Friday Find: The News & Observer’s Favorite NC Barbecue Joints

Monk: The News & Observer presents a video slide show of some great photos of their favorite barbecue joints across the state, from classic whole hog joints to new school places that feature brisket and a Texas influence. Restaurants included:

  • B’s Barbecue in Greenville
  • Grady’s Barbecue in Dudley
  • Jon G’s Barbecue in Peachland
  • Lawrence Barbecue in Durham
  • Longleaf Swine in Raleigh
  • Picnic in Durham
  • Prime Barbecue in Knightdale
  • Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson

Description: Barbecue is the hottest trend in food right now. And in tradition-rich North Carolina, a new generation of pitmasters is making new traditions of their own. Here are a few of our favorites. Video by Kevin Keister / The News & Observer.

Eastern NC Whole Hog Tour: B’s Barbecue – Greenville, NC

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
Pricing: $

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.

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

Friday Find: Food YouTuber Mark Wiens Travels to Eastern NC for Whole Hog

Monk: Bangkok-based food YouTuber Mark Wiens visits 5 whole hog restaurants in eastern NC in this supersized video. The visits to Skylight Inn (where he meets with Sam Jones) and B’s Barbecue are of particular interest to me as I’ll be making stops there soon.

Description: NORTH CAROLINA, USA – Welcome to North Carolina, one of the capitals of Barbecue, in the world. Today I’m taking you on an ultimate BBQ tour of Eastern North Carolina which is famous for whole hog barbecue! During this food tour we’re going to 5 of the best restaurants in North Carolina, for Eastern style bbq.

The Skylight Inn, Ayden, North Carolina (https://goo.gl/maps/Wj3t9yRDw464Edmp7) – First stop is The Skylight Inn, easily one of the most well known bbq restaurants in North Carolina, in the United States. They do things the right way, whole hog, slow cooked over smoking coals. One of the best things about The Skylight Inn is when the whole hogs are ready they chop them up, with a ratio of meat, fat, and crispy skin, into an insanely juicy chopped bbq tray. It’s truly a life-changing bbq experience.

Bum’s Restaurant (https://goo.gl/maps/yfWPbidoykXLAtGe8) – Just down the road from The Skylight Inn you’ll find Bum’s Restaurant, another long time bbq restaurant. Along with whole hog bbq, they also have plenty of other southern US foods and great sides. They do their bbq quite differently, instead of being chopped its much more shredded.

B’s Barbecue (https://goo.gl/maps/AgiGLpQPSwhdWDgb7) – Greenville, North Carolina – Next we drove out to B’s Barbecue, a local favorite. I had really wanted to try the chicken bbq, but unfortunately they had already sold out. We barely made it in time to get some whole hog, but luckily we did. It was delicious and so were all the sides.

Grady’s Barbecue (https://goo.gl/maps/1tTj9qgL2guawpK48) Dudley, North Carolina – Another amazing and one of the best bbq restaurants to try in North Carolina is in the small town of Dudley. Again, they do things the right way, slow cooked over coals, the entire pig. Along with the pork, their other dishes, including smoked turkey and bbq chicken, and all the sides were outstanding.

Wilber’s Barbecue (https://goo.gl/maps/6SKdDphpu1mEhcUH6) Goldsboro, North Carolina – Finally to complete this North Carolina bbq tour, we’re eating at Wilber’s Barbecue which is a fantastic family restaurant. Their food and service is fantastic. Also, one bonus about the bbq here is that you can order the leftover or picnic bbq ribs, which are delicious and fun to eat.

When you’re in North Carolina, BBQ is something you must eat, it’s a huge part of the local culture, and I hope you can try some of these best Barbecue restaurants!

Friday Find: “Pitt County Brew and ‘Cue Trail”

Monk: Pitt County, NC is home to several classic NC barbecue joints including B’s Barbecue in Greenville as well as Skylight Inn and Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden plus newer ones like Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville. Throw a few breweries in the mix and baby, you got a stew goin’. NC Weekend checked it out 2 years ago when it started and reported back.

Description: Lovers of barbecue and beer can have a field day in Pitt County where you can follow a brew and ‘cue trail, get your tickets stamped, and have a whole lot of fun.