Monk: The Charlotte barbecue news seemingly slowed down in the last 3 months of 2020 as the restaurants that thankfully are still open continue to struggle through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we begin 2021, here’s hoping the news is more positive than negative. Fingers crossed!
Eater Atlanta’s Mike Jordan speaks to a number of Atlanta-area pitmasters to get their take on “Georgia-style” barbecue, with the consensus that there is a style, but that you have to get out of Atlanta to try it and its not quite up there with the other “major” styles of barbecue.
The question of “what even is Georgia barbecue” seems to come up every few years and while I’m far from an expert when it comes the Peach State, I follow the lead of people who know more than me. Robert Moss notes in his latest issue of The Cue Sheet that Jordan didn’t quite venture far enough outside of Atlanta to get a true sense of Georgia-style barbecue. That is, chopped barbecue sandwiches, Brunswick stew, cole slaw, and sometimes a regional dish called chicken mull from the Athens area.
Finally, to get an even more impassioned defense of Georgia barbecue, I highly recommend you read our friend Grant’s missive from a few years back over at Marie, Let’s Eat. Grant knows more about Georgia barbecue than just about anyone out there, having done the legwork to travel to the farthest corners of the state in search of true barbecue. When it comes to Georgia barbecue, heed his word. In particular, he urges you to explore the Athens area:
What you might want to do is start in Athens, because some of the best barbecue in the country can be found here. Not too many people pish-poshed this notion, but a couple did, so let me be very clear: I think that Memphis is one of this country’s best barbecue cities. It’s home to Payne’s, Leonard’s, and the Bar-B-Q Shop, and they’re all amazing, and there are at least a dozen other darn good places there. I agree that Lexington NC is certainly one as well. I have only been here three very short times, but I’ve had four downright excellent meals and would love to return for a very long trip. I’m perfectly prepared to accept that Lockhart TX is one. It is unlikely that I will visit anytime soon, but I can believe the hype I hear. Its advocates are reliable correspondents. Kansas City, quite probably. Calvin Trillin believes in Arthur Bryant’s, and if you haven’t figured out how much debt I owe Trillin, you’re not paying attention.
So I’m not dismissing any other city when I say that the Athens area deserves to be given the same accolades. There’s room for it as well. I’ll say that the triangle formed by Zeb’s in Danielsville, Paul’s in Lexington, and Hot Thomas in Watkinsville is the region that I mean, and those three remarkably good restaurants are all in my top twenty somewhere. (They’re actually not in my top ten, about which more in a moment.) The photos accompanying this story come from our last weekend in Georgia before the move. We revisited Paul’s and Hot Thomas, along with Bill’s, which is just across the Clarke County line, outside of Hull, and Scott’s & BJ’s, the only one of these four with an actual Athens address.
(Not so) coincidentally, here’s Eater Atlanta’s list of best barbecue restaurants in the area they rolled out along with the “What is Georgia Barbecue?” article.
Adding Perry’s Pig Pickin’ BBQ in Mint Hill to my list
…same with The Smokehouse at Steve’s in Graham, courtesy of John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog
New merch from Stamey’s
Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ has opened its first location outside of Connecticut in Asheville’s South Slope by permanently parking a food truck on Coxe Ave
Name: Rock Store Bar-B-Q Date: 8/10/12 Location: 7032 Brighton Park, Mint Hill, NC 28227 Order: BBQ Pork and Brisket combo plate, hush puppies, beans, sweet tea (link to menu) Bill: $9.75
Trying to take feedback from Speedy to heart, on this visit to the Mint Hill location of Rock Store Bar-B-Q (click here for the review of the original Stallings location) I ordered a combo platter of both BBQ pork and brisket. I still haven’t had the ribs at either place, so while I made some effort, I fear that it will all be in vain in the eyes of both Speedy and Rudy.
As opposed to the original location, a stand-alone historic gas station structure, the Mint Hill restaurant is located at the end of a strip mall in what looks to have been a former Jersey Mike’s (I tend to have a keen eye for Jersey Mike’s since Speedy and I worked at one in high school for several years).
As you walk up to the front door to this location, you are greeted by a decal that states “Wood Smoked Daily” before you actually do get a whiff of smoke when you enter the door. I still wasn’t able to determine if this is due to the use of a stick burning smoker or an electric or gas burner with wood chips. However, I remain skeptical of there being a stick burner in a strip mall, so I am still working off the gas or electric smoker theory.
Nevertheless, I walked up and ordered a BBQ pork combo plate, adding brisket with my two sides being hush puppies and beans. Unfortunately, the pork was as dry as the sandwich at the original location so again, sauce was a must. A healthy dose of their tangy Stallings Secret sauce worked best with the pork, but I did notice a pool of grease collecting at the bottom of the styrofoam plate. Not the most appetizing visual for lunch.
As I suspected from my visit to the other location, the brisket here is actually coarsely chopped in the same manner as the pork. And it is just as dry. To my surprise, I found that the Carolina Gold mustard-based sauce actually worked best with the brisket but overall it was pretty unremarkable. However, thankfully there was no pool of grease here.
The hush puppies were a nice surprise, as they weren’t available at the original location. They were big and fluffy and the best part of the meal. The BBQ beans were passable but I didn’t eat too much of them, focusing on the meat and hush puppies.
So while this time around I did get more than my usual portions in the interests of the Barbecue Bros and left with a full belly. Unfortunately it was a belly full of average-at-best barbecue.