Linkdown: 3/21/18

– Glad to finally see a new review on Marie, Let’s Eat! for Hugh-Baby’s BBQ and Burger Shop though Grant *gulp* doesn’t order barbecue?!?

– John T. Edge of Garden and Gun also profiled Hugh-Baby’s in their February/March issue

– Meet Chef Kelly Tam, the new-ish pastry chef at Midwood Smokehouse (as well as several other FS Food Group restaurants)

– Buxton Hall Barbecue gets a mention on a Charlotte Five guide to Asheville

– A chef born in Charlotte is part of a trio running Liberty Smokehouse in Falls Church, VA, where they got a favorable review from The Washington Post

– Remember Taylor Hicks? The season 5 winner of American Idol has his own food show and the NC episode featuring barbecue from The Pit aired earlier this week

– Side dishes continue to get better at Texas barbecue restaurants, says Texas BBQ Posse

– R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue, started in 1946, is one of the oldest restaurants in Gaston County

– Smoked whole alligator is on the menu at Black Sugar Rib Company in Los Angelos

– Congrats to Rodney Scott, who received a James Beard nomination for Best Chef: Southeast

– Mmm, dessert!


The 10 best NC barbecue joints in Western NC

Monk: I still need to work my way through the eastern part of the state (it’s been on my to-do list for 5 years and counting…) in order to be able to make a more comprehensive North Carolina-wide list, but in the meantime here’s my list of the best NC barbecue restaurants in the western part of the state.

Please note: For the purposes of this list, I’m defining “western NC” as west of, but not including, Raleigh. In essence, I am dividing the state geographically by the two styles of barbecue but not limiting this list to purely Lexington-style/Piedmont-style/western-style barbecue joints. Make sense?

10. Old Etowah Smokehouse – Etowah (review)

A few years back Old Etowah Smokehouse was part of a trend of new whole hog joints opening up outside the eastern half of the state (more on that later). The trend may have cooled somewhat since – the amount of labor involved may have something to do with that – but Old Etowah is honoring the style properly in the shadows of the Nantahala National Forest hear Hendersonville. 6577 Brevard Rd, Etowah, NC 28729

9. Barbee’s Bar-B-Que – Peachland (review)

This was my biggest barbecue discovery of 2017, a classic highway barbecue joint off highway 74 where they are slinging near perfect Lexington-style barbecue. A true hidden gem in the small town of Peachland, which is outside of Marshville, which is outside of Monroe, which is outside of Charlotte. Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133’s-Bar-B-Q

8. Backyard BBQ Pit – Durham (review)

Backyard BBQ Pit gets somewhat overlooked in the Research Triangle Park area, but they definitely shouldn’t be. Which is somewhat curious, considering they’ve gotten coverage on Food Network’s “Man vs. Food”. Don’t make the same mistake as everyone else, and check them out. 5122 NC Hwy 55, Durham, NC 27713

7. The Barbecue Center – Lexington (review)

This underrated joint in Lexington often lives in the shadow of Lexington Barbecue not 2 miles away but many locals claim it to be the best in the city. I don’t personally happen to agree with them, but they aren’t necessarily wrong. 900 N Main St, Lexington, NC 27292

6. Allen & Son Bar-B-Que – Chapel Hill (review)

When Speedy and I checked out Allen & Son in 2012, we dinged them for their ribs instead of simply focusing on the pork. This was a mistake, and the hybrid of chopped pork shoulder with eastern sauce earned 5 hogs from us on that trip while the ribs knocked the overall rating down to 4 hogs. A return trip is surely in order to properly reassess Allen & Son (add it to the list…). 6203 Millhouse Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

5. Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton (review)

Residents in the small town of Lincolnton (20 minutes north of Gastonia and 50 minutes from Charlotte) are lucky to have had a great barbecue joint such as Bar-B-Q King serving them for the past 46+ years. This is barbecue certainly worthy of a short detour if you are on driving in 321 in that part of the state.  2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092

4. Stamey’s Barbecue – Greensboro (review)

One irony of the #BrooklynBBQ controversy was that the following week the ACC Tournament was being hosted for the second year in a row in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center instead of in its spiritual home at the Greensboro Coliseum with Stamey’s just across the street. While I am still in the camp that there is good barbecue in Brooklyn, there just isn’t anything that approaches Stamey’s. 2206 W Gate City Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27403

3. Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville (review)

I’ve been thinking about the whole hog from Buxton Hall Barbecue for nearly two years and can’t wait to get back to Asheville. From what I can tell though, Elliot Moss and team continue to blow it out of the water in South Slope. 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

2. Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby (review)

I rarely make it through Shelby without finding a reason to stop Bridges Barbecue Lodge. It might more accurately be described as more of a 1a for me behind my number 1 below, and it has yet to really let me down ever. 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28150

1. Lexington Barbecue – Lexington (review)

Lexington Barbecue aka Lexington #1 aka The Honeymonk is first, my last, my everything. 100 Smokehouse Ln, Lexington, NC 27295

Well, what do you think? What joints have I missed the mark on or left off my list entirely? Let me know in the comments below.

Linkdown: 3/14/18

– Just a few more items from the #BrooklynBBQ controversy last week

– A Brooklyn paper defends Brooklyn barbecue; so does The Houston Chronicle

– Attention Nashville:

– Ribs from Big Bob Gibson was a favorite dish at SoBe Wine and Food Festival in Miami earlier this month

– Evolution of a Filipino Barbecue Cookbook

– [thinking emoji]

– Damn, the food in the Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up at B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque does indeed look bomb-ass

They opened B’s doors at 9 a.m. on those days (the Riverside restaurant usually doesn’t open until 11 a.m.), slinging Council’s biscuits stuffed with country ham and apple butter or Furman’s fried chicken or sausage gravy. “If you come to a barbecue joint looking for a healthy breakfast, you’re in the wrong place,” Furman says. “We do not do gluten-free here!”

At some point, they added brisket hash to the menu. Then, they started selling beignets. And almost every morning, they sold out.

– WSOC-TV, the local ABC affiliate in Charlotte, has an odd “Best and Cheapest Barbecue in Charlotte” list that almost seems to start like an alphabetical list before stopping after 5

– Congrats to Our State Magazine, writer of some of my favorite barbecue articles

Linkdown: 3/7/18

When a re-posting of a 2014 article takes over the internet on a Sunday; Munchies on how one food writer noticed a micro-trend of barbecue restaurants around the world modeling their restaurants on Fette Sau in Brooklyn

– The Charlotte Observer had not one but two separate stories in response to the tweet (again, on a story that was 4 years old)

Lexington Barbecue fans react; Allen & Son fans react

– The Washington Post even weighed in; again, this story was 4 years old

– Then came the tweets. The awesome, awesome tweets.

– Oklahoma sushi:

– Brooklyn doughnuts:

– A solid mini-tweetstorm (click on Tweet to see follow-ups)

– There’s just way too many to pick from:

– I’m actually not one of those who don’t believe that Brooklyn doesn’t have good barbecue. I’ve certainly had bad barbecue in Brooklyn, but Hometown Bar-B-Que is very, very good (our review). Arrogant Swine is pretty good too (our review). Heck. even Dinosaur Barbecue wasn’t bad for a regional chain (our review). You may recall that Matthew Odam of the Austin-Statesman took a pulse check last November.

– Sam Jones agrees, and is a friend of Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que

– A few NC sportswriters in Brooklyn for this week’s ACC Tournament actually tried Fette Sau and the verdict? Actually pretty good!

When all was said and done, the four Carolina boys that showed up on their barbecue high-horse were left with little room to eat their words — fat and surprisingly happy — after chowing down on a couple pounds of meat.

– The NC State beat writer from the News & Observer tried The Smoke Joint near Barclays and didn’t mind it (we hated it nearly 6 years ago)

– But for reals, here’s a solid PSA:


Barbecue Bros Film Club: Ugly Delicious – “BBQ” (S1E5)

Ugly Delicious is a new Netflix series brought to us by Chef David Chang of Momofuku and food writer Peter Meehan. Like many shows of this ilk, each episode explores a different food or concept – from tacos to fried chicken to pizza and more. Though technically titled “BBQ”, this episode does explore the food-over-flame customs of other cultures – Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, greens over flame in Noma in Copenhagen (huh?), Peking Duck in Beijing, and yakitori chicken from Tokyo. Those are nice and all (and well worth watching the entire episode) but I’ll focus on the barbecue I’m used to in this write-up.

The episode kicks off with Adam Perry Lang prepping and starting a beef rib smoke at 4am in the morning in Los Angeles. 10 hours later, he pulls the beef rib out of the smoker and serves it up to David, Peter, and novelist Amelia Gray. The conversation over the meat that ensues discusses traditional vs. new and whether barbecue is uniquely American, setting the table for later segments in the episode.

Choice quote from Adam Perry Lang:

“I think the traditional barbecue is freaking unbelievable and I don’t want to change that…but I really look at it as live fire cooking. Beef and pork with fire creates a super flavor.”

The episode then moves to the Whole Hog Extravaganza, a pitmaster convention at the famed 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, IL with some serious talent in attendance from Asheville (Buxton Hall Barbecue), Nashville (Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint, Peg Leg Porker), and Austin (Micklethwait Craft Meats).

At 8:50, they go back to the discussion in Los Angeles on the regionalization of barbecue but I honestly don’t understand the point that David Chang is making here:

“That’s what bothers me is that it became regional because someone decided to take a chance to do something a little bit different. And I hate when things become an institution”.

Huh? Is he saying that he wishes barbecue was somehow more homogeneous throughout the South? How does “things becoming an institution” fit into that at all? And what’s wrong with something becoming an institution? This is not a coherent argument to me.

The episode then takes a detour to Koreatown and Copenhagen from 9:55 until 16:21 before returning back to the Whole Hog Extravaganza in Murphysboro.

Screenshot (30)

You may recall that Carey Bringle railed against the True ‘Cue pledge in 2015, rejecting their claim that true barbecue is only smoked over wood only because he himself uses both wood-assisted gas smoker as well as wood-fired pits in his restaurants. Well, it seems as if he is still at it in 2017:

People get caught up in pits and people get caught up in fuels. And they get really passionate about it. I’m passionate about telling people: “Don’t tell me how to cook my shit.” It’s about what ends up on your plate.

Next, we get an extended scene of Elliot Moss breaking down a pig and explaining his story behind Buxton Hall and why he does what he does (“it’s always been in my heart”). He mentions that being in Asheville means people care about where their food comes from so he uses pasture-raised hogs which are quite expensive. Which for Moss, just means that he uses every part of the animal.

For the amount of labor and love and how many people’s hands touch it, it should be one of the most expensive things you can buy for food.

Continue reading

Friday Find: The Sporkful podcast – “The Holy Smoker”

I recently discovered The Sporkful Podcast through Planet Money’s Indicator podcast, and I like that “it’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters”. In their archives from last October, they have a story about Devin Pickard of Papa Kayjoe’s BBQ in Centerville, TN. An easy, 34 minute listen on barbecue, faith, and Sunday suppers in the South.

During the week, Devin Pickard is the pitmaster at his family’s BBQ restaurant in Centerville, Tennessee. But on Sundays, he trades the pit for the pulpit at the local church where he preaches. Food and faith are a natural pairing in the south, but Devin tells Dan that there are less obvious ways his two professions come together.

Linkdown: 2/28/18

– Billy Graham rarely passed through Shelby without stopping by Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

– D.G. Martin with an off the cuff list of iconic NC eateries, including the aforementioned Billy Graham favorite Red Bridges

– Interesting:

– The McCall’s Bar-B-Q and Seafood in Clayton that abruptly closed recently will be replaced by Bernie’s Southern Gourmet Buffet by mid-March; barbecue will continue to be included

– More history:

– A short visitor’s guide on where to eat, drink, see, and do in Charlotte contains a few barbecue joints

– I don’t know how long this has been going on, but for folks not fortunate enough to live in the Carolinas, you’re welcome:

Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom – Durham, NC

: Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom
Date: 2/24/18
Address: 900 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701
Order: 2 meat combo with brisket and smoked jalapeno cheddar sausage with hush puppies, collards, and cole slaw (link to menu)
Price: $16

Monk: Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom opened in September in a space in downtown Durham that formerly housed Alivia’s Durham Bistro for 10 years. The owners of Alivia’s closed that concept and opened Maverick’s with a menu with an “international house of barbecue” bent to it – which in this case means pulling from Memphis and Texas in addition to North Carolina barbecue traditions.  

One thing that was apparently kept from Alivia’s was the outdoor patio which was perfect on an unusually warm February day. That, however, was the last of anything positive when it came to this lunch.

The first strike of the meal was a warm beer (curiously, Maverick’s had a special on non-NC draft beer which I don’t think I’ve seen at a NC restaurant – it’s usually the other way around). My speculation was that it was served in a pint glass that may have come straight out of the dishwasher but regardless, it was still an oversight. You just simply don’t want a warm-ish Shiner on a patio.

The next strike came when the platters of food came out. Mrs Monk and I got a two meat combo of brisket and sausage – for pork I was gong to sample some of it from our friend’s platter. The brisket and sausage both came out cool to the touch. The bark on the brisket was flavorful, but in addition to being cold it was fairly dried out. To me, it seemed liked it was likely leftover from the day before. I don’t know where the sausage came from but it had the texture of a slightly warmed hot dog – albeit with pieces of jalapeno and cheddar in it. The pork was a little better in terms of temperature but was quite greasy – my buddy didn’t finish his rather small portion of it.

Finally, on this day the sides weren’t going to save the meal. While the hush puppies and fried okra (also sampled from our friend’s plate) were freshly fried and actually decent, the collards could have use some more stewing and the mayo-based cole slaw was lukewarm. Temperature in general seems to need more focus at Maverick’s.

A charitable way to look at Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom is that they are still figuring things out. Let’s hope that is the case and that they do figure it out soon. If not, it seems unlikely that they will make it to 10 years like Alivia’s did in the same space before them.

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 2.5 hogs
Sausage – 1 hog
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs