The Smoke Pit – Gastonia, NC

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.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 4.5 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Turkey – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Friday Find: Garren and Kelly from Jon G’s Barbecue on the Man Meat BBQ Podcast

Monk: In what I believe is their first podcast appearance, Garren and Kelli from Jon G’s appeared in a recent episode of the Man Meat BBQ podcast to discuss how they transitioned from the tailgate tent to the food truck to the restaurant. Though the host Mikey has this slightly annoying habit of talking about himself and his business instead of asking questions of his guest and he still needs a cough button (like when he interviewed The Smoke Sheet). Still, glad that Garren and Kelly knocked out their first podcast appearance and hopefully there is lots more to come.

Friday Find: Robert Moss Joins the Kevin’s BBQ Joints Podcast

Monk: Robert Moss, Barbecue Editor for Southern Living and founder of The Cue Sheet newsletter, joins the Kevin’s BBQ Joints Podcast to promote his recently-released book “The Revised and Expanded Second Edition of Barbecue: The History of An American Institution.” It’s a good conversation with Moss peppering in interesting tidbits he’s collected from his research in revising the book.

For more from Kevin’s BBQ Joints, click here.

Description: In this episode I chat with Robert F. Moss, contributing barbecue editor for Southern Living Magazine about his new book, The Revised and Expanded Second Edition of Barbecue: The History of An American Institution.

See all things Robert F. Moss here: http://www.robertfmoss.com/
Purchase Barbecue: The History of An American Institution here: https://amzn.to/3pxzOOg
Sign up for his fantastic newsletter The ‘Cue Sheet at the top right of this page here: http://www.robertfmoss.com
Here’s a link to all of his work at Southern Living: https://www.southernliving.com/author…
See Robert on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/robertfmoss/
Check Robert out of Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mossr

We start off with how he’s been holding up so far and get into some detailed burger talk.

It’s been 10 Years since the original book came out so a lot has changed in the barbecue world since 2009. The first edition focus primarily on the first golden age of barbecue in the 50’s and beyond.

We talk about his first chopped pork sandwich and a bit about his history. Primarily we focus on the new book and The ‘Cue Sheet which is an amazing resource that pops into your email box every Sunday (if you sign up, which you should)