Name: Roddey’s BBQ Address: 250 S. Cherry St, Rock Hill, SC 29732 Order: Brisket and barbecue sandwich combo (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Monk: Roddey’s BBQ is the barbecue venture of Seth Roddey and his dad Ken in Rock Hill, South Carolina just south of the border from Charlotte. While Ken has been smoking barbecue for 25 years, the duo began catering in 2014. However, it wasn’t until about a year ago that Seth bought a food truck and started regular service in Rock Hill. Not the most fortunate timing during the pandemic and whatnot, but they have stuck it out.
Roddey’s BBQ smokes their pork, brisket, and ribs on an Ole Hickory pit at a commercial kitchen at their house using hickory splits. They then set up at a vacant lot for service every week off S. Cherry Street across from District Three Stadium, the home stadium to local football powerhouse Northwestern High.
The USDA prime brisket was well smoked and had good flavor, but was not overly peppery in the style of a central Texas brisket. Orders came with a mix of both fatty and lean, and I preferred the fattier cut though the lean made a nice foldover.
The pulled pork sandwich had good bark mixed in but was not overly smoky. Both combos came with a peppery mayo-based coleslaw and when the sandwich was topped with the slaw and the Roddey’s vinegar-based sauce, it made for a darn fine bite.
I like that Roddey’s is a family affair, and the barbecue is certainly worth keeping an eye on and seeking out. You can find Roddey’s BBQ Wednesdays through Fridays at 250 S. Cherry St in Rock Hill.
Name: The Smoke Pit Address: 421 Cox Rd, Gastonia, NC 28054 Order: Tres Amigos combo (brisket, pork, and ribs) with turkey, sausage, hush puppies, fried okra (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Monk: Since the last time Speedy and I visited The Smoke Pit’s original location in Concord four years ago, they’ve steadily expanded into other cities across the Piedmont of NC. I visited the downtown Salisbury location in early 2017 and they’ve since opened up in Monroe and more recently Gastonia about a year ago. I’ve always enjoyed my visits to The Smoke Pit but for whatever reason tend to forget about them a little bit. However, with BIll Spoon’s closing in September and Speedy in Charlotte for the day, it was time to figure out if The Smoke Pit was worthy of a top 5 spot on our Charlotte Big Board.
Speedy: Well if we must eat more delicious barbecue, Monk, then we must. We pulled up to The Smoke Pit Gastonia, which was a stand-alone building in a larger shopping center. Barbecue in commercial shopping centers always worries me, and this was a pretty ugly building, so the real question was whether this incarnation of The Smoke Pit could overcome these challenges. So Monk and I entered, waited in line for a few minutes, and placed our order to find out.
Let’s start with the star of the show: the St. Louis-style ribs. When tasting ribs, you always hope and pray, but rarely receive, the perfect bite. Tender meat that is easy to bite through but doesn’t fall off the bone. That’s what we got at The Smoke Pit. Monk and I ordered the dry ribs, which were meaty, well seasoned, and flavorful. A truly outstanding effort.
Monk: Definitely glad we went for dry over sauced. One of the better pork ribs I’ve had recently, and agree that it did have that perfect bite.
The brisket came out a little on the dry side and was mostly lean even though we asked for a mix of both lean and fatty. Still, it had a nice bark and a good taste. The sausage at The Smoke Pit appears to rotate regularly and on this day they had a solid jalapeno cheddar version, which Speedy sadly couldn’t partake in. All in all, I think what he did miss out on was a solid but unspectacular sausage.
Speedy: The chopped pork was cooked well and had a bit of smoke flavor, but was a little dry. Adding some Lexington style sauce quickly remedied this, but I would have liked a little more bark chopped in. Still, the pork was quite good and worth ordering. Not to jump the gun on the sides, but Smoke Pit also has a good red slaw, so the pork sammie would make for a strong order.
On the drive over to The Smoke Pit, Monk and I had a conversation about how smoked turkey tends to be a little underrated at the best ‘cue joints, and can be incredibly flavorful. So we decided that if Smoke Pit had turkey, we’d order it, and sure enough, it was listed as a new menu item. It was worth it. You always worry about turkey being dry, but that was not the case at Smoke Pit. Their turkey is cajun seasoned, which is a nice touch. My one complaint is that I wish the seasoning penetrated the meat a bit further, as there were some bites where I wasn’t able to taste the seasoning.
Monk: Speedy already touched on the red slaw, which complimented the slightly dry pork perfectly. We also got hush puppies (of course) and fried okra, which was a bit of a last minute audible. Both were above average, though I was unable to tell if they were scratch-made or not.
Speedy: The meal at The Smoke Pit’s Gastonia location was solid all-around. There wasn’t a single item that I wouldn’t order again, and we had a standout meat in the ribs. For my money, it’s worthy of the big board.
Name: Jack’s Bar-B-Que Date: 11/11/20 Address: 1601 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN Order: Three meat combo – brisket, pork, sausage, collards, baked apples, cornbread (link to menu) Pricing: $
Speedy: One place in Nashville that does not get nearly enough love (including from yours truly) is Jack’s Bar-B-Que, a true OG of the Nashville ‘cue scene. Jack Cawthon opened his first restaurant on lower Broadway in 1989, and now has three locations including a different spot on Broadway, in the North Gulch on Charlotte Ave (where I visited this day), and in North Nashville. I have visited the Broadway location several times, but usually weekdays during lunch (back when people went to offices), or weekends while honky tonkin’ (back when people went to bars). I always told myself I’d write a review when I had time to visit and order more of the meats, and that time finally came.
Monk: I remember offices and bars…
Speedy: The Charlotte Ave location is much more spacious than on Broadway (I haven’t been to the North Nashville location), but in both places, you walk up to a cafeteria style line to order. Like a good Texas joint, the brisket and sausage is sliced right in front of you, but the pork has been pre-chopped. The sides, likewise, are in warming bins. The order of a three meat combo was an obvious one, though I was sad to leave out the ribs. Alas, next time.
Before diving into how everything tasted, let’s talk about value. The three meat combo is $17, which includes generous portions of each meat, two sides, and cornbread. If that was weighed out and served by the pound, you’d be paying close to twice that. Their by the pound prices are several dollars lower at each meat, including only $16.25 for a pound of brisket.
Great, so the barbecue is priced like it’s 2013, but how does it taste? Damn good. The brisket has a nice pepper flavor, and plenty of bark. It’s moist and tender and tastes great. It doesn’t quite melt in your mouth like the top-tier Texas brisket, but overall, it’s very good.
The pork at Jack’s is Tennessee pork shoulder. This may not be a popular opinion, but I prefer the shoulder to whole hog. The reason? The outside brown. The shoulder from Jack’s has plenty of outside brown chopped in. I didn’t taste any dip chopped in, but it was not dry at all. They call it Tennessee pork, but this is the closest I’ve come to finding Lexington-style pork shoulder (which we all know is the best) in Tennessee. Truly outstanding.
Monk: Now this Tennessee pork shoulder is intriguing, and something I gotta try the next time I’m in Nashville.
Speedy: The sausage was the one meat that was a slight disappointment to me. While smoked well, the flavor was a little plain. Next time, I’ll skip the sausage.
I don’t talk about sides much in my review, but I enjoyed the apples and the collards and absolutely loved the cornbread. Just a nice stamp on a great meal.
All the times I’ve been to Jack’s Bar-B-Que, it’s consistently been quite good. While not the sexiest place in Nashville (and certainly not the newest), it remains one of the best.
Name: Backcountry Barbeque Address: 4014 Linwood-Southmont Rd, Lexington, NC 27295 Order: Chopped barbecue tray with red slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine Pricing: $
Monk: In my recent quest to get a better idea of all Lexington-area barbecue joints, I made a late-afternoon stop at Backcountry Barbeque last month on my way back to Charlotte from Knightdale for the Prime BBQ preview.
Before this quest, I had never really heard of Backcountry Barbeque but the best case scenario for a new-to-me joint is 1) they still cook over wood and 2) they’ve been quietly doing their thing and the only reason why I haven’t heard of them is because I haven’t been digging hard enough. Rick’s Smokehouse on the north side of Lexington is one recent example of that best case scenario and as it turns out Backcountry Barbeque south of the city is another. They have a giant barn full of hickory wood out back so they definitely smoke the old way and they opened in 1984, just a few years shy of four decades ago.
For me, the true test of a good Lexington barbecue joint (or any good joint, for that matter) is to never put out a bad tray of barbecue no matter the time of day. If you say you are open until 9pm (as Backcountry does) and you have barbecue on the menu, then it better be up to par at all times of the day. On this day, I stopped by in the bridge time between the late lunch crowd but before the dinner rush and the tray I got was flavorful and moist, with a noticeable smoke taste from the hickory. No reheated or overly dry barbecue here.
Not too much to say about the red slaw and hush puppies, but they were solid and did the trick. On Saturdays it appears that brisket is on special, but I didn’t have the heart or stomach to try it, for fear of ruining a good thing.
Backcountry Barbeque looks and fits the part of a classic, wood-smoked North Carolina roadside barbecue joint and it’s a wonder why more people don’t know about them. Based on my experience, they are in the upper tier of Lexington-area barbecue joints and probably don’t get the respect they rightly deserve.