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NC Barbeque Trail


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This is a great article, ditsydine!

"Thou shalt not dis another's favorite barbecue joint" could easily be the 11th commandment in this state.
Judge for yourself

EASTERN-STYLE barbecue is usually whole hog. It is served with a vinegar and pepper sauce and a mayonnaise- or mustard-based slaw.

LEXINGTON-STYLE barbecue normally refers to shoulders or shoulders and hams, almost always cooked over wood. It is served with a "dip," a thin sauce made with vinegar, sugar, peppers and some tomato product. The red slaw that comes with it uses the same dip as its base.

Whether you actually live in North Carolina, or merely visit there, which is your very favorite barbecue style? :rolleyes:

I loved the sauce made by Varmint at the eG Annual Pig Pickin' .. the peppery vinegar sauce was just perfect! :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Been to the top of both mountains with Lexington No. 1 and Jim's for Lexington style and Allen & Son's for eastern. I say both.

Is M&K in Granite Quarry worth a stop next trip up I-85?

BTW, don't want too get technical but does not "barbecue trail" refer to only Salisbury to Albermarle?

Edited by CoolPapaBell (log)

Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore. It's always too crowded.

---Yogi Berra

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Been to the top of both mountains with Lexington No. 1 and Jim's for Lexington style and Allen & Son's for eastern.  I say both.

I agree with your viewpoint entirely and like your choice of places.

One quibble. Allen & Sons can provide superb BBQ. But whether it is Eastern NC style is up for debate. By my definition, Eastern NC BBQ has to be whole hog and the sauce has to be nothing but vinegar and spice flakes, primarily pepper and certainly not sugar.

Allen & Sons cooks shoulders only (which, by my definition, makes it Lexington style) and while I'm not sure whether there is any tomato in the sauce, it is slightly sweet and most assuredly contains melted butter, which makes it unique, I think, but again, not Eastern NC style.

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Allen & Son (only one son) is in that "in-between" zone where Eastern and Western styles converge. When Keith Allen's cooking is on, this barbecue is an excellent way to introduce folks to NC barbecue. The meat is flavorful, with a touch of vinegar and red pepper. It has just enough fat cut into it. But it's really hard to say it's Eastern or Western, but then, I only care that it's good.

The one problem with Allen & Son is that sometimes the barbecue isn't as good as it should be (I'd say about 25% of the time). In part I attribute this to the fact that Keith Allen still splits his green hickory logs by hand and it's all cooked the old-fashioned way. This is one of the reasons you find traditional, wood-cooked barbecue more difficult to locate: it's incredibly labor-intensive and it doesn't provide great quality control. Batch variations inevitably occur. This is why there's been a trend to use commercial smokers lately, and although these help eliminate variability in quality, the best barbecue from a smoker can't touch the best barbecue cooked directly over the wood.

Dean McCord


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The one problem with Allen & Son is that sometimes the barbecue isn't as good as it should be (I'd say about 25% of the time). 

I have had the same experience and often hesitate to go there when I am in the area for exactly that reason. I have also found that having the right server helps, too. The last time I was there I had a college-aged server and when I asked for "Outside Brown" he looked at me as if I was from Mars. In any event, that meal was one of the off days.

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As a native son who grew up in Kings Mountain, just 12 miles from Shelby, I grew up on Lexington style from Red Bridges, AKA Bridges Barbecue Lodge on US 74. I have personal, inside information that when God sends out for 'cue, it comes from Red's. I have been eating there every chance I get for the last 44 years (ever since I grew teeth) and have never been less than orgasmically satisfied with the chopped pork, wonderful dip, red slaw (which even my Yankee-born wife now likes) and gtrat hush puppies. The best thing about living in Asheville is it's only an hour away.

Eastern 'cue is great, too. I never met a pig I didn't like.

Rick McDaniel

Senior Contributing Writer, Food and Drink

Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times

"In the South, perhaps more than any other region, we go back to our home in dreams and memories, hoping it remains what it was on a lazy, still summer's day twenty years ago."--Willie Morris

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