Monk: In what I believe is their first podcast appearance, Garren and Kelli from Jon G’s appeared in a recent episode of the Man Meat BBQ podcast to discuss how they transitioned from the tailgate tent to the food truck to the restaurant. Though the host Mikey has this slightly annoying habit of talking about himself and his business instead of asking questions of his guest and he still needs a cough button (like when he interviewed The Smoke Sheet). Still, glad that Garren and Kelly knocked out their first podcast appearance and hopefully there is lots more to come.
Monk: Our last piece of business before we close the door on 2020, here are my favorite barbecue meals of 2020. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d get to a full list of 10 like I did for 2019, but even with everything going on I still had some great meals.
10. Beef rib from Midwood Smokehouse
Midwood Smokehouse has a weekend beef rib special available every weekend for the (relatively) low price of $32 per bone. Midwood charges a flat fee and compared with what you’d pay if you had to pay by the pound, that’s a saving of at least $10-15.
9. “Bird is the word” smoked then fried chicken sandwich and smoked gulf shrimp from Leah and Louise (Charlotte)
“Bird is the Word” is a smoked then fried chicken sandwich topped with pickles and comeback sauce from Leah and Louise from James Beard-nominated chef Greg Collier and his wife Sabrina. It was also one of the best sandwiches I ate all year, even if it was technically not at a barbecue joint. The other smoked item I enjoyed on that visit was the “On My Way Home” which was “big a$$ smoked gulf shrimp” in a lemon, butter, and worcestershire sauce with cornmeal brioche.
If you are anywhere near Charlotte, get yourself too Leah and Louise at Camp Northend.
8. Smoked beef tenderloin from my backyard
My big Christmas smoke this year was both a smoked turkey breast but most importantly, a smoked beef tenderloin. I dry rubbed the tenderloin with kosher salt earlier that day before rubbing it with Billy Twang’s Old No. 3 Rub (review here) as I got my Oklahoma Joe’s offset up to temp. Two hours later, I had a perfectly medium tenderloin that sliced into perfect medallions. Yet another winner to file away for future smokes.
7. Chopped pork from Rick’s Smokehouse (review)
Rick’s was the favorite of my new Lexington discoveries as part of last year’s Lexington barbecue quest, landing just below my co-favorites Lexington Barbecue and Bar-B-Q Center and the re-review of Smiley’s (see below). Nonetheless, Rick’s is a winner that carries on the Lexington tradition for a relatively new restaurant (opened in 2009).
6. Tres Amigos platter (brisket, pork, and ribs) with smoked turkey and jalapeno cheddar sausage from The Smoke Pit
Mine and Speedy’s full review is forthcoming, but we enjoyed our visit to the newest location of the expanding local restaurant chain, which started in Concord and has grown to 4 locations. Charlotte-area folks: don’t sleep on The Smoke Pit.
5. Texas Trinity and beef rib from Prime BBQ (story)
At last February’s media event for Prime BBQ (in before times), after an extensive tour of the then-in construction Prime BBQ, the group was treated to a lovely meal of brisket, ribs, and sausage (aka the Texas Trinity) and a small beef rib. Eventually I will make it back to Knightdale for an official review, but this was quite the meal.
4. Pork belly burnt ends and sliced pork belly from my backyard (story)
While I still haven’t quite lived up to my promise that I would smoke pork belly again very soon, it is very much on my to-do list for upcoming backyard smokes in 2021. I still dream about those pork belly burnt ends from time to time.
3. Chopped barbecue sandwich with hush puppies and a Cheerwine from Smiley’s Lexington Barbecue (review)
Eight years after my first and only visit to Smiley’s, I wanted to get another visit end in case it truly does end up closing due to road expansion. And what I found was a 5 hog joint in limbo, unsure of the timing when it will be forced to close. Nevertheless, the sandwich I got on that day was the perfect Lexington barbecue sandwich.
2. Beef rib, brisket, ribs, and cheddar bossa sausage from Jon G’s Barbecue (review)
You guys all know how I feel about Jon G’s by now, so not too much more needs to be written here except that you should make the trip out to Peachland, particularly if they have a beef rib on special (but be prepared to pay for it). One of my barbecue new year’s resolution is to make the trip more often and continue to spread the word of Jon G’s.
1. Pork, ribs, and chicken from Southern Smoke BBQ (review)
Southern Smoke was my favorite barbecue at the midpoint of last year and that carried on through to the end of 2020. Matthew Register and team are doing great things in Garland, and I urge folks to make the trip like I did.
Monk: The Charlotte barbecue news seemingly slowed down in the last 3 months of 2020 as the restaurants that thankfully are still open continue to struggle through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we begin 2021, here’s hoping the news is more positive than negative. Fingers crossed!
10/12 Charlotte-based Bojangles briefly expanded to barbecue for National Pulled Pork Day on October 12th
10/13 – Midwood Smokehouse is one of the barbecue restaurants that politicians make a point to visit when in Charlotte
10/15 – Mac’s Speed Shop handed out free pulled pork for early voters in front of the Bojangles Entertainment Complex
11/9 – Midwood Smokehouse‘s brisket cheesesteak makes this list of the 6 “must-try” ones in Charlotte
11/23 – Perry’s Pig Pickin’ in Mint Hill is part of a small grocery store; the history of how this Perry brother didn’t get into the jewelry business in the Charlotte Ledger
11/28 The Smoke Pit celebrated 6 years open at its original Concord location
12/3 – Chef Jim Noble of Noble Smoke, his religiously conservative views, and how they fit in with today’s Charlotte
12/16 Sweet Lew’s BBQ introduces brisket tamales
12/22 Jon G’s Barbecue makes Charlotte Five’s list of best takeout meals in 2020
In his latest issue of The Cue Sheet, Robert Moss examines the ten best college cities or towns to attend according to nearby barbecue options. While my alma mater NC State is mentioned as a future possibility once the planned restaurants like Sam Jones BBQ, Wyatt’s Barbecue, and Longleaf Swine open their doors in 2021 (not to mention Prime BBQ in Knightdale that opened this year and the upcoming Ed Mitchell’s The Preserve), several NC towns make the list. Not on the list either is Chapel Hill, primarily due to the loss of Allen & Son last year.
East Carolina University in Greenville has B’s Barbecue, Sam Jones Barbecue and the two Ayden joints nearby (Skylight and Bum’s) and comes in at #9. Surprisingly, Catawba College in Salisbury, NC makes the list just ahead of Greenville due to a couple of joints in town (College Barbecue and Richard’s) plus its proximity to Lexington and its myriad options for barbecue.
That’s it for NC on this list but both Columbia and Charleston appear further down from our neighbors to the south. I won’t spoil the rest of the list, but if you think hard enough you can probably guess which university and city takes the #1 spot on the list.
The Great NC BBQ Map poster is 50% off through today
The Pinehurst Barbecue Festival is planned for September 3-5, 2021
The Bar-B-Q King is one of many COVID-friendly food options in Charlotte for walk-up or drive-thru (or in this case, drive-in)
In NC, barbecue sauce makes a great gift writes Spectrum News
OooWee BBQ has smoked meat by the pound available in take-and-bake meals
Primal BBQ is set to open in Wilmington later this month and will serve a little bit of everything
Longleaf Swine is one barbecue restaurant offering to-go meals in Raleigh
Wish I could attend this socially-distanced pig pickin’ in Durham this weekend
Chicken bog long sleeve tees from Buxton Hall released just in time for last minute Christmas shopping
In perhaps the least surprising news of the week, Tim Carman found better options than the McRib in DC
Even though Pat Mahomes went to college in Texas, he prefers Kansas City barbecue
This smothered tater tots collaboration between Fox Bros Bar-B-Q and Nina and Rafi looks amazing
An American pitmaster living in Hong Kong names the US barbecue restaurants he dreams of going back to some day, including Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Cozy Corner, Franklin Barbecue, and Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Pork n’ Pine Santa delivers pulled pork sammies in Baltimore