Linkdown: 7/19/17

– From Joe Haynes, the author who brought us Virginia Barbecue, comes Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition out in October:

– Grant finds some decent cue but some great fries at Love That BBQ in Knoxville

– Elliott Moss’s favorite spots for hash in his home state of SC

– The supposed golden age of Texas barbecue means “waiting is the price you pay for transcendence”

– In search of great barbecue at last weekend’s Windy City Smokeout

– Aaron Franklin with tips to improve your backyard smoker in Esquire

– Stubb’s (the restaurant) will be changing names after settling a lawsuit with Stubb’s (the sauce)

– From the G&G archives

Linkdown: 11/30/16

– A few more stops in the Carolina’s for Grant: Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q in Willow Spring, Skylight Inn in Ayden, and Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que down in Holly Hill, SC

– Robert Moss has an introduction to Georgia BBQ to kickoff Georgia BBQ Week, which Grant will surely love

– Coming to West Nashville soon from Pitmaster Pat Martin

– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ muses on a couple of easy rules for barbecue line etiquette

– From last month, Destination BBQ has an interview with Daniel Doyle of Poogan’s Smokehouse in Charleston

– The highly-anticipated Scott’s BBQ has broken ground at its Charleston location

– John Shelton Reed has a pretty out there barbecue theory on why Donald Trump carried the state of NC and I’ll just let him have at it

The latest, he told me the other day, was Hillary Clinton’s choice of a barbecue stop in Charlotte at the end of the presidential campaign. She and President Obama ate at the Midwood Smokehouse. It has a varied and upscale menu, but it is not a traditional barbecue eatery. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was buying one of those $3.50 barbecue sandwiches at Stamey’s in Greensboro.

“Maybe Clinton’s choice sold in Charlotte,” Reed said, “but the rest of the state was thinking Drumpf was eating at a real North Carolina barbecue stop, a big reason he won and she lost.

 

The Mallard Creek Annual BBQ – Charlotte, NC

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Name
: The Mallard Creek Annual BBQ
Date: 10/27/16 (4th Thursday of every October)
Address: 11400 Mallard Creek Road, Charlotte, NC 28262
Order: BBQ plate with brunswick stew, slaw, and applesauce (link to menu)
Price: $10

Monk: After going to the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ for each of the past three years, I figured it was time for an official review. Now in its 87th year, the Mallard Creek BBQ is by far the oldest barbecue institution in Charlotte (admittedly a city of very few old barbecue institutions). Its a one-day annual event on the fourth Thursday of every October where barbecue and local politics mix, though the politics won’t get in the way if you just want barbecue. My pro tip for any first-timers is to take a late lunch and go after 2pm when there is no line, otherwise you might be in the car for awhile.

Every year, literally tons of barbecue is smoked by an army of volunteers and this year was no different with 14,000 pounds of pork smoked. I’ve been both in mid and late afternoon and the coarsely chopped pork is always moist, a tribute to the whole operation. Add the table-side hot sauce, a spicy vinegar-based sauce (skip the other, ketchup-based one) and pile with slaw on a slice of the Merita bread loaf on every table and you’ve got a nice open-faced sandwich. On this recent visit, I did this twice and had ample amounts of pork left over.

Really, the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ is probably more well known for its brunswick stew though its not the typical brunswick stew. Per Kathleen Purvis, instead of potatoes it has rice. Instead of shredded chicken and beef, it has ground-up chicken, beef and pork. Instead of lima beans, it has only corn and tomatoes.  I’m still no expert on the dish but I would go so far as to say its one of the best versions of the dish I’ve had. On the October days when the weather is a little more brisk, its a very welcome dish. Though it was a little on the warmer side this year.

It is my opinion that any true barbecue fan in the Charlotte area should make it a point to go to the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ at least once. Other publications have covered its history much more extensively, but in short its a great event put on by the folks of Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church. You should go.

Ratings:
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brunswick Stew – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Best of Charlotte: Other

We initially started this blog in order to find the best barbecue restaurant in Charlotte. While we feel pretty comfortable with our current rankings on the big board having visited 40+ restaurants, what more logical next step than to explore the best meats and dishes in the greater Charlotte area? Click here to find the other posts.

We’ve previously posted our lists for pork, brisket, ribs, and sausage but now it’s time for the rest. These are dishes that are not necessarily widely available in restaurants in the Charlotte area, so we wouldn’t have a lot of competition for each.

The Brunswick Stew from Boone’s is not only the dish that led to his food truck, but it also earned the number 1 best brunswick stew in Johnny Fugitt’s book The  100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America. I believe that Midwood Smokehouse is one of only maybe two or three restaurants in Charlotte that serves burnt ends, but we feel it’s a pretty darn good representation. And finally, if you aren’t familiar with a “que jar” or “barbecue sundae” its a mason jar or sundae cup filled with pulled pork at the bottom and some combination of baked beans, mac and cheese, and cole slaw layered on top. And it is glorious.

  1. Brunswick Stew from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen
  2. Burnt Ends from Midwood Smokehouse (Original location; Ballantyne location)
  3. Que Jar from Ten Park Lanes

What do you think? Have we missed the mark? Leave your comments below.

Linkdown: 12/16/15

– Now at Stamey’s:

– Grilling with Rich reviews Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville

– They also have an interview with Cary-based BBQ pitmaster and author, Christopher Prieto

– Here’s a recipe for a Georgia-style brunswick stew from Virginia Brock; speaking of Georgia and Virginia

Virginia staked her claim boldly in 1988, with a statewide proclamation as this stew’s place of origin, and it has hosted an annual Brunswick stew festival and contest for more than twenty-five years. In a gesture of goodwill, they invite rival stew-masters to bring their crews up from Georgia for some spirited stew celebrations. Georgia staked her own claim by building a monument featuring a massive cast-iron stewpot, which they proudly declare to be the very one in which noble Georgia residents stirred up the very first batch of Brunswick stew back in 1898.

– City Smoke (one of our least favorite Charlotte barbecue restaurants) is shifting their concept from barbecue restaurant to rotisserie, smokehouse, and speak easy

The re-brand comes at a time when the restaurant’s owners wanted to take the eatery to a new level – more than that of a barbecue joint. Of course, that barbecue was the cause for much celebration after City Smoke was named the winner of the Carolina Cook Off edition of “BBQ Blitz” on Food Network thanks to Chef Adam Pugh’s rendition of smoked pork chops with cheddar grits.

– Meathead Goldwyn’s list of best books for the BBQ lover (via)

– Big beer news from Charlotte’s Queen City Q, official barbecue of the Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Knights baseball team, Charlotte Checkers hockey team, and Charlotte Hounds lacrosse team:

Photos: 86th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue

A few photos from last Thursday’s 86th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue, which I was able to make for the third year in a row. Learning from last year, I avoided the normal lunch hours and took a late lunch to encounter minimal traffic.

The barbecue was as good as I remembered, and I really enjoyed the Brunswick stew which I got two servings of when my coworker gave me hers. Admittedly, I’m no Brunswick stew expert but I enjoyed their version (for more information on the history of the dish at this event, check out this article). Looking forward to next year’s 87th installment.

Monk

Linkdown: 10/21/15

– In honor of tomorrow’s Mallard Creek Barbecue, here’s Kathleen Purvis’s story from last year on the history behind its famed brunswick stew

– Charlotte  Agenda thinks Smoke Modern Barbeque is a “good bet to be Charlotte’s next breakout restaurant brand”; I’m not so convinced based on their Huntersville restaurant (currently #19 on our big board) that was decent, but overpriced with small portions – though I will say that I plan to check out the new Stonecrest location at some point

– TMBBQ’s top25 new and improved barbecue joints in Texas, plus photographer Wyatt McSpadden’s photos from each

It’s been two years since Texas Monthly published its last Top 50 BBQ Joints list. It was a feat of reporting that took me and my barbecue-eating cohorts across the state to eat at countless legendary restaurants, holes-in-the-wall, out-of-the-way joints. The work didn’t end when the issue went to press. My job since then has essentially been one giant scouting mission for the next list slated for the summer of 2017.

– Marie, Let’s Eat! has more barbecue in Florida at Harry and Larry’s Bar-B-Que, this time in a revitalized downtown Winter Garden

– Fayetteville, NC is getting the third NC location of Mission BBQ

– Charlotte Agenda previews new food available at Hornets games this year, including the expanded Queen City Q outpost

– Ever wonder where folks who smoke meat for a living get their barbecue? This is the article for you

– B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque has returned from a fire and reopened in a new location in Savannah

– Daniel Vaughn has tips for ordering barbecue like a pro in First We Feast

Linkdown: 6/17/15

– Of course barbecue gets a prominent mention in this Eater feature “Destination North Carolina: A Southern Food Road Trip Extravaganza”

“From Brunswick Stew to Barbecue” is a new cookbook exhibit at UNC’s Wilson Library

– Dispelling some myths around the name and origin, here’s the real history of hush puppies

– Who won at the NC Barbecue Championships this past weekend in Tryon? Also, the big economic impact of the festival on the small mountain town of Tryon

– Shortly after being named to Southern Living’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints, B’s Cracklin Barbecue in Savannah burned to the ground; thankfully neighbors have pitched in to help rebuild

– John Lewis of La Barbecue gets profiled in Garden & Gun Magazine as well as four other “keepers of the flame” – the Monk family (of Lexington Barbecue) and Tyson Ho are also profiled

– La Barbecue, meanwhile, is no longer moving to a permanent space on South Congress in Austin and is instead expanding to dinner

– More coverage from Southern Living’s Top 50 BBQ Joints list from Greenville Online

– Apparently few places in Fayetteville serve chopped barbecue

– A short article on the 12 Bones Smokehouse cookbook

– A couple of barbecue-related gifts for dad on this coming Father’s Day

– Speaking of which, last day to order to get a Great NC BBQ Map in time

Charlotte (and NC) Accolades from The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America

I’ve just started The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America by Johnny Fugitt but wanted to share some of the accolades that Charlotte and NC received in the book. I will spoil only just a little bit, and you will have to pick it up for yourself in order to read the rest (currently the #1 new release in US Travel Guides!).

Charlotte
For not having a stellar barbecue reputation, Charlotte is decently represented. I’m proud to say that we helped point Johnny in the direction of Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen based on our Charlotte Rankings and were able to accompany him on a private tour of Boone’s prep kitchen last year.

  • Midwood Smokehouse (our review here and here) makes the top 100 barbecue restaurants in America list (everything outside of the top 25 was not ranked)
  • Midwood Smokehouse’s brisket is #6 on “10 Best Briskets outside Texas (better than 99% in Texas)”
  • Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen (our review here) also makes the top 100 list
  • Boone’s brunswick stew is #1 in “The Three Best Brunswick Stews I found in all the Land”
  • Boone’s also makes “America’s 10 Best Vinegar/Tomato-Based Sauces” at #10 for their Eastern Carolina sauce
  • Finally, Boone’s brunswick stew is also listed on Johnny’s “Dream Carolina Meal” as a side along with Skylight Inn’s pork as well as Lexington Barbecue’s pork and barbecue slaw

North Carolina
North Carolina joints were also well represented, with Skylight Inn #8 overall, Allen & Son’s Barbeque (our review here) #18, and Raleigh’s The Pit (our review here) making the top 100; there were several other individual accolades for pork and sides.

Finally, thanks to Johnny for the shout out to us in his review of Lexington Barbecue. Our love for Lexington Barbecue is well-documented (review here), and its cool that he associated us with it.

Monk

Linkdown: 1/14/15

– Barbecue Bros fave Midwood Smokehouse is adding a Ballantyne location so that folks in suburbia can have good barbecue too; it will also allow them to expand their catering operations with the space’s larger kitchen

– Charlotte Observer restaurant critic checks out The Improper Pig and has mixed reviews

The place’s selection of sauces also include a sweet/spicy traditional, an Eastern-style and a mustard one, plus versions dubbed Korean, Thai and teriyaki. You’ll want to try them, and use at least one liberally. A half chicken, smoked, had more moisture than the pork, though not much more flavor. Wings were OK, and go for $10 a pound, in our case eight wings.

– Over in the Triangle, Big Mike’s Brew N Que opens in Cary; half barbecue restaurant, half bottle shop

– Robert Moss breaks down the unique regional variations of brunswick stew

– Speaking of which, in his latest column he moves away from exploring certain dishes to reviewing a barbecue joint; first up, its B’s Cracklin BBQ in Savannah, who only opened last October but is cooking heritage breed hogs over all types of wood

– Steve Raichlen predicts barbecue trends in 2015

The Eater National 38 includes Franklin Barbecue and Gunshow in Atlanta, which serves whole hog barbecue

– Daniel Vaughn’s most underrated barbecue meats and sides in Austin

– Useful NC infographic

– King’s in Kinston gets the Our State Carolina ‘Cue treatment