Name: The Original Q Shack
Address: 2510 University Drive, Durham, NC
Order: 3 meat combo (pork, brisket, ribs), collards, fried okra (link to menu)
Speedy: Oftentimes, when my co-workers hear about the blog or my love of great ‘cue, they make suggestions of places I “have” to try. Some have been great, but in general, I’m skeptical until I know someone has legit barbecue taste.
Monk: Quick question just because I’m curious – how many have you found to have legit barbecue taste?
Speedy: There are a couple – generally people who grew up in a ‘cue mecca. It only takes a short conversation to figure out who to trust.
Since I starting working relatively frequently in the research triangle area (over a year ago), I’ve been hearing that I need to check out The Original Q Shack. After checking out the similarly named (and themed) Q Shack in Raleigh, I was avoiding at all costs; however, I’ve heard that there may not be much (or any) connection, so a trip to Cameron Indoor to attend the execution of my beloved Demon Deacons basketball season seemed like a good excuse to check it out.
Monk: From what I can tell, The Original Q Shack is not officially affiliated with the North Hills Q Shack you visited or The Q Shack in south Charlotte, which is part of the same chain as North Hills. I’m guessing that also makes it a 0% chance you and I ever visit the south Charlotte location.
Speedy: Thanks for doing the research, Monk. He’s not the best in the business for nothing, folks.
The Original Q Shack looks like an old-timey joint with outdoor (covered) seating and a small space indoors. The night I was there, there was a bluegrass quartet playing, which really added to the atmosphere. Similar to the Raleigh abomination, you order cafeteria style, and the meat is cut in front of you. To maximize coverage, I, of course, went with the three meat sampler.
At $16, this combo plate is not too overpriced, considering the portions. I think it could easily serve as a meal for two people. I was a little disappointed that it came with white bread instead of hush puppies or cornbread, but what can ya do?
The pork was decent. It was plenty tender and had decent flavor, though it could’ve used a little more smoke. It didn’t seem like the pork was sauced at all – I think chopping it and adding a little dip would do wonders. I also didn’t get any bark mixed in with mine – not sure if that was by design or if I got unlucky, but it was disappointing. I wouldn’t call this the best pork I’ve had, and certainly there are better options not too far away, but I wasn’t upset with it.
The ribs were actually quite good. The Original Q Shack serves spare ribs, pre-cut and lightly glazed. They were cooked almost perfectly – tender but not falling off the bone, with a good combination of sauce and a dry rub taste. This is the meat I would recommend and would have if I ever find myself back.
The brisket, unfortunately, was just plain bad. I got a mix of fatty and lean and the piece I had was way, way overcooked. My slices had minimal bark, were dry, and any flavor had long since left the meat. Overall, it was very, very disappointing. Hopefully this was just a case of one bad brisket, but I won’t be trying it again.
Monk: The owner of The Original Q Shack in Durham apparently has Texas roots (again, from my quick research). Which makes it a little odd that the brisket was the worst meat of the three you had that night.
Speedy: I have been told that their brisket is generally good, so maybe I caught it a bad day, but it’s not worth another try for me.
From a sides perspective, the collards were fine and the fried okra was outstanding. This was probably the best fried okra that I’ve had. Unfortunately, when the fried okra is the best part of the meal, there are larger problems afoot.
Overall, The Original Q Shack is way, way, way, way better than The Q Shack in North Hills, but it’s still an average (at best) barbecue meal.