Hubba Hubba Smokehouse – Flat Rock, NC

Name: Hubba Hubba Smokehouse
Location: 2724 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC 28731
Order: Indecision Plate (pulled pork, sliced brisket, pulled chicken) with vinegar slaw and tangy baked beans; half rack ribs plus burnt ends special and apple crisp (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Hubba Hubba Smokehouse is a wood-smoking hidden gem barbecue restaurant in western NC that has been around for well over a decade. It is open from March to October and appears to do steady business from tourists coming through Flat Rock (home to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site), particularly during apple picking season after families have finished up at one of the many orchards in the Hendersonville area.

Pitmaster Spencer Purcell is a Chicago transplant who has the enormous responsible of smoking all of the meat served at Hubba Hubba on a huge brick masonry pit (not too dissimilar from something you might find in Lexington, NC) originally built by owner Star Teel about 15 years ago. Spencer has been at Hubba Hubba for a little over a year after getting a call from Teel, who took him under his wing. While he had spent some time in school working for a barbecue joint up in Chicago, it wasn’t until Hubba Hubba Smokehouse that Spencer began to take barbecue seriously as a craft. He toured barbecue restaurants in North Carolina and Chicago last off season and even spent a week training at the famed Southern Soul Barbecue in Saint Simon’s Island, GA to continue to learn and hone his craft.

At Hubba Hubba, Spencer learned from the classically trained Teel not only the smoking of the meats but also the science and art of fire control. He smokes with all native hardwoods in the form of hickory and both red and white oak. And he churns out some damn fine barbecue

The burnt ends were on special the Saturday I was there and was my favorite of all the meats I tried. I was fortunate enough to get them pretty fresh off the smoker but I liked that they weren’t overly sauced like Kansas City-style burnt ends tend to be. The meaty ribs sprinkled with a savory/sweet finishing dust were a close second. Turns out both of these are Spencer’s favorites at the restaurant, and for good reason.

The “Indecision Plate” is their sampler of pulled pork, sliced brisket, and pulled chicken. The meats aren’t pre-sauced, which I appreciate, and a sauce station more than has you covered with a variety of traditional and non-traditional barbecue sauces. The pulled pork was decently smokey and moist but still benefited from the tang of the eastern NC vinegar sauce. The brisket wouldn’t be considered a central Texas brisket but still had a nice if not overly peppery bark. The pulled chicken was a tad on the dry side and lacking discernible smoke on that day, but I am not normally a huge fan of smoked chicken anyways.

I enjoyed my sides of vinegar slaw and tangy baked beans, but I especially enjoyed the sweet cornbread that come with every plate. The warm small apple crisp dessert was a nice way to finish the meal.

If you are reading this before October 26th, 2019 and are near anywhere near Asheville or Hendersonville in NC or Greenville, SC, do yourself a favor and head to Hubba Hubba Smokehouse before they close for the season until March. This year, they are closing a little earlier than normal for owner Starr Teel to open a small plate/barbecue spot down the street called Campfire. That restaurant has apparently even built a small brick pit and will be utilizing a Santa Maria-style grill from J&R Manufacturing (the folks behind Oyler) at that establishment, which definitely sounds worthy of a visit once they open in the December time frame.

For a wood-smoked barbecue joint in a very scenic part of North Carolina, more people should know about Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, and not just as a lunch stop after apple picking at one of the many nearby apple orchards. Head there to check out the old style brick masonry pit and the cool courtyard which sometimes have chickens roaming free (thankfully not the case on this day for the sake of Mrs. Monk), but mainly to check out the impressive array of smoked meats from Spencer P

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 4.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 5/8/19

North Carolina does not have a third barbecue style, despite Carolina Treet being a perfectly good sauce

Burnt ends in Paris, courtesy of a Kansas City pitmaster

Jim Auchmutey has his book, “Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America,” coming out next month

The 10 best barbecue joints in the Triangle, according to Indy Week

The Red Dirt BBQ and Music Festival was last weekend in Tyler, TX and The Smoking Ho has some great photos

A look back at Jiggy with the Piggy Festival which took place last weekend in Kannapolis

The TerraVita Food and Drink Festival turns 10 this year and has a barbecue event with Sam Jones and Wyatt Dickson of Picnic

The Buccaneers and Barbecue Festival is a NC Pork Council Whole Hog Barbecue series and taking place in Bath Memorial Day weekend

A new amateur bbq pitmaster competition show for a streaming service is now casting; more information here

Linkdown: 12/5/18

The “Milestone” Edition: In this week’s linkdown, we have links on a new barbecue restaurant opening,  a big expansion of an existing one, plus Chef Vivian Howard’s favorite eastern NC barbecue restaurants and a milestone birthday for the city of Charlotte.

Congrats to Sweet Lew’s BBQ on finally opening today!

Here’s more on what you can expect at Sweet Lew’s from Charlotte Five and Charlotte Agenda

Kathleen Purvis’ 10 food gifts locally made in Charlotte includes Ogre Sauce barbecue sauce

Ogre Sauce gets a shoutout on Mantry’s 6 best barbecue sauces list 

Tonight at 9pm ET on the Cooking Channel:

Chef Vivian Howard, a NC State grad who just finished her acclaimed PBS show “A Chef’s Life”, grew up in eastern NC and lives there now. You can bet she definitely knows her stuff when it comes to eastern NC barbecue.

Dave Grohl once again confirms that eastern NC style barbecue is his favorite

Sam Jones BBQ and The Redneck BBQ Lab get reviewed by the News and Observer

Speaking of Sam Jones BBQ, restaurant #2 is coming to Raleigh

Richmond’s best barbecue spots according to Richmond Magazine

Jamestown, NC is getting their own yuppie-cue barbecue restaurant in an old filling station next year in Black Powder Smokehouse

Congrats to Charlotte on turning 250 earlier this week!

Pecan Lodge – Dallas, TX (Speedy’s Take)

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Name
: Pecan Lodge
Date: 7/21/18
Address: 2702 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226
Order: The Trough (1 beef rib, 1lb of pork ribs, 1lb brisket, 1/2 lb of pulled pork & 3 sausage links), ½ pound burnt ends, fried okra, collard greens (link to menu)
Price: $120-ish (for 3)

Speedy: On a recent work trip to Dallas, I experienced Divine Intervention. In town for only two days with full calendars both days, I was resigned to having to miss Pecan Lodge once again, and based on Rudy’s review, it’s a joint not to miss. I must have done something right over the past week, because a cancelled meeting left me a block of time between 10 and 2, enough time to head to Deep Ellum to try the ‘cue. I brought two co-workers in tow, which turned out to be a great decision.

Monk: The barbecue gods certainly work in mysterious ways…

Speedy: We arrived right at 11, which is right when Pecan Lodge opens. The line was already out the door, which is when coming with friends comes in handy. We went straight to the bulk order counter (minimum 5 pounds), which had no line (hence the great decision to bring back-ups), and we were on our way.

Our number was called after a short wait, and it was time to dig in. Obviously, we had more food than the three of us could eat, and everything looked and smelled incredible. I have a hard time knowing where to begin with this meal, so let’s just jump right in.

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The brisket was heavenly. Rich, flavorful, moist, peppery, and perfectly cooked. It is easily in the top 4 briskets I’ve ever had, joining La Barbecue, Franklin, and Killen’s, and frankly, nothing else even comes close. The brisket seemed to melt in your mouth.

Personally, my other top meat was the beef rib. It was incredibly tender, had an amazing bark, and pulled, but didn’t fall, right off the bone. Honestly, I’d take these two cuts of beef over even the finest steaks. Beef like this just doesn’t come around often.

The other beef dish we had was the burnt ends, which was a special of the day. My two co-workers rated this as their favorite meat, and I agree it was very good, but I thought it could have been slightly more tender and could have used a little heat on the sauce. This is nit-picking to the extreme, but it was a tier below the brisket and beef rib for me.

The pork was also a pleasant surprise. I have had very hit or miss experiences with pork in Texas, but you could have told me the Pecan Lodge pork was from Tennessee or North Carolina and I would have believed you and demanded to know where from. It was tender and had nice bark, and overall was really great.

Monk: Funny you should mention that. I recalled hearing at one point at there was a connection between Pecan Lodge and NC and lo and behold, Justin and Diane Fourton (the couple behind Pecan Lodge) both used to live in Charlotte and met at Selwyn Pub in 2000. So while they both are originally from Texas, they may have gotten some pork knowledge through osmosis during their time in NC.

Speedy: On Rudy’s trip to Pecan Lodge, he raved about the ribs. This was my least favorite meat by a wide margin. The ribs were still good, but I felt like they could have been a little meatier and the outside got a little charred to me. I’m not sure if it was just a sub-standard batch, but the ribs were forgettable, especially when compared to the rest of the meal.

Rudy: Maybe you got a bad batch or I got an overly great batch. You may have also had the benefit of having several different meat to compare it to, and I only had the brisket. I’m sorry that I missed out on the beef rib.

Speedy: Generally, I don’t pay too much attention to the sides when I have five pounds of barbecue in front of me, but it was a different story here. The fried okra was really, really good. Perfectly seasoned and fried. The collards were also amazing and very unique. While I’m used to having bacon bits or pieces or pulled pork (or at least chicken stock) in the collards, these were very sweet – my guess is brown sugar. The collards are not to be missed.

The next paragraph is going to be a little hard to write. As a North Carolinian, I will go to my grave saying that Lexington barbecue is the best single food item that one can eat and that it was bestowed upon man by God himself. All that said, the top four all around barbecue meals of my life all happened in Texas, and this was in that group. It’s just that good. If you get a chance to visit Pecan Lodge – just do it.

Monk: Who in the? What in the? How in the?

Rudy: I have always said that the ceiling on Texas barbecue is higher but so is the floor.  When it is done well, it is great, but it can also be done poorly. North Carolina barbecue is more consistent. I agree that Pecan Lodge is a must visit and if you have to order from the bulk window to avoid the lines, you will never be disappointed.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Beef rib – 5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Pecan Lodge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Killen’s Barbecue – Pearland, TX

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Name
: Killen’s Barbecue
Date: 1/20/18
Address: 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX
Order: ½ pound brisket, ½ pound burnt ends (special), 2 sausage links, 1 beef rib, mac & cheese, fried mac & cheese, onion rings, baked beans, green beans (link to menu)
Price: $90

Speedy: I was down in Houston to visit some friends lately, so of course I convinced everyone to pop over to Killen’s, which is known as one of the top joints in Houston. Killen’s is a bit outside of Houston proper, and we went on a rainy day. All this meant we were left with a short line (though it quickly grew as the weather started to clear). Walking up, I could smell the wood coals burning and got a whiff of some beef on the smoker, so I immediately knew I was somewhere serious.

Monk: Seems like you stumbled onto the perfect time to check out Killen’s, seeing as how I’ve been reading about the long lines there for years. Brilliant, Speedy. Brilliant.

Rudy: Killen’s has been on my must-eat list for a while.  I’ve heard great things about since it opened. Houston is not known for having high quality barbecue like some of the other areas of the state, so I know this place has been getting swamped with people. Since I almost never get down to Houston, I haven’t been able to eat there.

Speedy: Killen’s is cafeteria style, where you first order meat, cut right in front of you, and then sides. One of the guys I was with had been there before and advised to skip the pulled pork, so we went all beef, with the exception of the sausage, which is a pork and beef mix. At Killen’s, you can order plates, or by the weight, and we opted for the latter. They only needed two clarifications with our order – fatty or lean brisket (fatty, duh), and jalapeno sausage or regular (regular). After about 20 minutes in line, we were ready to eat.

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Like at any Texas joint, I started with the brisket. I had high expectations based on my prior Texas trip (when I visited Franklin’s and La Barbecue), and let me tell you, this lived up to expectations. The brisket was peppery, moist, and as good as I could have imagined. I think it was 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue, and tasted very similar. I did not use any sauce, as none was needed. Overall, nearly flawless execution.

Monk: Wow, 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue? That’s high praise!

Rudy: Yeah, that is huge praise! Add to that the 20 minute wait and that’s even better.

Speedy: The sausage was also great. Made in house, the casing had good snap and a nice spiciness to it. It did start to fall apart a bit, but overall, it was great and is not to be missed.

The burnt ends were a daily special – made with wagyu beef and covered in sauce, they were tender and perfectly chunked. Overall, there was a little more sauce than I liked, but it was tangy and good.

The beef rib was the only thing that I thought could have been better. The rib was crazy tender and easy to cut with a plastic knife, but the bark was not as good as I had hoped and did not touch the brisket. Our beef rib was 1.4 pounds, so nearly $30 – I would have much preferred another pound of brisket.

The sides were good, but like any good barbecue joint, they were a compliment and did not stand out in any way.

I also really liked the atmosphere at Killen’s, as there was a large area of outside seating and lots of seating inside. It’s the definition of a Texas joint, and though it’s only been open since 2013, it’s damn good and not to be missed if you’re in the Houston area. I, for one, can’t wait to go back.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Beef Rib – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 4.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Killen's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Smoke Daddy – Chicago, IL

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Name: The Smoke Daddy
Date: 6/17/17
Address: 1804 W Division St., Chicago, IL
Order: Taste of the Daddy – baby back ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, fries, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: By now, most of my friends are aware of this little barbecue adventure I’m on with Monk and Rudy, and so they have a tendency to suggest ‘cue when I come to visit. This has turned out really well in some cases, terrible in others (I’m looking at you, Boomsauce). Let’s see how the Smoke Daddy stacks up.

Monk: With a name like Smoke Daddy….well, I actually don’t know what to expect. I do know that that I am definitively not a fan of that name, though. Speaking of Boomsauce, Smoke Daddy does sound like somewhere he’d take us. A place where they’d have crappy t-shirts with bad graphics and not-clever innuendo all over it.

Speedy: First off, I want to say a big thanks to my (non-barbecue) bro Berg for letting me put in the full order. He really knows when to let the pros step in. The ribs were part of the deal, and pork was a given. I tacked on burnt ends because I don’t get them too often. Add on fries and collards and we were set.

The food came out looking great, but there was a lot of sauce on everything. I get this on ribs and burnt ends, but I prefer for pork to not be overly sauced. The meat was nice and tender, though, and pulled into decent sized chunks with a nice bark. I would rate the pork as decent to good, but not anything better than that.

The burnt ends were similar. While I expect these to be sauced coming out, I still want the meat to do most of the talking. That wasn’t really the case here, as the sauce was the star. Still enjoyable, and cooked well, but I wanted a little more.

The ribs were my favorite meat. Even though they were baby backs, they were nice and meaty. They were cooked to a nice tenderness without falling off the bone. I got a nice pork flavor, which this time mixed well with the sauce.

Monk: Any idea what kind of smoker they are working with here?

Speedy: No, but I have to assume it was a gasser, just based on the space the occupied. Not sure where they’d fit a stick burner in a crowded Chicago neighborhood.

Overall, the Smoke Daddy puts out a nice product. I think they purposefully feature the sauce in all of their dishes, which I think is a bit of a shame, as I think they do a good job with their smoke. So if you find yourself in Chicago with a hankerin’ for ‘cue, you could do worse than the Smoke Daddy

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – Not rated (outdoor patio was nice, but I never went inside)
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3 hog
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
Smoke Daddy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 1/11/17

– A nicely written, in-depth article from Robert Moss about the uptick in whole hog barbecue restaurant openings:

– BBQ Hub breaks down the worst barbecue news of 2016

– On this episode of Charlotte Magazine’s #DiscussCLT podcast, Frank Scibelli reveals that the Midwood Smokehouse Park Rd location should open in March(ish) and they are planning to open another one in Lake Norman this year

– Speaking of Midwood, they have a new burnt ends recipe that’s more in line with traditional KC style

– Marie, Let’s Eat! checks out a “Chattanooga-style” barbecue joint called Porkers Bar-B-Que

– Congrats to The Smoke Pit on the opening of their Salisbury location

Friday Find: Burnt Legend, a web series about burnt ends

Burnt Legend is a 4 part web series brought to you by Flatland, the digital magazine of Kansas City’s PBS affiliate KCPT. Here’s the first chapter above, with the remaining 3 chapters now available at the Flatland YouTube page.

Kansas City is known for its legendary barbecue, but there is a smoke cloud of mystery surrounding it’s most iconic menu item: burnt ends. Burnt Legend explores the myths and truths of how burt ends became popular, how they are made, and where the BBQ Capital of the World’s favorite delicacy is going.

Monk

Best of Charlotte Barbecue: 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.

Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville, NC

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Name
: Buxton Hall Barbecue
Date: 11/14/15
Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Order: Burnt ends sandwich, slaw and collard, side of pulled pork, RC Cola (link to menu)
Price: ~$20

Recently, I found myself driving through Asheville, which was a great opportunity to visit the newly opened Buxton Hall. Monk and I are on record as big fans of 12 Bones in Asheville (review of Arden location here), but I can’t say I’ve had great whole hog in the city (or even the western part of the state in general). I was hopeful that that would change with this place.

Upon entering, I was super impressed with the Buxton Hall atmosphere. It truly is a huge mess hall, with pretty awesome decor and tons of large tables. Being that I was riding solo, I bellied up to the bar instead of opting for a table for one. As I like to do at ‘cue joints, I quickly ordered a Cheerwine only to be told that there was no Cheerwine to be had but that they’d happily pour me an RC Cola. Since I was on my way to Tennessee, it seemed like an appropriate substitute.

I was all ready to order some glorious whole hog when the bartender threw me a curveball. Today, for the first time, Buxton Hall was serving a burnt end sandwich. It was something I just had to try. However, I made sure to specify that I needed some pulled pork on the side as well – I wasn’t leaving without sampling the top dish. To top it off, I ordered some (vinegar based) slaw and collards.

The food came out quickly and I dug in. The burnt ends were different than those I’d had before. They were almost sliced instead of chunked and tasted more like a sirloin than a brisket. It was slathered in a sweet sauce that complimented the meat well. It was very good – just different than I was expecting. The pulled pork was very good – tender with a kiss of smoke. I did add some vinegar sauce to get a little more tang, but still pretty good. The slaw was fine, but the collards were absolutely top notch. They are a can’t miss.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend a stop in at Buxton Hall Barbecue if looking for ‘cue Asheville. I certainly plan to go back.

Speedy

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Buxton Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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