Name: Boulevard Barbeque Date: 3/10/23 Address: 810 S College St, Morganton, NC 28655 Order: Two meat combo platter with pork, brisket, red slaw, jalapeno cheese grits, and hush puppies (link) Pricing: $$
Monk: Boulevard Barbeque is a restaurant in Morganton, which sits at the entrance to the Blue Ridge mountains in Burke County, NC. Mountain barbecue can be hit or miss in North Carolina, with places such as Buxton Hall Barbecue and , Hubba Hubba Smokehouse being on the great end of the spectrum. Boulevard, as it turns out, sits on the exact other end of that spectrum.
I went with the two meat platter of chopped pork and sliced brisket, which looked appetizing enough when placed on the table. However, looks were deceiving in this case as the pork was dry and mediocre despite having some decent bits of bark chopped in. It had a vaguely smokey taste to it, and Boulevard has a rack of wood outside its front entrance. But I suspect this is a wood-assisted gasser situation as this tray of pork was sorely in need of some sauce.
Keeping with the theme, the sliced brisket looked the part sliced about a half inch thick with a decent crust, but upon tasting it was dry slices from the flat of the brisket.
They give you a literal mountain of hush puppies almost certainly from frozen, though they were good enough in the moment. Alongside it I got a passable red slaw slaw and average jalapeno cheese grits.
In addition to the food, the restaurant itself was in need of a good scrub, as noticeable buildup of dust precariously sat above our heads in the (thankfully) turned off ceiling fans. The bathrooms were in even worse condition. There are far better options for barbecue in the mountains than Boulevard Barbeque so I’d recommend you keep on driving on I-40 in whichever direction you were already headed
Monk: So you’ve made the leap and you and the family (or spouse or partner or friends) are going to Disney. If you haven’t been before (or it’s been awhile, as was the case for me), prepare yourself for 14+ hour days, 12+ miles of walking, Disney efficiently separating you from your hard earned cash, and mostly subpar food offerings that more often than not is going to be heavy handed on the salt.
For the barbecue lovers out there, yes there are technically a few options at Disney. But are they any good? The answer there is mostly “not really” but that’s not to say that you can’t find some decent items if you know what to order. As is my wont, I checked a few of them out on my recent trip with the Monk clan as well as the Monk-In-Laws.
Flame Tree Barbecue on Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom
On a main thoroughfare between Dinoland U.S.A. and Asia sits the quick service restaurant (QSR) Flame Tree Barbecue amongst gift shops, coffee shops, and a rest area. Walk up to the counter to place your order (or if you’re a pro, order ahead of time), then take your food to covered tables that are nestled amongst the trees with outdoor seating that backs up to to the Discovery River waterfront.
My smoked pulled pork sandwich came topped with slaw and was a passable version of a barbecue sandwich with the slightest hint of smoke. My side of “signature baked beans” were straight out of the can and not noteworthy at all.
My wife went with the Smokehouse Chicken Salad which was a mixed greens salad topped with pulled chicken and cornbread croutons, which she was disappointed didn’t actually taste like cornmeal.
Other options not tasted were ribs and a plant-based sausage sandwich.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse at The American Adventure in Epcot
In Epcot there is another QSR option in Regal Eagle Smokehouse, which promises “craft drafts and barbecue.” It’s located next to The American Adventure stage show and has both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s more of a International House of Barbecue style joint than Flame Tree, advertising meats and sauces from Memphis, Kansas City, Texas, and North Carolina.
In terms of Texas, they offer a sliced brisket sandwich on Texas toast which I got with house-made pickles. The sandwich was pure Arby’s. Decently tasty, but pure Arby’s nonetheless. The pickles were a welcome relief from all the salt.
Mrs. Monk got the chopped pork platter whereby a scoop of greasy, oversalted pork was plopped onto a metal platter topped with butcher paper. Not exactly appetizing or tasty.
In addition to the pro tip of always ordering ahead on the Disney app, I would recommend going with kids meals 1) either to try more meats or 2) just to cut down on portions. In this case, the youngest Monkette is in a “french fries only” phase so I ordered a kids rib meal so I could get a couple of bones of the Memphis-style ribs. And while the rest of the meats were a salty mess, I was glad I tried the ribs as they were decently smoked and cooked well, leaving clean bite marks. More of those next time.
For Kansas City, the meat was a smoked chicken (huh?) and was the lone meat not tried. Regal Eagle Smokehouse also has a show smoker out front but I’m not convinced is anything more than a prop.
Other Options Not Tried
Many other full service restaurants and QSR’s across the parks may offer different smoked meats on the menu, but those were the two main options I saw inside the parks. Though there is more coming soon, with Rodeo Roundup BBQ opening at Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios later this month (March 23). It will, on the other hand, be a full service restaurant with a buffet so off the bat that means adults are going to be $45 and kids ages 3-9 will be $25 so for a family of 4 that’s nearly $150 for starters even before any alcohol.
At Rodeo Roundup BBQ, “Andy has created a rodeo arena for his toys … and all honorary toys visiting Andy’s backyard. Chow down on house-smoked meats, a roundup of sides, sweet surprises, and more in this western-themed family-style restaurant, where you’ll see the world through the eyes of Andy’s toys.” Those meats include ribs, brisket, and chicken, with the pork option being a “spiced pork sausage.” Based on what I tasted at the other parks, expect all to be overly salty to get you to buy those drinks and push the bill upwards of $200.
Outside of the parks The Polite Pig at Disney Springs promised to be a more well-executed barbecue, but unfortunately I didn’t make it there this go round. It is actually a Michelin rated restaurant, which makes more sense at the more upscale dining options available at Disney Springs. Next time for sure.
Disney World is a magical place and I was happy with how we did it with the Monk family. Compared with other food options at Disney World parks, barbecue isn’t a bad route as long as you know what you’re in for and can order accordingly.
Of the items tried, if pressed I would go back to the ribs at Flame Tree Barbecue and Regal Eagle Smokehouse. And the pulled pork sandwich at Flame Tree was not nearly as greasy as what was served at Regal Eagle. Matthew Register of Southern Smoke in Garland, NC swears by the half chicken there as well. For sides, I’d try to mix in some fruits and veggie sides where I can (salad, pickles, watermelon salad, tomato salad), but no shame in getting fries here and there.
The beer options weren’t overly impressive and will set you back $8-11 but you can usually get one of a Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or Shiner Bock. If you’re more of a liquor drinker, the cocktails will run you $13-17 (like I said, they know how to separate you from your money).
Have you tried barbecue at Disney World? Any impressions other than above? Leave a comment below.
Name: Longleaf Swine Date: 1/21/23 Address: 300 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601 Order: Whole hog, brisket, pimento mac and cheese, esquites, slaw, cornbread (link) Pricing: $$
Monk: Of the 2020 Raleigh Barbecue Boom, while not all announced restaurants have actually opened as of this writing (notably Ed Mitchell’s Preserve and Wyatt’s Barbecue), Longleaf Swine joined the land of the living last fall after years of construction delays and even a location change. And in my mind, it’s a top tier barbecue restaurant not only in Raleigh but possibly in all of NC.
After years of playing Instagram tag, I finally made it to Longleaf Swine earlier this year on a sunny but brisk winter afternoon. While the restaurant itself is on the small side, Longleaf Swine has plenty of outdoor patio space and heaters to spare. The building formerly hosted a Cuban restaurant in the Oakwood neighborhood just outside of downtown Raleigh, not far from the location of the Transfer Co food hall where they initially planned to open before this location became available. After years of construction delays due to supply chain issues, they finally opened this past November. On weekends, order on your phone via a table QR and the foot is brought out in no time.
In particular, the meat that I was most interested was their whole hog barbecue, which turned out to be fantastic. A simple mound of barbecue chopped with both lean and fatty cuts of the pig mixed in together. By far the star of the show, and in this city, its right up there with Sam Jones Barbecue.
The brisket was above average with a nice peppery crust but could have used perhaps a little more trimming of the fat cap. Also – you can’t specify fatty versus lean on the online ordering system, so you might not have an option unless you do counter service during the week. I would have liked to try the fatty end of the meat but still, very flavorful.
My sides were the pimiento mac and cheese topped with pork cracklins, esquites (a Mexican corn salad), and a mayo-based eastern NC-style slaw. There are no hush puppies so I went with cornbread. All sides were well executed and in particular I liked the esquites.
For the non-meat eaters, Mrs. Monk swears by the collard green melt sandwich, which is a grilled muenster cheese sandwich with apple slices, collards, and crispy tobacco onions on slices of locally made sourdough.
After my meal, I got a tour from Adam, who along with his business partner Marc are both co-owners (and NC State graduates to boot). At Longleaf, they are a True Cue joint smoking over wood on an Oyler rotisserie smoker, which seems to be the popular smoker for restaurants these days. Longleaf Swine sees themselves as a barbecue joint during the day before switching over to more of a neighborhood sandwich and burger joint at night (though you can still get barbecue while it’s available).
But you don’t have to take just my word for it. For more on Longleaf Swine, John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog has recently posted not one but two reviews and was also a big fan. Longleaf Swine is open five days a week (closed Monday and Tuesday) and is a fantastic addition to the Raleigh barbecue scene.
Name: Perry’s Pig Pickin’ BBQ Date: 1/13/23 Address: 6727 Wilgrove Mint Hill Rd, Mint Hill, NC 28227 Order: Barbecue plate with Brunswick stew, mac and cheese, and red slaw Pricing: $
Monk: It’s not often that there is a completely new-to-me barbecue place in the greater Charlotte area that I’m not at least somewhat familiar with but in late 2020, that was the case with Perry’s Pig Pickin’ BBQ from a Charlotte Ledger story (paywall). And if the last name Perry sounds familiar to local Charlotteans that’s because as the article describes, owner Irvin Perry (who owns and runs it with his wife Melanie) is the only one of four brothers who did not stay in the jewelry business; his brother Ernest is behind Perry’s Diamonds & Estate Jewelry in SouthPark and his other two brothers own jewelry stores in Wilmington and West Jefferson. Irvin went the small superette route and opened up Perry’s Market in the late 70’s. He added the gas pumps later.
The barbecue counter is in the back corner where initially a butcher shop resided when the store first opened in 1977 before being replaced by a deli and then the barbecue counter. There is no on-site seating so you pick your barbecue and sides and they are packed into a to-go box and you are on your way.
Stopping at a nearby park and eating off my back hood (hence the runny stew in the picture above), I found the barbecue to be tender with plenty of tang but not a lot of smoke. The tang would be in large part due to the vinegar sauce squirted onto the sauce at the counter as well as the red vinegar-based slaw. Throw it onto a bun, however, and it made for a good sandwich. According the Charlotte Ledger story linked above the barbecue is “made-on-site” but I did not put my eyes on what exactly does the cooking.
The mac and cheese was not bad but what might bring me back in the future is the Brunswick stew, which I would definitely get again. Just a well executed version of the stew, and I might be inclined to get at least a pint of it next time.
In Perry’s Pig Pickin’ BBQ I was hoping for a hidden gem and while I don’t think I would quite go that far what I found was dependable, above average gas station fare that serves the community for a good price.
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