Boone showing us around the commissary and Southern Pride smoker
Boone talking about his barbecue in his food truck
Pork, brisket, ribs, wings, brunswick stew
Fine dining background
Johnny (aka Barbecue Rankings) jotting down notes
Monk: A few weeks back, Speedy and I had the pleasure of welcoming Johnny Fugitt (aka Barbecue Rankings) to Charlotte for a behind the scenes look at the current #1 on our Charlotte Big Board, Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen.
We initially reached out to Boone’s via Twitter to see if they would be out on Friday, but instead they graciously invited us to their kitchen (where they do their prep and also where they will soon have a pick-up for to-go ordering) for a private tasting. Both Boone and his business partner Tom were extremely welcoming, kicking off the visit with a bloody mary before taking us to a look at the smoker (a Southern Pride that they feed with hickory and occasionally cherry wood) and ultimately out to the food truck for a tasting. Boone treated us (graciously enough, for the price of on the house) to pork, brisket, ribs, wings, and brunswick stew. You can read my thoughts on the pork and brisket (as well as sausage, which we didn’t have this time) from when I checked out the food truck back in May.
Speedy: It’s been documented that I was a bit skeptical of Monk’s original review – mainly because I had a hard time thinking that Charlotte’s best barbecue came from a food truck. However, seeing Boone’s kitchen, smoker, and truck setup showed me how this could be possible. By the time we got to the food, I was incredibly excited. Boone was nice enough to provide us with a sample of pulled pork, ribs, brisket, wings, and brunswick stew.
The pork is served without sauce. It has a really solid flavor, great bark, and is perfectly tender. I didn’t find it dry per se, but I will admit that I added some eastern style sauce, which added to my enjoyment of the meat.
Monk: One thing I hadn’t expected was that Boone uses a Southern Pride smoker for his meat. While we tend to be purists when it comes to barbecue, if it’s good it’s good. And I don’t know exactly how he does it, but there is some damn fine bark on the barbecue that Boone puts out.
Speedy: The brisket is different than I’ve had most places. It’s sliced fairly thick, finished on the grill and served sauced. We were served meat from the point, so it was very moist and tender. I would be interested in tasting it against the flat, but I overall, I thought it was quite good – certainly worth an order.
Boone serves St. Louis cut spare ribs, which are big and meaty. These ribs are not as tender as baby backs, but I was able to get a good bite and clean the bone fairly easily. I really enjoyed the flavor of the ribs. Smoke taste was apparent and the ribs weren’t too sweet, which I’ve been seeing (err tasting) a lot lately.
Monk: Brunswick stew is the dish that started it all (literally) for Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and could very well put them on the map. So the story goes (as it was relayed to us by Tom and Boone himself), it was 2 gallons of brunswick stew requested by Tom’s dad that led to requests for more and ultimately led them to start the food truck and kitchen last fall. And damn, if it isn’t some of the best brunswick stew I’ve had in quite some time.
Speedy: The wings are very, very good. They are smoked to the perfect temperature and served in two flavors – chipotle apricot and dry rub. I actually preferred the dry rub wings – though I wouldn’t turn down either under any circumstances.
Monk: Smoked wings can be hit or miss at a barbecue spot, where they have them on the menu as an afterthought, but man these were some seriously good wings.
Speedy: Overall, there wasn’t anything not to like about the food from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen. The man is well known around Charlotte for helping start up a couple of local joints, and I do feel the need to mention that the food from Boone’s food truck has a lot of similarities to Queen City Q (which had a less than amicable split with Boone a couple years back). That being said, I do think the food truck is better. I haven’t seen anything similar to his brunswick stew anywhere in Charlotte, and it’s clear that Boone puts a lot of himself into his food, which I really do feel that you can taste.
Overall, this was one of the cooler barbecue experiences I’ve had. Boone and Tom couldn’t have been nicer, which was really just icing on the proverbial cake. First and foremost, these guys turn out a great product, so I, for one, will be keeping a lookout for the food truck more frequently.
Monk: Agreed about the passion that Boone and Tom have for their barbecue. You really could hear just how much these guys cared about what they do now, which maybe wasn’t the case in previous lives.
As for Johnny, Speedy had a bolt to get his hair did but I was able to stick around for a few minutes to chat with him before he headed out to Greenville. Really nice guy, and we spent the time talking about our barbecue experience (his a little more extensive than mine, clearly) and traded tips on joints in various cities. I can’t wait to check out his book once it’s published (possibly as early as next May depending on which publishing option he goes with) to read his thoughts, and I have a slight hunch you may see Charlotte represented a time or two in the book.
Thanks for hollering at us, Johnny! Safe travels in your final weeks on the road!
Johnny Fugitt is finishing up his year-long roadtrip on October 21 and you can see his photos and notes from the road in the meantime on his blog, Barbecue Rankings.