Log Cabin BBQ – Albemarle, NC

Name: Log Cabin BBQ
Address: 2322 US-52, Albemarle, NC 28001
Order: Chopped pork tray with red slaw, hush puppies, Cheerwine (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Albemarle, NC is a small town of less than 16,000 about an hour east of Charlotte on the Pee Dee River and bordering the Uwharrie National Forest. It’s also home to two well-regarded classic NC barbecue joints, each one stemming from the same family.

Lonnie Doby opened Whispering Pines in 1945 and later married Lavada Galloway. Lavada’s sister Edith and brother Darrell worked at Whispering Pines for some time before Edith and Darrell left to open Darrell’s BBQ in nearby Rockwell. Eventually, Edith purchased the building for Wink’s Barbecue in 1991 with one of her sons and renamed it to Log Cabin Bar-B-Que. We’ll get to Whispering Pines soon, but we’ll start with Log Cabin BBQ this week.

Log Cabin is not just a clever name, and dark wood lines the interior of the restaurant which is more or less your classic NC barbecue restaurant setup with waitress-serviced tables where you pay up front.

What wasn’t clear was whether or not Log Cabin was a classic NC joint that still smoked with wood. True ‘Cue lists Log Cabin as an all wood-smoked joint but The Great NC BBQ Map says its a wood-assisted gasser. Out back is a big enclosed smokehouse, however I wasn’t able to place eyes on their setup to confirm which source had their information right. After some digging, it appears that The Great NC BBQ Map had it right (I believe they called each restaurant to confirm cooking method, so makes sense) and Log Cabin uses what looks to be a Southern Pride rotisserie based on the smoker photos I could find.

Nevertheless, the chopped pork that came out had decent smoke and with some dashes of the table vinegar sauce it really sang.

Log Cabin offers both a red and a white slaw though their red slaw curiously came with bits of diced green peppers, something I hadn’t seen before. The freshly-fried hush puppies came in larger orbs and only 3 per tray but were quite good.

While Log Cabin BBQ may not be carrying on the tradition of wood-smoked North Carolina barbecue, they do serve some great pork. Plus, it’s part of a great story of a family’s barbecue legacy that isn’t too widely known from what I can see.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse – Flat Rock, NC

Name: Hubba Hubba Smokehouse
Date: 5/27/21
Address: 2724 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock, NC 28731
Order: Indecision plate (pork + brisket), collard greens, sautéed slaw, cornbread (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Speedy: I had heard about Hubba Hubba Smokehouse a few years ago and had always wanted to go, but due to seasonal opening and limited hours, along with being tucked away in Flat Rock, NC, I hadn’t had the chance to make it over. However, the recent retirement and move of Mama and Papa Speedy to just 20 miles away afforded me the opportunity on my latest visit.

Monk: Hopefully you heard about them when I visited a couple years ago and also when we profiled their pitmaster Spencer Purcell. But you may have also heard of them from their addition to the Historic NC Barbecue Trail a few years back.

Speedy: Hubba Hubba is tucked away in a small plaza off Greenville Highway, along with a couple of other food establishments. The building itself is a small brick building that holds the smokehouse and kitchen, with all of their seating outside. I went to the counter and placed my order, then found a seat in the courtyard.

My name was called in short order and it was time to dig in. I judge any NC barbecue restaurant on the pulled pork, and Hubba Hubba passed that test with flying colors. The pork was tender, smoky, and moist. I didn’t add any of the sauces available, but I do think the vinegar sauce would have added a little tang (they also have a NC sweet and a mustard sauce). While I prefer finer chopped pork (Lexington style), overall, I enjoyed this pulled pork quite a lot, and will order again. 

Monk: I tried the pork with their vinegar sauce just a week earlier myself while passing through on my way to Brevard, and it was definitely a great combo.

Speedy: There have been a few places in the Carolinas doing Texas-style brisket, but Hubba Hubba’s is different. It does not have the same richness and peppery bark, but still has good peppery taste. For one bite, I prefer the Texas-style, but also there was not the same gut-bomb feeling after eating. I think this brisket is better suited for a sandwich, but still solid, if not spectacular. 

Monk: Agreed that they aren’t trying to replicate a central Texas-style brisket, but I also dug what they are doing.

Speedy: I usually just gloss over sides both when eating and reviewing barbecue restaurants, but every once in a while, there’s a side that’s just so good that it deserves some extra attention. The collard greens fit that bill. They were fresh, tangy, and delicious, with bits of pork included. Overall, these were among the very best collards I’ve had and a must order.

The sautéed slaw was not my favorite, as I like the contrast of crisp and crunchy slaw in a barbecue meal, so I’d probably skip those next time. However, pitmaster Spencer was nice enough to bring me a side of a new menu item – the Brunswick stew. According to Spencer, this will be added to the menu soon, and that’s something I’m happy about. The stew was a little sweeter than I’m used to in a Brunswick stew, but very flavorful. Another very solid item.

Monk: Looking back, I’m surprised we didn’t order the collards on my previous visit but I’ll have to get them next time along with that delicious-sounding Brunswick stew.

Speedy: Overall, Hubba Hubba Smokehouse is one of the better barbecue meals that I’ve had in Western NC. I’m glad to finally have the opportunity to check it out and hope to be back soon.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Bobby’s BBQ – Fountain Inn, SC

Name: Bobby’s BBQ
Address: 1301 N Main St, Fountain Inn, SC 29644
Order: 1/2 lb brisket, 1/2 lb pork, 1 original sausage, 1 jalapeno cheddar sausage, corn pudding, mac and cheese, green beans (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Octavius “Tay” Nelson and his wife, Sarah opened Bobby’s BBQ in Fountain Inn, SC after Tay spent a few years learning how to smoke from YouTube videos. Yes, really. Tay actually originally grew up in Fountain Inn and Bobby’s is named after both his dad and brother (Bobby Sr and Jr) who both passed away within a few months of each other in the late 00’s. Tay came up with a barbecue seasoning first in 2010 and the restaurant came later in 2018.

The restaurant is central Texas-inspired which as mentioned above, Tay learned from watching different tutorials on YouTube. The Texas of it all is evident if you take a peek into the smoke room and see two huge offset pits with stacks of wood.

As for the barbecue, I found it to be above average but not transcendent. The brisket had good flavor but was not the most neatly sliced by the meat cutter, who hacked and sliced through the end of a brisket.

The pork was dry which is almost to be expected from a Texas-style joint at this point.

On this day, they had two sausages, both an original and a jalapeno cheddar. Of the two, I preferred the jalapeno cheddar, though both were above average.

From a sides perspective, both the mac and cheese and corn pudding shone, and I particularly liked the corn pudding. The green beans were a bit bland and were cooked within an inch of their life.

Bobby’s BBQ is a great story, with food that mostly backs it up as well as a great setting. It’s worth seeking out in the greater Greenville area.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Smoke Show BBQ – Charlotte, NC

Name: Smoke Show BBQ (pop-up at Crown Station)
Order: 1/2 lb brisket, 4 St. Louis cut rib, 1/4 chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, mac and cheese, baked, beans, banana pudding (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Ever keeping my eye on new barbecue restaurants or pop-ups in Charlotte, I was caught off guard by a recent Charlotte Magazine article listing 4 pop-ups to know including one Smoke Show BBQ. The pop-up is owned and run by Brandon Belfer, a chef who attended Johnson & Wales culinary school in Charlotte and who according to that article has worked for a lot of great chefs and kitchens in Charlotte including The Stanley with Paul Verica, The Crunkleton, The Asbury under former chef Matthew Krenz and current chef Mike Long, and Kindred and Hello, Sailor under Joe Kindred and Craig Diehl.

Belfer is originally from the town of Pleasanton outside San Antonio, so he grew up around Texas barbecue and that is his focus for Smoke Show. Every 2 weeks or so, he runs his pop-up from a literal pop-up tailgating tent in the parking lot at Crown Station in NoDa (just around the corner from the former Monk residence).

And Belfer’s barbecue shows some promise but did have some issues on this day. The Creekstone brisket had a nice bark but had some issues with consistency and texture and could have used a little more trimming of the fat cap. Brandon eventually introduced himself and mentioned he was breaking in a new smoker. On top of that, for this cook he was delivered larger-than-expected briskets (16 pounds vs. his normal 12 pounders). I could tell those variables affected this particular cook but as I mentioned earlier, there is promise.

The St. Louis cut ribs were best part of the meal and had some real nice flavor, even if the ribs weren’t the meatiest. The smoked chicken was a solid option as well but probably could have benefitted from some direct heat to crisp up the skin (I’m assuming it was smoked on an offset like the rest of the meats but could be mistaken there). Beef ribs were a special, and while I didn’t order on this go round I’ll get to it eventually.

All of the sides were well made and showed off the culinary skill of Belfer; this day we got mac and cheese, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw. And to top off the meal, the banana pudding with some sort of caramelized crumble topping was awesome. I’ll be ordering that ‘naner pudding every time I come back.

Smoke Show BBQ is well worth keeping an eye on as a new player in the Charlotte barbecue scene, and I look forward to giving them another shot in a few months.

Ratings:
Brisket – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs