Monk: The biggest barbecue news in Charlotte from April to June was surely the inaugural edition of the Carolina BBQ Festival held in late May. You can revisit my recap of the memorable day here:
The festival sold out of all tickets for this year’s edition and Lewis Donald has some big plans for next year. More news on that front should be coming in the next few days or weeks according to a recent Instagram post. Follow them on Instagram to find out as soon as its posted.
The rest of the Charlotte barbecue news from the past 3 months:
4/4 In news you don’t like to see, Noble Smoke and a neighboring business The Good Life got involved in a parking dispute
4/5 The owners of Seoul Food Meat Co open a fast casual wing-focused restaurant in South Park
4/25 Axios Charlotte names The Smoke Pit as one of the recommended places to eat when in Concord just north of Charlotte
5/10 The inaugural Carolina BBQ Festival officially sells out weeks ahead of its debut
5/24 The Carolina BBQ Festival in photos
5/25 Sweet Lew’s BBQ makes this list from Thrillist on the “57 American barbecue joints to visit right now”
6/1 We collaborate with our friends at The Smoke Sheet to recap the Carolina BBQ Festival
6/3 The fan favorite G’s Burger is taken off the Jon G’s Barbecue menu for a “short hiatus”
6/5 Midwood Smokehouse and Jon G’s Barbecue are two of the 13 barbecue restaurants included in Cheerwine’s Carolina ‘Cue Tour
6/5 Not to be outdone, Gaston County launches a barbecue trail of their own. The Gaston County Cue Trail has 7 barbecue restaurants on the list, the oldest of which even opened back in 1946
6/25 Sweet Lew’s BBQ collaborates with Chef Corey Siegel on a sandwich pop-up
6/26 Jon G’s Barbecue headed to Charleston for a pop-up with Palmira BBQ at Hobcaw Brewing
6/30 The Charlotte Observer posts their latest list of Charlotte-area barbecue joints; some good, some not so good on the list but that’s a reflection of Charlotte barbecue more than anything else.
Monk: The Charlotte barbecue scene, along with the entire restaurant industry, remains in flux. Longtime Belmont staple Buddy’s BBQ closed in February after 25 years. A second location of Noble Smoke opened in Optimist Hall. The Carolina Barbecue Festival was announced for May and has a chance to put Charlotte on the map. However, no barbecue boom appears on the horizon for Charlotte anytime soon. Here’s a roundup of news from the past 3 months.
1/2 Big Tiny’s BBQ expands its hours in the new year
1/3 By popular demand the pizza collab by Jon G’s Barbecue and Salud continued into January
1/4 Noble Smoke is the only barbecue restaurant on Charlotte Magazine’s annual list of the 50 best restaurants in Charlotte
1/10 RayNathan’s celebrates 3 years open
1/20 Garren of Jon G’s Barbecue profiled on the Ministers of Smoke Instagram page
1/21 A fun story from Charlotte Magazine on how Chapel Hill-born fashion designer Alexander Julian got paid in barbecue for designing the original Charlotte Hornets jerseys
2/7 Buddy’s BBQ in Belmont closed after 25 years
2/9 Cornelius-based Barvecue has raised $600 million thus far
2/9 The latest barbecue list from Only In Your State includes Jon G’s Barbecue
2/23 Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ announces the Carolina Barbecue Festival to be held May 22 at Camp North End in Charlotte
2/27 Congrats to Garren and Kelly from Jon G’s, who 2 years ago on this date closed on the former Barbee’s Barbecue location, which they would open in June 2020 just a few months into the pandemic
3/12 Actor Eric Wareheim made it all the way from LA to Jon G’s Barbecue for a Barbecue Saturday
3/14 Noble Smoke‘s second location at Optimist Hall opens; it was originally scheduled to open on 3/2
3/22 Noble Smoke is involved in a bit of controversy when a miscommunication between its landlord and a neighboring business kicks off a brouhaha
3/24 Noble Smoke and Jim Noble’s official response. As of this writing I have not seen whether an agreement has been reached.
The Southern Foodways Alliance presents a barbecue sides bracket for their contribution to this year’s March Madness. Vote now as we’re already in the Final Four, with the Championship tomorrow and the winner announced Friday.
If true, not a good look for Noble Smoke
D.G. Martin seeks input from readers on NC eateries off interstate highways for the next edition of “North Carolina Roadside Eateries”
BBQ Fest on the Neuse wants to know: are you team slaw or not?
Archibald’s BBQ is celebrating 60 years open this year
Adrian Miller on the dearly departed Boney’s Smokehouse in Denver
“Order anything but brisket”; Arthur Bryant’s pleads customers to not order their most popular cut due to rising beef prices
Franklin Barbecue’s new sauce is Spicy
J.C. Reid on Roegels Barbecue in Katy
...but I gotta say, it reminds me of the infamous “Brooklyn BBQ” meme
Name: Noble Smoke Date: 2/12/22 Address: 2216 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208 Order: Little bit of everything (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Rudy: It’s not every day that some of the Barbecue Bros are able to get together and eat barbecue. Nowadays there has to be a big event to cause it and a couple weeks ago we had a big event! Monk was turning 40 and becoming a man, which gave us a great excuse to get together and celebrate that momentous occasion with some great food. I had heard lots of great reviews of Noble Smoke and was looking forward to trying it out. So upon landing in Charlotte, I headed straight for the restaurant to meet up with Monk and others. In full disclosure, I worked at Jimmy Noble’s restaurant in High Point back in high school, but they didn’t give me an employee discount this day.
Reading the website before I came, it said to make sure you arrive early because they can have long lines, so I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as space. We sat outside, which was a fantastic set up after flying in from snowy Michigan. I am not sure if they have expanded since putting that on their site, but it looked like there was plenty of seating inside and outside and plenty of parking. I was really impressed with their setup.
Monk: I was honored that Rudy made the trip, though it made a lot more sense when he said it hadn’t been above freezing in Michigan in about a month. Regardless, we were treated to clear sunny skies and a high of 69 the day of my 40th birthday party, so it was a nice and perfect day to eat on Noble Smoke’s huge patio.
Rudy: We had a large group so we ordered a little bit of everything from the menu. My main dish was a chopped pork sandwich with western slaw. I added their Lexington style sauce to get a traditional sandwich feel. I really liked the fresh bun and slaw but thought the best part was the barbecue (as it should be). Very traditional barbecue with great flavor and plenty of moisture. It was exactly what I was expecting and hoping for.
Monk: Unfortunately, we ran out of time for me to show Rudy the Lexington-style brick pits in the smokehouse where they smoke the pork shoulders in but I’m glad the sammie hit the spot.
Rudy: The brisket was next and it was a good effort for brisket outside of Texas but wasn’t what I was used to after living in Austin for so many years. I like having more flavor on the bark and would have preferred for it to be trimmed a bit more than it was to remove some of the excess fat that did not render all the way down. Similar review for the sausage, good effort but didn’t get all the way there for me. Again, I would have preferred a bit more flavor, but I was also glad that I tried it and it was better than average.
For me, the best part by far was the sides. Normally when you say that about a barbecue place, it is usually a slight to the meat but that is not the case here; the sides are just that good! We had hushpuppies, mac and cheese, collards, pickled veggies, and brussel sprouts. Any one of them would have been a great side that would have stood on their own, but by far the brussel sprouts were the best. Not only were they cooked perfectly, they also came with a great dipping sauce, and there were a ton of them in an order. Great value and great food.
Monk: We may have gone a little overboard on the sides but I agree that Noble Smoke executes all of them at an extremely high level. Next time I’d recommend Rudy try the creamed corn but honestly I’m just happy that I got to share a barbecue meal with Rudy for the first time in a couple of years. And also that it was significantly better than the last two times we had barbecue in Ohio in 2020 at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit and Rudy’s Smokehouse.
Rudy: Overall I was very pleased with my experience at Noble Smoke. I don’t have the depth of experiences with Charlotte barbecue that Monk does, so I don’t know how it compares or ranks with other places around the city. But I thought the atmosphere was great, the food was great, and most importantly, the friends were great!
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