How to Order from Our Favorite NC Barbecue Restaurants (Piedmont and West)

Monk: We featured our favorite Charlotte barbecue restaurants and how to order takeout from them earlier this week, and in this post we are featuring our favorite restaurants from the Piedmont and western part of the state.

Please note: As everything is pretty much a fluid situation these days, please call ahead or check on social media to ensure that the restaurant is open and serving.

Apple City BBQ (Taylorsville)
Thursday to Saturday, 11am to 9pm
Check their Facebook page for details on how to order

Barbecue Center (Lexington)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 8pm
Call ahead to place order (336) 248-4633

BBQ King (Lincolnton)
Monday to Saturday, 10am to 8pm
Call ahead to place order: (704) 735-1112

Buxton Hall Barbecue (Asheville)
Monday to Sunday, 12pm to 7pm
Link to order online or call ahead to place order: (828) 232 7216

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse (Flat Rock)
Thursday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm
Link to order online or call ahead: (828) 595-9849

Hursey’s Bar-B-Q (Burlington, Mebane, Graham)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 9pm
Drive-thru, delivery via GrubHub, or call ahead to order (336) 226-1694

Lexington Barbecue (Lexington)
Monday to Saturday, 10am to 8pm
Call ahead to place order: (336) 249-9814

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge (Shelby)
Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 8pm; Sunday 11am to 4pm
Call ahead to order: (704) 482-8567

Stamey’s Barbecue (Greensboro)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 9pm
Link to order online or drive-thru

The Smoke Pit (Concord)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 8pm
Link to order online or call ahead: (704) 795-7573

How to Order from Our Favorite Charlotte Barbecue Restaurants during Stay at Home

Monk: As of Thursday at 8am, Mecklenburg County is enforcing a Stay at Home order effective until at least April 16. Thankfully, residents are still allowed to go to a restaurant “for take-out, delivery or drive-thru.” As hard as restaurants have already been hit, this will be even more of a blow for those that are trying to stay open through these weird times.

Thusly, if we are able, we should do all we can to support our local barbecue restaurants if we want them to still be around after the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a list of our five favorite Charlotte options based on our Charlotte Big Board.

Please note: As everything is pretty much a fluid situation these days, please call ahead or check on social media to ensure that the restaurant is open and serving.

1. Jon G’s Barbecue
March 28th is sold out but stay tuned to their Facebook page for future events
Link to Facebook page

2. Noble Smoke
Monday to Sunday, 10:30am to 8pm
Link to order online

3. Sweet Lew’s Barbecue (available curbside at Dish)
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 8pm
Call ahead to order: (704) 344-0343 (delivery also available)⁠⠀

4. Midwood Smokehouse (Central Ave, Park Road, and Ballantyne locations only)
Monday to Sunday, 11:00am to 8:00pm
Link to order online

5. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue
Monday to Wednesday, 10:30am to 3pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10:30am to 8pm
Call ahead to order: (704) 525-8865

Will Prime BBQ Make Knightdale a Barbecue Destination?

Monk: Christopher Prieto and Prime BBQ will be joining a Raleigh barbecue scene very different from when they announced their intentions to open a restaurant 4 years ago. In 2020 alone, the scene will be joined by heavy hitters like Sam Jones of Sam Jones BBQ, Ed Mitchell of The Preserve, Wyatt Dickson of Wyatt’s Barbecue, and Jake Wood of Lawrence Barbecue (plus several more). The difference with Prime BBQ is that it won’t actually be in the city limits of Raleigh. Instead, it will be 13 miles to the east in the suddenly booming town of Knightdale.

Knightdale Station Park is a new planned community that has a 76 acre park, 2 miles of paved trails, a splash pad, a farmer’s market, soccer fields, an amphitheater, a veteran’s memorial, and probably even more amenities built just in the past week. And it just so happens to be on the doorstep of Prime BBQ, though that was not the case when Christopher Prieto and team broke ground nearly 2 years ago.

On a sunny but chilly Saturday in February, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a hardhat tour hosted by owner and firemaker Christopher Prieto as well as a lunch catered by the Prime BBQ team.

During the hour-plus long tour of the still unfinished restaurant, Prieto wove into the tour his story of how he was called to barbecue after visiting a meat market with a barbecue stand out back at a very young age while living in College Station, TX and getting that first taste of Texas barbecue. His path eventually led to competing (and winning) on the KCBS barbecue competition circuit as a teenager before getting into the restaurant industry in his 20’s (though in a different cuisine). As he tells it, his life was turned around when he began hosting cooking classes with the Wounded Warrior Project for veterans. This led him down the path of honoring veterans that will continue in a few different ways with Prime BBQ.

The tour started on the patio before being led to the main dining area where Christopher explained the flow of customers that he and his designer designed from years of barbecue research. The space itself is full of beautiful touches, and if you make it to Prime BBQ be sure to look up at the custom wood ceiling and chandeliers reminiscent of a church or cathedral.

Prime BBQ is large at over 8,000 square feet but it also has one of the largest kitchens and dry storage rooms you will ever see in a restaurant. From there, we got to the main attraction – for me, at least – in the smoke room that houses three J&R Manufacturing Oyler smokers (with room to add more if needed) and will have two BQ whole hog smokers. Prieto will be smoking using a “cocktail” of wood (as he puts it) that will include local oak (not imported post oak), pecan, cherry, sugar, or maple depending on the protein.

Also forthcoming in the pit room will be a “chef’s table” of sorts for private tastings exclusively for veterans. A very cool idea that continues his practice of honoring veterans.

After the tour wound down, it was lunch time. Fittingly, Prieto and team served us the Texas trinity as well as a beef chuck rib and three of their sides – Big Boss beans, smoked sweet potato salad, and a slaw made with vinegar and honey mustard.

The brisket served honored the central Texas version of the meat, and was made with Creekside Farms beef from Missouri. Prime BBQ will be smoking in Oylers from J&R Manufacturing out of Mesquite, Texas and Prieto is very familiar with them, having owned one of their first manufactured smokers with a serial number in the single digits. As you would expect from a joint owned by the Texas-raised Prieto, the brisket will be a big focus at Prime.

Prime BBQ will be making their sausage in-house with a specific blend of pork and beef and spices that Prieto has honed over the years. For me, the sausage was a little on the dry side that day but I have no doubts that they will get it right once the restaurant is up and running.

The star of the show for me was the pork spare rib, which was perfectly smoked with a simple rub and finished with a glaze of a sweet barbecue sauce.

They had a limited number of chuck beef ribs and having already been stuffed, I grabbed one on the smaller side and shared with my neighbor. I’ve not had a chuck rib before but it had the powerful, peppery bark of the larger plate ribs I’ve tried and tasted great.

The sides were variations on traditional barbecue sides. Prieto said he hates potato salad, so his version smokes sweet potatoes and adds tons of bacon and pimento cheese. Works for me. The slaw is made with vinegar and honey mustard instead of mayo, yellow mustard, or ketchup. It wasn’t overly sweet, but I found myself wishing it was more traditional. The big boss beans were not made with beer from Big Boss Brewing (as I suspected based on the name) but were an above average barbecue side.

Even though he is lactose intolerant, Christopher Prieto has a Blue Bell Ice Cream tattoo on his calf. He loves it that much. This being my first time trying any Blue Bell, I gotta say I see where he is coming from. The capper to the meal was a small tub of vanilla Blue Bell with some peach cobbler. It only served to remind me that I don’t eat deserts at barbecue restaurants enough.

The one thing that we didn’t get to try that day that intrigued me the most was the whole hog lechon that Prime BBQ will serve. Rather than directly competing with the eastern NC whole hog pitmasters that will be coming to Raleigh, Prieto will honor his Puerto Rican heritage with a different spin on whole hog. I can’t wait to eventually try it.

Also of note is that Prime BBQ will be a BYOB establishment (like famed Texas establishments such as Louie Mueller Barbecue) which runs contrary to the trend of full service barbecue restaurants.

Christopher Prieto and the rest of the Prime BBQ team are building something special in Knightdale. Their opening date is currently slated for April 18, and in the crowded Raleigh barbecue scene of 2020 I predict that they will do quite well.

Pitmaster Profiles: Jordan Smith of Bar-B-Q King

Monk: For this Pitmaster Profile, we are staying in Western North Carolina. Jordan Smith is a second-generation pitmaster at Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton, who we recently re-reviewed. Much like Spencer Purcell, our last profile, Jordan is a new and different voice in North Carolina barbecue, and I hope you enjoy hearing from him.

For more about Bar-B-Q King, check out their websiteInstagram, and Facebook page.

If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

How long have you lived in Lincolnton and what’s your family’s history there? 

I’ve lived in Lincolnton my whole life, I was born and raised here.  I only left for college where I played basketball. My dad Keith, has worked at BBQ King for 40 years.  He started working for Steve (owner and founder) when he was 15 years old. Keith quickly became Steve’s right hand man and bought into ownership in the late eighties.  

How did you become a pitmaster? 

I started working on and off at the King at 15 years old. After college I became a full time pitmaster/manager. Barbecue has always been a passion of mine since I was a child and I was excited to dive right into the business after college. I’ve always said barbecue is a labor of love because it is not a quick process. Smoking ‘que the right way takes time but it is well worth it.

What other types of roles do you do for Bar-B-Q King? 

Other roles than pitmaster/manager include social media manager and catering manager. I do a little bit of everything around here and I love it!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

What is your favorite meat to smoke? What type of wood do you prefer?

My favorite meat to smoke is pork shoulder over hickory wood coals. We’ve smoked over hickory wood for almost fifty years and have always used a pork shoulder for the restaurant. Although for caterings we have smoked whole hog and briskets and I thoroughly enjoy those meats as well.

What are your barbecue influences?

My barbecue influences are my Dad (Keith Smith) and Steve Abernethy.  They have taught me everything I know about barbecue. I’ve read plenty of books about barbecue but nothing compares to someone actually showing you the process from start to finish.

What is your favorite barbecue joint or style?

BBQ King is obviously my favorite joint and I love Lexington style barbecue. Pork shoulders with a tangy sauce is my go to. I have an appreciation for all styles of barbecue though and have tremendous amounts of respect for old school joints that have been in business for many years. And I also appreciate the new school barbecue joints smoking barbecue the old school way!

What is your earliest memory of barbecue?

When I was around 5 years old I can remember riding up to BBQ King in the wee hours of the morning to “help” my dad smoke barbecue, and I’ve been in love ever since. There is nothing better than that primal feeling of standing in front of a fire and smoking meat. Many employees/friends that I met at BBQ King as a child still work here to this day.  Employees like Kelly Lineberger and Charlie Reep, who have been here for many years, have played a pivotal role in my life and the restaurants success.

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

What is the best thing about barbecue in western North Carolina?

Western NC BBQ has many great qualities but my personal favorites are the meat, sauce, and wood.  The meat is usually pork shoulder or butts. The sauce has just enough vinegar with a hint of ketchup.  And the wood is usually hickory or oak. These techniques are tried and true in this part of the state and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

What is a weakness or opportunity of barbecue in western North Carolina?

Weaknesses of western NC BBQ are restaurants that don’t smoke BBQ over wood.  Oven baked pork is not barbecue. Another weakness is some restaurants use too much ketchup in the sauce and not enough vinegar.  Barbecue smoked over live wood coals and a well-balanced sauce is a recipe for true success!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

Anything else you’d like everyone to know about you or Bar-B-Q King?

My younger brother, Jared, is also a pitmaster/manager and has a passion for BBQ just like me. My fiancée, Stephanie, works at BBQ King as well. Stephanie is great with customers and she is a staple up front at the counter. Her parents (Steve and Becky Abernethy) are the founders of BBQ King. My mother, Kelly Smith, does the payroll. Stephanie’s mother (my future mother-in-law), Becky, helps decorate the restaurant for different seasons. BBQ King is family run from all angles. It is a blessing being able to work with family and share the workload. We are excited to celebrate 50 years in September 2021!

Thanks again to Jordan for his time, and if you ever find yourself in the Lincolnton area stop by BBQ King and say hi.

If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Monk and Jordan, December 2019