Old school North Carolina barbecue is divided into two distinct regions and styles. Eastern Carolina style, centered around the small towns of Greenville, Ayden, Goldsboro and Wilson, feature the whole hog with lip smackin’ vinegar sauce. Western Carolina style (or Lexington Style) barbecue adds a bit of ketchup to the sauce and primarily uses pork shoulders. There’s not a lot of variety as pretty much every old school barbecue joint’s go-to is the pork sandwich with slaw and hush puppies. Sometimes the only seeming difference between these places is the color of the checkered tablecloths.
After visiting Midwood and Mac’s in Charlotte, I headed over to Charlotte’s most famous old school Western Carolina style spot: Bill Spoon’s.
I then headed north towards Salisbury, Lexington, Winston-Salem and Greensboro to visit the storied houses of Western North Carolina barbecue. There were slight variations between Lexington Barbecue, Richard’s Bar-B-Q, Little Richard’s and Stamey’s in the slaw, texture of the pork and feel of the restaurants, but none of these classic places have strayed too far from what made them famous.
I don’t want to tip my cards on these famous spots so you are going to have to wait until The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America book comes out to see how they all stack up against each other and hundreds of other barbecue restaurants across the country.
Good write up and photos, but Bill Spoon’s is actually an eastern NC joint despite it’s Charlotte location. They cook the entire hog and their vinegar-based sauce doesn’t contain any tomatoes or ketchup. Their slaw, however, is another story as it is mustard-based and thus really neither eastern or western.