Charlotte Barbecue News from the Second Quarter of 2021

Monk: In our first quarter wrap-up, I had optimism as things continued to move in a positive direction with vaccinations and the resulting re-opening of restaurants. That mostly continued, and while Charlotte lost a lot of its classic non-barbecue restaurants (Price’s Chicken Coop, Mr. K’s, Oakhurst Grill, Zack’s Hamburgers, etc), I only tracked one barbecue restaurant that closed during that time: the Tyvola Road location of the Sonny’s BBQ chain.

Charlotte barbecue even got some national attention, both of the good (Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn visiting and loving Jon G’s) as well as notorious variety (Charlotte as the #3 best city for barbecue according to chefspencil.com).

While we may never know about the barbecue joints that weren’t started during the past year, hopefully a corner has been turned (and the Delta variant of COVID doesn’t wreak havoc here like it has in other countries; get vaccinated people!) and the Charlotte barbecue scene can experience new concepts as well as expansion and growth of its existing ones.

April

4/9 Smoke Show BBQ is a new Texas-style barbecue pop up in the Charlotte area from transplanted Texan chef Brandon Belfer who has worked at fine dining spots The Stanley, Crunkleton, The Asbury, Kindred, and Hello, Sailor

4/12 Charlotte-based Mac’s Speed Shop finds itself coming out of the pandemic in a strong position for growth

4/13 Roddey’s BBQ has changed their lunch hours in Rock Hill to Fridays only

4/19 Jon G’s Barbecue gets in the pit fabrication game

4/26 K&N BBQ makes Axios Charlotte’s list of best food trucks; and they recommend you try the pork and brisket

4/26 Adam Richman (of Man vs Food fame) visits Midwood Smokehouse

4/30 In what was (somewhat embarrassingly) one of the oldest barbecue restaurant’s in Charlotte, the Tyvola Rd. outpost of the Sonny’s BBQ chain closed

May

5/7 Daniel Vaughn ends his NC barbecue trip at Jon G’s Barbecue, where I was fortunate enough to meet both him and Kathleen Purvis and also share a meal with him

5/12 Charlotte is obviously the number 3 Top City for BBQ in the US. No objection here.

5/19 Jon G’s Barbecue gets the highest of praise from the BBQ Snob himself, Daniel Vaughn; Noble Smoke also gets a mention for their brisket

5/25 Phar Mill BBQ introduces itself to the world and will be using a Jon G’s offset smoker

June

6/3 Sweet Lew’s Barbeque announces its new food truck

6/3 Noble Smoke announces details on its 2 year anniversary

6/8 Mac’s Hospitality Group, parent company of Mac’s Speed Shop, adds Rare Roots alum Jay Spungin as Director of Operations

6/19 Congrats to Jon G’s Barbecue on one year open

6/26 Charlotte-based EDIA Maps, makers of The Great NC BBQ Map, ends operations

6/29 And the name of the Sweet Lew’s Barbeque food truck is…Sweet Lucille

Linkdown: 5/26/21

Featured

Based on the book of the same name by Jessica B. Harris, “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” examines the contributions of African American cooking to today’s modern cuisine. The series is four episodes, each lasting roughly an hour, and while the fourth episode focuses on barbecue I won’t be skipping straight to it. This is definitely a series I want to watch as its presented in its entirety.

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” is available to watch now on Netflix.

Native News

This is so cool to see: Jon G’s Barbecue getting the highest of praise from the BBQ Snob himself, Daniel Vaughn; Prime Barbecue and Noble Smoke also get mentions for their brisket

Woodard Family BBQ is a “Hidden Gem of Fayetteville” (though its closer to Sanford) in this new series from the Fayetteville Observer

Non-Native News

Everything old is new again

Home Team BBQ continues its expansion

Behold, the predecessor to True Cue

Linkdown: 5/12/21

Featured

In one of the latest signs of a return to normalcy, 60 teams participated in last weekend’s 40th Annual BBQ on the Neuse Festival, the world’s largest whole hog competition. Attendance was larger than expected, with upwards of 15,000 attendees (vs an expected 5,000) coming to downtown Kinston to enjoy barbecue, music, and a little rainy weather (at least on Friday night).

In terms of winners, contestant Amy Bell had a good year, winning first overall in product quality and sauce. The rest of the winners here:

Next year’s event will be held on May 6-7.

Native News

Indy Week reviews the Raleigh location of Sam Jones BBQ, which doesn’t even have a freezer on site

Daniel Vaughn spent a little over a week in NC and ended his tour at Jon G’s Barbecue this past Saturday where I was fortunate enough to meet up with him

Non-Native News

Congrats to Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ on their new space in Buda, about 15 minutes south of their current location in South Austin

Juan Luis from John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue makes this list

A few shows with barbecue-focused episodes – Ugly Delicious, Cooked, Taco Chronicles, The Chef Show – are on this list from The Manual

Bon Appetit has an essay from Black Smoke

But of course Texas has a state high school barbecue championship

It’s not everyday that a barbecue restaurant gets featured in Architect Magazine; in this case its Black Hog BBQ in Ashburn, VA

Linkdown: 3/31/21

Featured

Rodney Scott’s barbecue book came out earlier this month and this week he spoke with Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition, and in the feature he opens up more on the current state of the relationship with his dad than I’ve previously read. Sadly, it’s not in a great spot.

“His objection was, you didn’t start this. You’re not the barbecue guy … and he said, you know what, just go open your own place, get away from here,” he says.

“Sometimes I would pass him in certain areas and he would kind of turn his head,” he says. “He wouldn’t even wave if he saw me wave at him.”

However, Rodney Scott is at peace with his decision to strike out on his own, first by opening a restaurant in Charleston and then a second location in Birmingham, AL (with an Atlanta location planned for this summer).

“I want to take over the world with barbecue,” he says. “You could put a whole hog in front of some people and you’re going to get at least 50 to 100 people that’s going to come together and eat. So, in my mind, why not everybody around the world fire up a hog. And I bet you, it’ll be some joy, a whole lot of partying, a lot of smiles. And the world would be a better place.”

Native News

Several NC barbecue restaurants are featured in this handy guide of restaurants along I-95 worth a stop

Non-Native News

“The heart and soul of the craft barbecue movement [in Kansas City] is located in central Texas”

Blue Smoke has reopened in New York

Smoke & Steel BBQ in Bangor, Maine will feature barbecue and axe throwing

Shuler’s BBQ is opening a second location in Lake City, SC

Saucy’s Southern BBQ and Cuisine in Denver launches a wing and barbecue sauce featuring THC distillate

Check Daniel Vaughn’s Twitter for his big barbecue roadtrip from last week including newcomer Distant Relatives BBQ; nature is healing!