The 10 best NC barbecue joints in Western NC

Monk: I still need to work my way through the eastern part of the state (it’s been on my to-do list for 5 years and counting…) in order to be able to make a more comprehensive North Carolina-wide list, but in the meantime here’s my list of the best NC barbecue restaurants in the western part of the state.

Please note: For the purposes of this list, I’m defining “western NC” as west of, but not including, Raleigh. In essence, I am dividing the state geographically by the two styles of barbecue but not limiting this list to purely Lexington-style/Piedmont-style/western-style barbecue joints. Make sense?

10. Old Etowah Smokehouse – Etowah (review)

A few years back Old Etowah Smokehouse was part of a trend of new whole hog joints opening up outside the eastern half of the state (more on that later). The trend may have cooled somewhat since – the amount of labor involved may have something to do with that – but Old Etowah is honoring the style properly in the shadows of the Nantahala National Forest hear Hendersonville. 6577 Brevard Rd, Etowah, NC 28729

9. Barbee’s Bar-B-Que – Peachland (review)

This was my biggest barbecue discovery of 2017, a classic highway barbecue joint off highway 74 where they are slinging near perfect Lexington-style barbecue. A true hidden gem in the small town of Peachland, which is outside of Marshville, which is outside of Monroe, which is outside of Charlotte. Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133’s-Bar-B-Q

8. Backyard BBQ Pit – Durham (review)

Backyard BBQ Pit gets somewhat overlooked in the Research Triangle Park area, but they definitely shouldn’t be. Which is somewhat curious, considering they’ve gotten coverage on Food Network’s “Man vs. Food”. Don’t make the same mistake as everyone else, and check them out. 5122 NC Hwy 55, Durham, NC 27713

7. The Barbecue Center – Lexington (review)

This underrated joint in Lexington often lives in the shadow of Lexington Barbecue not 2 miles away but many locals claim it to be the best in the city. I don’t personally happen to agree with them, but they aren’t necessarily wrong. 900 N Main St, Lexington, NC 27292

6. Allen & Son Bar-B-Que – Chapel Hill (review)

When Speedy and I checked out Allen & Son in 2012, we dinged them for their ribs instead of simply focusing on the pork. This was a mistake, and the hybrid of chopped pork shoulder with eastern sauce earned 5 hogs from us on that trip while the ribs knocked the overall rating down to 4 hogs. A return trip is surely in order to properly reassess Allen & Son (add it to the list…). 6203 Millhouse Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

5. Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton (review)

Residents in the small town of Lincolnton (20 minutes north of Gastonia and 50 minutes from Charlotte) are lucky to have had a great barbecue joint such as Bar-B-Q King serving them for the past 46+ years. This is barbecue certainly worthy of a short detour if you are on driving in 321 in that part of the state.  2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092

4. Stamey’s Barbecue – Greensboro (review)

One irony of the #BrooklynBBQ controversy was that the following week the ACC Tournament was being hosted for the second year in a row in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center instead of in its spiritual home at the Greensboro Coliseum with Stamey’s just across the street. While I am still in the camp that there is good barbecue in Brooklyn, there just isn’t anything that approaches Stamey’s. 2206 W Gate City Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27403

3. Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville (review)

I’ve been thinking about the whole hog from Buxton Hall Barbecue for nearly two years and can’t wait to get back to Asheville. From what I can tell though, Elliot Moss and team continue to blow it out of the water in South Slope. 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

2. Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby (review)

I rarely make it through Shelby without finding a reason to stop Bridges Barbecue Lodge. It might more accurately be described as more of a 1a for me behind my number 1 below, and it has yet to really let me down ever. 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28150

1. Lexington Barbecue – Lexington (review)

Lexington Barbecue aka Lexington #1 aka The Honeymonk is first, my last, my everything. 100 Smokehouse Ln, Lexington, NC 27295

Well, what do you think? What joints have I missed the mark on or left off my list entirely? Let me know in the comments below.


Linkdown: 3/7/18

When a re-posting of a 2014 article takes over the internet on a Sunday; Munchies on how one food writer noticed a micro-trend of barbecue restaurants around the world modeling their restaurants on Fette Sau in Brooklyn

– The Charlotte Observer had not one but two separate stories in response to the tweet (again, on a story that was 4 years old)

Lexington Barbecue fans react; Allen & Son fans react

– The Washington Post even weighed in; again, this story was 4 years old

– Then came the tweets. The awesome, awesome tweets.

– Oklahoma sushi:

– Brooklyn doughnuts:

– A solid mini-tweetstorm (click on Tweet to see follow-ups)

– There’s just way too many to pick from:

– I’m actually not one of those who don’t believe that Brooklyn doesn’t have good barbecue. I’ve certainly had bad barbecue in Brooklyn, but Hometown Bar-B-Que is very, very good (our review). Arrogant Swine is pretty good too (our review). Heck. even Dinosaur Barbecue wasn’t bad for a regional chain (our review). You may recall that Matthew Odam of the Austin-Statesman took a pulse check last November.

– Sam Jones agrees, and is a friend of Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que

– A few NC sportswriters in Brooklyn for this week’s ACC Tournament actually tried Fette Sau and the verdict? Actually pretty good!

When all was said and done, the four Carolina boys that showed up on their barbecue high-horse were left with little room to eat their words — fat and surprisingly happy — after chowing down on a couple pounds of meat.

– The NC State beat writer from the News & Observer tried The Smoke Joint near Barclays and didn’t mind it (we hated it nearly 6 years ago)

– But for reals, here’s a solid PSA:


Linkdown: 9/6/17

– Per their Instagram, Midwood Smokehouse is donating $1 from each pulled pork sandwich sold this week to Hurricane Harvey relief

– This past week New Bern hosted the first Piggin’ and Grinnin’ Festival for folks to enjoy barbecue and bluegrass

– Currituck BBQ Company is a recommended stop on NC 158

– The latest accolades for Lexington Barbecue are from food and travel site Rave, which compiles data from Eater, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and The Daily Meal

– They are doing some inventive things with barbecue at LeRoy & Lewis Barbecue in Austin

– An oldie from last summer

Linkdown: 8/9/17

– Seems like a good time was had by all at Pig & Pedals in Asheboro this past weekend

– Making a mental note to try berliner weisse next time I eat barbecue

– A BBQ&A with Mighty Quinn’s pitmaster Hugh Mangum

– At Lexington Barbecue, if you can’t take the heat get yo’ booty out the pit room

Photo Gallery: Quick stop in Lexington, NC

Monk: Mrs. Monk was bringing a good friend of ours a quart of Lexington Barbecue on the way from Charlotte to High Point. However, we arrived in town 15 minutes before it opened, so to kill time I had her stop by Barbecue Center first. Speedy and I had previously checked out (and dug) Barbecue Center almost 4 years ago but I hadn’t had the opportunity to go back since.


This is the first of three different signs that The Barbecue Center (or Bar-B-Q Center) has on its property.


This is sign #2 with the classic Coca-Cola signage. Note the different spelling of “barbecue”.


And finally, the iconic sign off Main Street that is the most well known of the 3. Perhaps one day I’ll devote a post to barbecue signage in and around Lexington.


The Barbecue Center is True ‘Cue certified and has the sticker to prove it. I was surprised to see that they also accepted both Apple Pay and Android Pay.


Sonny Conrad was a barbecue icon who owned the Barbecue Center and was one of the creators of the Barbecue Festival. Every year, he would present the first barbecue sandwich of the festival to the mayor of Lexington. Here are some festival posters throughout the years.


Sonny Conrad passed away in 2013 and a plaque in his memory is near the register. It is now run by his sons and his entire family works there.


I got a chopped barbecue sandwich for breakfast and it was fantastic and just as good as I remembered. As you can see, the meat-to-bun ratio is very favorable towards the meat.


Then, it was onto Lexington Barbecue to pick up that quart of barbecue and side of red slaw we had promised our friends.


The smokestacks were going full throttle at 10am on a Saturday morning, which is always a good sign.


I stepped away from the parking lot because I had never taken a photo of the street sign on the way to Lexington Barbecue and snapped this photo on the way out.


Finally, here’s my photo of Smokehouse Lane. Then, it was onto High Point.


Until next time, Lexington!

Linkdown: 12/7/16

– J.C. Reid of the Houston Chronicle: “The death of North Carolina barbecue has been greatly exaggerated”

– The Matthews location of Mac’s Speed Shop is set to open just after New Year’s

– Charlotte’s Got A Lot has 19 side dishes to order at Charlotte-area barbecue restaurants in this Charlotte Agenda post

– Buxton Hall Barbecue is of course on Atlanta Magazine’s list of places to go in Asheville

– Asheville also nabs Lonely Planet’s best places to visit in the US in 2017 list, and Buxton Hall gets a mention there as well

The South Slope area is quickly emerging as a gastronomic hotspot. Housed in a former skating rink, Buxton Hall ( offers a modern take on traditional barbecue in this throwback space. Enjoy plates of impossibly tender pork with vegetables cooked in the meat drippings, surrounded by the faded images of decades-old skating figures still visible on the walls. It also benefits from an in-house pastry chef who turns out superb sweet treats such as banana pudding pie to finish off a hearty, hog-based meal.

– The Daily Meal has the best sandwich in every state and for NC it is a chopped bbq sandwich from Lexington Barbecue

– Grant had a great sandwich Duke’s Bar-B-Que in Orangeburg, SC and found a solid spot in August, GA in Cleve Edmunds Bar-B-Que

– Does Georgia have the most bbq joints per capita? BBQ Hub explores that claim but finds that based on some quick and dirty spreadsheets Lexington, NC probably has the strongest claim to that title 

– NC joints get a shout out from Daniel Vaughn in this piece

Despite the difference in preferred protein, I think the closest style to Texas barbecue is in North Carolina. They cook primarily pork, but they still value cooking with wood just as much as we do in Texas.

Linkdown: 11/2/16

– This week in “that’s so NC” barbecue: a new barbecue joint called Redneck Barbecue Lab will take over a space that formerly housed a Dairy Queen attached to a BP off I-40 in McGee’s Crossroads

– NY Times’ 13 essential barbecue stops includes Lexington Barbecue

– Speaking of Lexington, the city’s marketing campaign is apparently paying off

– Photos from last week’s 87th Mallard Creek Annual BBQ

– Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin is expanding but the new location won’t simply be “Stiles Switch 2” according to its owner

– New York Times writer Ethan Hauser: I Hopped a Plane Just for a Barbecue Sandwich. I’d Do It Again.

I can tell you with complete assurance that 532 miles is not too far to travel for a sandwich. That is the distance between my home in Ridgewood, Queens, and theSkylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., where a man in a black apron fills the cutout between the kitchen and the cash register and wields cleavers as if they were weapons from “Game of Thrones,” one in each substantial hand.

Linkdown: 7/20/16

– Stephen Colbert is once again poking the NC barbecue bear

“North Carolina, I love you,” Colbert said, “but I’m sorry that barbecue is not as good as South Carolina.”

– Plan accordingly:

– Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! visits three Memphis-area barbecue joints: Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q, and Top’s Bar-B-Q

– Charlotte Five weighs in on 5 joints for good barbecue in Lexington, including Lexington Barbecue, The Barbecue Center, Smiley’s, and Speedy’s

– More Charlotte Five content: Mac’s Speed Shop is on this list of 4 meat-focused eateries with great vegetarian options for diner

– UberEats will be delivering Pecan Lodge to Dallas residents today from 11-2 via drones

– The Pik-N-Pig is a NC barbecue joint located at an airport near Carthage