Name: Killer Q (food truck) Date: 9/19/15 Order: Pork platter with beans and coleslaw Price: $9
When it came to food options at the Southern Sauce BBQ Festival back in September I could have gone with a sure thing in Boone’s or safer options from Sauceman’s or Moe’s, but ultimately (potentially foolishly?) went with a truck I had never heard of.
I can’t find too much on Killer Q other than a Facebook page but it appears they are a very new food truck in Charlotte with the food truck only becoming operational in early September shortly before the festival. Since then, they’ve added a BQ smoker to their impressive mobile rig.
Whichever of their smokers they used that weekend, they produced some smokey pork with some decent bark. They also managed not to serve dried out pork, quite a feat during service for a day-long festival. If this was one of their first food truck services, they are off to a pretty damn good start. As for the sides, they were standard and thankfully did not taste as if they came straight out of a can. They do a version of a barbecue sundae which combines all three and while I did not partake on that day, based on the individual foods I imagine it to be quite tasty.
When it comes to barbecue food trucks, all I ask for is quality smoked meat and sides that aren’t an afterthought. Killer Q manages to check both of those boxes, and can be added to the list of above average barbecue food trucks in Charlotte.
Name: Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que (food truck) Date: 6/18/15 Order: Smoked chicken platter with slaw, mac and cheese, and a drink (link to menu) Price: $12.98
We’re clearly on the record of being anti just about any barbecue sauce other than our beloved Lexington-style vinegar sauce (or dip, as we prefer to call it). Thick ketchup-y sauce? Nope. Mustard? Definitely not. A mayo-based white sauce? We (mostly Speedy) don’t prefer a mayo-based slaw and definitely don’t want that stuff anywhere near our pork. The thing is, a white sauce isn’t meant for pork – its really meant for chicken. And at some point I knew I had yet to try it during my barbecue travels. Though the prospects of my first chicken and white sauce coming from a food truck on a 99 degree day could have disastrous results, I figured I’d go for it.
I tried Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que’s Matthews location solo a little over two years ago within a few weeks of it opening and had recently been thinking it would be worth a revisit as it’s not too far from the new casa de Monk. Their food truck in Charlotte began operating just about a month ago and had started making its rounds at the food truck rodeos and local breweries. It operates a limited menu of pork, turkey, and chicken with a handful of sides.
Back to the chicken and white sauce. I had my reservations but they were pretty much erased once I bit into the coarsely pulled chunks of smoked chicken. The white sauce complimented the chicken really well. My one complaint was that I would have liked it to be pulled into smaller chunks. I’m not about to turn my back on my beloved chopped pork, but for a change of pace more of this could be nice.
In terms of sides, the vinaigrette slaw and mac and cheese were just fine. Collards, beans, black-eyed peas, fried green tomatoes, chips, and banana pudding round out the rest of the available sides. More southern than barbecue, but that’s in line with their slogan of “southern soul food revival.”
The Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que food truck has quick service, puts out a solid product, and is worth checking out if you see them around town.
Update: Editor’s note (full disclose – Speedy is acting as editor): This review is the opinion of Monk and Monk only and does not represent the view of the entirety of the Barbecue Bros. At least one of the bros barely even considers chicken barbecue and would never, ever use a mayo based white sauce under any circumstances.
Name: Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen Date: 4/3/14 Order: Hand pulled NC pork shoulder plateful with Sis Gibson’s baked beans and Aunt Faith’s homemade chow chow and sweet tea (link to menu) Price: $19.58 (don’t worry, I got 2+ meals out of it)
Monk: If you’ve eaten some of Charlotte’s best barbecue in the past decade, chances are it is in some way owed to Dan “Boone” Gibson. Along with his friend John “JD” Duncan, he helped start the original Mac’s Speed Shop on South Blvd (which in my opinion has gone downhill since they both left) in 2005 as well as more recently a Barbecue Bros favorite Queen City Q in 2012. Now, he has struck out on his own and started Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen, a food truck that has popped up in various south Charlotte office parks in recent months.
Boone’s family recipes, which don’t necessarily follow eastern or piedmont barbecue traditions, were the basis for Queen City Q and remain the basis for his food truck. So while they do have an eastern NC vinegar sauce, a SC mustard sauce, and a rib sauce (called “PoPo,” the same name used at Queen City Q), the signature pork sauce is apparently a mixture of the rib and mustard sauces. While it is referred to as a “Piedmont” sauce, you wouldn’t find anything like it at Lexington #1. The family influence is also evident in the names of the sides (again, some of which share names with sides at Queen City Q) – Sis Gibson’s baked beans with Neese’s, Aunt Nell’s mac-n-cheese, Aunt Faith’s homemade chow chow, etc.
You can choose either a “big sandwich” with one side or a “plateful” which comes with two. I ordered the hand-pulled NC pork shoulder plateful with baked beans and chow chow. And since it would likely be a while until I made it out again, I decided I also wanted to try the brisket and sausage. Thankfully, they obliged me with a couple of slices and a link for $6 extra. After a bit of a wait, the lady who took my order handed me two heavy boxes packed pretty well with smoked meat. I opened the boxes to a very strong waft of smoke, which was heavenly. The pork was moist, tender, and smokey and pulled with large chunks of bark. It. Was. Great. I mean, really, really great. I tried the Piedmont sauce with it but really, the meat didn’t need it at all.
The brisket was smokey, sauced, and had a good tug to it. The sausage link was slathered with the mustard sauce and it complemented it well. Both were really good. So at this point, Boone is 3-for-3. The beans and chow chow were reminiscent of the same dishes from Queen City Q, which I liked back then and liked on this day. There was also a small side of chow chow that I didn’t realize came with the pork (I wouldn’t have ordered a side of it if I knew).
Some minor nitpicks – the sweet tea wasn’t sweet at all and the ordering process could have been more efficient. A few folks who had ordered before I got there grumbled about the wait, and mine took maybe 7-8 minutes. Also, some hush puppies on the menu would have been nice – although logistically that might be tough in a food truck.
So does Charlotte’s best barbecue come from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen? That’s hard to say, and I want to be careful not to romanticize too much simply because it comes from a food truck and everything can seem like it tastes better from a food truck. I can say that it is up there in terms of pork in Charlotte, and that I haven’t tasted too much better. I highly recommend you to track it down and try for yourself; as of this writing, Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen is available on Tuesdays at Coliseum Center Building 6, Wednesdays at Carmel Crossing office park at 51 and Johnston Road, and Thursdays at 5032 Parkway Plaza (near the Farmer’s Market off Yorkmont). (Update: apparently they are also at some Sizzlin’ Saturdays at the same lot that hosts Food Truck Friday – Camden at Park Avenue in Southend)
Speedy: Monk – I’ve read the entire review and I must say I’m skeptical. I’ve never sampled the food at Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen, but I just find it hard to fathom that it’s better than current Charlotte favorite Midwood Smokehouse. (Editor’s note: Speedy is not on board with the food truck revolution)
Rudy: In Texas I have seen some great barbecue come from food trucks (i.e. Franklin’s started in a truck). But the problem I have with them is, where is the pit and how are they cooking the meat? The two best barbecue trucks in Austin have permanent locations, so they have their pits right there, but what about this one that drives around between locations? Do they cook it at a pit located at one of their other restaurants and then just serve it from the truck? I’ll be interested to hear Speedy’s review to see if Boone’s stands up.
Monk: Good questions, and ones I’ve actually been thinking about since last week. Could Boone’s simply be a rebranded Queen City Q food truck with food that he cooks at the restaurant, or has he really started off on his own? The food and sauces are similar (down to the names in some cases), but I want to believe that the meat was higher quality barbecue than the restaurant – I don’t recall the meat at Queen City Q having this much smoke. Again, I have to be careful that I’m not looking at it through food truck-colored glasses. I guess I could ask next time I go…
Speedy: Speaking of Midwood Smokehouse, I think it’s time to go re-review it. Our original review is nearly two years old, and very early in our lives as Barbecue Bros (I mean we ordered smoked turkey for Chrissakes). I think I’ve grown to love it even more since that time.
Out of respect for our bro-ness, I have to respect this review and believe that Boone’s is something special, but I will be on the lookout for this truck in order to verify the review sample some of that ‘cue.
Monk: That’s fair, and maybe if you are ever in Charlotte during the week and can take some time off for lunch we can check it out. As for Midwood Smokehouse, I’ve been thinking a re-review of it was in order anyways. I mean, c’mon – smoked turkey!?!? Yeesh.
Speedy: So then it’s settled, a re-review of Midwood Smokehouse is in order. A gentleman’s agreement…