Mr. Barbecue re-opened last month after two years of closure due to a fire, but thankfully owner Jimmy Carros never considered either a) closing or b) not rebuilding the wood-burning smoke pits. To quote him from the Eater story below:
“The thought never really entered my mind,” Carros said. … “The flavor that you get from the wood-burning pits is not easily matched,” he explained. “I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m not sure I can do it.”
– As part of its Project 543 (named for the 543 miles between Manteo on the coast and Murphy in the mountains), Visit NC has a short profile on Lexington though it curiously says you can “go whole hog” in a city where they smoke pork shoulders
“Gas station barbecue is a phenomenon in the South and especially Mississippi,” Hatten said. “It’s servicing a population of the state that otherwise probably wouldn’t have lunch because they have to get back to work … a family-run joint is the archetype in the state.”
Now here’s a story every North Carolina school child should learn. It is that of a kid who grew up on a Wayne County tobacco farm in the Great Depression, dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support his family, worked at a variety of jobs and at 29, bought himself a hot dog stand.
Name: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q Date: 8/27/16 Address: 1238 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 Order: The Everything plate (pork, brisket, ribs, wings) with tater tots and collard greens, brisket egg rolls, jalapeno cheddar link, Frito pie, jalapeno corn bread, 5 beers (link to menu) Price: ~$82
Speedy: It wasn’t long after my move to Atlanta that Monk and friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong started planning a trip down to visit. I still don’t know too much about the city, but I knew for sure one thing would be on the agenda – barbecue. Fox Bros is probably the most famous place in town – a Texas-style joint with a little bit of everything on the menu. We went early on a Saturday to beat the crowd.
Monk: Acknowledging that Fox Bros definitely is not a “Georgia style” barbecue joint, next time through we’ll plan to visit a more regionally appropriate joint. For instance, Old Brick Pit Barbeque is actually not far from Speedy’s hood.
Speedy: The first thing to come out were the brisket egg rolls and boy were they good. It was an egg roll filled with brisket, onions, and a little bit of mustard sauce. A simple concept executed to perfection. It made me wonder – why don’t more things come in egg rolls? Another conversation for another time I guess.
Monk: You may recall that Speedy also really loved the southern egg rolls from The Pit in Raleigh. This guy just loves a good egg roll, darnit. Can’t say he’s wrong, though.
Speedy: We also had brisket as part of our combo platter, and ordered the fatty cut. Loyal readers of this blog know I’ve sworn off of North Carolina brisket. I’m happy to report I will not have to make the same proclamation in Georgia. It wasn’t the best brisket I ever had, but it was had a solid bark, good flavor and tenderness, and was just solid.
While the coarsely pulled pork had bark mixed it, I found it to be disappointingly dry and bland. Texas joints aren’t generally known for their pork, and that was certainly the case for Fox Bros.
Speedy: The ribs, on the other hand, were meaty and cooked to perfection. I was able to get a nice, clean bite and enjoyed the flavor. I do think there could have been a little more dry rub used, but overall a good rib. I was similarly impressed with the smoked wings, that came with a spicy bbq sauce. I’d consider them a must order for wing lovers.
Monk: The jalapeno cheddar link was a special on the day we were there, but being that it had cheddar Speedy was unable to partake. I liked it quite a bit, though I will say my sausage knowledge is still lacking. Having followed Fox Bros on Instagram for the past few years, one of my most anticipated items to try was the Frito Pie. Brisket chili, cheese, jalapenos, and sour cream mixed into a bag of Fritos. It was one of the best things I ate at that meal and if I can’t find it closer to home in NC, then I’m almost certainly going to have make my own version of it at home.
Speedy: The collards were quite good, and I’ll order them again, but they didn’t really make or break the meal. The tater tots were ordered were better than average, as they were seasoned nicely. Of course the big win was at the end of the meal when friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong lost credit card roulette and picked up the tab. Thanks, buddy!
Monk: Oh right! Thanks for reminding me of my favorite part as well. I definitely won’t go as far as to say that I was disappointed with our meal at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – the food was generally above average and the beer was cold. Whether the buildup in my head was fair is a valid question, but in any case I was hoping for just a little more.
Autographed copy of Barbecue Crossroads by Robb Walsh
This past Wednesday night, I had the good fortune of attending another barbecue dinner at Midwood Smokehouse (who previously hosted Skylight Inn’s Sam Jones in November 2013), this time with special guest James Beard Award-winning author Robb Walsh. Just like last time around NoDa Brewing (and their head brew master Chad) was in the house, pairing each course with one of their beers. And as it turns out, Ed Mitchell happened to be there too! Now, I was planning to go to this event as soon as I got word of the event but then lucky for me, a marketing coordinator for Midwood reached out to the Barbecue Bros and offers a free press pass. Done and done.
The theme of the night was Tex-Mex, a subject of which Robb Walsh certainly is no stranger – his books include The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook, The Tex-Mex Cookbook, Nuevo Tex-Mex, and…well, you get the idea. And as I would come to find out over the course of the night, Walsh is no stranger to owner Frank Scibelli – he has consulted on both Midwood Smokehouse as well as his Tex-Mex concept Paco’s Taco’s & Tequila. Seeing as how I have yet to make it back out to Texas in several years (a fact which Speedy and Rudy like to hold over my head), the prospect of a Tex-Mex style barbecue menu intrigued me.
The first course paired tortilla chips with three salsas (one of which was a revelation, unfortunately I can’t recall exactly which one), Frito Pie (a delight which I hadn’t yet experienced in all my years), and campechana (basically, a Tex-Mex shrimp cocktail) with NoDa’s CAVU blonde ale. I must say, if there weren’t two more courses coming, I could have eaten just Frito Pie all night long. Damn, it was that good.
Beef rib and barbacoa served with tortillas highlighted the second course with NoDa’s Black IPA, Midnight Madness. The beef rib was served both on and off the bone, and I came dangerously close to taking the entire bone for myself before realizing that oops, I should actually be sharing with the table instead of being a greedy freaking gus. But man, that thing was smoked to perfection and I’d be curious to see whether Midwood would ever offer it as a special – Frank Scibelli seemed to be taking an informal poll as to whether folks would ever buy it or not, so we shall see.
Finally, we ended the night with a duo of mini pies and Jam Session Pale Ale. Thankfully, the pies were indeed mini and I didn’t have to stuff myself with a big dessert (plus another beer) after the big meal. All in all, the food in each course was new and interesting and fantastic.
For the Sam Jones dinner, I recall them having four courses and I felt like we were constantly rushing to finish the food in each course and chugging beer. This time around, the three courses provided a nice balance between eating and drinking and actually being able to breathe between courses, converse with our table neighbors, and finish beers. So, whether done on purpose or just happenstance, well done by Midwood on the change.
After dinner, I was able to speak briefly with Ed Mitchell and his son/business partner Ryan. I mentioned how much I loved his barbecue and was looking forward to what they would do next. After a period of time they will be making an announcement on what they’ll be doing next, but in the meantime it sounds like he might be doing some things with Frank at Midwood. Logistically, they would have to figure out how Midwood’s Texas-manufactured offset smoker would jive with Mitchell’s brand of eastern NC whole hog barbecue cooked over direct coals, but the prospect of Ed Mitchell smoking barbecue in Charlotte is just too exciting for me to handle.
I also got a chance to briefly speak with Midwood’s Pitmaster Matt Berry and relayed to him and Frank the nice post from our meetup with Marie, Let’s Eat! posted earlier this week. Really nice guys, those two. I gotta say, I love these barbecue dinners (which benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance) and hope Midwood continues to have them when the right occasion presents itself. As long as they keep doing them you will find me there, press pass or not.