BBQ #1 or as us locals call it The Honeymonk! Best hands down. BBQ plate with skins on the side and a big glass of sweet tea.

Top left to right:  Boss Hog BBQ, Kyle Fletcher's Barbeque & Catering Bottom left to right: Fuzzy's Bar-B-Q, B's Barbeque

Top left to right: Boss Hog BBQ, Kyle Fletcher’s Barbeque & Catering
Bottom left to right: Fuzzy’s Bar-B-Q, B’s Barbeque

NC Food editor, Deborah/Chapel Hill, NC:
Listen up, people! Barbecue sauce does not belong in slaw. Beans, yes. ketchup, maybe. Slaw, no. And step away from the mustard. I’m not even sure who came up with that whole idea of “red slaw.” Make my slaw pure and simple, or don’t even bother messing up a good head of cabbage.  Simple – as in cabbage, maybe some shredded carrots, mayo, a dash of sugar, a dash of vinegar, and plenty of salt and pepper. I’m sure slaw preferences are based on experience and what you grew up eating at your family table. Just one woman’s personal preference.

BBQ:  Allen & Son (Chapel Hill, NC), Bridges (Shelby, NC), and Short Sugar’s (Reidsville, NC)  They all do pork right, as far as I’m concerned. I tend toward liking the tender pieces instead of the crisp edges. While I am right partial to the mighty fine barbecue at the Blue Note Grill in Durham, it’s more reminiscent of Memphis Q than North Carolina. As an equal opportunity eporkurean, I can happily swing both ways.

Slaw:  Definitely Allen & Sons. It’s finely chopped, on the sweet side and is the perfect accompaniment to the vinegary Eastern sauce. It’s drippy though and tends to soak the bun. When doing take-out, I often drain it a bit. Short Sugars (Reidsville) slaw is chopped and creamy. Can’t go wrong there. What I love about Blackbeards (Tarboro) is that you get a choice of either vinegar or mayo-based slaw. You’ve got to love a place that acknowledges that that there are two factions of slaw lovers roaming the state.

Hush puppies: Don’t hate me, but I tend to enjoy the hush puppies at fish houses much more than those at barbecue pits. I don’t know why. They are usually lighter and crispier. Seems to me most hushpuppies are just thrown on the table to fill you up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of hush puppies. Missed them dreadfully when I lived out of the south, but somehow they just aren’t ever as good as I imagine them to be. So, here’s your challenge. Where ARE the best hush puppies in North Carolina anyway?


We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the most recent widely seen comment on North Carolina barbecue from Stephen Colbert:  “it’s just shredded cardboard soaked in vinegar.”

Stephen Colbert asks North Carolina first district Congressman G.K. Butterfield to identify a plate of South Carolina barbecue versus a plate of North Carolina barbecue. March 25, 2014.
You can skip forward to the 6:50 mark to hear just the barbecue comments, but the entire discussion with North Carolina First District Congressman G. K. Butterfield is actually really funny.

Take a stand, NC barbecue lovers! Here’s Colbert’s Facebook page for comments.

Allen & Sons Barbeque
6203 Millhouse Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516-8101
(919) 942-7576

Alston Bridges
620 E Grover St
Shelby, NC 28150
(704) 482-1998

B’s Barbecue
751 B’s Barbecue Rd.
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 758-7126

BarBQ King
2900 Wilkinson Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28208
(704) 399-8344

5232 U.S. 64 Alt, Tarboro, NC 27886
(252) 641-0103
Conetoe, NC

The Blue Note Grill
4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 401-1979

Bob’s Barbecue
1589 Lake Rd.
Creedmoor, NC 27522
(919) 528-2081

Boss Hog’s Barbeque
1550 Carolina Ave.
Washington, NC 27889
(252) 946-5251

The Depot
112 Old Depot Ln
Dobson, NC 27017
(336) 386-8222

Fuzzy’s BBQ
407 Highway St.
Madison, NC 27025
(336) 427-4130

Hillsborough BBQ company
236 S Nash St.
Hillsborough, NC 27278
(919) 732-4647

JD’s Smokehouse
500 Malcolm Blvd.
Rutherford College 28671


Kyle Fletcher’s
4507 Wilkinson Blvd.
Lowell, NC
(between Charlotte and Gastonia, about 9 miles west of the airport);

Lexington #1
Lexington Barbecue
100 Smokehouse Lane
Lexington, NC 27295
(336) 249-9814

Parker’s Barbecue
2514 U.S. 301
Wilson, NC 27893
(252) 237-0972

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge
2000 E. Dixon Blvd.
Shelby, NC 28150
(704) 482-8567

Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q
1328 S Scales St
Reidsville, NC 27320
(336) 342-7487

Woodlands Barbeque
8304 Valley Blvd.
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
(828) 295-3651

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