Cook’s BBQ – Lexington, NC

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Name
: Cook’s BBQ
Date: 11/25/17
Address: 366 Valiant Dr, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Monk: Three meat combo plate (chopped pork, sausage, ribs) with red slaw, hush puppies, fries, and Cheerwine; Speedy: Three meat combo plate (coarse chopped pork, brisket, ribs) with red slaw, hush puppies, tater tots, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: ~$17 each

Speedy: Monk and I were both embarking on a post-Thanksgiving drive from High Point to Charlotte (albeit in different vehicles), so we planned on a noon rendezvous at Cook’s BBQ in Lexington. As I was driving up, I thought that I might be entering a scene from Deliverance, and that possibly Monk was trying to kill me. Good news – he wasn’t, and Cook’s BBQ is real.

Monk: It is a bit of a weird location for a barbecue restaurant but I would never “Deliverance” you, Speedy. Off of 85, you go drive down Highway 8 south of Lexington proper and take a few turns on country roads. Then you drive past a few houses before happening on Cook’s in a dead-end at the end of a residential street.

The restaurant has been around since 1969 (though the current owners took over in 1984) so they must be doing something right, even if I feel it’s hardly ever mentioned along with the other Lexington joints. To add to its bona fides, it was also included along with Lexington Barbecue, Skylight Inn, Allen & Son’s, and other NC barbecue heavy hitters in this 2012 Washington Post primer on NC barbecue ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. I had been wanting to stop in for years, particularly once I realized they were open on Sundays – a rarity for most family-owned barbecue joints.

Speedy: One thing that’s a little different about Cook’s from most Lexington style joints is the variety of meats. In addition to pork, they have brisket, ribs, and sausage. As Monk and I do when we see lots of meat, we ordered it all. I opted to go with coarse chopped pork (for a change of pace), the ribs, and the brisket. Monk had the same order, but subbed sausage instead of brisket. We both had red slaw and some form of fried potatoes (tots or fries).

Monk: The table agreed that the sausage was the best meat that we tasted that day, though I don’t know where Cook’s gets its sausage from or whether its house made (I suspect its not). In any case, it’s good.

Speedy: Agree, and I will order it should I go back. The brisket surprised me. NC brisket is generally plain bad (I’ve sworn it off a time or two myself), but this stuff was decent. Not on par with anything I’ve had in Texas, but it was definitely passable.

Monk: I did read afterwards that its one of only two places in Lexington that even serves brisket, so its definitely an anomaly. The ribs were a bit overcooked and fell apart as soon as I attempted to pick up the rack. Not to mention they were overly slathered in a thick, sweet sauce. I would avoid.

Speedy: I didn’t care for the coarse pork. It was a mistake to order it that way. Monk enjoyed the fine chopped better. The sides were all good – particularly the hush puppies.

Monk: I had higher hopes for Cook’s being a hidden gem that might sneak into my personal best of NC list but perhaps my expectations were too high. While Speedy and I agreed that the meats were mostly above average, I don’t know that either of us will be going out of our way to make a special trip out to Cook’s Barbecue anytime soon, threat of Deliverance or not.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Cook's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hard Eight BBQ – Coppell, TX

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Name
: Hard Eight BBQ
Date: 7/17/17
Address: 688 Freeport Pkwy, Coppell, TX 75019
Order: Brisket, pork ribs, sausage, fries, corn bread pie (link to menu)
Price: Can’t remember, maybe ~$36?

Speedy: Recently, I had a short work trip to Dallas, which I turned into a more extended trip to visit Rudy in Austin. With a busy work schedule and a couple of planned trips to ‘cue joints in Austin, I only stepped away for one ‘cue meal in Dallas. Hard Eight was the most conveniently located and was recommended by the client, so there we went.

Monk: Dang, another Texas visit that Speedy makes that I didn’t get to go on. What is this, the third time?

Speedy: It is, indeed. Some of us are just more dedicated to the readers than others…

Entering the parking lot, you could see stacks and stacks of wood, and a large outdoor smokehouse with a roof. Smartly, Hard Eight keeps all the meat in a stone oven-esque thing right in front of the cash register, forcing you to order 3x more meat than you can possibly eat.

Monk: Is this the Instagram that inexplicably led to exactly 300 likes as of this writing? Which is by far the most ‘Gram likes any photo of ours has ever had by at least 200?

Speedy: Yes, it is. Except that it’s totally explicable. The followers – they love me. It sucks being second, doesn’t it, Monk.

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That said, I ordered the brisket, sausage, and pork ribs even though I was with co-workers. When it comes to barbecue, I have no shame. The meat is cut and weighed in front of you and you pay by the pound. You then proceed to a cafeteria style line for sides, which I’m told is not uncommon in Texas. You then pay at the end. I don’t know how much my meal specifically cost, but the total for three people was $60. Judging by volume, mine was at least 60% of that.

The interior was large, with plenty of seating, and there was also a good sized covered porch. This day was too hot to eat outside, so we sat at an inside high top and dug in.

Since this joint is in Texas, I’ll start with the brisket. I was very pleased with the brisket. It had decent (not great) bark, good flavor, and a nice tug. It was only slightly dry, but overall didn’t need sauce. At the time, I thought I was having fairly top notch brisket, but (spoiler alert) after a couple of briskets in Austin, I had to re-adjust my internal scale and bump this brisket down a bit. Still, I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Monk: This is true. After this visit, Speedy was raving about Hard Eight. After his subsequent trip to Austin, a little less so.

Speedy: The sausage also was good – it had a nice flavor and held together well. The sausage was sliced at the front and not served in links, and I have no idea if it was made in-house, but it has nice smoke and was cooked well. I would have preferred a little more spice, but overall, a good offering.

The ribs were nice and meaty and had good flavor. They were not dry, but I did end up adding a little sauce. They were cooked well – offering a clean bite without falling off the bone. I would have enjoyed a little more rub, but an enjoyable, if unspectacular rib.

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Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Hard Eight BBQ. I feel like had I written this review immediately, it would have scored higher, but a couple of experiences later in the week just overshadowed it. That said, I wouldn’t complain about a return trip.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Hard Eight BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

City Barbeque – Charlotte, NC

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Name: City Barbeque
Date: 5/6/17
Address: 11212 Providence Rd W, Charlotte, NC 28277
Order: Judge’s Sampler (pulled pork, brisket, 1/2 slab ribs, and 1/4 chicken) with mac and cheese, collard greens, hush puppies, and two beers (link to menu)
Price: $12 (the $26.99 judges platter was covered but did not affect my review in any way)

Monk: City Barbeque is an Ohio-based chain that in the past 2 years has begun to make inroads into NC and even more recently, Charlotte. The Ballantyne location was the first in the area to open in 2016, and since then a Matthews location has opened with a University location on the way later this year. Speedy had previously checked out the Cary location a few years back and came away fairly impressed, so I knew to expect a fast casual set up with decent barbecue from a gas-assisted wood smoker and scratch made sides. 

For the first Charlotte location, I was invited to check it out and provided a gift card for a free Judge’s Sampler which allowed me to check out 4 of the meats. Mrs. Monk and I got an extra side of hush puppies and a couple of beers on top of it, plus a kids meal for the Monk-ette. All in all, the amount of food we got ended up providing more than enough for 3 total adult meals, so the portion sizes are nice.

The pork and brisket were in small portions next to each other on the tray and were so hard to distinguish between each other that at first glance to the point where I wasn’t sure that we had gotten any brisket at all (we were initially missing our order of hush puppies so it wasn’t too far fetched). Though I will say the folks at City Barbeque were nice enough to provide us extra brisket even though clearly it was a mistake on our end. As for the meat, both were decently smokey. The pork was moist and was nicely accentuated by the spicy vinegar sauce on the table. The brisket was haphazardly sliced and came across as chopped in texture – which led to our mistake in the first place – but was tasty nonetheless.

I found the half slab of ribs to be the best meat of the meal. The heavily-applied rub created a dark, flavorful bark on the ribs and the meat pulled away from the bone nicely. I would go for these ribs here again for sure.

Chicken is not a smoked meat I normally go for (and I didn’t think to substitute it out on this visit) but I will say that it was pretty good. You could do a lot worse if that is the meat you prefer at a barbecue restaurant.

Mrs. Monk was disappointed that the mac and cheese was not baked (she’s a bit of a snob that way) and while I didn’t mind that fact as much as she did, I could see her point. The collards had plenty of pulled pork and were pretty good. The corn bread and Texas toast that came with the sampler were actually quite good but the hush puppies were the best sides we had. Needless to say, we were fine on carbs for the rest of the day (and weekend for that matter).

When it opens, the University location will be pretty convenient to my work and I wouldn’t have to be convinced too hard to go there for lunch. In terms of chains I’ve had, City Barbeque are on par with Jim ‘N Nick’s and way above Moe’s Bar-B-Que.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Seoul Food Meat Co – Charlotte, NC

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Name
: Seoul Food Meat Co
Date: 2/10/17
Address: 1400 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28203
Order: Small pulled pork, small Crispy Pork Belly, small Bulgogi Sausage, ramen mac ’n cheese, soy pickled deviled eggs (link to menu)
Price: $41.75 (for two)

Monk: When Seoul Food Meat Co opened about a year ago in Charlotte’s booming South End neighborhood, my hopes were that it would be Charlotte’s version of the fantastic Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta. That may be an easy comparison to make since both are doing a fusion of Korean flavors with southern barbecue, but after finally checking out Seoul Food Meat Co I’d say that Heirloom has the edge in smoked meats while Seoul Food has the edge in the fusion of Korean flavors in its side dishes.

Seoul Food Meat Co is one of many recent additions to the South End bar, brewery, and restaurant scene and has a nice patio with garage doors that open up on warmer days. Based on the plans we’ve seen of its expansion, it’s only going to get better with dedicated karaoke rooms as well as an outdoor bar and  “adult playground” out back. Despite the warm winter, this particular Friday was on the colder side so we had no such luck to experience the patio.

The generous portion of pulled pork comes pre-sauced with a thick tangy Korean barbecue sauce. By itself, the pork is not the smokiest and perhaps lacks a little flavor while being on the dry side. I will say, it’s better with the sauce.

The crispy pork belly is exactly like its name implies. I didn’t detect a lot of smoke on them, so I believe this was more of a fried item – particularly with the crispy skin which I found myself continuing to nosh on long after I decided I was finished with my meal. 

The bulgogi sausage was perhaps a little on the dry side (as can be the case with sausage) but was pretty flavorful nonetheless and my favorite meat of the meal. Mrs. Monk preferred to dip it in the sauce and that was my preference as well. Next time I’d be interested to try their spicier smoked kimchi sausage.

The Korean influence was particularly evident in the sides at Seoul Food. I quite liked the ramen mac n’ cheese with its small pieces of cracklin’ on top to give it a nice texture. The soy pickled deviled eggs threw off the wife at first with its brown coloring of the egg itself, but in the end had a fairly classic taste just with that slight Asian spin. Looking at the menu, there are a handful more Korean-Southern sides that I hope to get around to trying eventually – sriracha cracklins, kimchi vinegar slaw, and choiang broccoli.

So its not quite Heirloom Market but all in all, the southern-dishes-with-a-Korean-spin were mostly successful. While a little on the pricey side, the portions do seem to be quite generous – we could have ordered one less meat (say the pork belly at $13) and have been more than full. I look forward to checking out Seoul Food Meat Co again during the warmer months and checking out more of their meats (particularly that beef rib) and sides.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Pork Belly – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Seoul Food Meat Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Seoul Food Meat Co

Full Service BBQ – Knoxville, TN

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Name: Full Service BBQ
Date: 10/20/16
Address: 104 Cedar Ln, Knoxville, TN 37912
Order: Big Boy Box (pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken) with fries and beans (link to menu)
Price: $18

Monk: On this year’s annual guys trip, Speedy and I (no Rudy this year, unfort) and the crew coming up from Atlanta were passing through Knoxville around lunchtime, so I solicited the advice from Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat!, the perfect man to ask for barbecue recommendations around the southeast (seriously, he knows his stuff). His first choice, Sweet P’s Barbeque and Soul House, was too far south and out of the way, so we went with his #2 in Full Service BBQ with their Knoxville location being perfect for us just off I-75 on our way to Lexington for a weekend of the bourbon trail and horse racing.

Speedy: And let me tell you – if we didn’t know we were in Tennessee before we got to Full Service, we sure as heck knew it when we got there. There’s no inside seating at Full Service – just places to park your car, picnic tables (complete with napkin logs), and a walk up order window. I thought I was in heaven. That is until I found out that we had just missed smoked wing day (Wednesdays) and were a little too early for burnt end day (Fridays). So while that was a bummer, I was still pumped to try the aptly named Big Boy Box, which I split with Monk, since we’re only medium sized.

Monk: You know I always like a good napkin log. Instead of going meat by meat and offering up our critique, let’s focus on the best meat at Full Service. That ok with you, Speedy?

Speedy: I like it when you spice up our relationship, Monk. So the best meat at Full Service is the brisket.

Monk: By a country mile.

Speedy: By a Tennessee mile. Or maybe a Texas mile is more appropriate. We didn’t get offered a choice of fatty or lean briskets, but what we got seemed like the flat, or lean side. Even so, it was moist, flavorful, and cooked nearly perfectly. It had the tug that you want, the peppery bark, and the juices flowing throughout. All in all, a great brisket, especially from outside of Rudy’s hood.

Monk: It was pretty clear to us from speaking with the person who took our order that the brisket is what they take the most pride in at Full Service. Maybe “after thought” is too harsh for the other meats, but in descending order they ranked ribs, chicken, pork, sausage. And all far, far below the brisket. As for the sides, the fries were fresh with a nice seasoning salt and the beans were solid.

Speedy: Totally agree. I actually thought the sausage and pork weren’t even passable. Had we only tried those two meats, this would rank as one of the lowest we’ve reviewed. But you know what they say, Monk – it only takes one good meat to make a good barbecue restaurant.

Monk: Who says that, exactly?

Speedy: We do, Monk. We do.

Monk: Fair point…Speedy recalled that Full Service BBQ had been mentioned in Johnny Fugitt’s book The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America, listed as part of the other 75 (though he, like Grant, went to the Maryville location). And when I went back to the book, I realized that the brisket was #3 on his list of “10 Best Briskets Outside of Texas (better than 99% in Texas)” (FYI Midwood Smokehouse which was #6 on the list). That might be a bit high for me, but it was a good brisket nonetheless.

Speedy: Overall, I would go back to Full Service BBQ for one reason and one reason only: brisket. And to try the burnt ends. So, maybe two reasons. But I’d recommend that anyone get the chance head through to try that beef.

(For another review, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings: 
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 1 hog
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Chicken – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Full Service BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Full Service BBQ

The Pik-N-Pig (NC State Fair Stall) – Raleigh, NC

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Name: The Pik-N-Pig (NC State Fair stall)
Date: 10/16/16
Address: NC State Fair, 1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
Order: Pork plate with slaw and beans (link to menu)
Price: $12

Monk: The State Fair is usually home to various deep-fried “delights”, but on a Sunday morning on an unusually warm October day I wasn’t feeling anything of the sort – not even the “deep fried bbq” I spotted at another stall.

On my way into the fair, I saw a truck for Big Al’s BBQ and was planning to find that location but once it came time to actually eat, I spotted a stall for the Pik-n-Pig first. The original location of The Pik-n-Pig is at a small airport in Carthage, NC and coincidentally a good friend had posted some Instagram photos earlier that week from flying in from High Point.

Several bags of wood lump charcoal lined the outside of the stall, which resembled a log cabin. And I could taste the smokiness from it in the pork with large pieces of bark mixed in. Though the coarsely pulled strands were a little bigger than I prefer, the eastern sauce helped with some of the dryness in the larger pieces.

The vinegary white slaw was good and had a distinct flavor that I couldn’t quite place my finger on – and neither could Mrs. Monk. Despite the inability to place the secret ingredient, I liked the slaw quite a bit. The baked beans were pretty standard.

We passed the location for Big Al’s on the way out, which was heavily shaded and had tons of picnic tables. It might have been a better setting but I’m thinking I probably came out ahead in the barbecue department at The Pik-n-Pig. Though I hope to make it to the original location someday – preferably by air, of course.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Picnic – Durham, NC

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Name
: Picnic
Date: 9/5/16
Address: 1647 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27705
Order: Pulled pork plate with pimento mac & cheese, bacon braised collards (link to menu)
Price: $13.95

Monk: In the recent (and very welcome) trend of new whole hog barbecue joints opening in North Carolina in the past year, Picnic is one of the newest alongside Old Etowah Smokehouse (opened June 2016), Sam Jones BBQ (November 2015), and Buxton Hall Barbecue (August 2015), having opened earlier this year in February. Despite being at the end of a long weekend, I convinced the Mrs. Monk to stop at Picnic in Durham for lunch on our way back from Atlantic Beach over Labor Day weekend.

Picnic is located in a fairly picturesque setting amongst tall pine trees in a Durham neighborhood not far off of I-85. The building itself has an average sized dining room with a bar as well as 5-6 outdoor tables. An open kitchen overlooks the new south decor dining area, and the rattle of food preparation is audible but not distracting.

My pulled pork was overall moist and smokey and served unsauced, choosing to let the smoke shine in each silky pork strand. Each table does have a very tasty mixed eastern and western-style Pig Whistle sauce (named for barbecue man Wyatt Dickson’s original pig catering outfit) on the table. I’ve read that the whole hog pork at Picnic can sometimes be on the dry side but that was not my experience. In any case, I alternated between using sauce and not. While I didn’t buy sauce this time, I would consider it next time around .

I generally liked the sides less than the pork. We were fairly hungry from the 3+ hour drive, so we ordered fried green tomatoes as a starter that were more breading than tomato. Each plate comes with hush puppies and slaw in addition to 2 sides. The house-made hush puppies were a little disappointing and not as sweet as I prefer though clearly not frozen as they were of various sizes and shapes. The slaw was not too noteworthy. Of my other two sides, the pimento mac and cheese had good flavor but was very rich (to the point where I decided not to finish it) and the collards were a little bland and needed salt or ideally more vinegar.

Overall, the whole hog pork at Picnic was great but I found the sides to be more of a mixed bag. I also thought it was a bit pricey for what it was – a common complaint from other friends who had previously eaten there. For lunch with Mrs Monk and the Monkette, our tab ran $50 before tip with two plates, a kid’s meal, an appetizer, and a beer. If I do make it back (and I would definitely go again), next time I’ll probably go for their version of a tray with just pork, slaw, and hush puppies.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Picnic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – Atlanta, GA

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Name
: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q
Date: 8/27/16
Address: 1238 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
Order: The Everything plate (pork, brisket, ribs, wings) with tater tots and collard greens, brisket egg rolls, jalapeno cheddar link, Frito pie, jalapeno corn bread, 5 beers (link to menu)
Price: ~$82

Speedy: It wasn’t long after my move to Atlanta that Monk and friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong started planning a trip down to visit. I still don’t know too much about the city, but I knew for sure one thing would be on the agenda – barbecue. Fox Bros is probably the most famous place in town – a Texas-style joint with a little bit of everything on the menu. We went early on a Saturday to beat the crowd.

Monk: Acknowledging that Fox Bros definitely is not a “Georgia style” barbecue joint, next time through we’ll plan to visit a more regionally appropriate joint. For instance, Old Brick Pit Barbeque is actually not far from Speedy’s hood.

Speedy: The first thing to come out were the brisket egg rolls and boy were they good. It was an egg roll filled with brisket, onions, and a little bit of mustard sauce. A simple concept executed to perfection. It made me wonder – why don’t more things come in egg rolls? Another conversation for another time I guess.

Monk: You may recall that Speedy also really loved the southern egg rolls from The Pit in Raleigh. This guy just loves a good egg roll, darnit. Can’t say he’s wrong, though.

Speedy: We also had brisket as part of our combo platter, and ordered the fatty cut. Loyal readers of this blog know I’ve sworn off of North Carolina brisket. I’m happy to report I will not have to make the same proclamation in Georgia. It wasn’t the best brisket I ever had, but it was had a solid bark, good flavor and tenderness, and was just solid.

Monk: Solid, yes. But in Charlotte I’d actually put up the brisket from The Smoke Pit or Midwood Smokehouse against Fox Bros any day.

While the coarsely pulled pork had bark mixed it, I found it to be disappointingly dry and bland. Texas joints aren’t generally known for their pork, and that was certainly the case for Fox Bros.

Speedy: The ribs, on the other hand, were meaty and cooked to perfection. I was able to get a nice, clean bite and enjoyed the flavor. I do think there could have been a little more dry rub used, but overall a good rib. I was similarly impressed with the smoked wings, that came with a spicy bbq sauce. I’d consider them a must order for wing lovers.

Monk: The jalapeno cheddar link was a special on the day we were there, but being that it had cheddar Speedy was unable to partake. I liked it quite a bit, though I will say my sausage knowledge is still lacking. Having followed Fox Bros on Instagram for the past few years, one of my most anticipated items to try was the Frito Pie. Brisket chili, cheese, jalapenos, and sour cream mixed into a bag of Fritos. It was one of the best things I ate at that meal and if I can’t find it closer to home in NC, then I’m almost certainly going to have make my own version of it at home.

Speedy: The collards were quite good, and I’ll order them again, but they didn’t really make or break the meal. The tater tots were ordered were better than average, as they were seasoned nicely. Of course the big win was at the end of the meal when friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong lost credit card roulette and picked up the tab. Thanks, buddy!

Monk: Oh right! Thanks for reminding me of my favorite part as well. I definitely won’t go as far as to say that I was disappointed with our meal at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – the food was generally above average and the beer was cold. Whether the buildup in my head was fair is a valid question, but in any case I was hoping for just a little more.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q

Ace Biscuit & Barbecue – Charlottesville, VA

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Name
: Ace Biscuit & Barbecue
Date: 7/20/16
Address: 711 Henry Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Order: Brisket biscuit, hash browns, and coffee (link to menu)
Price: ~$13

Monk: In my barbecue travels, I find Ace Biscuit & Barbecue to occupy a fairly unique niche. Sure you might have those barbecue joints that also serve as southern cafes and while they serve breakfast, its more of your standard fare. This was a legit biscuit place that truly integrates barbecue into their breakfast sandwiches.

Located in the Rose Hill neighborhood just outside of downtown Charlottesville, Ace Biscuit & Barbecue has been there since 2012 and serves breakfast and lunch all day except for Mondays and Tuesdays. It occupies a small brick building where you order at a counter and then sit either at a community table inside or a small outdoor patio off to the side of the building. I arrived late morning with just one other party there, but would be curious as to what kind of regular breakfast crowd they usually have .

I went with the brisket biscuit with my egg over easy in hopes it might quell the headache I received from the previous night’s activities. Before launching in, I took note of the brisket, which appeared to be well-smoked. Later on, I poked my head around the side to see a legitimate burn barrel and the pit where the barbecue was smoked. On their menu, they claim to smoke the brisket over oak and hickory and I could see no reason to not believe it. This being a Wednesday, I don’t know how recently the brisket was smoked (ie was it the night before?) but nonetheless it did not have a rubbery or chewy consistency. Once I bit in, the egg yolk, sauteed onions, and cheese all mixed together and complimented the brisket nicely. Overall this was a successful breakfast sandwich.

 The hash browns were well fried but nothing spectacular and disappointingly , my coffee was lukewarm. Could really have used fresh coffee on that morning.

I left Ace Biscuit & Barbecue in slightly better shape than when I arrived, and on another day would have liked to check out some of their other biscuits with rib meat, house pastrami, and fried chicken. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Ace Biscuit and Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Clark’s Barbecue – Kernersville, NC

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Name
: Clark’s Barbecue
Date: 7/16/16
Address: 331 N Carolina 66, Kernersville, NC 27284
Order: Chopped barbecue tray, coarse chopped sandwich, barbecue slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: ~$13

Monk: Growing up in High Point, little did I know that there was a wood-smoked barbecue joint not 15 minutes away in the next town over of Kernersville. Clark’s Barbecue is off NC 66 situated between US-40 and Business 40 and is apparently a mile from the much more popular Prissy Polly’s (which curiously serves both eastern and Lexington barbecue – something to explore next time around). It’s located in an unassuming rectangular brick building and I would say Clark’s was definitely going for the “no-frills” experience when it comes to ambiance.

The chopped barbecue in the tray came with a nice consistency and good moistness. The Lexington-style ‘cue was surprisingly good and some of the best I’ve had outside of the town of Lexington – nice consistency of the chop, good smoke, and the right amount of tang in the sauce. In terms of presentation, the tray was placed on a coffee filter – something I’ve also seen at Richard’s in Salisbury.

For a change of pace, I also ordered a coarse chopped sandwich, which the menu claimed was “real barbecue” for “true barbecue aficionados”. I was a bit confused by the claim when it also has both the chopped classic Lexington style and the leaner sliced options. In any case, I found it a bit unwieldy to eat, with the larger chunks too large for the now soggy bun, and thus falling out easily with each bite. For me for you dawg, give me the chopped version any day. Still need to try that sliced someday though.

This was my first time encountering circular hush puppies in my barbecue travels – though my father in law didn’t seem phased by them – but I dug them even though I thought “onion ring” every time I picked one up. Clark’s does bring out as many baskets of hush puppies as you like, a touch I always like to see especially when they are this good.

I’ll be curious to try out Prissy Polly’s on the same stretch of road to compare the two joints in Kernersville, but considering its identity crisis in serving both eastern and Lexington I think it’d be hard to beat the solid barbecue from Clark’s Barbecue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Clark's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato