Name: Big Tiny’s BBQ
Address: 179 N Main St, Mooresville, NC 28115
Order: ¼ lb brisket, ¼ lb Texas sausage, ¼ lb pork spare ribs, Natty Greene’s Session IPA (link to menu)
Monk: While you can find a couple of pretty darn good briskets in and around Charlotte (Midwood Smokehouse and The Smoke Pit immediately come to mind), it’s usually at a place that serves a little bit of everything in terms of barbecue cuisine (John Shelton Reed calls that model the “International House of Barbecue” model). Big Tiny’s BBQ is a newish joint in Mooresville that is truly trying to replicate a Texas style joint in NC – think Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q (mainly because that is exactly what they are going for).
In addition to being super nice people, owners John and Elizabeth Maddox are both Texans that have been in Mooresville for the past 15 years. After years of John smoking as a hobby and then as a side job, they opened their location in downtown Mooresville in a beautiful space last summer. Being that they are both new to the restaurant industry – John worked in auto racing and Elizabeth in insurance – they are learning more about running a restaurant and consistency of product each day. Based on what I saw 4 months in, they are off to a great start.
The layout of Tiny’s is has guests form a line as soon as they enter before they are greeted by a couple of tubs filled with beers and soft drinks in glass bottles before stepping up to a counter where they order meats by the ¼ or ½ pound. Those meats are then sliced and weighed in front of the customer. Even for fast casual barbecue restaurants in the area, this is a unique experience where you are paying by the pound even if you aren’t buying in bulk. They wrap the meats in foil and place into a plastic carrying container (apparently another cue from Rudy’s) with butcher paper and white bread. Then off the customer goes to the long picnic-style tables with red and white gingham table cloths where they can spread out and dig in.
As for the meats, Big Tiny’s is using a Cookshack pellet smoker from Oklahoma. I am not sure if I’ve ever eaten barbecue smoked on a Cookshack but in any case they are able to get a lot of smoke onto the meats. The brisket – I don’t recall there being a choice between lean or fatty – was moist and had a nice peppery bark as well as a good tug to it. The sausage is imported from Texas and had a nice snap and spice to it. The rib was smoked nicely and didn’t pull completely away from the bone with each chew. And the turkey, which I got a few sample slices of after I sat down, was lean, well smoked, and a nice alternative. In general the meats are consistently pretty excellent.
One thing you won’t find on the menu is chopped or pulled pork, and John assured me that will always be the case, no matter how many times they may get asked from locals who are used to barbecue joints automatically serving pork. They want to stay true to their Texas roots, and in a way I can respect them for that approach.
While I only ordered meats (after having just come from Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton), I got a small sample of the corn casserole which was fantastic. It has been adapted from a family recipe, as has several other of the scratch made sides on the menu.
Named after their first dog, whose large portrait is one of the first pictures you see as you get in line, Big Tiny’s BBQ is a worthy addition to the barbecue scene in the Charlotte area. It ably fills a niche in our pork-centric barbecue culture, and I hope that the locals give John and Elizabeth Maddox’s Texas-style joint a fair shake. I certainly plan to go back next time I’m in the area.
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Turkey – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs