Linkdown: 12/15/20

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In his latest issue of The Cue Sheet, Robert Moss examines the ten best college cities or towns to attend according to nearby barbecue options. While my alma mater NC State is mentioned as a future possibility once the planned restaurants like Sam Jones BBQ, Wyatt’s Barbecue, and Longleaf Swine open their doors in 2021 (not to mention Prime BBQ in Knightdale that opened this year and the upcoming Ed Mitchell’s The Preserve), several NC towns make the list. Not on the list either is Chapel Hill, primarily due to the loss of Allen & Son last year.

East Carolina University in Greenville has B’s Barbecue, Sam Jones Barbecue and the two Ayden joints nearby (Skylight and Bum’s) and comes in at #9. Surprisingly, Catawba College in Salisbury, NC makes the list just ahead of Greenville due to a couple of joints in town (College Barbecue and Richard’s) plus its proximity to Lexington and its myriad options for barbecue.

That’s it for NC on this list but both Columbia and Charleston appear further down from our neighbors to the south. I won’t spoil the rest of the list, but if you think hard enough you can probably guess which university and city takes the #1 spot on the list.

Native News

The Great NC BBQ Map poster is 50% off through today

The Pinehurst Barbecue Festival is planned for September 3-5, 2021

The Bar-B-Q King is one of many COVID-friendly food options in Charlotte for walk-up or drive-thru (or in this case, drive-in)

In NC, barbecue sauce makes a great gift writes Spectrum News

OooWee BBQ has smoked meat by the pound available in take-and-bake meals

Primal BBQ is set to open in Wilmington later this month and will serve a little bit of everything

Longleaf Swine is one barbecue restaurant offering to-go meals in Raleigh

Wish I could attend this socially-distanced pig pickin’ in Durham this weekend

Chicken bog long sleeve tees from Buxton Hall released just in time for last minute Christmas shopping

Non-Native News

In perhaps the least surprising news of the week, Tim Carman found better options than the McRib in DC

Even though Pat Mahomes went to college in Texas, he prefers Kansas City barbecue

This smothered tater tots collaboration between Fox Bros Bar-B-Q and Nina and Rafi looks amazing

An American pitmaster living in Hong Kong names the US barbecue restaurants he dreams of going back to some day, including Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Cozy Corner, Franklin Barbecue, and Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

Pork n’ Pine Santa delivers pulled pork sammies in Baltimore

Linkdown: 5/13/20

Wilber’s Barbecue has completed their pit restoration

Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte (not to be confused the similarly named restaurant in Lincolnton) has experienced a surge in business as a result of customers feeling more comfortable at their drive-in due to social distancing

Home Team BBQ in Columbia has reopened after being closed for more than a month

More coverage on Prime Barbecue’s opening last week

Big T’s BBQ will be opening in the former Top’s Pizza Factory location in Fallston by the same owners because apparently co-owner Tony Maness “can cook anything”

SAW’s Soul Kitchen had their smoker Black Betty stolen at the end of March

Beef and pork suppliers have been hit hard as a result of the pandemic

Midwood Smokehouse is one of several local restaurants where you can buy a t-shirt to support them until their dining rooms open again

Pitmaster Profiles: Jordan Smith of Bar-B-Q King

Monk: For this Pitmaster Profile, we are staying in Western North Carolina. Jordan Smith is a second-generation pitmaster at Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton, who we recently re-reviewed. Much like Spencer Purcell, our last profile, Jordan is a new and different voice in North Carolina barbecue, and I hope you enjoy hearing from him.

For more about Bar-B-Q King, check out their websiteInstagram, and Facebook page.

If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

How long have you lived in Lincolnton and what’s your family’s history there? 

I’ve lived in Lincolnton my whole life, I was born and raised here.  I only left for college where I played basketball. My dad Keith, has worked at BBQ King for 40 years.  He started working for Steve (owner and founder) when he was 15 years old. Keith quickly became Steve’s right hand man and bought into ownership in the late eighties.  

How did you become a pitmaster? 

I started working on and off at the King at 15 years old. After college I became a full time pitmaster/manager. Barbecue has always been a passion of mine since I was a child and I was excited to dive right into the business after college. I’ve always said barbecue is a labor of love because it is not a quick process. Smoking ‘que the right way takes time but it is well worth it.

What other types of roles do you do for Bar-B-Q King? 

Other roles than pitmaster/manager include social media manager and catering manager. I do a little bit of everything around here and I love it!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

What is your favorite meat to smoke? What type of wood do you prefer?

My favorite meat to smoke is pork shoulder over hickory wood coals. We’ve smoked over hickory wood for almost fifty years and have always used a pork shoulder for the restaurant. Although for caterings we have smoked whole hog and briskets and I thoroughly enjoy those meats as well.

What are your barbecue influences?

My barbecue influences are my Dad (Keith Smith) and Steve Abernethy.  They have taught me everything I know about barbecue. I’ve read plenty of books about barbecue but nothing compares to someone actually showing you the process from start to finish.

What is your favorite barbecue joint or style?

BBQ King is obviously my favorite joint and I love Lexington style barbecue. Pork shoulders with a tangy sauce is my go to. I have an appreciation for all styles of barbecue though and have tremendous amounts of respect for old school joints that have been in business for many years. And I also appreciate the new school barbecue joints smoking barbecue the old school way!

What is your earliest memory of barbecue?

When I was around 5 years old I can remember riding up to BBQ King in the wee hours of the morning to “help” my dad smoke barbecue, and I’ve been in love ever since. There is nothing better than that primal feeling of standing in front of a fire and smoking meat. Many employees/friends that I met at BBQ King as a child still work here to this day.  Employees like Kelly Lineberger and Charlie Reep, who have been here for many years, have played a pivotal role in my life and the restaurants success.

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

What is the best thing about barbecue in western North Carolina?

Western NC BBQ has many great qualities but my personal favorites are the meat, sauce, and wood.  The meat is usually pork shoulder or butts. The sauce has just enough vinegar with a hint of ketchup.  And the wood is usually hickory or oak. These techniques are tried and true in this part of the state and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

What is a weakness or opportunity of barbecue in western North Carolina?

Weaknesses of western NC BBQ are restaurants that don’t smoke BBQ over wood.  Oven baked pork is not barbecue. Another weakness is some restaurants use too much ketchup in the sauce and not enough vinegar.  Barbecue smoked over live wood coals and a well-balanced sauce is a recipe for true success!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

Anything else you’d like everyone to know about you or Bar-B-Q King?

My younger brother, Jared, is also a pitmaster/manager and has a passion for BBQ just like me. My fiancée, Stephanie, works at BBQ King as well. Stephanie is great with customers and she is a staple up front at the counter. Her parents (Steve and Becky Abernethy) are the founders of BBQ King. My mother, Kelly Smith, does the payroll. Stephanie’s mother (my future mother-in-law), Becky, helps decorate the restaurant for different seasons. BBQ King is family run from all angles. It is a blessing being able to work with family and share the workload. We are excited to celebrate 50 years in September 2021!

Thanks again to Jordan for his time, and if you ever find yourself in the Lincolnton area stop by BBQ King and say hi.

If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Monk and Jordan, December 2019

Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton, NC (RE-REVIEW)

Name: Bar-B-Q King
Date: 12/27/19
Address: 2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092
Order: Chopped barbecue tray with hush puppies, slaw, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Sometimes there are places you wish you could get to more often but just can’t, whether its due to location or circumstance or something else. Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton, NC (not to be confused with the Bar-B-Q King drive-in in Charlotte) is definitely one of those places for me. My first (and up until recently only) visit was nearly three years ago even though I thoroughly enjoyed that meal. But typically when heading west towards Asheville of the western part of the state, I drive out Highway 74 through Shelby (and Red Bridges) instead of cutting up Highway 321 from Gastonia to catch I-40, which is a route that would put me right by Lincolnton. This is where BBQ King has been doing their excellent version of Lexington-style barbecue for 48-plus years.

I recently stopped by after hiking at nearby South Mountain State Park for a late lunch and was pleased to find that the barbecue tray I got was full of freshly chopped and moist barbecue. A revelation at 3pm where at many other places I might get a tray of dried out barbecue that was chopped hours ago and sitting in a stream tray. Not the case at Bar-B-Q King.

The hush puppies were freshly fried and the onion rings were some of the best I’ve had in a while. In terms of sides, this year might be the year of the onion rings at barbecue joints (but also at non-barbecue restaurants).

I caught up briefly with Jordan Smith, second generation pitmaster and social media manager for BBQ King (among other things), afterwards and he said that the month of December is very busy for them between the caterings for holiday parties or factory shifts in and around Lincolnton and families looking to get out of the house after Christmas. That was certainly the case on this Friday, and I’m glad the locals continue to support BBQ King.

Though I had already written up my favorite barbecue meals of the year (which posted earlier in January), I definitely had to do some reshuffling to get Bar-B-Q King represented on the list as it was simply that good. Next time I’m heading to the mountains, I will be sure to take 321 so I can make another stop.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sides – 5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs

Bar-B-Q King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato