The Lexington Collection
Pretty Polly
  North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue Joints

Allen & Son Pit Cooked Bar-B-Q, Pittsboro

The joint located between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill is quaint with a take-out window up front, dining hall behind, and outdoor tables in a country garden on the side. A nice picture of Mr. Allen hanging inside says he died in 1977. There's a good chance that the huge tank of propane made its appearance out back next to the grand old pits where the woodyard should be sometime after that. Bet some fine Q was served at this joint before that happened. (5-11-96)

A second Allen & Son, operated by Son and located north of Chapel Hill, is another story altogether. It is a classical wood burner and very good.

Alton's Barbecue, Goldsboro

Located north of Goldsboro, Alton's is a very rural joint. The barbecue is started over gas, but is finished over charcoal. Both beef and pork barbecue are available, and the beef brisket is somewhat better than the rather undistinguished chopped pork.

Alton's has a thriving catering business. The restaurant is open only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, however. (3-29-97)

Arcadia Barbecue, Arcadia

"Formerly Essick's. Very good Lexington style barbecue with friendly service. Between Winston Salem and Tyro on Hwy 150. Check it out." J.H. (12-6-97)

BJ's Barbecue, Raleigh

Better than a burger, but not by much.

Barbecue Barn, Greenville

Best BBQ chicken I have ever eaten in a resturant. The BBQ swine is equally as good. If you go don't be surprised that the places is off the beaten path behind the owner's house. Sure to make your top ten list. J.N. (12-15-96)

Bar B Que Depot, Durham

Awful stuff, really. Order a hot dog instead! 3-10-98

Barbecue Lodge, Raleigh

It had to happen! This popular joint in the infamous "Yankee Ghetto" (North Raleigh) serves up tons of its anemic Wilson-style gas-cooked pork both on-site and through its catering service. Located in an upscale shopping center strip next to grocery stores, branch banks, and retail establishments, it has a dining room, a take-out window, and - GASP! - a drive-through just like the ones at McDonalds! Suburban barbecue. What will they think of next? (8-31-96)

Betty's Smokehouse Restaurant, Holly Ridge

This restaurant, relatively new and quite large, is more of a steak house than anything. But they serves some really decent barbecue make on the premises in an electric cooker with a little wood smoke. Judging from the lunch crowd, it's a popluar joint with the locals. (7-28-97)

Billy's Pork Outlet and Barbecue Restaurant, Beulaville

"Damned fine barbecue, cooked over wood in the heart of Duplin County, quickly becoming the hog capital of the world." C.S. (2-11-97)

Actually the barbecue is cooked over Kingsford charcoal, and is, at best, mediocre. (The bananna pudding is much better than the barbecue!) The joint itself -- located in the Lyman community outside Beaulaville -- is interesting: it is a neat little restaurant on one side of the wall and a meat counter on the other. (3-29-97)

Bland's Barbecue, Warsaw

This old joint still has the pits out back where the barbecue was once cooked with wood. Unfortunately, they now cook with gas. Their excellent eastern-style sauce helps salvage an otherwise rather bland barbecue.

The joint itself is a throwback to the old days of barbecue. Rather that walk up to a window, you go inside and order from a central counter. The sodas are still kept in a chest-type drink box. And, improbably, an impressive and interesting collection of moths and butterflys is kept in viewing cases just above the box for your entertainment while waiting for your order. After the barbecue is delivered, you can eat it at one of the tables and booths in the place, or take it out when you leave. (3-29-97)

Bob's Barbecue, Creedmoor

Considering that the barbecue is cooked in an electric pit, the stuff served by these folks is some pretty good eating. Made from shoulders and featuring a very nice finishing sauce, this barbecue would be great if it had any smoke flavor at all. (8-18-96)

Bubba's Pit Cooked Barbecue, Siler City

Nice name. No pit. Their barbecue is cooked by a commercial meat smoker over charcoal. (6-27-96)

Bubba's BBQ, Avon

"Awful stuff. Sandwiches full of pork cubes!!!! Slaw is horrible. Maybe ocean air is bad for pork." D.S. (12-19-97)

Bubba's, Charlotte

"Bubba came to the BBQ business after tiring of the rat race of corporate life. As he likes say "I cook pigs for a living and love it!" and Bubba cooks them well. Most times (day or nite) you'll run into Bubba and the fun begins. Bubba truly enjoys what he is doing and have you laughing in a Carolina minute. The pork is fantastic, Brunswick stew cannot be missed, and the atmosphere is true down-home." C. R. (7-9-98)

Bullock's, Durham

"I strongly recommend Bullock's in Durham to you and your readers. I've been going there for over 30 years, and it's still my favorite. I know Stamey's has a very loyal following, but I will take Bullock's over Stamey's any day." F.P. (6-27-96)

Bum's Barbecue, Ayden

"Anyone who wants to savour the best in North Carolina wood cooked Barbeque must include Bum's in their to-visit list. Bum's not only serves wood-cooked barbecue that competes with Pete Jone's Skylight Inn, they also serve a multitude of great tasting dishes from crusty, mouth-watering, breakfast biscuits to delicious banana pudding. In addition to all that, the prices are more than fair, and you can get extra pieces of crispy pork skin for 50 cents. Please list Bum's in your page so others won't miss out on a complete barbecue experience." C.M. (7-28-97)

Butts On The Creek, Maggie Valley

"I am happy to report the opening of a new place. Butts On The Creek is a rustic looking place with a very pleasant porch which overlooks Johnathan Creek. The best news is that they cook with hardwood, and they appear to use quality ingredients. They feature pork, "Texas beef brisket", "Blue Lagoon Catfish" and smoked chicken. " R.G. (5-29-97)

Carolina Country Barbecue, Gastonia

"Try it!! They have the best meat, homemade sauce, slaw and hushpuppies. You'll love it!! I loved it so much, I got a job there." A.K. (12-3-97)

Captain Bob's, Hertford

The former operators of White's are now running a place on the US-17 By-Pass called Captain Bobs. It is very popular with the locals." E.W. (8-30-96)

Chip Stamey's Barbecue, Colfax

Located at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market (Exit 208 off I-40 west of Greensboro), they serve barbecue made by the Stamey family at the pits on High Point Road in Greensboro. Chip, the thrid generation of Stameys to make barbecue, plans to build his own pits soon. (7-28-97)

Cody's BBQ & Cafe, Winston-Salem

Mercifully, they are no more.

Cooks's, Lexington

"One of the BEST in Lexington. From I-85 take Hwy. 8 South 5 miles to Rockcrusher Road. Go 1 mile and take a left at the sign. Road deadends at the joint. I'll drive 2 hours from Raleigh just to eat there. One of my top two favorites. REALLY GOOD hushpuppies!" G.L. (7-5-97)

Clyde Cooper's Barbeque, Raleigh

Located in downtown Raleigh, this quaint joint has been serving barbecue since 1938. In days gone by, Mr. Cooper made his barbecue with shoulders and hams by traditional methods outside the city at his home in Cary. Today, the barbecue is made upstairs in electric pits. Completed with a traditional eastern North Carolina finishing sauce, the barbecue at Cooper's is as good as it gets without having been cooked over coals. The hush puppies are good, too. And, when you order for take-out, they even throw in a few pork skins for you to nibble on while you are driving home! 9-14-96

Country Barbecue , Greensboro

Not too bad for a joint that has no woodpile. This rather bland barbecue gets a boost from the Stamey's-like barbecue slaw. Come to think of it, the real Stamey's is only about 5 minutes away...

Danny's Bar-B-Que Hut, Cary

This joint is a fish out of water. According to an article in the Cary News, it is run by Danny Johnson and his family. Johnson learned to make barbecue at Little League cookouts in Florida. Beef, chicken, turkey breast, and pork (Boston butts) are cooked in a real pit and your choice is chopped before your eyes. Four rather commercial sauces are offered. If you want slaw on your sandwich, however, you are obliged to buy a side order of it! "If he's in the right mood, he might put it on the sandwich for you. But he won't feel good about it.," sez the paper. Hmmmmm.

The barbecue is not terribly bad, but this joint sure works hard to avoid offering North Carolina pulled pork! (Revised 6-22-96)

Davis Family Bar-B-Q, Morrisville

This is a very friendly little joint out by the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on NC 54. The owner adds his Grandaddy Davis's finishing sauce to packaged barbecue to produce a taste unusual for this neck of the woods. The sauce has a great down-east kick, but contains enough mustard that it is actually yellowish in color. This unique combination is well worth a visit to Morrisville. Be careful when you go though. The place is only open Monday through Friday, and closes before suppertime. (05-16-96)

Don Murray's Bar-B-Q, Raleigh

Considering that it's gassed pig, the stuff offered by this rather grungy joint is fairly decent. A nice, spicy "eastern" finishing sauce and decent slaw are certainly helpful. 6-25-96)

Gardners Barbecue Restaurant, Rocky Mount

Having inquired of the attendant at the local gas station in Rocky Mount about which barbecue joint might serve a decent sandwich, we were advised to go to Parker's in Wilson. As it turned out, that was some very sage advice. (9-23-96)

Gary's Barbecue, China Grove

The overflowing parking lot attests to the popularity of Gary's Barbecue since it first opened in 1971. The "Shoes and Shirts Required" sign on the door assures you that this is a high class joint. The hundreds of antique signs for soda pop and cigarettes add an interesting ambience. Too bad your sandwich arrives with a mound of meek pork, cooked in electric pits, that is completely overpowered by the barbecue slaw. Go for the view, but order something besides the barbecue.(9-10-96)

"The very best BBQ that I've ever eaten. Completely disagree with your review, and I've eaten at some that you had good reviews on." G.R. (7-31-97)

Seems to have a loyal following, too!

Green River Bar-B-Q, Saluda

"Green River Bar-B-Que ... has been cooking with Oak and/or Hickory since opening in 1984." M.T.

Griffin's Barbecue, Goldsboro

"A barbecue lover claims the best barbecue now put out in this state is at Griffin's." Beth Tartan, Old Salem Cookery, 1955.

Hickory House, Charlotte

"I followed my nose to a (this) joint. It is unique in that it has the pit open to the interior of the restaurant. You can see the shoulders, ribs and chicken being smoked from your table. The Q ain't too bad either." C.L.

"Not only do they use real logs, the pit is in the dinning room. No chopped pork here. These folks know what you mean by "outside meat". It's BBQ, ribs, or forget it. No fish, no burgers, no hot dogs. One of those places that smells as good on the way out, as it did on the way in." A.B.

Hill's Lexington Barbecue, Winston-Salem

Do not be confused by the name, folks! This ain't Lexington barbecue. It's pork cooked on an electric pit with the exhaust sent up the chimney of the real pits which are no longer in use.

Hogood's Family BBQ, Hillsborough

"I understand that you highly value the taste of wood smoke and I doubt that [Hobgood's] practice deforestation for fuel, but their offering is damn-good and a good compromise between Wilson and Lexington and deserves at least faint praise." F.E. (8-28-96)

Howard's, Lillington

Their ribs are said to be better than the barbecue. Hope so.

Hursey's Bar-B-Q, Burlington

Well, yes, this nice little joint does have a brick pit and a little woodpile out front. But the barbecue tastes like they stuff they prepare commercially elsewhere over propane! Hmmm ...

J&G Bar-B-Que, Haw River

"A group of friends and I conduct a Q Poll every year. [...] J&G has won the past 2, and 3 of the past 5 years!" B.C.

Hmmm... Pretty strong endorsement for a "gasser"! Lacking so much as a hint of wood smoke, however, the barbecue served up by this tidy little joint is rather meek and mild by "logburner" standards. 7-26-96

Jackson Brothers Barbecue, Sanford

A nifty little stand by the side of the road selling unremarkable barbecue. They have a neat little sign that sez, "We will sell no swine before it's time." 3-10-98

Jackson's Big Oak Barbecue, Wilmington

About the only thing left from the original barbecue stand is that big live oak tree out back. A small, but impressive, photographic gallery of famous visitors lines the wall. The barbecue is pretty good for stuff cooked with gas, and the restaurant is tidy and new. The slaw uses a strange mustard dressing though. But the hush puppies ... well, they just may be the best in the world! 4-17-97

Ken's Grill, La Grange

"The best seasoed barbecue served anywhere. The barbecue has a dinstinct taste with plenty of red pepper, black pepper and salt. The spices blend together to produce the best tasting barbecue that I have ever bought. Barbecue is served only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It is cooked with an electric cooker but is as good as any cooked with wood!" R.P. (7-28-97)

Kepley's Barbecue, High Point

"I would like to include my vote for the place I consider to have the best BBQ I have ever eaten, although I have not eaten there in the past several years - Kepley's in High Point. Is it still in the quanset hut building on Main Street? It is a legend. I know people from Kernersville that moved to Florida who had relatives to ship them Kepley's BBQ by airline when they could stand BBQ withdrawals no longer." S.T. (8-18-96)

Walk in this place (still in a quanset hut) that has been in operation since 1948 and you are greeted by a genuine Cheerwine sign! This is a classical barbecue joint, folks. The tea is good. The hush puppies are great. The hand-chopped barbecue made with shoulders cooked over electric heating elements, unfortunately, is nothing to write home about these days. Pity. (8-2-97)

Knighdale Seafood & Barbecue, Knighdale

The fine pits out back of this old joint have been cold for years. They cook shoulders in electric pits these days. What a pity!(9-3-96)

Lighthouse Barbecue, Ansonville

"Vaguely Eastern Style. Not fresh. They may cook once a week. Don't bother." J.H. (12-6-97)

Little Pigs Bar-B-Que, Asheville

"The restaurant had just a few customers when I went in about 12:30 for lunch. The order of a Coke, beans and a pulled pork sandwich came quickly. A disappointment! It was like eating flavored sawdust. The beans were straight out of the can. I didn't finish the sandwich or the beans." P.P. (8-4-97)

Little Richard's, Winston-Salem

"Chopped, sliced or chunky, Little Richard's 'Que is 'neck 'n 'neck with Lexington BBQ. You must try it. And save room for the home made banana puddin'." H.E.O. (6-18-97)

McCall's Barbecue & Seafood, Goldsboro

More of a "all you can eat" fish house than a barbecue joint. They got some kind of a shiny metal cooker out back with lots of propane tanks sitting around it and a tiny little pile of wood nearby. Pity. The fish is much better than the barbecue. Fortunately, if you want some of the real stuff, Wilber's Barbecue is just across the street! (7-9-97)

Meltons Barbecue, Rocky Mount

"I believe the best barbecue I ever ate was served here. The place looks like a shed but the barbecue is worth a trip. Other dishes include Brunswick stew and hush puppies." Beth Tartan, Old Salem Cookery, 1955

Now it's just another grand old joint that has gone "woodless".

Moore's Barbecue, New Bern

"John Moore's in New Bern uses logs and is good too." B.C.

Morris's Barbeque, Hookerton

"I'm happy to see you have Morris' Barbecue of Hookerton listed. I've been eating there for over 25 years. Mr. Willie Morris used to cook his barbecue with wood only. Since Mr. Willie died, I'm not sure if his son is still cooking with wood or has switched to gas. It's still fine barbecue, though Mr. Willie's barbecue was, to say the least, excellent. I recommend it." F.S. (9-3-96)

Old Hickory Barbecue , Greensboro

The flame in their old pits died out a long time ago.

Ole Time Barbeque , Raleigh

Nice joint with friendly service. The city fathers will not let them cook with wood.

Pappy's Old South Barbeque , Banner Elk

"The parking lot was full of workers' trucks stopping for lunch. Very neat and clean inside with very friendly, quick waitresses. My pork sandwich came quickly and I wolfed it down quickly. It was good! It was served on lightly toasted sliced bread with a little butter on the bread I believe. As I look at the picture of the place ... there is white smoke coming out of one of the chimneys. This one I would rate a "7" (out of 10)." P.P. (5-8-97)

Redding's Country Kitchen, Ronda

The air smells great outside this joint and a nice little barbecue stand still sits beside the restauarant. Unfortunately, the barbecue, cooked with charcoal and hickory chips, is only average. Served with a mild, but tasty, tomato-based sauce. (6-2-96)

Scott's Famous Barbecue, Goldsboro

"I used to live near Goldsboro, and I always went to Scott's. I highly recommend Scott's. They're the creators and marketers of Scott's Barbecue Sauce." K.S.(9-3-96)

Another "fallen" giant long gone to gas.

Sherwood Barbeque, Winston-Salem, King

A pedestrian joint of no particular note.

Skipper Forsyth's BBQ, Henderson

"I have eaten at Skipper Forsyth's since I was a kid. The bbq is delicious and so is the Brunswick stew and fried chicken. Skipper's is a tradition for folks going to Kerr Lake." (1-2-97)

Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q , Zebulon, Garner, Clayton, and Smithfield

Kind of like a KFC that also sells barbecue.

Smoky Mountain Barbecue, West Jefferson

Standard gas-cooked pork served with a thin vinegar-based sauce. They say the meat is whole hog slowly cooked for over 20 hours. (6-2-96)

Smokey Pig, Wilmington

"Smokey's Chopped Barbecue, Barbecued Chicken, Cole Slaw and Brunswick Stew are homemade using the recipes of Mr. Ben Johnson and Mr. Clyde Willams. These gentlemen served Eastern North Carolina Style Barbecue for over 32 years at Johnson's Barbecue in Cary, NC. The recipes were then adapted by Andy Smith of Andy's Barbecue and Ribs in Central Virginia. After working for his father for many years, Todd Smith (aka Smokey) has returned the recipes home to NC." A.D. (11-12-97)

Speedy's, Lexington

"Good place. My wife and kid like it for the curb service. I grew up in Southmont and have eaten at every joint in town and this is one of my top three." G.L. (7-5-97)

Stephenson's, Benson

"High recommendation! I just want to say that they make delicious BBQ here. Very Eastern NC stuff with lotsa vinegar and pepper. Actually isn't in Benson, closer to McGee's Crossroads way outside Benson.Good place. My wife and kid like it for the curb service. I grew up in Southmont and have eaten at every joint in town and this is one of my top three." D.S. (12-19-97)

Whispering Pines Barbecue, Albemarle

"This odd little place has been cookin' the real thing since the 40's. The barbecue is first rate and the portions are generous. The sauce has a more pronounced vinegar tang to it than most other joints in this part of the state. Don't miss this place if you're ever close to Albemarle. " J.H. (12-6-97)

Wink's, Salisbury

"I'm here to tell you that is some of the best (BBQ) I've ever had. It ain't the best looking place in the world but that hickory smoke will grab your nose 1/2 mile away!!!" C.L. (8-18-96)

The Woodlands Barbecue & Pickin Parlor, Blowing Rock

The old joint burned down a few years back; the new one that replaces it is missing the "folksy" feel of the original place. Like the rest of Blowing Rock, this joint is "touristy" in nature. The "Pickin" part of the name, by the way, has nothing to do with the food. It relates to the live music played upstairs.

The coursely chopped barbecue they serve looks like the real thing but is apparently cooked with hickory-flavored charcoal (with some hickory and apple wood thrown in, I'm told) and lacks the flavor of the real stuff cooked over coals. Both a hot and sweet table sauce are available. The hot is a traditional North Carolina vinegar sauce with red peppers. The sweet is a borrowing from Memphis. The hush puppies are doughy in the center.(6-2-96, Revised 1-18-97)


The Joints List