Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ – Lumberton, NC

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Name
: Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ
Date: 10/10/14
Address: 3201 Roberts Avenue, Lumberton, NC 28360
Order: Buffet: chopped pork, fried chicken, hush puppies, chow chow, okra, banana pudding, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $10.20

It may surprise you to learn that in four years of heading either to or from the beach for a guys weekend at Ocean Isle Beach, NC, I have not made it to any barbecue joints. Well, this year with my handy NC BBQ Map in hand, I was able to identify several candidates on the way, settling on Fuller’s Barbecue in Lumberton, about 2.5 hours into my trip from Charlotte.

Fuller’s is just a half mile of I-95 in a huge, log cabin-esque structure. And I do mean huge – its main room and buffet line was flanked on either side by even more sizable dining rooms. I actually didn’t realize until I pulled in that it was a buffet but since I was arriving right as they opened at 11 I wasn’t too concerned. It was more of a southern buffet instead of strictly barbecue – they had fried chicken, seafood, and even a salad bar in addition to a number of quintessentially southern sides. In addition to a heaping pile of eastern style chopped pork, I added a fried drumstick, hush puppies, okra, and chow chow (which was available instead of traditional cole slaw). And of course banana pudding to top it all off.

The map noted that Fuller’s was a wood smoked joint, and that was the reason why I ultimately chose it. And the smoke came certainly came through the tender, moist meat. Perhaps it was because I caught it right as they opened but if they are able to maintain this quality of pork throughout the day, they are onto something.

While not barbecue, I had a hankering for fried chicken and the drumstick was fried nicely and not too greasy. The hush puppies were tiny orbs with just the right amount of sweetness. The chow chow and okra were solid and tasted freshly made, though I still would have preferred slaw of some sort. And to top it off, the banana pudding was perfect.

There was a 15-deep line at the door when I arrived, and based on my experience at Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ it was well earned. I’d be very interested to try it again next time I travel NC-74 heading towards the beach to get a sense of the consistency of the joint, but on this visit I was pleasantly surprised just how good it was.

-Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 Hogs
Fuller's Old Fashion Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon
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Friday Find: Serious Eats Guide to SC Barbecue

You may recall I wasn’t a huge fan of the NC barbecue video in this series of videos produced by Serious Eats for Arby’s. And this one’s every bit a mess as the other. In addition to the whole “being a blatant ad for Arby’s”, there’s that Creepy Serious Eats founder again. And while they bring in Tyson Ho (he of the newly-opened Arrogant Swine whole hog joint that I’ve been linking to for months) to talk about whole hog barbecue, hey may as well have been talking about eastern NC whole hog barbecue instead of SC. And I actually do suspect he was discussing NC barbecue when he was interviewed seeing as how he is an Ed Mitchell disciple (though he does serve some SC mustard sauce at his joint). He knows his stuff, but keeps referring to “Carolina whole hog” barbecue and even vinegar-based sauce as opposed to the mustard-based sauce they probably want him to discuss in a South Carolina-style video. If I had to guess, I would put money that this was an editing issue and they didn’t or couldn’t get someone to discuss mustard-style barbecue. In any case, way to go again, Serious Eats.

-Monk

Linkdown: 10/15/14

- Deep fried barbecue on a stick at – where else – the NC State Fair in Raleigh

- The 85th annual Mallard Creek BBQ Festival has big plans for 2014

In 2014, we expect to cook 14,600 pounds of pork barbecue, prepare 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew, shred 2 tons of Cole slaw, brew 400 gallons of coffee, and entertain close to 20,000 people.

- Shots fired at Lexington-style barbecue by Linwood Parker, who owns White Swan Barbecue; isn’t White Swan the gas station barbecue who cooks with gassers?

“Years ago, when people started moving west in their oxen-dawn carts, it took so long they forgot the recipe for barbecue,” he said.

“When they reached their destination, the only kind of hogs they had were piney wood rooters that fed off acorns. So, their hog meat was green. They just added a lot of catsup to it to cover up the green color.”

- Review of Bob Garner’s latest book, “Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm”

- The 23rd Annual Hog Happnin‘ returns to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1

- Austin Chronicle story on John Lewis’s upcoming barbecue restaurant in Charleston

- A Notre Dame football blog talks NC barbecue in a post before last weekend’s game against UNC in South Bend

- Sam Jones is heading to Dallas for a whole hog event in November

- Eater story (with some nice photos) on the opening of Arrogant Swine in New York

Located on the border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick near the English Kills Canal, Arrogant Swine is the brainchild of pitmaster Tyson Ho, who studied under perpetual Barbecue Block Party participant Ed Mitchell, sometimes called the Pope of North Carolina barbecue. The hulking 3,000 foot space is a former warehouse, with high ceilings, a full bar, and a counter at the rear where the smoked meat and sides are sold by the plate or by the pound. Place your order and receive a number hoisted on a metal rod; carry it to your table and your meat horde will be delivered by and by. There’s an outside seating area, too, with giant graffiti murals decorating the outside walls of the building, and an L-shaped shack out back where the barbecuing is done.

- Shame about where this photo was taken but the linked article takes a look at barbecue culture in Charlotte

- This weekend you can actually taste some of the pitmasters barbecue at the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship ( as opposed to years past); more details here

Press: Interview with the Barbecue Bros by Locally Crafted

Locally Crafted

We did it! We tricked someone into thinking enough of the Barbecue Bros to refer to us as “experts”! Take a read and let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks to the folks from Locally Crafted.

It seems like everyone knows someone who is obsessed with grilling and barbecue – or maybe you are that person. There is no denying that since our caveman days, humans have been fascinated by the delicate interplay between meat and fire. Perhaps most fascinated of all are three lifelong friends from High Point, North Carolina – Tommy, Kenny, and Mark, known as the “Barbecue Bros” – whose love for the cuisine runs so deep that they curate a barbecue blog together. Although Mark has moved to Austin, Texas, the Bros manage to collaborate long-distance to review as many barbecue establishments as they can. We sat down with the Bros to find out how various barbecue scenes compare and learned more than we ever thought possible.  Let’s dig in!

-Monk

Here & Now – Barbecue, The Perennial Flavor Of North Carolina Politics


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In case you missed it from our Wednesday linkdown, Here & Now interviews Bob Garner, and Rufus Edmisten, who lost the election for governor in 1984 because of barbecue.

When running for governor in 1984, Rufus Edmisten was asked if he had enough barbecue to eat. He made a fatal error.

“Something came over me that no one in their right mind would ever do,” Edmisten said. “I said, ‘Yes I certainly have, I’m tired of it. I hope I never see another drop of it as long I live.’ I said that, and I was joking of course!”

The comment created a media storm. Edmisten says the “barbecue faux pas” was a major factor in his loss.

“I never stopped liking barbecue,” Edmisten said. “I have withdrawals at times. I sometimes have to go four, five days on these fancy trips now that I have to make for clients, and I get these distinct barbecue hunger pangs.”

Linkdown: 10/8/14

- Congrats to Marie, Let’s Eat! on their 300th barbecue review, Blind Pig in Jackson, GA

- The NC Whole Hog Champion was crowned after this past week’s championship in Raleigh, and congratulations to Grillfather Cooking Team of Roanoke Rapids, captained by Ernest Twisdale

- A man and his two sons also participated as contestants in the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship this past weekend in Raleigh

- Charlotte Observer writes up next week’s Q City Charlotte BBQ Championship, which for the first time this year is a NC BBQ Association event

- Uncle Ho nears the opening day of Arrogant Swine

The first issue was getting my hogs. I have specific heritage breed pigs shipped up from North Carolina. Getting the logistics set up for them to arrive in time for me to cook is harrowing indeed. There’s really no last minute supplement either—it’s not like I can wander into any random supermarket and pick up a 200-pound pig if my delivery falls through.

Cook too much and you waste money. Cook too little and you not only lose sales, you also sour relationships with customers who made the trip to see you. It’s basically spinning a roulette wheel with over $20,000 all on red. If that’s thrilling to you, you’re in the right place. I, on the other hand, needed a midwife next to me reminding me to breathe while placing my orders.

- Congrats to BSA Troop 33 for winning Creative Loafing’s Critic’s Choice for Best Barbecue (huh?); meanwhile, Midwood Smokehouse wins the reader’s choice for best barbecue

- The Great NC BBQ Map gets more coverage, this time from Paste Magazine

- Mac’s Speed Shop buys a former auto shop in Greensboro and plans to expand there

- Charlotte Business Journal interviews Mike and Anna Hicks, owners of Carolina BBQ in Spartanburg, SC

- Here and Now reports on how politics and barbecue are intertwined in North Carolina

- Scott’s Bar-B-Que gets mentioned in yet another barbecue list (via)

- John Lewis of la Barbecue to open a barbecue restaurant called Lewis Barbecue in Charleston next spring and as a result I just so happen to be planning a trip to Charleston for the late spring/early summer

- Speaking of John Lewis and Charleston, this:

- Charlotte, NC is the #1 “Best Big-City Bargain” according to Money Magazine and Midwood Smokehouse gets a brief shoutout

 

Virgie’s BBQ – Houston, TX

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Name: Virgie’s BBQ
Date: 7/17/2014
Address: 5535 North Gessner, Houston, TX 77041
Order: Order of brisket and ribs (link to menu)
Price: $13.15

Rudy: Historically, Houston has not been known for having many places to get great barbecue. There are some recent places that are getting more pub, but for the size of the city, it has been traditionally lacking. The Rudy family was driving through Houston, so I knew I wanted to see if there was any truth to the stereotype. Virgie’s opened in 2005 and has been on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list the last few years, so I figured that would be a great place to try. I was wrong.

Virgie’s is a free-standing building in the middle of an industrial park, so not the best location for atmosphere, but it did draw a decent sized lunch crowd from the local businesses.  Inside, there are bare minimum decorations, but it does have the mom & pop barbecue feel.

I should have known I was in trouble when I walked up to the counter and ordered. I wanted to try a few different meats, so I ordered a half pound of ribs, half pound of brisket, and a sausage link. The man at the counter looked at me like I had two heads. He said he had never heard of anyone ordering by the weight (which is how they do it at every other barbecue restaurant I’ve been to in Texas) and suggested that I order the “order” with ribs and brisket. I took his advice, but had no idea of how much food I was actually getting. I thought it was a bit silly how they had just a generic listing for an “order” of something on the menu.

I tried the ribs first, and they were not very good. They had a hard crust on the top, were not meaty, and were only slightly seasoned (if at all). I was hoping for something more tender and with more meat on the bone. They were ok, but nothing great. Texas Monthly had said that the ribs were the highlight of Virgie’s, so I was pretty disappointed.

The brisket was next, and it was the same as the ribs, just ok. I wanted more flavor, either from seasoning or smoke, than I got. While it was tender, it was pretty bland and unmemorable.

Monk: From what I’ve read, it sounds like you maybe should have tried Killen’s Barbecue in nearby Pearland just north of town, though not sure how far out of the way it would have been for you.

Rudy: Yes, that was my initial thought, and one that I hope to get to soon. It’s getting great reviews and is trying to turn around the Houston barbecue reputation. But I was on a road trip, and it would have taken me about 45 minutes (each way) out of where I was going. There were two others that I thought about, but one had mixed reviews and the other one was known for having long lines, so I opted for Virgie’s.

This was my first attempt at finding barbecue in Houston, and it wasn’t too successful. The food was ok, but nothing to write home about or warrant a return trip. I will say the people at Virgie’s were incredibly nice and the service was great, unfortunately, the meat was not.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2.5 Hogs
Brisket – 1.5 Hogs
Ribs – 2 Hogs
Overall – 2 Hogs
Virgie's BBQ on Urbanspoon
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Linkdown: 10/1/14

- NC barbecue guru Bob Garner has a new book out that *gasp* isn’t completely about barbecue

The 187-page book does mention the state’s signature varieties of smoked meat and sauce, but it also explores other North Carolina food traditions, including fish stew, Ocracoke fig cake, banana pudding, collards and even Moravian chicken pie. The book is part cookbook, part essay collection, part dining guide.

- TMBBQ interview with friend of the blog Barbecue Rankings

- So there’s this:

- BBQ Jew with a short write up on The Great NC BBQ Map

- Q 4 Fun interviews a board member of the NC BBQ Association

What makes you different than the other associations, societies and networks?
We train our judges to recognize and appreciate NC-style BBQ. Teams will be judged on their ability to produce traditional NC-style BBQ. I don’t think other sanctioning bodies concentrate on regional BBQ styles. Furthermore, we not only sanction competitions, but hold cooking classing and are beginning to work on projects that will promote NC BBQ to the general public. We don’t see the other bodies as competitors. We see them as partners and can hopefully jointly sanction some events as with this year’s comp in Washington with the NC Pork Council.

- Arrogant Swine failed their construction inspection, but trudges on anyways; the blog post does have this great photo

- The Whole Hog Barbecue Championship is this weekend

- Diva Q visited Barbecue Bros fave Ed Mitchell’s Que (our 5 hog review) earlier this week

Photo Gallery: Checking out Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen with Barbecue Rankings

Monk: A few weeks back, Speedy and I had the pleasure of welcoming Johnny Fugitt (aka Barbecue Rankings) to Charlotte for a behind the scenes look at the current #1 on our Charlotte Big Board, Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen.

We initially reached out to Boone’s via Twitter to see if they would be out on Friday, but instead they graciously invited us to their kitchen (where they do their prep and also where they will soon have a pick-up for to-go ordering) for a private tasting. Both Boone and his business partner Tom were extremely welcoming, kicking off the visit with a bloody mary before taking us to a look at the smoker (a Southern Pride that they feed with hickory and occasionally cherry wood) and ultimately out to the food truck for a tasting. Boone treated us (graciously enough, for the price of on the house) to pork, brisket, ribs, wings, and brunswick stew. You can read my thoughts on the pork and brisket (as well as sausage, which we didn’t have this time) from when I checked out the food truck back in May.

Speedy: It’s been documented that I was a bit skeptical of Monk’s original review – mainly because I had a hard time thinking that Charlotte’s best barbecue came from a food truck. However, seeing Boone’s kitchen, smoker, and truck setup showed me how this could be possible. By the time we got to the food, I was incredibly excited. Boone was nice enough to provide us with a sample of pulled pork, ribs, brisket, wings, and brunswick stew.

The pork is served without sauce. It has a really solid flavor, great bark, and is perfectly tender. I didn’t find it dry per se, but I will admit that I added some eastern style sauce, which added to my enjoyment of the meat.

Monk: One thing I hadn’t expected was that Boone uses a Southern Pride smoker for his meat. While we tend to be purists when it comes to barbecue, if it’s good it’s good. And I don’t know exactly how he does it, but there is some damn fine bark on the barbecue that Boone puts out.

Speedy: The brisket is different than I’ve had most places. It’s sliced fairly thick, finished on the grill and served sauced. We were served meat from the point, so it was very moist and tender. I would be interested in tasting it against the flat, but I overall, I thought it was quite good – certainly worth an order.

Boone serves St. Louis cut spare ribs, which are big and meaty. These ribs are not as tender as baby backs, but I was able to get a good bite and clean the bone fairly easily. I really enjoyed the flavor of the ribs. Smoke taste was apparent and the ribs weren’t too sweet, which I’ve been seeing (err tasting) a lot lately.

Monk: Brunswick stew is the dish that started it all (literally) for Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and could very well put them on the map. So the story goes (as it was relayed to us by Tom and Boone himself), it was 2 gallons of brunswick stew requested by Tom’s dad that led to requests for more and ultimately led them to start the food truck and kitchen last fall. And damn, if it isn’t some of the best brunswick stew I’ve had in quite some time.

Speedy: The wings are very, very good. They are smoked to the perfect temperature and served in two flavors – chipotle apricot and dry rub. I actually preferred the dry rub wings – though I wouldn’t turn down either under any circumstances.

Monk: Smoked wings can be hit or miss at a barbecue spot, where they have them on the menu as an afterthought, but man these were some seriously good wings.

Speedy: Overall, there wasn’t anything not to like about the food from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen. The man is well known around Charlotte for helping start up a couple of local joints, and I do feel the need to mention that the food from Boone’s food truck has a lot of similarities to Queen City Q (which had a less than amicable split with Boone a couple years back). That being said, I do think the food truck is better. I haven’t seen anything similar to his brunswick stew anywhere in Charlotte, and it’s clear that Boone puts a lot of himself into his food, which I really do feel that you can taste.

Overall, this was one of the cooler barbecue experiences I’ve had. Boone and Tom couldn’t have been nicer, which was really just icing on the proverbial cake. First and foremost, these guys turn out a great product, so I, for one, will be keeping a lookout for the food truck more frequently.

Monk: Agreed about the passion that Boone and Tom have for their barbecue. You really could hear just how much these guys cared about what they do now, which maybe wasn’t the case in previous lives.

As for Johnny, Speedy had a bolt to get his hair did but I was able to stick around for a few minutes to chat with him before he headed out to Greenville. Really nice guy, and we spent the time talking about our barbecue experience (his a little more extensive than mine, clearly) and traded tips on joints in various cities. I can’t wait to check out his book once it’s published (possibly as early as next May depending on which publishing option he goes with) to read his thoughts, and I have a slight hunch you may see Charlotte represented a time or two in the book.

Thanks for hollering at us, Johnny! Safe travels in your final weeks on the road!

Johnny Fugitt is finishing up his year-long roadtrip on October 21 and you can see his photos and notes from the road in the meantime on his blog, Barbecue Rankings.

Linkdown: 9/24/14

- Check out our Taste Trekker’s list for Five Unique Barbecue Experiences in Charlotte, North Carolina; it was partially (ok, very) inspired by this list from Marie, Let’s Eat!

- The latest Arrogant Swine post on opening a barbecue restaurant on Serious Eats finds Uncle Ho trying to hire a staff

The saddest moment in any barbecue guy’s professional life is when you realize that the person you’re training to do the cooking just doesn’t give a royal fuck about barbecue. They’d be just as happy making pizza or ramen noodles. The food was coming out awful and Jack couldn’t care. “Just cover it with barbecue sauce and no one will tell the difference,” he once noted.

- More information on the barbecue events at the World of Bluegrass festival in downtown Raleigh on 10/3

- More coverage on the NC BBQ Map from the Elkin Times and TWC News

- Andrew Carter’s column leading up to last weekend’s ECU drubbing of UNC took the pulse of fans at Parker’s Barbecue in Greenville and ends with this choice quote:

Down at Parker’s the lunch crowd had picked up and Parker went out to help work the register. A line began to form, a small version of what is coming Saturday.

“Everybody in this town needs to thank God for East Carolina,” said Parker, whose restaurant had already booked six catering events at the stadium on Saturday. “I mean, really. For the hospital and for East Carolina.

“(Without) those two things — well, Greenville would be Kinston.”

- “The pitfalls of barbecue reportage” examines how barbecue journalists such as Daniel Vaughn attempt to report on pitmasters without romanticizing them

- Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen (our current #1) has posted an updated schedule for their foodtruck and they will be at a few upcoming Charlotte beer festivals starting with this weekend’s Charlotte Oktoberfest

- Marie, Let’s Eat!’s latest barbecue stop is Log Cabin Smokehouse Bar-B-Que in Rome, GA

- Barbecue Rankings had a lot of posts in the last week: Dallas, Seattle, Detroit, Pecos, Albuquerque, and Phoenix

- Aaron Franklin brought his smoked meats to Feast Portland last weekend; TMBBQ has the photos and story

- As is to be expected, barbecue is the signature food of several states including North Carolina