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Unknown NC Barbecue Gems


Varmint
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I’m just back from a brief tour of the Southland, full of ‘Q, more ‘Q, country ham, fried chicken, biscuits, and all sorts of other good things. Just to make sure I wasn’t hungry, I swung through Amish country on the way back and stopped for a very filling buffet.

The route was I-95 (through Philly for a Steve’s cheese steak) as far as Richmond (King’s Barbecue), inland to Lexington (more on which below), down to Charlotte (to find the Chicken Coop closed), back up the Blue Ridge Parkway (Peaks of Otter) and Skyline Drive (Mrs. Rowe’s, a disappointment), across Dutchland (that buffet at the Leola Family Restaurant), and then back via the PA and NJ pikes. When not eating inexpensively, I took in local art, architecture, heritage, and scenery, hiked strenuously up on the Parkway, and saw four movies. Return of the King is ponderous, pretentious twaddle, beautifully realized.

For the record, and I say this as a long-time rib man, there may be no reason for the existence of any form of barbecue other than Lexington-style chopped pig. The small amount of thin sauce (vinegar, hot pepper, and just a touch of tomato) perfectly reveals the sweet porkiness of the meat and the delicate perfume of the smoke – barbecue reduced to its essence.

The NC pits, in order of visitation and coincidentally preference, were: Lexington #1, Tar Heel, Backcountry, a Lexington spin-off (?) for breakfast, and an unrecorded fast-foodish, chainlike place just off the highway. I found Lexington #1’s pork the sweetest and porkiest, Tar Heel’s the smokiest, and liked the others less. Hushpuppy morphology was even more varied, ranging from crusty corn logs dotted with onion, to dense, wheat-inflected balls both large and small, to huge, soft, sweet, corny doughnuts.

As for “unknown NC barbecue gems,” the Lexington tourist map, which I no longer have, showed at least a dozen places, probably more.

Now back to Atkins, strictly.

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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  • 2 weeks later...

On a trip to Asheville last year, I picked up a book "The Best Tar Heel Barbecue" which lists, oh about 100+ NC bbq joints. Unfortunately we only had time to visit one joint called Wallace Bros. at Exit 1 on the NC/VA border.

But it was worth it. I tried the chopped pork which was moist and smoked just right, along with a Lexington dip (slightly hot) and red slaw. But the hush puppies were the best.

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and Skyline Drive (Mrs. Rowe’s, a disappointment)

On a trip to the DC area in 2002, I ate at Mrs. Rowe's twice (lunch on the way up, dinner on the return trip) and was very disappointed with both meals. Just not very well executed... :sad:

Edited by pogophiles (log)

Those who do not remember the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

:rolleyes: eGullet.com newbie here, but definitely not new to cooking or eating wonderful food. Last year, I tried to forward an e-mail to Holly about my favorite BBQ place in Charlotte, NC. I don't know what kpurvis or anyone else around here thinks, but The Old Hickory House barbecue restaurant on North Tryon street near the Highway 29/49 connector (off I-85, between Sugar Creek and University City Blvd exits) has been my hands-down (usually picking up another sandwich) favorite. Plenty of split oak and hickory piled up behind the restaurant, and the pit is in one corner of the dining room. When you drive by, the smoke from the grill often sweeps over Tryon Street traffic.

I'll keep it short and sweet - they offer their BBQ pork sliced or chopped, and the chopped is rather coarse, with plenty of crispy brown and nearly black bits. They make their own BBQ and hot sauces, and the Brunswick stew and baked beans are fabulous, IMHO. When you walk into the restaurant, you'd swear you were back in the late 1950's or early 1960's.

To give you some background, I was born and raised a Cajun in SW Louisiana. I learned to cook from my father and his father. I cooked nights in a small Columbia, SC restaurant named the Mouse Trap during the 1980s. Moved to Charlotte in 1991, and spent the years since trying and finding restaurants that I could depend on for good food at reasonable (or ridiculously inexpensive) prices. I'm happy to say that I found some of my long-time favorites on HollyEats.com last year, including Price's Chicken Coop and Lupie's Cafe.

Hope I can learn from everyone else here, and share a few of my favorites, as well. Thanks!!

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Any intel on Ralph's Bar-B-Que in Weldon? It was just recommended to me as a good place to stop off of I-95. Thanks!

By the way, welcome Keith!

http://www.hollyeats.com/RalphsBBQ.htm

If you haven't been to Allen & Sons, I'd try there, or if you're in Raliegh and don't want to make the drive give Murray's (not Don Murray's) a try.

http://www.hollyeats.com/AllenSonBBQ.htm

http://www.hollyeats.com/MurraysBBQ.htm

I can email you a map (suitable for printing) to either place, or if you're here Thursday or Friday daytime will even head out there with you. The freedom of unemployment...

Just PM if you want the map - they're both easy enough to find, but Murrays can be a little tricky if you don't know the area.

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I've been to Ralph's a couple of times and generally agree with Holly's review. Not really sure I'd give it 3 statins though. The chopped is some of the finest I've ever had so when she describes it as minced she's not kidding. The taste is ok but nothing great. Also, they tend to promote the buffet / steam table so you can get a lot of food but it's not the best presentation. On the pluse side, it's not very far from I-95 and is a real local institution in Weldon. Go any time around meal time and the place is sure to be packed.

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Erin, there are a couple of other choices that you might want to try. I'll check my notes at home at lunchtime and get back to you. I still think you should come down I-85, go past Durham, and get some of Allen & Son barbecue. It's really good stuff!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Erin, I looked over my notes, and there's really no earth-shattering barbecue joints along your route. Neither Ralph's nor Nunnery-Freeman in Henderson cook with wood, which is essential if you want the "best" barbecue. I won't repeat my thoughts on Allen & Son!!!!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I have never been but have heard good things about Whitley's Barbeque in Murfreesboro which is a fair bit off of I-95 compared to Ralph's but in the same general area. Not sure whether they cook with wood or not--hopefully some other posters may be able to provide some additional insight on this spot.

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Whitley's is good in the sense that average BBQ is good, but it's not worth a large detour. I agree with the assessment that Ralph's is just OK, but if I were on 95 I wouldn't bother driving past Ralph's to get to Whitley's. I've been occasionally driving on 95 from GA to VA for many years, and I have yet to find a great BBQ place between Wilson and Richmond.

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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  • 6 months later...

I am probably far too late, but YES, I have intel on Ralph's, having been there twice in 72 hours (once down and once up). Take the Roanoke Rapids exit off 95 (if you are headed south, go to the bottom of the exit, turn left back under 95. Go one stoplight, it is ~100 yards past the light on your left) If you are headed north on 95, it is the SECOND Roanoke Rapids exit. At the bottom of the ramp turn RIGHT... It is still as fabulous as ever. They didn't have collards out Friday evening, but did on Sunday. The scallops are improbable in size and tender, the chicken and succotash are terrific, but the hand-pulled pork is my favorite. Hurt-me good. Hope you get to enjoy it soon!

Any intel on Ralph's Bar-B-Que in Weldon?  It was just recommended to me as a good place to stop off of I-95.  Thanks!

By the way, welcome Keith!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I stopped at Blue Mist Barbecue in Asheboro, NC on Monday to pick up a barbecue sandwich on my way to Charlotte. Unfortunately, this barbecue lacked nearly everything that is good about this regional specialty: it lacked pork flavor (let alone any sign of smoke), it was dry, and it just wasn't worth the effort to eat. This was easily among one of the 5 worst samples of barbecue I have ever eaten.

What a disappointment.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Alright - look. I grew up in the NC. High Point to be exact. So I know me some barbeque.

(And how did I miss this thread? I mean I know I've been busy with stuff, but jeez!!!!)

Anyway. Stamey's I don't like so much. It's not bad - just not my favorite.

I grew up with that place on Westchester and Main in High Point. The sixth glass of wine is sapping my memory - sorry.

I didn't read every post in this thread. So in case people don't know - there's two styles of North Carolina Barbeque. Western and Eastern. Vineagar and Tomato style sauces to be more specific. But it's always pork shoulder. I said PORK!

Another drunken aside - there is a place in Cary, NC (That's down the road from Raleigh - I'm going there if I make it to the Enoteca Vin dinner.) that has great barbeque. It's called Ole Time Barbeque - I will actually lead a 'trek' there if there's enough interest from the 'Enoteca dinner' crowd.

-Greg

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I stopped at Blue Mist Barbecue in Asheboro, NC on Monday to pick up a barbecue sandwich on my way to Charlotte.  Unfortunately, this barbecue lacked nearly everything that is good about this regional specialty: it lacked pork flavor (let alone any sign of smoke), it was dry, and it just wasn't worth the effort to eat.  This was easily among one of the 5 worst samples of barbecue I have ever eaten.

What a disappointment.

I went to Blue Mist several years ago and had the same experience. My most vivid memory was watching the flies climb up the windowsill while I was eating my food. I also seem to recall they were out of chopped and I had to have the Q sliced, or maybe it was the other way around. The odd thing about the place is that if you go around the back, you will see their detached smokehouse and can watch the pitmaster stoke the wood fire.

I've never been back but always thought I might give any log burner a second chance. Sorry to read your disappointing report.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I wonder what a Q and fried pork skin sandwich would taste like?

Those photos are making me very hungry.  :blink:  :smile:

Soba

I have rubbed my butt tonight and I will slow roast and pull it tomorrow (unfortunately I have neither smoker nor grill). I have fat trimmings and am planning to make cracklin's (and rendered fat -- yay!) to add to the 'mesclun'/watercress/radish salad (I'll add the cracklin's -- not the rendered lard, for which I have other plans) I will serve with the pork sandwiches, along with a classic east North Carolina vinegar-based bbq sauce (the vinaigrette for the salad uses this sauce, too).

(I suppose this belongs in the 'Dinner' thread, but still, Soba asked about the fried pork skins along with the 'q!)

Cheers,

Squeat

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