As the old saying goes, more often than not a person’s favorite barbecue is what he or she was raised on. Here at Barbecue Bros, it should be no secret that we are Lexington-style barbecue fans (sometimes known as Piedmont- or Western-style barbecue). Each of the three of us were raised in High Point, NC, just under 20 miles up I-85 from the Barbecue Capital of NC.
However, despite the two warring styles of barbecue in the state, I have never harbored any ill-will to my whole hog compatriots to the east. While I’ve spent many a tank of gas exploring all the Lexington-style joints in the western Piedmont of NC, I’ve bemoaned for years the fact that I just simply haven’t had a ton of reasons to spend much time in the eastern part of the state where whole hog and a vinegar pepper sauce reign supreme.
Thankfully, the oldest Monkette’s gymnastics competition travels recently took the whole Monk family to Greenville, NC for USAG State Championships. We even stayed in an AirBnB in Ayden. Finally, I had a reason to be in Pitt County for a couple days. I hoped to make the most of being in the heart of whole hog country!
B’s Barbecue – Greenville
Address: 751 State Rd 1204, Greenville, NC 27858
Order: Barbecue diner with potatoes and slaw, dozen corn sticks
Monk: My first stop of the weekend would be B’s Barbecue in western Greenville off State Road 43. If you are fortunate (or depending on your viewpoint, unfortunate enough) to have East Carolina University (ECU) fans in your life, you will have undoubtedly heard about the fabled B’s when it comes to comparing barbecue bonafides.
B’s is now owned by three sisters, the daughters of Bill “B” McLawhorn. They are Judy, Donna, and Tammy and their mother Peggy also worked with them before her retirement a few years back. Bill passed away in 2016 but had stepped away from the business in the early 2000s. Another thing they inherited from their father was B’s unique way of smoking their hogs; they smoke over only charcoal briquettes (bags of Kingsford, if I’m not mistaken). That’s right, no hardwood oak or hickory coals. That decision was apparently made after a few smokehouse fires a few years back. Based on my experience, I have a feeling the locals could care less. Neither could I.
Open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9 until sold out (or 2:30, whichever comes first) and without any indoor dining, you will almost certainly wait in a line. Particularly if ECU has a home football game on a Saturday. But this is no central Texas-style line; it moves fairly quickly and efficiently. Arriving right at 9am on a Saturday, I was 11th or so in line and got my food within 40 minutes. Part of that is because B’s has a pretty limited menu: barbecue, chicken, bread (corn sticks) and sides of slaw, potatoes, or green beans. So really, you should know your order by the time you get up there.
Being a chilly and overcast morning, instead of eating on the picnic tables outside I opted to sneak some bites in the car before making my way back to our AirBnb. The chopped whole hog pork was flavorful if not overly smoky. It was also leaner than the other whole hog I’d have later that weekend. Regardless, this barbecue fully lived up to my lofty expectations.
The cornsticks at B’s (called “bread” on the menu board) were the first corn sticks I’ve personally had and was my favorite cornmeal of the weekend. I bought an extra dozen and took them home to the family. The slaw was about what I’d expect but I did enjoy the potatoes, a simple side that’s not really found in the Piedmont.
At the time of this excellent Our State article from 2016 by Jeremy Markovich, the three sisters were all in their 50s and only saw it continuing for maybe another 10 years. If that math holds, then we may only be talking about a few more years of B’s Barbecue. I fully intend to make it back at least once or twice more in case it comes to that.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs