Friday Find: Tales From the Pits recaps their #HogTripping roadtrip

The Tales from the Pits crew and The Smoking Ho recap their epic #HogTripping roadtrip from Texas through the Carolinas and back that took place earlier this month. I even get a brief mention at around the 49:45 mark, from when I was able to briefly meet up with them at Lewis Barbecue the Saturday of Labor Day.

Linkdown: 9/26/18

– Dave Grohl learned to first love barbecue in NC, though I’m curious if he was coming inland from the beach and if so, where:

When Nirvana became popular, the first thing I did is I bought a beach house in North Carolina and spent years up there, and I just ate pulled pork like f—ing crazy from the time I was 22 to about 25 years old,” Grohl said in between temperature checks. When he broke his leg on tour a few years ago and was holed up at home, he really dove into making it himself.

– Vegan barbecue in Charlotte? For shame!

– Pitmaster Matt Horn is bringing central Texas style barbecue to Oakland

– Tim Carman loves ZZQ in Richmond

– The latest on Noble Smoke, though you may find it behind the Charlotte Business Journal paywall if you have visited the site a few times this month

– Triad fall festivals including the Barbecue Festival in Lexington and Whole Hog Barbecue Championship in Raleigh are moving ahead as planned and do not expect to be impacted by the aftermath of Florence

– The N.C. Department of Transportation and Amtrak are offering a 15% discount on train rides to Lexington during the two days of The Barbecue Festival

– Lexington has been ranked one of the smelliest cities in the US according to Expedia

The thick, sweet smoke, tangled with the scent of hickory, wafts through from the barbecue pits in Lexington. Here the air smells of tender meat, falling off the bone, slathered in the town’s very own tomato-based sauce.

– The Smoking Ho on Lewis Barbecue: “If you picked Lewis Barbecue up and placed it anywhere in Texas, it would make the Texas Monthly BBQ Top 10 list. Easily.”

Lewis Barbecue – Charleston, SC (Speedy’s take)

IMG_9521
Name
: Lewis Barbecue
Date: 8/1/18
Address: 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: 1 pound brisket, 2 hot gut links, 6 bones pork ribs, corn pudding, collards (link to menu)

Speedy: Later in the day after my trip to Rodney Scott’s BBQ (and after visiting a brewery of course), some of my fam and I decided to visit another new-ish Charleston joint I was pumped about – Lewis Barbecue. After superb visits to both Franklin Barbecue and La Barbecue (where John Lewis did stints), my expectations were super high. Finding a true Texas joint in South Carolina is definitely a treat.

The atmosphere at Lewis Barbecue is awesome. There’s an order counter, a bar, a fair amount of indoor seating and ample outdoor seating. Upon arriving, you order and just like in Texas, the meat is cut and weighed right in front of you. Even though we were still full from our earlier lunch, for our second lunch we made sure to order the brisket, pork ribs, and hot guts.

Monk: I was quite jealous when I heard Speedy and crew were doing Rodney Scott’s and then Lewis back-to-back. You may notice that most of my comments below are just agreeing with how good the food is at Lewis, and I hope I get a chance to get back there again soon (Labor Day weekend, perhaps?).

Rudy: I’m jealous too that you were able to visit Lewis Barbecue.  When he was the pitmaster at La Barbecue, that was the best brisket and maybe best ribs I’ve had, so I’ve missed him in Austin and have been wanting to try his place in Charleston.

Monk: Just throwing this out there…Barbecue Bros company retreat in Charleston next year?

Speedy: I’ll start with the brisket, as that’s the flagship meat. In short, it’s the best brisket I’ve had outside of Texas. We got a mix of fatty and lean, and both cuts were smoked to perfection, seasoned perfectly. I liked the fatty better than the lean, as I felt the lean was a bit dry. Unfortunately, this brisket did not enter into the holy quadrumvirate with Franklin, La Barbecue, Killen’s, and Pecan Lodge, but it’s certainly in the next tier down. A must order.

Rudy: Like I said before, his brisket in Texas is the best I’ve ever had (although Franklin and Pecan Lodge are very very close) so I am not surprised that it was great, but am surprised that it did not break into that group.

Speedy: I was a little surprised too, Rudy. It was still darn good and very close, but maybe it was just a slightly sub-par day or that I usually don’t order lean at all, but it just lacked that extra something special.

Monk: While I have a few more Texas joints (notably, Louie Mueller) under my belt from my trip earlier this year, Lewis Barbecue is still the best brisket I’ve personally had at a restaurant. Note that I have yet to visit any of the spots mentioned in Speedy’s quadrumvirate. Also, based on the lack of spell check squigglies, “quadrumvirate” is apparently a real word and not something made up by Speedy.

Speedy: The hot guts took things to the next level. I like smoked sausage, but have always considered it a second tier barbecue meat. Well, John Lewis is challenging that. The sausage had a perfect snap and great flavor, with just  a bit of a kick. I’m not sure the sausage could have been better.

Monk: I didn’t know that you were biased against sausage, Speedy. Six-plus years into this barbecue blog and you still manage to surprise me.

In any case, I too loved the hot guts.

Rudy: I’ve had the hot guts two times and really didn’t like it all that much.  I think they are all beef and I am not a huge fan of that because I think it can sometimes dry out or crumble.  It could have also been because I had heard so much about them and went in with huge expectations. But most people rave about it and you guys are no different.

Speedy: The ribs were also enjoyable – served with just a light glaze, these spare ribs were big and meaty, rich and tender. There was a hint of sweetness associated with the glaze, and you could clearly taste the smoke, but I would have liked a little more rub under the glaze to add a little spice and seasoning. Still quite good, but if you’re going to skip a meat at Lewis, this is the one.

The sides at Lewis Barbecue are worth more than a casual mention – they are really really good. Particularly the corn pudding was amazing, so don’t skip it.

Monk: The corn pudding was both mine and Mrs. Monk’s favorite side from Lewis as well. Jon G’s Barbecue has their own version of a corn pudding inspired by Lewis and it’s nearly as good. The takeaway here is that more joints should add corn pudding to menus.

Speedy: The meal at Lewis Barbecue was really great. Eating it in the same day as Rodney Scott’s was a real treat (as well as a challenge in terms of stomach room). Both joints are must-visit if you’re in the Charleston area and offer great insights into different styles of ‘cue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Hot guts – 5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Linkdown: 5/2/18

– Filipino food + whole hog barbecue = Awesomeness in June

– The barbecue sundae at OooWee BBQ in Pineville is worth a shot if you are in the area

– The Cheat Sheet’s top ten favorite barbecue styles certainly is a list

– Sad news out of Texas

– Home Team BBQ and Lewis Barbecue make this list of places to eat in the NoMo neighborhood of Charleston

– Haddock’s Barbecue is the latest featured barbecue joint in WNCT’s People and Places, but it only actually serves barbecue on Saturdays

– From the San Diego Union Tribune, the best barbecue chains in the US

– Barbecue: The food that has conquered, ruled and divided the South for decades

– The documentary film Barbecue won a James Beard Award last week

Linkdown: 1/31/18

– An oldie but goodie from Our State

 

– Travel and Leisure stops in Charleston and checks out the barbecue scene while they are there

Southerners have long nurtured a debate over whether Carolina-style pork or Texas-style brisket is the true king. Charleston has decided you can have it both ways. On Upper King Street, one year ago, Rodney Scott opened Rodney Scott’s BBQ, a brick temple to the low, slow, whole-hog style that put South Carolina barbecue on the map. Less than half a mile away, at Lewis Barbecue, you can sit in a gravel courtyard under the shade of a live oak and enjoy some of the best brisket in the country, Texas-style.

– John Shelton Reed has a guest post at Barbecue Bible to remind folks about True ‘Cue

– Guy Fieri recently spent some time filming “Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives” in the Wilmington area and apparently learned some things while he was there:

When asked if he favored Eastern or Western North Carolina barbecue, Fieri said he pleaded the fifth.

– From last summer, Food and Wine on where to eat and drink in Charlotte includes Midwood Smokehouse

– Seoul Food Meat Co is one of the restaurants in Southend where you can eat lunch for less than $10

– Kathleen Purvis preaches on Charlotte barbecue

Linkdown: 12/20/17

– Newsday has a solid list of good barbecue in cities across North Carolina worth a “barbecue pilgrimage”

Although there’s fantastic barbecue found throughout the state, you don’t have to leave the state’s biggest cities for an unforgettable down-home barbecue meal. Instead, loosen your belt at any of these must-visit restaurants for a quintessential North Carolina experience.

– On their list of best Charlotte barbecue restaurants, Charlotte Agenda predictably got some feedback

– ICMYI

– Speaking of Texas barbecue…

– Food and Wine explores the Atlanta barbecue scene including some Barbecue Bros faves

– Greenville, NC native Bob Garner began a regular column for the Greenville Daily Reflector on Sunday in which he might occasionally touch on barbecue

I love to listen as people get downright misty-eyed about food. For me, it’s about rural landscape and seasons, community sense, celebration of finished tasks and observing solemn events.

Monk’s 10 Favorite Barbecue Meals of 2017

Trying something new: a year-end list for my favorite barbecue meals of the year. I used to do this for music, film, and tv but in recent years that has fallen off. Perhaps this will stoke the coals of my list-making motivation in other areas, but at the very least its worth documenting the hobby which has taken up so much of my (and my poor wife’s) free time for the past 5.5 years. Come to think of it, the timeline of this blog lines up almost perfectly with my drop off in listmaking…

In any case, hope you enjoy. This will conclude our reviews and original content for 2017, but we will be back in 2018.

Monk

10. Swig & Swine – 4 hogs (review)

The Summerville location of Swig & Swine included a whole hog smoker (whereas their West Ashley location does not have enough space for one), following the popular trend of the past few years. The whole hog was quite good but their brisket and hash and rice wasn’t too bad either, 1990 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485 swigandswinebbq.com

9. Hill’s Lexington Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

Hill’s claims to be the original “Lexington Barbecue” in name (but definitely not first to serve in that style). They may be a notch below the better places in Lexington, but they are certainly not doing the style any disservice. 4005 Patterson Ave, Winston-Salem, NC 27105 

8. Barbee’s Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

This was truly a surprise for me. I kinda-sorta knew of this place and had passed by it many times , but I had no idea it would be (as I referred to it in my review) “the platonic ideal of the NC roadside barbecue shack”. A must visit, if only to step back in time a bit. Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133

7. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

In 2017, I am happy to say that I rediscovered Bill Spoon’s after a few years away. It’s about as close as we have to a barbecue institution in Charlotte (54 years and counting), and though they are an eastern NC joint and I’m a Lexington-style fanboy, I simply believe that I need to go more often. 5524 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217 spoonsbarbecue.com

6. Rodney Scott’s BBQ – 4 hogs (review)

While my expectations of the brand new Rodney Scott’s BBQ were sky high, I must say that the whole hog didn’t quite match the perfection of Scott’s BBQ back in Hemingway. Nevertheless, taking it for what it’s worth, we should all be glad that Rodney Scott has made his pork accessible without having to drive in the middle of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403 rodneyscottsbbq.com

5. Bar-B-Q King – 4.5 hogs (review)

Bar-B-Q King is another NC barbecue institution, though I only discovered it in early 2017. They do seem to be a little underrated on the NC barbecue scene despite smoking over wood for the past 46 years. Hopefully this will change. 2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092 barbqkingnc.com

4. B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – 4.5 hogs (review)

B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque was just named best restaurant in Atlanta by Eater (note no “barbecue” modifier), and for good reason. Bryan Furman is another one of the torch bearers of whole hog barbecue, but don’t sleep on his brisket or hash and rice. 2061 Main St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 bscracklinbbq.com

3. Jon G’s BBQ – 4.5 hogs (review)

It appears that Jon G’s has taken a well-deserved break due to the birth of Garren and his wife Kelly’s first child, but I can’t wait until they are back out there slinging some legit Texas-style brisket out of their recently-purchased food truck. Marshville, NC facebook.com/JonGsBBQ

2. Lewis Barbecue – 4.5 hogs (review)

Unlike Rudy and Speedy, I hadn’t really had a taste of true Central Texas barbecue since I sadly haven’t made it out there since the start of the blog. That recently changed earlier this year because John Lewis (formerly of La Barbecue) brought central Texas to Charleston and I tasted is sublime brisket. All hail the king, apparently. 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403 lewisbarbecue.com

1. Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge – 5 hogs (review)

In a year where I did not have a meal at Lexington Barbecue (my ride or die) Red Bridges is going to easily take the #1 spot on this list. Sadly, it had been nearly 4 years since my last visit but rest assured, it won’t be that long before my next. After 70+ years, they’ve still got it. 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28152 bridgesbbq.com

Honorable Mentions: The Smoke Pit – Salisbury, NC (review), DAS BBQ – Atlanta, GA (review)

Linkdown: 9/20/17

– The Port City Ribfest moves from Wilmington to Carolina Beach this November

– It’s no surprise that barbecue is North Carolina’s iconic dish according to Flavored Nation; Missouri is the only other state they list with barbecue as its iconic dish

– Charleston is one of the best food towns in the south, in part because of their barbecue restaurants

– A Washington Post travelogue to Chapel Hill includes a visit to The Pig for lunch

Gail goes with a nifty riff on North Carolina-style barbecue, a salad topped with tender chunks of Vietnamese pork cheek and crispy, dried shrimp. Ewan has a more traditional heaping plate of Eastern Carolina-style pulled pork with cider-vinegar sauce. On counsel of the affable guy behind the counter, I order a fried Bologna sandwich, which has about as much in common with my childhood memories of this luncheon meat as Spam does with chateaubriand.

– A review of Daddy Bob’s Barbeque, a promising-sounding truck in Raleigh that smokes shoulders over a mix of hickory, apple, and pecan and serves with an eastern vinegar sauce

– A group of Sampsonians will be trying to save Lewis Barbecue, which closed Labor Day weekend

Art’s Barbecue & Deli gets a short profile in Charlotte Five

– Just a reminder:

 

Linkdown: 9/13/17

RIP to the original Riverside location of 12 Bones; it is survived by the Arden location and a new Riverside location down the street coming in January 2018

Operation BBQ Relief has been helping out for weeks for Harvey and is now live for Irma

– I’ve never been here but its unfortunate when a joint open this long closes: Lewis’ Barbecue (not to be confused with the Texas joint in Charleston by John Lewis), a 70 year old barbecue restaurant in Clinton has closed

Shots fired at NC barbecue from a San Antonio journalist

Several years ago, a free afternoon during a work-related trip to North Carolina called for an obvious mission: Seek out the finest examples of the barbecue the locals hailed as the world’s best, and gorge accordingly.

But upon completion of this task, which unfortunately involved the ingestion of sad piles of shredded pork doused in a sauce consisting primarily of vinegar, one question lingered over the entire experience.

How can a state love something so much and yet still be so bad at it?

– Per Stacy Franklin, Franklin Barbecue is “hoping to open in the next two weeks” from a Texas BBQ Posse post from 9/7

– More Texas: Goode Co. BBQ in Houston (a joint that helped influence the Charlotte restaurant Midwood Smokehouse) celebrated 40 years of being open recently

– Matthew Odam recently unearthed a series of barbecue reviews from 1978 from recently passed Austin columnist John Kelso

– Always good to refresh the ol’ knowledge tank