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); NOW CLOSED

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); NOW CLOSED

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 at 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.

16 thoughts on “The 10 best NC barbecue joints in Western NC

  1. For anyone, least of all yourself, to rate as #1, Lexington, is a travesty!! I made the almost 2 hour drive from my home to sample what I have always heard was the best que in the land. I must say my opinion is that it is BY FAR, Not Worth the effort!! What they call que was terrible, slaw wasn’t even that good and “baked beans”, Ha! Nothing more than luke warm pork ‘n beans out of a can! I rate the joint as 2 thumbs down!!
    Also, you should review Midwood Bar B Que on Central Ave. in Charlotte. It is awesome!
    Thank You,

    • First off – thanks for the comment. Always great to hear from readers, particularly ones with such a strong command of punctuation and capitalization. Though in this case, I’ll respectfully disagree with your assessment of Lexington Barbecue. Of course, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion but in this case yours is clearly wrong.

      Also, you must be new to our site as we’ve reviewed Midwood Smokehouse several times, and its one of our favorites in Charlotte (#3 on our big board, in fact: While the last review of the Central Ave location was in 2014, we regularly frequent each of their Charlotte locations. Review here:

    • You must be a yankee because
      most everyone that’s a native Tar Heel KNOWS Lexington is #1 for Western NC BBQ. I would have Stameys over Buxton Hall. The Hall might be in Asheville but it’s definitely Eastern whole hot style.

  2. Truthfully…you did western NC and middle NC. One major stop you missed..JD’s smokehouse in Rutherford college just outside of Morganton NC. I have eaten at almost all of your list including Lexington.(which should not be#1). I can honestly say JD’s is the best BBQ you’ll ever put in your mouth.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll add JD’s Smokehouse to my ever-growing list of places to try. Though I will say I’m more than a little skeptical that it will crack this list but perhaps I will be proven wrong.

  4. I was a bit confused when I read the title of the post, because when I think of NC in regional BBQ terms, I’d divide the state into thirds, with everything east of Raleigh classified as Eastern NC, Raleigh to Shelby as Central NC, and everything west of Shelby as Western NC. It’s complicated by the fact that “Western” and “Lexington-style” are used interchangably. When I saw the blog post title I thought that you’d be covering Asheville and points west, not the central Piedmont area.

    • 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.

      I stated how I defined “western NC” up front, but will try to make it a little more clear.

  5. The best barbecue that I have eaten in this part of North Carolina is at Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery in North Wilkesboro. Absolutely delicious barbecue, ribs that fall off the bone, and any other barbecue that you can eat. Please try it out.

  6. Allen & Son, BBQ King, Stamey’s, Red Bridges and Lexington BBQ — very good list!
    Have you been to Alston Bridges and The Flying Pig in Shelby, too? All run by Bridges of one sort or another, all different with loyal followings.
    I’m also wondering: Have you eaten at RO’s in west Gastonia? They do a minced BBQ I don’t care much for but is noteworthy for its difference. Their slaw is also something very different!
    I enjoy your stuff!

  7. Pingback: Midwood Smokehouse, Charlotte, North Carolina – John Tanner's Barbecue Blog

  8. Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC outside of Greenville NC is the #1 best bbq in the whole state of North Carolina. The cornbread is awesome, the slaw is wonderful. The chopped crispy skin in the bbq is incredible. He smokes over 7 kinds of wood. Ayden in on the BBQ trail. Go. Go. Go.

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