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Best BBQ in the South?


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#1 jpropaganda

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 05:59 AM

Hi,

I'm new to the eGullet forums, but I know you all are the ones I should check in with...I live in NYC and have the week of december 7th-11th off of work. With the weekend, that gives me a full 7 days to travel this great country of ours with a good friend of mine, and try as much bbq as possible.

So where should we go? I'm X-posting this in the heartland, because as of now the plan is NYC-->Carolinas-->Atlanta-->Tennessee and any stops in between. Although I just realized this might offend St Louis enthusiasts, I DO only have a week here...

We don't want to waste our time with tourist traps and overrated bbq joints. As of right now I have the following list of restaurants we're considering...where else should we go?! Where should we skip?

Melvin’s BBQ – Charleston SC
Mac’s Speed Shop – Charlotte NC
Sweet Leaf – Savannah GA
Big Ed’s – Raleigh NC
Swallow at the Hollow – Roanoke VA
Corky’s BBQ – Memphis TN
Rendezvous – Memphis TN
BBQ Shop – Memphis TN
BBQ-1 – Atlanta GA
Daddyz – Atlanta GA
Parker’s – Wilson NC
Interstate BBQ – Memphis TN
Martinsville, VA – Checkered Pig
Asheville, NC – Mountain Smokehouse
Goldsboro, NC – Scott’s Famous Barbeque
Lexington, NC – Lexington BBQ#1 (can’t go wrong anywhere in Lex)
Lexington, NC – Jimmy’s
Chapel Hill, NC – Allen & Sons (awesome pulled pork)
Raleigh, NC – The Pit
Ayden, NC – Skylight Inn
South Carolina – Maurices
Mutton BBQ – Owensboro KY
Smokin Ed’s – Smyma TN
BB’s BBQ – Franklin TN

Thanks!!

#2 jpropaganda

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 06:00 AM

Oh darn, my computer autocompleted this topic to read "heartland" instead of "southeast." Really, I just want to make sure I'm going to the best of the best.

#3 Holly Moore

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:59 AM

Sweatman's in Holly Hill SC (Only open Fri and Sat)
A little out of your way, but the original Dreamland Barbecue in Tuscaloosa
Moonlite is a good choice for Owensboro
Two TN muusts - Martin's in Nolensville and Ridgewood in Bluff City
Not a Corky's fan, myself. A&R and Jim Neeleys Interstate, along with Rendezvous.

You say you've only got a week? Pick one state and start to eat through it. For a first time, I'd opt for NC - with a dash of SC for mustard based sauce.
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#4 jpropaganda

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 09:44 AM

One state is a good idea, but as long as we're in the south we want to really go through. I haven't done much travelling in the south before, so it'll be good to do a southern road trip with a bbq theme.

We're thinking of bringing a camera and updating at each place we go, posting to youtube every night! You have no idea how excited I am for this trip.

#5 Holly Moore

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 10:02 AM

You won't see the South or experience the South doing eighty down the Interstate.

Pick a state and drive the back roads. Hit the county seats and one-light towns. Along the way you will come across some great barbecue only the locals know. Guaranteed.
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#6 munchymom

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 11:26 AM

It hurts my local pride to say it, but don't come to Charlotte for barbecue. Mac's is a fine place if you live here, but I wouldn't make it part of a time-limited trip.
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#7 pogophiles

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 12:01 PM

I would replace Smokin' Ed's in Smyrna, TN (which has changed names, owners & quality) with Martin's in Nolensville, TN (get a Redneck Taco) and with The Slick Pig in Murfreesboro, TN (get the smoked chicken wings).
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#8 jpropaganda

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 02:00 PM

It hurts my local pride to say it, but don't come to Charlotte for barbecue. Mac's is a fine place if you live here, but I wouldn't make it part of a time-limited trip.


Wow, I thank you for taking one in the pride for me.

#9 Kim Shook

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 11:56 PM

I wouldn't bother with Parker's in Wilson, but if you go to Short Sugar's in Reidsville NC and have a chopped pork with their amazing, singular sauce, you'll be glad you did. Keep in mind that lots of BBQ places (including Short Sugar's), especially the small town places are closed on Sundays.

#10 biskuit

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 01:12 PM

There are diverse opinions of course. I live in Atlanta now and grew up in Memphis. I don't think Atlanta is worth your stop frankly. In Memphis, I would say the one must is Payne's. Cozy Corner might be #2. Skip Corky's. Rendezvous should be approached w the understanding that it's an institution known more for its uniqueness than the quality of its BBQ. A&R, BBQ Shop, Germantown Commissary, are all solid choices. Not a fan of Interstate, too much sauce.

Between Nashville and Memphis, I am a very big fan of B.E. Scott Bar B Que in Lexington, TN. They cook the whole hog way. Very good.

10880 Highway 412 West
Lexington, TN 38351-6282
(731) 968-0420

#11 Panosmex

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 05:44 PM

Central BBQ. Memphis, TN
Buen provecho, Panosmex

#12 jpropaganda

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 10:08 AM

Everyone seems to be saying skip Atlanta, so I guess maybe we will, giving us more time to explore TN.

Is there anywhere that I'm REALLY missing? Some hidden spot, a gem that hasn't been tarnished by a visit from guy fieri or anyone else on the food network? And what about Alabama? They use some kind of white sauce right?

#13 Holly Moore

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 10:28 AM

With the exception of Memphis, I'd skip all major cities.

A few miles into Arkansas from Memphis, way off the beaten path and a must-hit: Greg and Jim's Grocery and Barbecuein Colt AR. I'd drive at least a hundred miles out of my way just for their barbecued beans, but their pulled pork is right up there too.
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#14 jpropaganda

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 04:03 PM

With the exception of Memphis, I'd skip all major cities.

A few miles into Arkansas from Memphis, way off the beaten path and a must-hit: Greg and Jim's Grocery and Barbecuein Colt AR. I'd drive at least a hundred miles out of my way just for their barbecued beans, but their pulled pork is right up there too.


I'm there! Checked the link, those beans look amazing. I'm gonna definitely have to get some with the pork! Looks close enough to be able to make it.

I'm thinking of cutting Atlanta out in its entirety, in order to make time for mississippi, alabama and arkansas, etc.

Keep these suggestions coming! I can't wait. And I'll be sure to share the link for my travels once it's live.

#15 Florida

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 09:12 AM

Is there anywhere that I'm REALLY missing? Some hidden spot, a gem that hasn't been tarnished by a visit from guy fieri or anyone else on the food network? And what about Alabama? They use some kind of white sauce right?


The white sauce is regional and is typically only found in Northern Alabama, with the sauce originating at or just being popularized by (depending on your accepted version of BBQ lore) Bob Gibson’s in Decatur. The sauce is mayonnaise-based and it really doesn’t go well on anything but chicken, though it is served on pork as well. You may want to try it to say you’ve tried it (which is exactly what I did), but I can virtually guarantee you, it will not be your favorite.

As for Dreamland in T-town, I feel they are grossly overrated. I think they get a lot of publicity for being the only other thing in Tuscaloosa other than the Univ. of Alabama and for that reason whenever there is an Alabama game on TV, there is the obligatory reference to Dreamland.

If you’re looking for regional specialties, might I second Holly Moore’s suggestion of Moonlite in Owensboro, KY. Unique for both their black sauce and their use of mutton. Plus they serve Burgoo which, for KY at least, is a BBQ must.

#16 Holly Moore

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 10:20 AM

As for Dreamland in T-town, I feel they are grossly overrated. I think they get a lot of publicity for being the only other thing in Tuscaloosa other than the Univ. of Alabama and for that reason whenever there is an Alabama game on TV, there is the obligatory reference to Dreamland


Made my first trip to Dreamland - the original one, not the one just off the interstate - earlier this year. Thought the ribs were as good as I've had and the place proud of its tradition.
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#17 Florida

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 12:37 PM

As for Dreamland in T-town, I feel they are grossly overrated. I think they get a lot of publicity for being the only other thing in Tuscaloosa other than the Univ. of Alabama and for that reason whenever there is an Alabama game on TV, there is the obligatory reference to Dreamland


Made my first trip to Dreamland - the original one, not the one just off the interstate - earlier this year. Thought the ribs were as good as I've had and the place proud of its tradition.


1) It's BBQ. To each their own.

2) I lived in Bham for 5 years. Unless Florida was playing Alabama, I (personally) wouldn't even consider the short drive from Bham to Tuscaloosa to go to Dreamland. Hell, I even knew people who lived in Tuscaloosa who wouldn't go there.

However, as I said before, it's BBQ. Everyone has their own opinion.

#18 jpropaganda

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 01:12 PM

Moonlite in Owensboro, KY. Unique for both their black sauce and their use of mutton. Plus they serve Burgoo which, for KY at least, is a BBQ must.


Definitely don't plan on getting stuck in major cities, but as long as I'm in the South I might as well see as much of it as possible, no?

Thanks for the Burgoo tip! It's that type of knowledge that has me convinced I'll be checking in with you guys while on the road wherever I can.

So...no bbq in major cities. Skipping Dreamland (although I think we may end up going to the original...seems like a requirement?) Bob Gibson's...

What gems am I missing that haven't been listed here yet? Once I have the route planned out, I'll make a map and share it, get your thoughts, etc.

#19 CtznCane

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 01:28 PM

Being new to the south we've been trying all the bbq places we can. Fortunately we have the best nearby. Prince Pit BBQ in Bardwell, Ky. Can find many other good ones along the way. Prince Pit was featured by Alton Brown too in his feasting on asphalt book and on the show.
The Rendezvous is good in Memphis though next time there we plan to hit Interstate BBQ.

Memphis Q and StLouis/Kansas City too, but Ky Q is hard to beat.
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#20 jpropaganda

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 01:32 PM

Ah I'm always worried about anywhere featured on Food Network, but since it was Alton I think I can let it slide. Thanks for the tip! Looks like Kentucky's really representing!

#21 joeljkp

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 02:35 PM

I've lived in Mississippi for the past 15 years, but I'm more aware of my local joints than any kind of renowned "must-go" place.

In Jackson there's Chimneyville Smokehouse. Seems to be pretty famous down there.

The Delta's known more for tamales and catfish than BBQ, but I'm certain you wouldn't be disappointed from a trip through Greenville or Clarksdale.

Here in Starkville, there's Little Dooey's, which is the favorite of ESPN when they come to town. My fave is Morris' (previously Sonny's), a little trailer on a county road that serves up some kickin' hot sauce (full of pepper seeds) and soul food too, if you're up for some chitterlings and pig's feet.

I can give more info if any of these sound good to you.

#22 BrentKulman

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 03:33 PM

If you make it to eastern NC (and you should), you should add Bum's in Ayden, B's in Greenville and Wilbur's in Goldsboro. I don't think Scott's exists as a restaurant, unless it has re-opened recently. For quite a few years now, they have been in the sauce business, not the BBQ business.

Also, I think there are far better options for SC-mustard based BBQ than Maurice's. I like Henry's in Greenville and Sweatman's (previously mentioned). A number of SC places are only open 2-3 days a week, so research that carefully before making your plans.

#23 Eatmywords

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 04:04 PM

We had some really nice chopped pork and ribs at the Smokey Pig in Virginia right off of I95. Nice staff and a real homey feel to the place. (I don't believe they've been talked about on any FN show : ) http://thesmokeypig.com/index.html

Let me just recommend Holly's site to map your itinerary. A great resource esp if you're sticking to I95 or the other highway to the west.

One thing I'd like to do (in time) is sample a good portion of the listings on the NC Historic Bbq trail map. I see you have Lexignton, Allen and Sons and Skylight amongst your list as they do. (I'm sure you've come across it but if you haven't, http://www.ncbbqsoci.../trail_map.html
That wasn't chicken

#24 jpropaganda

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 04:47 PM

My fave is Morris' (previously Sonny's), a little trailer on a county road that serves up some kickin' hot sauce (full of pepper seeds) and soul food too, if you're up for some chitterlings and pig's feet.

I can give more info if any of these sound good to you.


Those definitely sound good. I have never had a pig's foot. Might just have to...little trailers on a country road seem like they would have the best BBQ. Can't wait to try.

Let me just recommend Holly's site to map your itinerary. A great resource esp if you're sticking to I95 or the other highway to the west.


Still figuring out the exact itinerary, but I've definitely consulted Holly's site. It's great! I have a feeling we'll spend a few days in the carolinas and then move westward.

Oh man I can't wait to go...keep the suggestions coming! Thanks for the SC suggestions, I had heard that Maurice's was a chain so I'm happy to have other options. I've never even HAD a mustard based bbq sauce.

#25 joeljkp

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 05:22 PM


My fave is Morris' (previously Sonny's), a little trailer on a county road that serves up some kickin' hot sauce (full of pepper seeds) and soul food too, if you're up for some chitterlings and pig's feet.

I can give more info if any of these sound good to you.


Those definitely sound good. I have never had a pig's foot. Might just have to...little trailers on a country road seem like they would have the best BBQ. Can't wait to try.


Starkville's about a hour and a half west of Tuscaloosa, on US-82. Take the Clayton Village/MS-182E exit, and go right. Maybe half a mile to a mile, take a left just after a small bridge (the road is 16th Section Road, I can't remember if there's a sign). It'll be on your left with a flashing sign.

We had some friends that called this place "the happiest place on Earth". Used to be run by a guy whose real name was Roosevelt Nickels. They changed the name when he died, but it's still the same family. I usually go for the pulled pork with the hot sauce. Don't get the beans though, they're just Campbell's. But why would you get beans when you can get chitterlings? :smile: It has some odd hours, your best bet is Thurs-Sat. I'd make sure you have cash or check, too.

Here's a Google map. They have the marker too far north; it's actually just north of MS-182.

Edited by joeljkp, 23 November 2009 - 05:33 PM.


#26 gwilson

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 03:24 AM

If you make it to Atlanta, then you should go to Fox Brothers. Even though barbecue tastes are incredibly subjective, a lot of people agree with me that they're the best in Atlanta and serve very good food. The other two places you mentioned are also good choices, but I'd put Fox Bros. just ahead of them. Oh, one other place you may consider is Harold's Barbecue - an institution around here, they've been open over 50 years. Although the barbecue isn't that great, they still serve really good Brunswick stew and crackling cornbread.


-Greg

Edited by gwilson, 24 November 2009 - 03:32 AM.


#27 jpropaganda

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 07:31 AM

It's looking like we might not make it to Atlanta...but we'll see.

#28 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 07:41 AM

A friend from Statesville, NC introduced me to Sims Country BBQ in Dudley Shoals several years ago, and I haven't been back in ages, but I gather it's still worth recommending. They serve pulled pork with fine local music and dancing. Doc Watson has been known to show up occasionally and sing for his supper.

#29 jpropaganda

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 09:34 AM

Sims sounds awesome! I also see there are cloggers though - looks like a good time. Been added to the list!

#30 Pocosin

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 07:27 AM

I live in eastern NC, so I'll offer some opinions on that area.

Parker’s – Wilson NC


Parker's is not worth a stop. They went over to cooking with gas long ago. It is absolutely vital that eastern NC barbecue be cooked with wood or charcoal. If it's not, it will be either a) greasy and tasteless or b) oversauced to compensate for a).

Here's what is good at the moment. I am ranking in order of preference.

1. Skylight Inn(Pete Jones'), Ayden
2. Blackbeard's BBQ and C-Food, Conetoe
3. B's Barbecue, Greenville
4. Jack Cobb's, Farmville
5. Wilber's, Goldsboro

All of these cook with wood except for B's, which uses charcoal. A few notes about each:

The Skylight Inn puts cracklins(skin) into its barbecue, and the skin degrades(hardens)very quickly. It is essential that you eat their barbecue fresh. Either eat in the restaurant or eat there in the parking lot. I also usually get a sandwich with no slaw, as the liquid from the slaw can cause the cracklins to harden a bit as well. Jones' also offers a barbecue tray, but the way that the sandwich compresses the meat together gives you a better, more complex flavor with every bite, and the lack of slaw brings out the smoke flavor.

Blackbeard's is my next favorite on the list and the smokiest of the five I listed. What I like about them is that they have a variety of very good Southern sides that change often. Standouts for me are the collards, snap beans, field peas, fried squash, and Brunswick stew. They also have fried seafood and a variety of non-bbq daily specials that you won't see in many places- turkey necks, pig feet, etc. All the vegetables are fresh, and they have excellent homemade pepper sauce for the collards. It may be hard to find though, the link in Google maps is incorrect. It's on US64-Alt between Tarboro and Conetoe. Blackbeard's is the best place I know of to get not just barbecue, but a whole host of traditional eastern North Carolina foods.

B's is an institution in Greenville. They only cook a set amount of food every day though, so you need to get there early. I would say no later than 11am if you want to be guaranteed to get the bbq. Often they don't run out until later, but if you want to be sure, get there early. They also have bbq chicken, which is great.

Others- Cobb's has a light smoke flavor and great mustard based slaw. Make sure to get the slaw there. Wilber's is excellent but can be a little inconsistent. Grady's BBQ in Dudley also has a very good reputation, but I haven't tried it yet.

Someone mentioned Bum's downthread a bit, but I think it's overrated. Supposedly they cook with wood, but the barbecue is oversauced so badly that you can't taste any smoke. I am not impressed with their bbq. The sides are good, but mostly outclassed by Blackbeard's IMO. I also thought it was odd that they do not have any homemade pepper sauce, even though their most famous dish is their collards. I would only say that it's worth stopping if you're a collard connoisseur, because Bum's cooks cabbage collards, which taste different from regular collards and are an heirloom variety native to Pitt County that you won't find elsewhere. Otherwise, turn around and make a left onto Lee St. and head to Pete Jones'.

Edited by Pocosin, 25 November 2009 - 07:28 AM.