Only about a mile off I-77 in Statesville (about an hour north of Charlotte), its hard to miss the joint. The building was opened by owners Gene and Linda Medlin in 1985 and has a huge green roof and “CAROLINA BAR-B-Q” prominently displayed in white block letters.
Carolina Bar-B-Q is a Lexington-style joint (Statesville is about 40 due west of Lexington), and thus smokes pork shoulders before mixing a dip prior to serving. It’s offered either chopped or sliced and while I liked the chopped it is a little lean and lacks much fat or gristle mixed in. The lack of fat or gristle is a complaint apparently shared by Charles Kuralt calling it “too refined,” but a small note at the register says it’s available on request. I do wish it was noted on the menu itself, so that I would know to ask for it when placing my order. There wasn’t a lot of bark mixed in either but at this point I should know to ask for outside brown at a Lexington-style joint. Rookie mistake.
Speedy: Monk, Monk – you never learn! But a little bark mixed in, whether requested or not, is a sign of a truly superior ‘cue joint. Not including it in a standard order shouldn’t be excused.
Monk: You do get a choice of coleslaw or barbecue slaw, and the barbecue slaw was a pretty standard version. The beans were passable, though they did remind me of Bush’s from a can. The hush puppies were perfectly fried and the best of the sides.
Speedy: True Lexington style joints don’t even offer coleslaw. Just sayin’…
Monk: Fair point. Carolina Bar-B-Q is a barbecue joint reminiscent of a few we’ve tried on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail – solid but unspectacular. All in all, I’d say its still worth a stop for sure.
NC State: The Wolfpack will attempt to turn the ACC’s best prospects away from Tallahassee by offering unlimited whole hog barbecue and vinegar-based sauce from The Pit in Raleigh. The toughest recruiting battles on Tobacco Road will be between NC State and North Carolina, which will attempt to lure recruits with fried chicken-and-cheddar biscuits from Chapel Hill’s Time-Out (available 24 hours a day, of course).
– A Barbecue Bros hometown joint gets a shout out from The Great NC BBQ Map
In a lightning round at the end of the debate, the candidates were asked to pick their favorite style of North Carolina barbecue. Three picked Lexington, which is built around a vinegar-based red sauce.
We’ve been trying to hit all of the joints on the NC Historical Barbecue Trail, and this would be a way to knock out 3 joints in a day (albeit a very full day both driving and stomach-wise). Who knows if I will ever have time to make this trip, but it’s fun to daydream.
Total trip time: 2 hours, 21 minutes (not including eating time)