One of the hottest items at the media luncheon was the Crack-n-Cheese in a Waffle Cone by Hickory Tree BBQ. The waffle cone was stuffed with mac-n-cheese and then topped with turkey barbecue, cole slaw, turkey cracklings and their signature barbecue sauce. While the combination might sound like too much, the end result was a blend of southern goodness.
Chick-N-Que, which also has a popular food truck, served up their Cluck Puppies. A twist on the traditional hush puppy, this dish contains chopped chicken barbecue.
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) Price: $10
Monk: After going to the Mallard Creek Annual BBQ for each of the pastthreeyears, 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.
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.
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.
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.
This past Thursday, I visited my first Mallard Creek Barbecue during a late lunch break on a perfectly crisp fall day. The church barbecue was in its 84th year and this year cooked 14,000 pounds of barbecue, 2,500 gallons of brunswick stew, 2 tons of slaw, and over 8,000 sandwiches. Speaking of sandwiches – my two sandwiches were pretty great and honestly better than most restaurant options in Charlotte. Be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s barbecue – always the fourth Thursday of October – because it’s definitely worth checking out for any serious barbecue fan.