Linkdown: 4/8/15

– If you are still wanting to participate in a barbecue-related bracket, Red Clay Soul’s Georgia barbecue bracket is down to the Final Four and voting ends at 10pm ET tonight

– The latest in Arrogant Swine’s Serious Eats series examines the sounds of being the boss, and ends on a really great note about his assistant Roland

My assistant Roland came from the Doe Fund, a halfway house for the homeless. Mistakes from a previous life guaranteed that his resume was heading into the trash can everywhere he looked. Even his parole officer called me, asking if I was sure I wanted to have him around. In Roland I found a student, one who was eager not only to work but also develop a passion for cooking whole hog barbecue. If you ever walk by the Swine at 2 a.m. and smell the smoke from our burning oak logs, wave towards the pit room. You’ll likely see Roland smile and wave right back.

Towards the end of 2014, Time Out magazine compiled a top 100 list of dishes around New York City. In the meat section stood our whole hog barbecue. I posted a picture of Roland for all the world to see. Here was a man who before the Swine never worked a day in the kitchen, competing head to head with the best and most talented chefs in the world. He looked triumphant, and I was bursting with pride.

– Burger Mary takes a deeper look at The Joint, a Texas-style barbecue joint in New Orleans

– Mac’s Speed Shop on South Blvd is one of Charlotte Five’s Top 10 places to have a beer outside in Charlotte

– Old Hickory House closed its N. Tryon location last Saturday but sounds like they could be reopening at a new location at some point

Serving a packed house this week shows them the support from the community, hoping they decide to reopen somewhere else.

“We’re just going to take it easy for a little while, probably get back into it. Where, I don’t know, but somewhere local,” said Carter.

– Wendell man Christopher Prieto has released a barbecue and smoking book, entitled Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ

More coverage on Midwood Smokehouse’s upcoming Charlotte location in Ballantyne

– Bob Garner’s (aka the Minister of Barbecue Culture at Raleigh’s The Pit) latest book reviewed

– Several barbecue restaurants are deemed the best restaurant in each NC county by Charleston Food Bloggers including The Smoke Pit in Cabarrus, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Cleveland, Lexington Barbecue in Davidson (duh), Tarheel Bar-B-Q in Gates, and Parker’s Barbecue in Pitt

– Once again, congrats to Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge for their championship in Garden and Gun’s Ultimate Barbecue Bracket

Linkdown: 2/25/15

– The chapter on Midwood Smokehouse from Marie, Let’s Eat! was posted earlier this week (our photos from the meet up here); he also checked out Mac’s Speed Shop during his Charlotte-area travels in January

– More on Smoke Modern Barbeque’s second location in Ballantyne

– A review of Uncle J’s BBQ and Restaurant in Kings Mountain from the Gaston Gazette

Expansion into the South is a sign of City Barbeque’s success; Speedy checked out their Cary location a few weeks back and thought it was decent

– Could Aaron Franklin actually win a James Beard Award?

– Did you know a barbecue pork sandwich chain used to dominate Texas and the rest of the south?

– Lexington makes the list on Thrillist’s list of best barbecue cities in the US

– Lockhart also makes the list at #3, and TMBBQ has a timeline of the city’s barbecue

– Is chicken mull having a moment? First a post on The Daily South, then another on Serious Eats (granted, both by Robert Moss), now Garden and Gun has a recipe

Mac’s Speed Shop – Charlotte, NC (Steele Creek)

: Mac’s Speed Shop (Steele Creek)
Date: 1/25/15
Address: 2414 Sandy Porter Rd., Charlotte, NC 28273
Order: Small pork platter with collards and cole slaw (hush puppies included) (link to menu)
Price: $11

Speedy and I have previously lamented Mac’s Speed Shop and how far it had fallen off in our eyes since we first started going there in 2005. This might have something to do with the fact that they’ve gone full franchise, with five locations in the Carolinas from Charlotte to Fayetteville and even Greenville, SC. Franchising can sometimes have the effect of lowering quality across the board, and I’ve felt that to be the case for Mac’s. But hey, when you’re in Fort Mill on a Sunday and have been given the green light for barbecue you take what’s nearby and open at 11am.

Seeing as this was Sunday morning and Speedy and I had just met with the Marie, Let’s Eat! crew at Midwood Smokehouse the night before, I opted for just the pork platter (also, Mrs. Monk wasn’t interested in splitting the combo platter with me). The pulled pork comes pre-sauced with their Carolina BBQ sauce and while it is tender and moist, it isn’t very smokey. Particularly when I compare it to the wood smoked barbecue at Midwood Smokehouse the night before. But, other than the noticeable lack of smoke, the pork was still decently tasty in its own right.

I’ve mentioned before, but I love the hush puppies that Mac’s serves with the side of honey butter on the side. Plus, the hush puppies themselves were hot and fresh out of the fryer. Seeing as how this was two meals of barbecue in two for me, I went with the slightly healthier choices of slaw and collards. The slaw is a mayo and vinegar concoction and is really pretty good. The collards had real nice flavor and when I wasn’t able to finish much of mine Mrs. Monk was more than happy to have them boxed up for leftovers.

As I read back on our review of the original location of Mac’s Speed Shop, I can’t help but feel as if we may have been a touch harsh (though I do remember the brisket being as bad as we rated it). I will say that this location is very reminiscent of the original South Blvd location and that means plenty of tv’s, a good beer list, and a nice looking outdoor patio (not that anyone was out there on a sunny but chilly January morning). On this visit and at this location, I have rated it just a tad higher than our review of South Boulevard. However, you could still do a fair amount better in Charlotte for barbecue and unfortunately it’s not nearly as good as it used to be.


Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
Mac's Speed Shop BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Linkdown: 1/28/15

– Check out The NC BBQ Map’s Top 5 Most Adventurous Charlotte BBQ Restaurants on Charlotte on the Cheap; we even lent them our photo of 10 Park Lanes to use!

Ask a North Carolinian about their favorite BBQ, and you’re likely to incite a great debate. Everyone knows exactly where to find the “best” BBQ, and The Great NC BBQ Map will help you track down your favorite style around the state. But we believe that even the most ordinary things can be turned into an adventure with just the tiniest shift of perspective. Above all, that was the goal of our map. These top five highlight some of Charlotte’s most unique BBQ joints and are a reminder of our motto: “Every Day Is an Adventure.” #EDIA

– Snooks BBQ has reopened in Davie County as of last Thursday; its hours are 11-7 Thursday through Saturday

– Q 4 Fun reviews 521 BBQ and Grill’s Tega Cay location

– Garden and Gun Magazine check out Hite’s Bar-B-Que in West Columbia, SC in their latest issue

– Robert Moss goes even deeper on chicken mull

– Also from Moss, slaw or pickles: who ya got?!?! – there’s even a poll for you to weigh in

– Rep. Robert Pittenger paid off his Panthers playoff bet with Washington state representatives with barbecue from Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte

– Our State checks in at Grady’s this month

Linkdown: 1/21/15

– You may have heard recently that Chipotle is out of carnitas at 1/3 of its locations, but Charlotte Magazine is glad at least several local dishes aren’t affected

Midwood Smokehouse’s ribs

You know that feeling when you get to Midwood Smokehouse a little too late, and you see someone being served the last fall-off-the-bone, flavorful rack of ribs? Yeah, let’s hope that their pork supply remains plentiful. 1401 Central Ave., 704-295-4227,

Mac’s Speed Shop’s pulled pork 

Chipotle may be able to pull it off, but barbecue joint without pork? This is one place where if we’re coming in for the smoky, Carolina-sauced pulled pork, we won’t be so happy to substitute the chicken. 2511 South Boulevard, 704-522-6227,

– Robert Moss’s 5 great interstate highway barbecue joints includes Fuller’s Barbecue, who we visited last fall

– In Madison County, Robin Reeves is raising her heritage-breed pigs partly on whiskey mash; introducing: WhiskeyPigs

The WhiskeyPigs name refers to Troy & Sons’ spent mash, which the pigs and Reeves’ other animals slurp down for 30 days prior to slaughter. With 10,000 pounds of mash per week, the distillery produces more than enough for the WhiskeyPigs fleet. The majority of the 2-3 percent alcohol concoction is collected for another local dairy farmer’s cows.

“They’re a little bit calmer, because they’ve had a little buzz,” says Reeves of the pigs’ final month, “but they’re pretty calm as it is. It’s their personality.”

– According to Atlanta Eats, Buxton Hall’s barbecue pop-up at Kimball House in Atlanta is one of the best things they ate this week

Upcoming Asheville BBQ joint, Buxton Hall made the journey down to Atlanta on Sunday. In one word: incredible. The line was long to get to the porky goodness, but it was SO worth it. The pulled pork was perfectly cooked and I’m still thinking about the fresh bread it rested on. So, roadtrip to Asheville soon?

Barbecue for breakfast? It’s definitely a thing in Texas.

– The latest barbecue stops for Marie, Let’s Eat! are Paul’s Bar-B-Q in Lexington, GA and Rooter’s BBQ in Athens

– The barbecue Illuminati gathered for the Whole Hog Extravaganza at 17th Street BBQ this week:

– Daniel Vaughn has some great photos, in particular

– Sugar Creek Brewing in Charlotte and Team Spearhead are having a barbecue benefit this Saturday to benefit the Charlotte Bridge Home; brisket and barbecued chicken will be served

– According to this, Kansas and Missouri are the only two states with “BBQ” restaurants at a disproportionate level of representation, according to Yelp; more explanation here

Here’s the breakdown for NC for your reference; I wonder if all those “Southern” restaurants also included barbecue

North Carolina

  1. Southern — 229 percent higher than national average.
  2. Cheesesteaks — 207 percent higher than national average.
  3. Hot dogs — 80 percent higher than national average.
  4. Chicken wings — 47 percent higher than national average.
  5. Soul food — 39 percent higher than national average.

Linkdown: 11/19/14

– Charleston-based food writer Robert Moss (who has written two books on barbecue) is named barbecue editor for Southern Living magazine

SL: How about a little preview. Where are the best places to grab barbecue in the Carolinas?

RM: There are so many great places to eat barbecue in the Carolinas [note, folks in “the Carolinas” always say “the Carolinas” and not “Carolina,” because to us they are two distinct places, just like the Dakotas] that it’s hard to narrow it down. But, here are a few can’t-miss places that should be on everybody’s list: Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC; Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC; Allen & Son in Chapel Hill (the one on Millhouse Road, north of town); Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC; Jackie Hite’s in Leesville, SC; and, just about any of the dozen joints in Lexington, North Carolina, that still cook with wood, like Barbecue Center, Lexington Barbecue, and Cook’s Barbecue.

– Speaking of which, here is his first blog post on Southern Living’s The Daily South blog on John Lewis and his upcoming Charleston barbecue restaurant

“I’ve been looking for another city to go open a barbecue place,” he says. He considered Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, but decided the soil wasn’t fertile enough there. “South Carolina is deeply rooted in the barbecue tradition,” Lewis says. “People here [in Charleston] have been very receptive to what I make.”

– Belmont-based competition team Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ took home a grand championship at last weekend’s When Pigs Fly Barbecue Festival in Fayetteville, the latest NC BBQ Association event

– Interesting question posed by Burger Mary: Are you eating bad BBQ or just being served by bad staff? (via)

– Mac’s Speed Shop here in Charlotte is the latest to get the Our State barbecue profile treatment, though I think the writer goes a little too far in his praise of the joint

– More coverage on Carolina ‘Cue and its creator Elizabeth Karmel, who is coming to next month’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival

– The Great NC BBQ Map team stops by WNCN in Raleigh to have an east vs. west barbecue tasting

They also have some map signings coming up around North Carolina, starting on November 28 in Belmont

– Pro tip: Don’t forget to rest your brisket

– Midwood Smokehouse is taking orders for smoked turkey (and other meats and sides) until next Monday, November 24th

– Elliott Moss (of the forthcoming Buxton Hall) is doing an eastern style barbecued heritage turkey as part of a pick-up dinner for Thanksgiving; details here

Linkdown: 10/2/13

– North Carolina has a new law which allows the concealed carry of firearms in more businesses, but Lexington Barbecue still posts a sign prohibiting firearms on its premises

– A recap of last weekend’s Whole Hog State Championship in Raleigh

– BBQ Jew has some deets on the Allen & Son (Pittsboro, not Chapel Hill) expansion into a former Jackson Bros BBQ in Sanford

– The Red BBQ sauce from Mac’s Speed Shop beat over 250 competitors to win first place in the Tomato Sauce category at this year’s Memphis in May; you can’t have that recipe but here’s the recipe for their vinegar sauce 

– Our State magazine recently reviewed Speedy’s Barbecue in Lexington (our review here) and Blackbeard’s BBQ & C-Food in Tarboro

– The 84th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue will begin at 10am on October 24 and I hope to attend this year

A crowd of nearly 20,000 is expected to tackle 14,600 pounds of pork barbecue; 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew; 2 tons of coleslaw and 400 gallons of coffee.

Mac’s Speed Shop – Charlotte, NC


Name: Mac’s Speed Shop
Date: 6/22/2012
Location: 2511 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Order: VTX Chipotle Smoked Wings, Combo Platter (St. Louis style ribs, brisket, pork, sausage), Kansas City Beef rib, mac & cheese, baked beans, collard greens, brunswick stew, hush puppies (link to menu)
Bill: ½ dozen Smoked wings – $5; Combo Platter (included two sides) – $16; Beef rib plate (included two sides) – $16

Speedy: Our next visit was the Charlotte staple, Mac’s Speed Shop. When I first moved to Charlotte, Monk and I used to be pretty regular visitors to Mac’s, but truth be told, that was partly due to a lack of better options than anything else. In fact, I don’t think either of us had been since Midwood Smokehouse opened up. In fact, our guest for the evening, Sus, was trying to convince us to skip Mac’s in favor of the Smokehouse. More on our buddy Sus later…

Monk: Mac’s is a “biker bar” and while it does attract a biker crowd, there’s nothing there that would make your average yuppie squirm or feel uncomfortable. In fact, I’d argue that yuppies are really the true target demographic for Mac’s. Since we’ve started coming here, it has expanded its patio seating to one of the better patios in town and thankfully we were able to sit outside on a Friday night with no wait. One of the things I’ve always dug about the place is the great beer selection – this is the only bar or restaurant in Charlotte that I am aware of where I can get my longtime favorite beer, Rogue Hazelnut Brown (in a 20 oz. bomber, nonetheless). They have a wide variety of beers on draft and bottle, and were even doing the canned craft beer thing before it was fashionable to do so, so credit to them for that.

Speedy: Our order here was actually a pretty difficult choice. We obviously were going with a combo platter, but wanted even more variety beyond that. For some reason, Monk took a shine to the Kansas City beef rib on the menu, so that was ordered as well, along with an appetizer of smoked wings.

Rudy: I can’t decide if I feel jealous of the fact that you guys are always getting wings at your barbecue places. While I love wings and I love barbecue, I have never been to a barbecue place that offers wings.  I think I am going to have to find some and try them at some point.

Monk: I guess that’s a good thing about going to these “barbecue fusion” places – you get things like wings on the menu. I hadn’t had a beef rib in I don’t know how long (I missed out on them at Buz and Ned’s) and we don’t really see them on most menus, so I thought it might be something worth checking out. This was our buddy Sus’s first time taking in a barbecue spot with us since the blog started, and he couldn’t have been more lost. Between me stepping away to take photos and us wanting to sample just about everything, he eventually decided to focus on his beer and let the pros handle things.

Speedy: The wings came out pretty quickly – and we got 7 even though we only ordered a half dozen…suckers. They were quite good – properly smoked and the sauce had a decent but not overwhelming kick. Definitely one of the best parts of the meal.

Monk: The entrees didn’t take long before they were brought out and HOLY HELL IS THAT A BRONTOSAURUS RIB?!?! The beef rib was by far the largest one I’ve ever seen. I mean, it was comically large – as in straight out of the Flintstones or something.

Rudy: That was one of the things I had to get used to in Texas coming from North Carolina. I thought you ordered a rack of ribs, but they were selling them by the pound… and a single rib was a whole pound! I think they are very good, but I also feel strange when I order them because I think they look comical.

Speedy: As for the meat, I think we both agree that the brisket was just bad. It was tough, overdone, and lacked flavor. I couldn’t have been more disappointed. I know brisket is tough to cook, but it amazes me how bad some of these NC places are at it. Mac’s was probably the worst. I’ve had the brisket there before and don’t remember it being that bad, so it could’ve been an off-night, but I think it’s best to just steer clear.

Monk: While the pulled pork had decent bark (at least what I pulled onto my plate did; Speedy had some complaints), the meat was dry and begged for one of the three sauces on the table – Carolina BBQ, Red BBQ, and SC Mustard. Ok, well not really the SC Mustard – I mean, who would add that to pulled pork?

Speedy: I have no idea why these places insist on serving it. I definitely have opened up to different barbecue style over the last several years – mainly due to being able to travel to Memphis, St. Louis, and Texas and sample all that’s there. However, I’ve also spent lots of time in South Carolina (and had some great barbecue there), but I’ve yet to budge on my opinion that mustard just does not belong on barbecue. But anyway, off my soap box and back to the food.

Monk: As for the beef rib, well…I liked it a bit more than Speedy did but it was quite fatty. We were expecting a platter of beef spare ribs, not a huge slab of meat connected to a single bone. Looking on the menu online now, I do see that it does say “rib” singular. Other than the hilarity of how big it was, in hindsight it wasn’t the best decision to order.

Speedy: I thought the St. Louis style ribs were pretty good. They probably could have been a little more tender, but I did like the sauce quite a bit. If I went back, this is probably what I’d order.

Monk: I would agree. As has been documented here, I’m becoming more and more a fan of Texas sausage. So much so, in fact, that it’s now pretty much an automatic order if I see it on the menu. The sausage here was a bit dry and required the mustard sauce that it came with, but it still had good flavor and was one of the better parts of the meal.

Speedy: I was disappointed that the combo platter only came with one sausage link (to be fair, we did order the small platter), and I thought the sausage was pretty good, so I ended up ordering a sausage sampler and some hushpuppies for dessert.

Monk: Mac’s serves sides of honey butter along with the hush puppies (of which I am a huge fan) – so big ups on that.

Speedy: The sampler came with Texas beef sausage, andouille sausage, and kielbasa. All were good, though I think they were overcooked slightly. The mustard based barbecue sauce worked well with the sausage. I also had a hard time distinguishing between the three types. Initially, I thought ordering this extra plate was a mistake, but when Sus decided to pick up the bill, it suddenly was a great idea again.

Rudy: The only thing better than barbecue is FREE barbecue.  

Monk: I couldn’t agree more! Speaking of Sus, while Speedy and I were comparing notes aloud on each meat during the meal he simply couldn’t understand why we didn’t think everything tasted as amazing to us as it did to him. To be fair, he is more of a burger guy, but c’mon Sus not everything was “ZOMG AMAZING YOU GUYS.”

Speedy: I guess not everyone has a sophisticated enough palette to be a Barbecue Bro, Monk.

Monk: True, not everyone can hang. So, Speedy, other than the atmosphere of the outdoor patio is there much of a reason for you to recommend folks come here if they are looking for good barbecue?

Speedy: No – not really. Like you said, the beer selection and atmosphere are really the best things about the restaurant, and while I appreciate that, it’s not what you want from a barbecue joint. So if you’re looking to have a beer or two with friends in a fun spot on Friday night, by all means, go to Mac’s. If you’re looking for good, authentic barbecue, there’s definitely better options.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sausage – 3 hogs
St. Louis Style Ribs – 3 hogs
Kansas City Style Beef Rib – 2.5 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs







Mac's Speed Shop BBQ on Urbanspoon

Macs BBQ on Foodio54