The folks behind The Great NC BBQ Map have a new project and this time they turn their focus to NC beer. And it appears to be a slightly less daunting task than last time around, with only around 160 breweries across the state compared to the 434 barbecue joints they found.
EDIA Maps have returned to Kickstarter to fund this project, and as of this writing they are almost halfway to their $7,500 goal with 28 days to go. As always, there are tiers to the funding, but just $10 will get you a folded map and sticker and it goes up from there. The NC BBQ Map is a go-to resource for me and I can’t wait to see what they do with beer.
Many cities claim to be barbecue capitals (Ayden, Lockhart, Austin, Murphysboro, Owensboro, etc) but how many can claim to have barbecue pits attached to its City Hall. For Lexington that’s exactly the case, as barbecue pits were uncovered earlier this year during renovations to City Hall. Sarah Delia of WFAE in Charlotte weaves barbecue, government, and history all into a fantastic report for the Gravy podcast.
The pits belonged to Beck’s Barbecue, an important branch in the Lexington barbecue tree. Alton Beck originally bought the pits from Sid Weaver, a founding father of Lexington-style barbecue and believed to be the first man to make a living off barbecue in the city. Beck was also friends and neighbors with Warner Stamey, who introduced hush puppies to barbecue. Warner’s son Charles (whose son Chip now runs Stamey’s in Greensboro) recalls going to Beck’s as a kid in an interview in the podcast.
The city of Lexington is moving forward with preserving the pits and incorporating them into the design of their new office space with the help of an architecture firm from Charlotte, Shook Kelley. Which I am happy to see, because NC has a trend of moving away from its history (see: the number of gas burning barbecue restaurants, even in Lexington). As John Shelton Reed (co-author of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue and co-founder of True Cue) notes in the podcast, “I’m not actually sure we [North Carolinians] are all that interested in the history of it…we are [mostly] interested in the food.” Thankfully, in this case North Carolina is taking an important step in not only preserving but also showcasing its barbecue heritage. Hopefully its the start of a trend in the right direction.
Congrats to our friend Johnny Fugitt (aka Barbecue Rankings) on today’s release of his book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America. Speedy and I were fortunate enough to meet up with Johnny last year on his way through Charlotte and we couldn’t have met a nicer person (or one more passionate about barbecue). I can’t wait to get my hands on the book to see all of his rankings and where some of my favorites (both NC and beyond) landed on the list (or not, as the case may be).
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In one year, barbecue critic Johnny Fugitt visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states. The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America chronicles the journey, shares secrets of barbecue legends and points you to America’s best plates of barbecue. Educational, humorous and hunger-inducing, this book raises the bar for investigative food journalism. Caution: Side effects of this book may include late night cravings, spontaneous road trips and the meat sweats. Not all material may be appropriate for vegetarians. Carnivore discretion is advised.
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.