The Pit BBQ in Durham, across from the famed Motorco, is part of the new Durham–a Durham of renovation and reinvention. The Pit is the perfect example of a business taking the traditions of a city steeped in Southern history, and presenting them with a modern aesthetic to a new generation.
The Pit is gleaming inside, with shiny hardwood floors and tables, and a ceiling-high glass divider with a frosted pig graphic etched on it, beside the hostess’s stand. The glittering amber bottles lined along a mirrored wall at the bar contain over fourty different types of Bourbon, Whisky, and Rye.
When you sit down, the back of the menu explains the 350 year history of NC BBQ, and how The Pit fits into the state’s proud tradition of “wood-fired, free-range, vinegar-based, whole-hog, North Carolina barbecue.”
If you can judge a restaurant by its sweet tea, The Pit passes the test. The Pit’s sweet tea has a well-steeped flavor, and isn’t sweet to the point of saccharine. The complimentary bread basket arrives with good ol’ Southern hushpuppies, biscuits, and honey butter. The soft biscuits are the perfect vehicle to taste the three different BBQ sauces that are waiting to be discovered on the table. All three are different and delicious, ranging from sweet to hot-vinegar.
The three styles of BBQ, chopped, pulled, and Lexington brown, all come minimally sauced so that you can customize your BBQ experience by adding as much sauce as you want.
The macaroni and cheese is the best I’ve had anywhere. It has cheezy dimensions, stringy cheddar in a thick cream sauce. It was really the star of the meal. The fried okra was exceptional as well. The breading was light enough that the flavor and even the texture of the okra
was perceptible. The mashed potatoes were a classic thick mash with a dark, peppery gravy. The greens came well cooked with the fat they were boiled in.
And the desserts provided modern twists on classics. The Apple-Ginger pie is big enough for a meal. It comes out warm with a caramel drizzle and beautiful lattice pie crust. The ginger isn’t just a seasoning, it’s part of every mouthful. The warm ginger flavor lingers after every bite of soft apple.
Overall, the Pit fulfills its promise of an authentic NC pit BBQ experience, with the addition of a modern ambiance. You can visit The Pit at its locations in Durham and Raleigh and experience their modern reinvigoration of the NC BBQ tradition yourself.
I loved The Pit. I found it last year (2019) when I came home to watch my beloved Tar Heels play. It was my girlfriend’s first time in Durham and I had not been home in over 5 years. The food was excellent.