The Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate (2021)

Monk: A lot (and I mean, a lot) has changed since the last time I did a “Best of Charlotte” series in 2016. Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and Queen City Q, both winners in several categories, are both no longer in business. Neither are Sauceman’s or Bill Spoon’s, who in 2016 placed in ribs and pork respectively.

The Smoke Pit had the best brisket at the time and since then Jon G’s, Sweet Lew’s, and Noble Smoke have all opened their doors with wood-smoked brisket that each edges out the offerings from The Smoke Pit.

Midwood Smokehouse didn’t top any one category in 2016 but still had a strong showing by being in the top three in each of the five categories: pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, and other. Thankfully, they are still around and are well represented on this list.

Now, onto our picks for the “Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate.”

Pork – Noble Smoke

Jim Noble and team are carrying on the 100+ years-old legacy of Lexington-style barbecue at Noble Smoke in west Charlotte. Simply rubbed with salt and pepper and smoked directly over wood coals in their custom brick masonry pit (named “John”) whose design was borrowed with permission from family friends the Monk family of Lexington Barbecue, upon tasting the pork transports you an hour or so north up I-85.

Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Brisket – Jon G’s Barbecue

The meat that put Jon G’s on the map. Of their many spectacular smoked meats, the brisket is the one must order every time you go. Do it and you won’t be disappointed. Trust me.

Honorable Mention: Noble Smoke

Ribs – The Smoke Pit

This one was a surprise from a recent trip that Speedy and I took to the Gastonia location of the local mini-chain of restaurants in late 2020. On that visit, Speedy noted that the dry rub ribs had the perfect bite with just the right amount of spice. I couldn’t agree more and it was the standout meat of that meal.

Honorable Mention: Jon G’s

Sausage – Cheerwine Hot Link from Jon G’s

A truly unique sausage made in-house at Jon G’s, with Salisbury, NC-based Cheerwine taking the place of the water used in the sausage-making process. The end result isn’t overly sweet or “Cheerwine-y” but it does impart a slight sweetness to counteract the heat of the jalapeno.

Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Beef Rib – Midwood Smokehouse

The beef rib is a weekend special at Midwood Smokehouse and upon my last visit is available every week for a cut-rate price of $32, well below what you would pay if it were charged by the pound.

Honorable Mention: Jon G’s BBQ (not available all weekends)

Side – Hash and rice from Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Hash and rice isn’t something you find in Charlotte, much less North Carolina, as its almost strictly a South Carolina barbecue dish. Sweet Lew’s differs from what you would find at True BBQ in West Columbia or Sweatman’s in Holly Hill in that instead of the off parts of the pig it uses pork as well as brisket, but I just love that they now offer it fulltime on their menu whereas it used to be a Wednesday special only.

Honorable Mentions: Pork skins from Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Smoked Meatballs from Midwood Smokehouse, Smoked wings from Noble Smoke

Friday Find: Hannah Raskin Discusses Barbecue Hash on SouthBound

Charleston Post and Courier food critic and reporter Hanna Raskin joins Tommy Tomlinson’s SouthBound podcast. The conversation kicks off for the first 7 or so minutes discussing her feature from February on barbecue hash before moving on to a variety of things food and food criticism-related, including her recent article on Myrtle Beach buffets in the age of coronavirus.

Linkdown: 4/7/20

Killer Mill Scale emergency relief raffle. A $20 ticket can win you the whole she-bang

Fox Bros out of Atlanta is doing a killer raffle of their own with $20 tickets

Kevin’s BBQ Joints has a nationwide list of barbecue joints that are shipping

Hillbilly’s Barbeque & Steaks in Lowell is moving to a new building on South Main Street

Getting excited for Wilber’s return

More on Wilber’s , who will be offering takeout when they open in May assuming social distancing due to coronavirus is still in effect

Is SC hash poised to invade Texas?

What is this sorcery from LeRoy and Lewis?

Speaking of LeRoy and Lewis:

Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Rockdale, TX with the “Corona Blueprint”

Candidates we can all (mostly) agree on:

This week in memes (for background, here):

Linkdown: 4/1/20

With the recent return to curbside service as a result of social distancing, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge returns to its roots of carhops

Last week’s Smoke Sheet examined how barbecue joints are adapting to Covid-19

Horn Barbecue in Oakland is raising money to help feed the community during covid-19

Josh Bowen of John Brown Smokehouse is raising money for ER workers in NYC

Neil McClure of McCure’s Barbecue and the Deswine Intervention competition team smoked barbecue for Children’s Hospital workers last weekend in New Orleans

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest has been rescheduled to Sept 30-Oct 3

There is no ‘I’ in barbecue

Johnson Family Barbecue in Durham had a recent incident with a Postmates driver and the owner Wayne Johnson has made things worse by responding to negative Yelp reviews with racist and inflammatory language

The death of barbecue hash was perhaps premature, writes Robert Moss for Southern Living

Pinkerton’s BBQ owner Grant Pinkerton is interviewed by The Andy Staple Show on The Athletic and discusses how his staff are dealing with Covid-19

Uncorked is a new Netflix movie set in a Memphis barbecue restaurant that serves…brisket?

WILBER’S BACK (soon)