Linkdown: 12/12/18

RIP Allen & Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill

Here’s Our State’s last article on Allen & Son’s from 2017, where you can understand why Keith Allen is ready to retire:

In 1971, when Keith was 19, he quit his butchering job at the A&P, sold his landscaping equipment, and borrowed $3,000 to open a restaurant. He gave it the same name as the one his father owned in Chatham County, where Keith worked the barbecue pit from the age of 10. Ever since, he’s gotten to his Allen & Son at 2:30 a.m. five days a week — splitting every piece of hickory, roasting every shoulder, chopping and seasoning every serving. “Nobody’s hands but mine touch my barbecue,” he likes to boast, “until the customer’s do.”

A recipe for collard chowder from Matthew Register of Southern Smoke BBQ in Garland; his cookbook comes out in May but is available for preorder now

The latest from J.C. Reid explores the barbecue explosion in Houston from a geographic standpoint:

Sweet Lew’s gets some coverage in Charleston Eater for 4 new notable Charlotte openings

In memory of Dale Volberg Reed, who
was wife to John Shelton Reed and with him co-authored the best book on NC barbecue, Holy Smoke: The Big Book of NC Barbecue

I figured Dave Grohl would stop into Buxton Hall while in Asheville last weekend for Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam:

There’s some piggies in the hiway, some piggies in the snow, piggies going faster than they’ve ever gone before

Linkdown: 7/16/18

– Oh yeah?!? Well, um, no one eats barbecue to be healthy so…

– Bob Garner gets a bit existential in his latest column: What happened to barbecue?

That’s why your traditional view is what I argued in my 1995 first book. It sold a ton of copies in hardback, far more than any of my subsequent books, and nearly all of them were sold in-state.

But, I have to accept that “North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time” is now out of print. We can only visit the memory and greatness of those places at Rocky Mount’s park display commemorating the city’s barbecue heritage.

I could insist on continuing to scribble history books many people won’t buy. Not many among them seem to read history any longer. Doomed to repeat it? I don’t know.

– WRAL’s list of best barbecue in the Triangle dubiously contains two chain restaurants

– Four NC pitmasters, including Adam Hughes of Old Colony Smokehouse in Edenton, will compete on Chopped Grill Masters in an episode airing August 7

– Delish’s 15 best barbecue festivals in the USA includes The Barbecue Festival in Lexington

– Say it ain’t so, Dave. Say it ain’t so.

– The Washington Post food writer Tim Carman managed to find a new angle on a Rodney Scott profile

 

Linkdown: 7/4/18

– Hate that I’m going to be out of town later this month for Bryan Furman coming to Charlotte for Brisket & Biscuits at Koffee Kup Cafeteria

Put them together, and you have a very special food weekend: First, there’s Brisket & Biscuits from 9 a.m.-noon July 21 at the Koffee Kup Cafeteria, 1520 West Blvd. For $20, you’ll get a plate cooked by Gregory Collier of The Yolk in Rock Hill and special guests Erika Council of Atlanta, the author of The Southern Souffle blog and the granddaughter of Mildred Council, aka Mama Dip, and Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin BBQ in Atlanta.

Served cafeteria-style, you’ll get Furman’s brisket, Collier’s eggs, Council’s biscuits, sides and pie (by local pie baker Keia Mastrianni).

– The top 15 Birmingham barbecue joints

– Howard Conyers, a rocket scientist and barbecue man, has a new digital show on PBS’s YouTube channel

– Sam Jones and Fullsteam Brewing will represent NC at this year’s Windy City Smokeout 2018 in Chicago

– Brooks Sandwich House and Seoul Food Meat Company will be featured in the first episode of season 2 of “Southern and Hungry” on the Cooking Channel; it airs later this month on 7/30

– This is a few months late to respond to the Vice Brooklyn barbecue article that broke the internet in March, but a good write up on Allen & Son which doesn’t always get the NC barbecue recognition it deserves

The 10 best NC barbecue joints in Western NC

Monk: I still need to work my way through the eastern part of the state (it’s been on my to-do list for 5 years and counting…) in order to be able to make a more comprehensive North Carolina-wide list, but in the meantime here’s my list of the best NC barbecue restaurants in the western part of the state.

Please note: For the purposes of this list, I’m defining “western NC” as west of, but not including, Raleigh. In essence, I am dividing the state geographically by the two styles of barbecue but not limiting this list to purely Lexington-style/Piedmont-style/western-style barbecue joints. Make sense?

10. Old Etowah Smokehouse – Etowah (review); NOW CLOSED

A few years back Old Etowah Smokehouse was part of a trend of new whole hog joints opening up outside the eastern half of the state (more on that later). The trend may have cooled somewhat since – the amount of labor involved may have something to do with that – but Old Etowah is honoring the style properly in the shadows of the Nantahala National Forest hear Hendersonville. 6577 Brevard Rd, Etowah, NC 28729 facebook.com/oldetowahsmoke

9. Barbee’s Bar-B-Que – Peachland (review)

This was my biggest barbecue discovery of 2017, a classic highway barbecue joint off highway 74 where they are slinging near perfect Lexington-style barbecue. A true hidden gem in the small town of Peachland, which is outside of Marshville, which is outside of Monroe, which is outside of Charlotte. Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133 facebook.com/Barbee’s-Bar-B-Q

8. Backyard BBQ Pit – Durham (review)

Backyard BBQ Pit gets somewhat overlooked in the Research Triangle Park area, but they definitely shouldn’t be. Which is somewhat curious, considering they’ve gotten coverage on Food Network’s “Man vs. Food”. Don’t make the same mistake as everyone else, and check them out. 5122 NC Hwy 55, Durham, NC 27713 sweetribs.com

7. The Barbecue Center – Lexington (review)

This underrated joint in Lexington often lives in the shadow of Lexington Barbecue not 2 miles away but many locals claim it to be the best in the city. I don’t personally happen to agree with them, but they aren’t necessarily wrong. 900 N Main St, Lexington, NC 27292 bbqcenter.net

6. Allen & Son Bar-B-Que – Chapel Hill (review)

When Speedy and I checked out Allen & Son in 2012, we dinged them for their ribs instead of simply focusing on the pork. This was a mistake, and the hybrid of chopped pork shoulder with eastern sauce earned 5 hogs from us on that trip while the ribs knocked the overall rating down to 4 hogs. A return trip is surely in order to properly reassess Allen & Son (add it to the list…). 6203 Millhouse Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 facebook.com/Allen-Son-BBQ

5. Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton (review)

Residents in the small town of Lincolnton (20 minutes north of Gastonia and 50 minutes from Charlotte) are lucky to have had a great barbecue joint such as Bar-B-Q King serving them for the past 46+ years. This is barbecue certainly worthy of a short detour if you are on driving in 321 in that part of the state.  2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092 barbqkingnc.com

4. Stamey’s Barbecue – Greensboro (review)

One irony of the #BrooklynBBQ controversy was that the following week the ACC Tournament was being hosted for the second year in a row in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center instead of in its spiritual home at the Greensboro Coliseum with Stamey’s just across the street. While I am still in the camp that there is good barbecue in Brooklyn, there just isn’t anything that approaches Stamey’s. 2206 W Gate City Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27403 stameys.com

3. Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville (review)

I’ve been thinking about the whole hog from Buxton Hall Barbecue for nearly two years and can’t wait to get back to Asheville. From what I can tell though, Elliot Moss and team continue to blow it out of the water in South Slope. 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 buxtonhall.com

2. Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby (review)

I rarely make it through Shelby without finding a reason to stop at Bridges Barbecue Lodge. It might more accurately be described as more of a 1a for me behind my number 1 below, and it has yet to really let me down ever. 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28150 bridgesbbq.com

1. Lexington Barbecue – Lexington (review)

Lexington Barbecue aka Lexington #1 aka The Honeymonk is first, my last, my everything. 100 Smokehouse Ln, Lexington, NC 27295 lexbbq.com

Well, what do you think? What joints have I missed the mark on or left off my list entirely? Let me know in the comments below.

Linkdown: 9/20/17

– The Port City Ribfest moves from Wilmington to Carolina Beach this November

– It’s no surprise that barbecue is North Carolina’s iconic dish according to Flavored Nation; Missouri is the only other state they list with barbecue as its iconic dish

– Charleston is one of the best food towns in the south, in part because of their barbecue restaurants

– A Washington Post travelogue to Chapel Hill includes a visit to The Pig for lunch

Gail goes with a nifty riff on North Carolina-style barbecue, a salad topped with tender chunks of Vietnamese pork cheek and crispy, dried shrimp. Ewan has a more traditional heaping plate of Eastern Carolina-style pulled pork with cider-vinegar sauce. On counsel of the affable guy behind the counter, I order a fried Bologna sandwich, which has about as much in common with my childhood memories of this luncheon meat as Spam does with chateaubriand.

– A review of Daddy Bob’s Barbeque, a promising-sounding truck in Raleigh that smokes shoulders over a mix of hickory, apple, and pecan and serves with an eastern vinegar sauce

– A group of Sampsonians will be trying to save Lewis Barbecue, which closed Labor Day weekend

Art’s Barbecue & Deli gets a short profile in Charlotte Five

– Just a reminder:

 

Linkdown: 3/16/16

– John Shelton Reed of True Cue in the New York Times on North Carolina and the Politics of Barbecue

– Thrillist releases the 2016 Best BBQ in America and it includes 4 from NC:  Lexington Barbecue, Allen & Son in Chapel Hill, Red Bridges in Shelby, and Skylight Inn in Ayden; there’s also a bracket contest you can vote in

– Local coverage of Allen & Son making the list

– Thrillist Charlotte’s list of best barbecue restaurants in the city include a closed restaurant (Bobbee O’s), a national chain (Jim N Nick’s), and a few other questionable choices

– Grant visits Carl’s Drive-Inn near Knoxville, which despite some old signage doesn’t actually sell its own pit-cooked barbecue anymore

– Queen City Q’s Whiskey & BBQ event is tonight

– Meanwhile, Midwood Smokehouse’s Wine & Swine Dinner (also tonight) is sold out:

– Speaking of wine and barbecue, the future of barbecue in Charleston after this past weekend’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival

The Charleston Wine + Food events, I think, offered a sort of preview of the future of barbecue in one of the South’s great culinary cities. At least a half dozen new barbecue joints have opened in the city in the past year, and several more are still in the works. Their fare is as diverse and ambitious as the dishes served up at the festival, and in an upcoming installment we’ll take a survey of this evolving Charleston barbecue restaurant scene.

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: 12/10/14

– Charlotte gets a new barbecue spot in Improper Pig, located in Cotswold, and it looks like they will be doing a little bit of everything

Here, they’re doing ‘cue, in what they’re calling a “portal to the barbecue explorer’s world.” That means it’s got St. Louis-style ribs in addition to the pulled pork and chicken and brisket, plus Southern egg rolls (sweet potato hash mixed with collards, with spicy mustard), Korean barbecue salmon, a “no pig” portobello sandwich…

– Speaking of new barbecue restaurants, Asheville is getting a new one in Bonfire Barbecue next spring that will be using a wood-assisted Southern Pride gas smoker (the article conflates the two, but to me, a Southern Pride is a gasser at heart)

– For the brisket lover on your Christmas gift list, here’s some leather butcher’s coasters

– A Wilson, NC man with ALS is planning to go to Franklin Barbecue as part of his bucket list and will be ordering the brisket and ribs (via)

– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ has an interview with Adam Perry Lang, who is currently working on a barbecue project in Los Angeles

– The latest stops on Marie, Let’s Eat!’s “circumnavigation” through eastern NC: Jack Cobb & Son Bar-B-Q in Farmville, Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden, Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro, and B’s Barbecue in Greenville

– Our State profiles Chapel Hill’s The Pig in their latest issue

The Pig belongs to Sam Suchoff, who is a 33-year-old California dude — pertinent facts, both of these. California dude is pertinent because seriously? California? And 33 because I’ve eaten barbecue older than that. He is, by far, the youngest cook I’ve met on this expedition. It’s fitting, though, and necessary, because if our children’s children’s children are going to be eating barbecue in the year 2525, someone from Generation Y is going to have to keep the pit fires burning.

– Robert Moss’ latest blog post is how to spot a wood burner; spoiler alert: the woodpile (and size thereof) gives it away

– Looks like the Buxton Hall crew was doing some research in eastern NC last week:

– If you are in Charlotte Thursday, The Great NC BBQ Map will be at the All Arts Market in NoDa

Linkdown: 4/16/14

– The Charlotte Observer has a list of various road trips for Spring (including one for beer), and here is a 10-stop NC barbecue tour which includes some not-so-obvious choices

– Speaking of road trips, the latest reviews from Marie, Let’s Eat!’s NC barbecue roadtrip: The Barbecue Center in Lexington, Allen & Son Barbeque in Chapel Hill, Hursey’s in Burlington, and Short Sugar’s in Reidsville

– Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte is included as part of the history of Wilkinson Boulevard from the March 2014 issue of Charlotte Magazine

Few places are more familiar on Wilkinson than Bar-B-Q King. Follow the curved arrow of its sign, and most days you’ll see a lot full of cars. Behind the counter, a static buzz fills the room as co-owner Gus Karapanos flips on the speaker system.

“Same one we’ve had for 40 years,” he says. “People love to hear it.”  The sign, too, has been the same since Karapanos’s uncles opened the place back in 1959. Except for a few days after Hurricane Hugo knocked it down in 1989, that sign and the billboard–sized, ice-cream-eating Inuit at Dairy Queen next door have remained constants in a changing neighborhood. 

– Ed Mitchell, Sam Jones, and Rodney Scott are the pitmasters from the Carolinas in this year’s Big Apple Barbecue Block party in June

– I think I’ve seen a version of this list before, but in case you missed it Lexington comes in at #4 in this list of 10 best barbecue cities (h/t Rudy)

4. Lexington, North Carolina

Pork is the game in Lexington, a small town just an hour’s drive northeast of Charlotte, where a regional favorite is the wood-smoked pork shoulder, coarsely chopped and topped by a mostly vinegar based sauce -0 those who know their way around a Lexington grill often order it with some outside brown, which means more flavorful extra bark from the meat) and sometimes extra dip, which is just the word for the thinner sauce. Another Lexington trademark is red slaw, coleslaw that’s swapped out the mayo for BBQ sauce. There’s a lot to the Lexington scene, which is why the city throws the annual Barbecue Festival to celebrate it. For the regular season, Lexington Barbecue #1, established in 1962 and better known by locals as the Honeymonk, is the quintessential Lexington joint, widely hailed as the best in the business, always happy to help a diner out with a big plate of pork and some Cheerwine.

– Speaking of Lexington, this year’s BBQ Capital Cook-Off is April 25-26

– The Charlotte Smokeoff at Unknown Brewing is this Saturday in Charlotte:

Linkdown: 1/15/13

– The town of Hillsborough to end Hog Day after 31 years

– Report says smoking ban has not financially affected business, including barbecue restaurants

Michael Conrad, co-owner of The Barbecue Center, said the restaurant opted to go smoke free prior to the law being enforced. He said although there was some complaints in the beginning, in the end it has improved the atmosphere of the restaurant.

“We can breathe a little better,” Conrad said. “We did lose a few customers who didn’t want to go outside or wanted to smoke after they ate, but on the whole we were getting more compliments than complaints.”

– True ‘Cue gets a write-up in the Charlotte Observer

– A slightly different kind of guide to Austin barbecue

More information on Crook’s Corner’s weekly barbecue dinner Carolina ‘Cue

– SC competition team Up in Smoke is hosting a whole hog class this Saturday in McConnells (about 50 minutes from Charlotte)

– This past Sunday, Midwood Smokehouse welcomed folks from Ribs ‘n’ Bibs, an “American Smokehouse” in Lincoln, England