Okie Dokies Smokehouse – Swannanoa, NC

Name: Okie Dokies Smokehouse
Date: 9/1/17
Address: 2375 US Hwy 70, Swannanoa, NC 28778
Order: Big Combo (chopped pork, chopped beef, and ribs) with collards and red slaw (link to menu)
Price: $14.99

Monk: In the Asheville area, there had been still a couple of places in the surrounding towns that have caught my eye to check out when I’m in the area. I thought a much needed dinner break on the way to Gatlinburg, Tennessee would be a great opportunity to knock one off my list – Okie Dokies Smokehouse in Swannanoa . In the end, we made the stop but it turned out to be an abbreviated one to the small joint off US-70 15 minutes east of Asheville.

As Mrs. Monk and the Monkette got some air, I took the liberty of ordering a Big Combo with three of the meats and two sides to share with the missus. Little did I know, we would eventually be taking that order to go and the meal would be evaluated in the car 30 minutes down the road.

The chopped pork was moist and had some decent wood smoke but didn’t knock my socks off. I will say that I do appreciate that Okie Dokies cooks over wood and that you can taste it in the meat.

Chopped beef is not something you see much in NC – I can think of maybe two other places I’ve been to that serve that style – and let me be clear that we definitely aren’t talking chopped brisket like they do in Central and East Texas. This beef was served pulled and chopped in a similar manner to the pork. While moist enough, I think this meat illustrated why you don’t see it more often in these parts – it just doesn’t do anything exciting for the eater.

The ribs were a bit overdone, pulling away from the bone really easily. The rub and sauce had some decent taste to it though.

There’s not too much to say about the sides except that the hush puppies were freaking excellent.

I wish could say more about the atmosphere and the building itself or even had more photos to share but sometimes life (and in this case, the Monkette) intervenes. If it is any indication, next time through, I would stop in again at Okie Dokies Smokehouse on my way to or from Asheville without hesitation though. I liked what I saw for the most part.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – N/A
Pork – 3 hogs
Beef – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Okie Dokies Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

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The Smoke Daddy – Chicago, IL

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Name: The Smoke Daddy
Date: 6/17/17
Address: 1804 W Division St., Chicago, IL
Order: Taste of the Daddy – baby back ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, fries, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: By now, most of my friends are aware of this little barbecue adventure I’m on with Monk and Rudy, and so they have a tendency to suggest ‘cue when I come to visit. This has turned out really well in some cases, terrible in others (I’m looking at you, Boomsauce). Let’s see how the Smoke Daddy stacks up.

Monk: With a name like Smoke Daddy….well, I actually don’t know what to expect. I do know that that I am definitively not a fan of that name, though. Speaking of Boomsauce, Smoke Daddy does sound like somewhere he’d take us. A place where they’d have crappy t-shirts with bad graphics and not-clever innuendo all over it.

Speedy: First off, I want to say a big thanks to my (non-barbecue) bro Berg for letting me put in the full order. He really knows when to let the pros step in. The ribs were part of the deal, and pork was a given. I tacked on burnt ends because I don’t get them too often. Add on fries and collards and we were set.

The food came out looking great, but there was a lot of sauce on everything. I get this on ribs and burnt ends, but I prefer for pork to not be overly sauced. The meat was nice and tender, though, and pulled into decent sized chunks with a nice bark. I would rate the pork as decent to good, but not anything better than that.

The burnt ends were similar. While I expect these to be sauced coming out, I still want the meat to do most of the talking. That wasn’t really the case here, as the sauce was the star. Still enjoyable, and cooked well, but I wanted a little more.

The ribs were my favorite meat. Even though they were baby backs, they were nice and meaty. They were cooked to a nice tenderness without falling off the bone. I got a nice pork flavor, which this time mixed well with the sauce.

Monk: Any idea what kind of smoker they are working with here?

Speedy: No, but I have to assume it was a gasser, just based on the space the occupied. Not sure where they’d fit a stick burner in a crowded Chicago neighborhood.

Overall, the Smoke Daddy puts out a nice product. I think they purposefully feature the sauce in all of their dishes, which I think is a bit of a shame, as I think they do a good job with their smoke. So if you find yourself in Chicago with a hankerin’ for ‘cue, you could do worse than the Smoke Daddy

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – Not rated (outdoor patio was nice, but I never went inside)
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3 hog
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
Smoke Daddy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Palmetto Pig – Columbia, SC

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Name: Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant
Date: 12/30/16
Address: 530 Devine St, Columbia, SC 29201
Order: Barbecue sandwich with sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $8

Monk: After a stop at True BBQ, I researched and decided what the second and last stop of my quick SC sojourn would be while partaking at The Flying Saucer in downtown Columbia. There may have been a better option for barbecue (Little Pigs remains on my list), but Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant was very convenient to the Saucer’s downtown location, mere blocks away, so in the end that won the day.

Had I been spending more than two hours in Columbia, I would have been a little hungrier by the time I got to Palmetto Pig but after a small plate at True BBQ and my requisite three beers at the Saucer, I skipped the buffet and opted for just a sammie. I also skipped the mustard this time around and went for the spicy vinegar sauce.

And what a huge sammie it was. In my haste I didn’t notice how well the pork was smoked or whether I could taste any wood smoke but my hunch is that the pork, though tender as it was, is heavily dependent on whichever sauce you choose. The spicy vinegar was indeed spicy; gotta say, I didn’t look twice at the Texas Pete on the table. And did I mention how big it was? It was a good sandwich overall, albeit a little on the pricey side.

While I can’t say that I got a complete feeling for all of the barbecue offerings at Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant, I did get a nice sandwich that did the trick.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

True BBQ – West Columbia, SC

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Name
: True BBQ
Date: 12/30/16
Address: 1237 D Ave, West Columbia, SC 29169
Order: Small barbecue dinner with hash and rice, collards, and slaw (link to menu)
Price: $13.01

Monk: Ever since reading this Garden & Gun Magazine article last year about Hite’s BBQ in West Columbia, it shot to the top of my list. Being that it’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays, I took the opportunity during my week off between Christmas and New Year’s to make the trip to Columbia specifically to check it out on a Friday, only to find this:

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Nevertheless, my other planned stop was True BBQ not more than a mile away so I decided that I would head there and would figure out my second stop later.

During my research for the quick trip, I checked Marie, Let’s Eat! (as I always do when it comes to barbecue in the southeast) and True BBQ was received very favorably by those folks so at that point it was a no-brainer for me.

Speedy: Grant actually specifically mentioned seeing you here on Instagram and being jealous. It seems he’s been a bit disappointed by the Chattanooga ‘cue…

Monk: Yea, I get that sense based on some of the latest chapters on the blog, which is too bad…

I had timed my trip to arrive in Columbia as close to 10 as possible (which ended up being more like 10:30) since Hite’s opens at 8am, but luckily True BBQ opens at 10:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Seeing as how I was planning to eat another meal shortly after, I only ordered a small barbecue dinner. I’ll get the pork out of the way – it was a bit on the dry side, especially considering it was so early in the day and should have been freshly smoked. You get a choice of three sauces – the Pretty Lady mustard sauce, Sexy Lady red sauce, and Lexington vinegar sauce – and it needed it. Hopefully this isn’t the case normally.

Hash and rice is a dish that intrigues me more and more these days and at True BBQ it comes standard with every dinner along with two sides. This was damned good hash and rice and by far the best part of the meal. Next time, I may even get a double order as one of my sides. The collards were above average but the slaw was a bit of a letdown and would be my choice to be replaced by more hash and rice.

As an aside, apparently the pork chop is worth ordering since the only other customer there with me at 10:30 was raving about it to pitmaster Ernest Zanders who was back and forth between the kitchen and the smoker out in front of the building, which was the first thing I noticed pulling into the parking lot. So take that for what its worth for those who are considering ordering that item.

In addition to the pork, True BBQ has some daily specials like brisket and beef ribs that may or may not be worth checking out. But at the very least I can recommend the hash and rice. As Grant so succinctly put it, “it’s two-hundred mile hash.” Come to think of it, next time I may just go triple sides of hash and rice…

For more reviews of True BBQ check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!
Destination BBQ
Eat It Atlanta

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Hash and Rice – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
True BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
True BBQ

BBQ Saloon – St. Louis, MO

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Name: BBQ Saloon
Date: 11/29/16
Address: 4900 Laclede Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108
Order: Pulled pork barbecue sandwich with southern corn bread and a beer (link to menu)
Price: ~$18

Monk: Unlike Speedy, I don’t travel that much for work and thus haven’t had nearly the same opportunity to try barbecue around the country. However, I recently found myself in St Louis and while I wish I could have revisited Pappy’s Smokehouse (visited pre-blog), Sugarfire Smoke House (which Speedy liked), or Bogart’s Smokehouse downtown (which Johnny Fugitt ranked #12 in his book) but those were a little too far away for the little over an hour of free time I had. Instead, in the Central West End neighborhood where I was staying there was a somewhat promising looking joint within walking distance – BBQ Saloon.

As I walk up from my nearby hotel, the first thing I notice is the large smoker on the sidewalk going full blast at dinner time; it was hard to miss honestly. Interestingly, I later confirmed that all meat is smoked in that smoker on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

At the bar, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with a honey topped cornbread. The pork was coarsely pulled chunks full of flavor and smoke. The sturdy bun was a nice touch even if was a little unwieldy to eat as a sandwich.

The southern corn bread was brushed with honey but even still not quite as sweet as i’d like.

I would definitely go back to BBQ Saloon (particularly if I was able to check out the extensive whiskey list – checking in at over 520 strong), but if I find myself in St. Louis again I hope to check out some of the other joints on my list first. And also pork steaks – the St. Louis barbecue specialty that I have yet to try.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
The BBQ Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carolina Bar-B-Q – Statesville, NC

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Name
: Carolina Bar-B-Q
Date: 7/19/16
Address: 213 Salisbury Rd, Statesville, NC 28677
Order: Regular chopped barbecue pork dinner with baked beans, barbecue slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $11

Monk: About 3 years BBB (before barbecue blog) – that’s 7 years ago in layman’s speak – I tried Carolina Bar-B-Q on a lark while heading back to Charlotte from a day tubing on the New River. I don’t recall a ton about the meal other than generally liking it but the presence of it on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail has made it a target for a revisit on our neverending quest to try all of the joints on the trail.

Only about a mile off I-77 in Statesville (about an hour north of Charlotte), its hard to miss the joint. The building was opened by owners Gene and Linda Medlin in 1985 and has a  huge green roof and “CAROLINA BAR-B-Q” prominently displayed in white block letters.

Carolina Bar-B-Q is a Lexington-style joint (Statesville is about 40 due west of Lexington), and thus smokes pork shoulders before mixing a dip prior to serving. It’s offered either chopped or sliced and while I liked the chopped it is a little lean and lacks much fat or gristle mixed in. The lack of fat or gristle is a complaint apparently shared by Charles Kuralt calling it “too refined,” but a small note at the register says it’s available on request. I do wish it was noted on the menu itself, so that I would know to ask for it when placing my order. There wasn’t a lot of bark mixed in either but at this point I should know to ask for outside brown at a Lexington-style joint. Rookie mistake.

Speedy: Monk, Monk – you never learn! But a little bark mixed in, whether requested or not, is a sign of a truly superior ‘cue joint. Not including it in a standard order shouldn’t be excused.

Monk: You do get a choice of coleslaw or barbecue slaw, and the barbecue slaw was a pretty standard version. The beans were passable, though they did remind me of Bush’s from a can. The hush puppies were perfectly fried and the best of the sides.

Speedy: True Lexington style joints don’t even offer coleslaw. Just sayin’…

Monk: Fair point. Carolina Bar-B-Q is a barbecue joint reminiscent of a few we’ve tried on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail – solid but unspectacular. All in all, I’d say its still worth a stop for sure.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Carolina Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Carolina Bar-B-Q

Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering – Lake Wylie, SC

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Name
: Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering
Date: 7/8/16
Address: 4052 Charlotte Hwy, Lake Wylie, South Carolina 29710
Order: Pork sandwich lunch combo with cole slaw (link to menu)
Price: $8.47

Monk: Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering is not that far away from Charlotte – just over the SC border – but I’ve always had a mental block about going to it because it’s at least a 35-40 minute trip to get out to it from just about anywhere in Charlotte I would normally be. It’s been recommended by readers for a couple of years now so I decided to bite the bullet and finally make the trek.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. Not because it was in a non-descript strip mall or that it wasn’t particularly crowded (though it should be said that the lunch crowd did pick up by the time I left), but sometimes you just expect to be letdown. While it was the lunch hour on a Friday and I wasn’t partaking, it was encouraging to see that they keep a good-sized draft list with a decent amount of local beer options. The walls were adorned with lots of vintage Hornets and Panthers memorabilia so I had no complaints about the decor.

Lunch service was very quick and within a few minutes of placing my order, I had my plate of food. While the sandwich may have been scooped from a tray of already chopped pork, it  wasn’t overly dry or grainy. And I got a nice hint of smoke in the meat. I did add some of their vinegar table sauce, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was necessary or needed.

Each combo comes with a couple of hush puppies, and they were fantastic. The mayo slaw was fine but I really wish I had ordered hush puppies as my side to get a couple more.

Overall, a very solid sandwich from Q2U BBQ and Catering and definitely the best barbecue I’ve had just across the border in the Charlotte metro area. I don’t know that I will find myself in the Lake Wylie area very often but if I do, I will steer my group towards it to try some more of their meat offerings.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Q2U BBQ Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Poogan’s Smokehouse – Charleston, SC

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Name
: Poogan’s Smokehouse
Date: 5/28/16
Address: 188 E Bay St #201, Charleston, SC 29401
Order: Three meat combo with pork, brisket, and smoked sausage; Adluh white cheddar grits, brussel sprouts (link)
Price: $25

Monk: With John Lewis Barbecue unfortunately still not open, I had to find another place for barbecue while in Charleston over Memorial Day weekend. In the end, convenience to a local production of Cinderella (for the Monkette) put on as part of the Spoleto Festival won out and I settled on Poogan’s Smokehouse.

Poogan’s Porch, a southern restaurant with an extensive wine list housed in an old Victorian house, has been in Charleston for nearly 40 years ago. When a wine bar called Social closed on the popular E. Bay Street tourist strip, the restaurant group behind Poogan’s Porch turned the space into a restaurant of “southern cuisine with a barbecue backbone” and used the Poogan’s brand.

Mrs. Monk and I shared a three meat platter (perhaps a little begrudgingly on her part) during Sunday brunch service, choosing pork, ribs and sausage. Of the three, I liked the smoked sausage the best (it also happened to be the most plentiful portion). Though it may have been slightly dried out from being sliced well before being served but nonetheless the taste was excellent. The two bones of ribs we got were meaty St. Louis cut ribs and not overly saucy. The pork was a bit dried out and I added some of the table sauces to help.

Luckily, I was able to try some of the other barbecue dishes from the other folks in our party. The pork belly was a potential option for the combo platter and I would recommend opting for it over the pulled pork. My daughter also got a side of hash over rice that she barely touched and I liked it quite a bit despite not necessarily having an affinity for the dish.

The sides really stole the show. The Adluh white cheddar grits were cheesy, creamy, and just generally excellent and Mrs. Monk and I were fighting to finish them. The brussel sprouts had pieces of bacon or pork belly and were also very good. The tray also comes with a standard white roll and some pickles and onions. But dang, those grits man. Should have gotten a double serving of them.

Poogan’s Smokehouse makes the eighth or so barbecue restaurant in downtown Charleston, presumably catering towards the tourist crowds. It’s fine but really I just wish that John Lewis Barbecue had opened. Next time.

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

Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q – Reidsville, NC

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Name: Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Date: 2/16/16
Address: 1328 South Scales Street, Reidsville, NC
Order: Chopped tray with fries and hushpuppies, Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: ~$11

Speedy: A work trip recently brought me to Reidsville, NC, and since I don’t really happen through this small NC town too often, it seemed like a great opportunity to visit another spot on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail – Short Sugar’s.

Monk: One of the first goals for this blog (other than finding the best barbecue in Charlotte) was to visit each joint on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail. But we’ve been a little lax lately, having visited only one joint in 2015. While there are a few that are a bit east and may end up requiring a dedicated trip, there’s definitely a couple within easy driving distance. Maybe we’ll hit another this year and double our 2015 output!

Speedy: Short Sugar’s is advertised as a drive-in, but in reality, it’s more like an old school diner. There are plenty of tables inside, as well as a lunch counter, and patrons are invited to seat themselves upon entry. Like a typical diner, the menu is fairly diverse, but there is a small section devoted to the barbecue. My order was easy – the barbecue tray with hushpuppies and slaw. When I found out from the waitress that they served white slaw, I quickly subbed in fries instead.

The food came out fairly quickly and I was ready to dig in. It didn’t take me long to figure out why Short Sugars has a sweetener in its name. The barbecue was covered in a dip that was heavy on the brown sugar. While good, it was just a little too sweet for my taste. The meat was chopped fine and very tender, and I still enjoyed my portion. Other than the sweetness, I had two complaints – I didn’t seem to get any outside brown in my portion (I didn’t ask for any), and my ‘cue was a little lukewarm. I imagine it has been chopped a couple hours ago and not placed in a heat lamp. All that being said, I still enjoyed the pork.

The hushpuppies were really good. They also had a sweetness to them, but one that’s more appropriate for the side than it is for the main course. The fries were typical crinkle cut fries, so nothing exciting there.

I have certain expectations whenever I hit up a joint on the historic NC barbecue trail. While Short Sugar’s wasn’t the worst trail joint I’ve hit (and overall I did enjoy the meal), I was slightly disappointed. If I ever find myself in Reidsville again, I wouldn’t be opposed to stopping again, but I won’t be going out of my way to do so.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Short Sugar’s

Bucky’s Bar-B-Q – Greenville, SC

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Name
: Bucky’s Bar-B-Q
Date: 12/28/15
Address: 1700 Roper Mountain Road, Greenville, SC‎
Order: Monk: pork plate; Speedy: St. Louis rib dinner (link to menu)
Price: Monk: $7.95; Speedy: $13.95

Monk: In the midst of a heck of an undefeated season for the Carolina Panthers, as season ticket holders, Speedy, Mrs. Monk, and I headed down to the ATL to support our team. While our trip actually in Atlanta was a bit whirlwind in nature (and unfortunately included a Panthers L), it at least afforded us a chance to grab barbecue on the way back to NC. Consulting the SC Barbecue Association’s 100 Mile BBQ site, I picked the Roper Mountain Road location of the four Bucky’s Bar-B-Q locations in Greenville.

On a side note: after researching potential joints to hit on the way home, I am officially declaring the stretch of I-85 between Greenville, SC and the NC/SC border to be a barbecue wasteland. Try barbecue restaurants in that part of that state at your peril.

Speedy: Bucky’s has an old school joint feel, with mismatched tables, barbecue paraphernalia on the walls, and a counter to place your order. The menu isn’t very diverse, but in barbecue, sometimes less is more, so Monk and I made sure to order two of the three meats (skipping chicken, obvi).

Monk: Obvi. One nice touch at Bucky’s that I hadn’t seen in many (possibly any thus far) cafeteria-style barbecue restaurants was the chopping of the pork butt in front of you as your order. The pork served from this freshly chopped butt was decently smokey and moist. I tried the table sauces but found that the meat held up on his own and didn’t need it.

Speedy: The ribs were big, meaty, and well seasoned. You could get a nice bite and you didn’t really need to add sauce. They were also cooked membrane off, which is a nice bonus.

Monk: Finally, membrane off! I feel like this is a common complaint at just about every joint we visit where we try ribs.

Speedy: Overall, they tasted like a good rib is supposed to taste, but there wasn’t really anything that made them stand out. Just a solid effort overall.

Monk: The green beans tasted straight out of the can while the mayo slaw was also nothing special. I tasted some of Mrs. Monk’s mac and cheese and it was slightly better. Based on the sides I tasted this day, the focus on Bucky’s is mainly on the meat. Which at a barbecue joint, I guess there could be worse things.

Speedy: That kind of sums up my thoughts, Monk – it was a pretty good meal overall, but not one I’ll be making special trips to replicate.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Bucky's Bar BQ Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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