Name: The Mallard Creek Annual BBQ
Date: 10/27/16 (4th Thursday of every October)
Address: 11400 Mallard Creek Road, Charlotte, NC 28262
Order: BBQ plate with brunswick stew, slaw, and applesauce (link to menu)
Monk: After going to the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ for each of the past three years, I figured it was time for an official review. Now in its 87th year, the Mallard Creek BBQ is by far the oldest barbecue institution in Charlotte (admittedly a city of very few old barbecue institutions). Its a one-day annual event on the fourth Thursday of every October where barbecue and local politics mix, though the politics won’t get in the way if you just want barbecue. My pro tip for any first-timers is to take a late lunch and go after 2pm when there is no line, otherwise you might be in the car for awhile.
Every year, literally tons of barbecue is smoked by an army of volunteers and this year was no different with 14,000 pounds of pork smoked. I’ve been both in mid and late afternoon and the coarsely chopped pork is always moist, a tribute to the whole operation. Add the table-side hot sauce, a spicy vinegar-based sauce (skip the other, ketchup-based one) and pile with slaw on a slice of the Merita bread loaf on every table and you’ve got a nice open-faced sandwich. On this recent visit, I did this twice and had ample amounts of pork left over.
Really, the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ is probably more well known for its brunswick stew though its not the typical brunswick stew. Per Kathleen Purvis, instead of potatoes it has rice. Instead of shredded chicken and beef, it has ground-up chicken, beef and pork. Instead of lima beans, it has only corn and tomatoes. I’m still no expert on the dish but I would go so far as to say its one of the best versions of the dish I’ve had. On the October days when the weather is a little more brisk, its a very welcome dish. Though it was a little on the warmer side this year.
It is my opinion that any true barbecue fan in the Charlotte area should make it a point to go to the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ at least once. Other publications have covered its history much more extensively, but in short its a great event put on by the folks of Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church. You should go.
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brunswick Stew – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
– 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.
– The Mallard Creek BBQ is tomorrow and Rachel Rollar of NBC Charlotte has a preview; she also reports that some of the proceeds will go to help victims of Hurricane Matthews
– The NC Barbecue Revival is this coming weekend, and the Raleigh News & Observer’s Mouthful blog has a post on the origin of the festival
– They also get a write up in Durham Magazine
When Sunday arrives, prepare yourself for the weekend’s culminating event by attending the BBQ Church, a service that pays tribute to the “Barbecue Man,” through debate and discussion of the whole hog. Next up is to what all you barbecue connoisseurs should look forward to: the pig pickin’ and picnic. Hosted by Picnic, join local chefs as the community comes together to share in this time-honored meal that includes delicious sides and desserts. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the sounds of bluegrass music, take part in a pie auction and pick a spot on the trailer for a hay ride. With wines and a beer garden provided by local vendors, the event will also feature a wide variety sips to delight in along with all that delectable barbecue.
– …and Food and Wine
– Speaking of Picnic, here’s barbecue man Wyatt Dickson’s love letter to barbecue
– Grant takes a drive not too close and not too far to Sequatchie Valley BBQ in Dunlap, TN
– This November, vote your conscience:
– This year’s Mallard Creek Barbecue will be Thursday, October 27
In 2016, we expect to cook 14,600 pounds of pork barbecue, prepare 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew, shred 2 tons of Cole slaw, brew 400 gallons of coffee, and entertain close to 20,000 people. Four drive-thru take out lines will be operated for orders of one sandwich up to EXTRA large group orders. Orders of 50-plates or more can be quickly accommodated with a call ahead to the take-out stand.
– Fox Bros BBQ is on this Food Republic list of 10 places to eat in Atlanta right now
– Charlotte Agenda checked out Midwood Smokeshack a few weeks back
– Their Raleigh sibling documented last weekend’s Whole Hog Barbecue Championship in photos and words
– The editor of the Winston-Salem Journal writes a love letter to NC barbecue but seemingly doesn’t realize that Lexington-style barbecue contains vinegar
– The Daily Show set up a barbecue food truck in Raleigh named Bone Bros Flamin’ BBQ that discriminated to people by accusing them of being “gay”; it was inspired by HB2
– Charlotte writer D.G. Martin’s book North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries is “a local traveler’s guide to local restaurants, diners, and barbecue joints”
– Martin’s book includes Asheville-area barbecue joints 12 Bones and Luella’s Bar-B-Que, writes the Asheville’s Mountain Express
– Charlotte Magazine goes to Lexington
– Picnic, a new whole hog barbecue restaurant in Durham, is now open
– It’s also one of Garden & Gun Magazine’s 5 restaurants they can’t wait to try
– The coast of NC is facing an invasion of other types of barbecue styles
“In all my pilgrimage up and down the coast, there was just very little good barbecue. The best you could hope for was to find something edible in a sea of mediocrity,” Early said. “When I go to the coast I go to eat fish. I don’t think of the coast as barbecue country.”
– The Charlotte Observer checked out Rusty’s Southern in San Francisco last week while there for Super Bowl 50 and found that the restaurant serves chopped Carolina pork and “would look and feel right at home in NoDa, or in his parents’ current hometown of Davidson”
– After last fall’s Hogs for the Cause was rained out, Home Team BBQ is having a block party March 12
-The title says it all: Two Franklin Barbecue Fans Joined in Holy Matrimony While Waiting in Line
– Our State takes on the Mallard Creek Barbecue
A few photos from last Thursday’s 86th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue, which I was able to make for the third year in a row. Learning from last year, I avoided the normal lunch hours and took a late lunch to encounter minimal traffic.
The barbecue was as good as I remembered, and I really enjoyed the Brunswick stew which I got two servings of when my coworker gave me hers. Admittedly, I’m no Brunswick stew expert but I enjoyed their version (for more information on the history of the dish at this event, check out this article). Looking forward to next year’s 87th installment.
– Calvin Trillin of The New Yorker heads down to NC with John Shelton Reed and Dan Levine in search of true ‘cue
For some years, I’m now prepared to admit, I somehow labored under the impression that Rocky Mount is the line of demarcation that separates the two principal schools of North Carolina barbecue. Wrong. The line of demarcation is, roughly, Raleigh, sixty miles west. The Research Triangle—the area encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill—is a sort of demilitarized zone, where someone who’s been concentrating on the barbecue scene, as I was on my most recent visit, half expects to see the distinctive blue helmets of United Nations peacekeepers.
– Frank Scibelli of Midwood Smokehouse is going fast casual with Midwood Smokeshack in a TBD location
– Charlotte Business Journal has a few more details on the new venture:
Scibelli says Midwood Smoke Shack would offer 70% of Midwood’s menu that features hand-pulled pork and chicken as well as brisket, ribs, sandwiches and burgers, plus side items such as mac-and-cheese and BBQ baked beans, and for dessert, peach cobbler and banana pudding.
– A couple more barbecue reviews from Marie, Let’s Eat!: Dave Poe’s in Marietta and the Dunwoody outpost of the Memphis Barbecue Company chain
– Harold Conyers is bringing SC whole hog barbecue to Nola
– Some photos from the 86th annual Mallard Creek Barbecue; we’ll have a few of our own in a post on Friday
– Does Lexington want to brand Lexington-style barbecue to prevent other restaurants outside of the city from diluting the brand?
– Queen City Q keeps on rolling, announcing a fourth location in the old Elwood’s BBQ & Burgers spot
– Chef Rick Bayless doesn’t like tv barbecue
– In honor of tomorrow’s Mallard Creek Barbecue, here’s Kathleen Purvis’s story from last year on the history behind its famed brunswick stew
– Charlotte Agenda thinks Smoke Modern Barbeque is a “good bet to be Charlotte’s next breakout restaurant brand”; I’m not so convinced based on their Huntersville restaurant (currently #19 on our big board) that was decent, but overpriced with small portions – though I will say that I plan to check out the new Stonecrest location at some point
– TMBBQ’s top25 new and improved barbecue joints in Texas, plus photographer Wyatt McSpadden’s photos from each
It’s been two years since Texas Monthly published its last Top 50 BBQ Joints list. It was a feat of reporting that took me and my barbecue-eating cohorts across the state to eat at countless legendary restaurants, holes-in-the-wall, out-of-the-way joints. The work didn’t end when the issue went to press. My job since then has essentially been one giant scouting mission for the next list slated for the summer of 2017.
– Marie, Let’s Eat! has more barbecue in Florida at Harry and Larry’s Bar-B-Que, this time in a revitalized downtown Winter Garden
– Fayetteville, NC is getting the third NC location of Mission BBQ
– Charlotte Agenda previews new food available at Hornets games this year, including the expanded Queen City Q outpost
– Ever wonder where folks who smoke meat for a living get their barbecue? This is the article for you
– B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque has returned from a fire and reopened in a new location in Savannah
– Daniel Vaughn has tips for ordering barbecue like a pro in First We Feast
The Mallard Creek BBQ
The Mallard Creek BBQ
The Mallard Creek BBQ
Starting to wrap up
This past Thursday marked the 85th Annual Mallard Creek Church Barbecue. While the lunchtime rush was too long, I ended up checking it out later afternoon before the lines got long again for dinner. If I had to pass along a pro tip, it would be to go mid-afternoon like I happened to do last year. The lines won’t be too long, the politicians will be mostly gone, and the barbecue will be in better shape than it is towards the end of the day. Still, a worthwhile event that I hope to continue attending for years to come.
– The Charlotte Observer’s Retro Charlotte blog has several old ads for the Mallard Creek Barbecue
– Speaking of the Mallard Creek Barbecue, in its 85th annual edition just as many people come for the brunswick stew as do for the pork writes Charlotte Observer writer Kathleen Purvis
– One last link for it, where they are going above and beyond to prevent health risks
– Mind wanders to Southern rock, baseball, weather – and barbecue
– Some photos and a short recap of this past weekend’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship
– Village Voice: Arrogant Swine Brings the Nuances of Carolina ‘Cue to New York
The region’s other favorite barbecue preparation, Lexington style, marries pork shoulder with a thin but pungent ketchup-based vinegar sauce. On a recent visit, Ho’s thickly chopped pig was aggressively smoky but just slightly undersalted — it still sings when dipped into that sauce.
– Congrats to Johnny!