Name: JD’s Smokehouse
Address: 500 Malcolm Blvd, Rutherford College, NC 28671
Order: Pork and brisket combination (link to menu)
Monk: Coming back from a quick overnight trip to Asheville, with Buxton Hall not open until 11:30am, I got out of town and headed towards Charlotte east on I-40. That would put me in the Connelly Springs/Rutherford College area right at lunchtime, in time to finally catch JD’s Smokehouse where “[i]t’s a weekend celebration.”
That means its only open from Thursdays to Saturdays, and JD’s Smokehouse was packed on a Friday lunch this past December. Now that may be because they have a loyal local fanbase but perhaps it also in some part due to being voted best barbecue in NC by the readers of “Strange Carolinas” in 2021. It was a recommendation on our Facebook page in the early days of this blog, so my visit was long overdue.
Visitors are greeted with the welcome sight of a couple of racks of firewood as they enter the restaurant. Just off to the left of this shot is the entrance to the smokehouse. It all looked so promising.
I went with the pork and brisket combo, but for only $0.50 more I could have gotten ribs as well. An amateur mistake on my part. Though if the ribs were more like the brisket than the pork, I made the right choice.
Which is to say that that pork was my favorite of the two meats that day. Fresh and smoky, it was a solid serving of barbecue. Dashes of table sauce didn’t hurt it, and I was satisfied at that point in my meal.
The brisket, on the other head was overcooked and on the bland side of things. It didn’t have the peppery bark of a Central Texas-style brisket (which is fine) but it didn’t wow me with what it was trying to do either.
As for sides, the red slaw came spicy, there was a dinner roll instead of any sort of cornmeal, and the plate was served with a side of pickled jalapenos. Just what exactly they were going for is anyone’s guess, but it appears to me to be a mish-mash of several different styles.
And that is ultimately my issue with JD’s Smokehouse: they didn’t have a clear identity, or at least not one that was immediately discernable by me. They smoke with wood coals, which should be applauded, but is ultimately one restaurateur’s take on an “international house of barbecue” model. As has been the case for a couple of recent reviews, should you find yourself here, my suggestion is to stick with the pork.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs