Our Favorite Posts from 2022

Monk: 2022 marked the ten year anniversary of the blog and its gone by in a flash. We’re going to take the rest of the year off in order to come out strong in 2023, but before we do we want to 1) wish you all a happy holidays and 2) spotlight one last time some of our favorite original content from 2022.

Without further ado…

Original Content

My summer kicked off with a weekly recap of all 8 episodes of the third season of “BBQ Brawl.” While I was happy to get through those two months mostly unscathed, I also checked out a few other barbecue streaming shows throughout the year featuring notable barbecue personalities like Michael Symon’s “BBQ USA,” “World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason,” and the third season of “BBQuest” which added Hardcore Carnivore’s Jess Pryles as a co-host.

We’ve done some updating of our Lexington rankings sadly due to closures but I already know I need to get back to Lexington to try Cafe 71 Smoke House BBQ, which opened this fall in the old Rick’s Smokehouse space.

I also am trying a new post format with the “best barbecue within an hour of [insert major city here].” I’ve started with Charlotte but will work on posts for both Raleigh as well as the eastern part of the state.

We also went to a few festivals this year! May was a busy month in Charlotte with both the Smoke & Grapes event at the Charlotte Wine & Food Festival as well as the successful first annual Carolina BBQ Festival hosted by Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ.

In November, I went to Charleston for the second annual Holy Smokes Barbecue Festival and had a grand time in the lowcountry.

I can’t wait to see what festivals I’ll make it to in 2023.

Reviews

We’re up to 327 reviews on the site now, and in 2022 we added 23 more. Not quite our most productive year, but still an average of nearly 2 per month.

Rudy got to finally try Noble Smoke in Charlotte in February, and left pretty impressed with a 4.5 hog review.

Speedy loved pretty much everything about the relatively new Bringle’s Smoking Oasis in Nashville, from the space to the bar to of course the food (in particular the beef rib and the brisket). Another 4.5 hog meal.

But from the looks of it, Speedy’s favorite meal of the year was at Prime Barbecue in Knightdale when he was back in North Carolina this summer. He gave it our prestigious 5 hog rating, the first since our most recent Jon G’s Barbecue review from 2021.

I got in on the 4.5 hog action with a couple of joints in the Carolinas: Lawrence Barbecue in Durham and Palmira BBQ in Charleston. At Lawrence, in addition to the fun atmosphere at Boxyard RTP and the Lawrence Barbecue-inspired beer from Trophy Brewing, the pork and brisket were highlights of the meal. At Palmira, I got to chat with owner and pitmaster Hector Garate and both the whole hog barbecue and hash and rice shone through.

And last but not least, I can’t forget my mini whole hog barbecue tour in eastern North Carolina in the spring, where I visited B’s Barbecue, Skylight Inn, and the original location of Sam Jones BBQ.

I did a brief writeup for The Smoke Sheet, which a version of showed up on the site as well.

With that, the 2022 posts are done for the year. But we’ll be back in January with all new content.

Happy Holidays and see you all in 2023!

Linkdown: 12/7/22 – The Rodney Scott and Eric Church Joint Venture Edition

Featured

Monk: Country music star (and NC native) Eric Church has shared the first digital renderings of Chief’s, his upcoming venture with Rodney Scott. Not content to have just a honky tonk joint with great whole hog barbecue, the building will also house a studio for live broadcasts (such as Church’s SiriusXM show).

Chief’s will open in downtown Nashville in 2023.

Native News

More pink barbecue merchandise now available at Clyde Cooper’s in Raleigh

A short profile on Buxton Hall Barbecue‘s executive chef Nick

The Cheef will be at Oskar Blues Brevard’s 10th anniversary party this coming weekend serving tacos and sandwiches

Midwood Smokehouse, Mac’s Speed Shop, and Noble Smoke are options in Charlotte to bypass Christmas cooking

Midwood Smokehouse‘s upcoming Raleigh location will be more Tex-Mex

Non-Native News

Hogs for the Cause announces its 2023 lineup

Barbecue historian Joe Haynes has a new barbecue book out, just in time for the holidays

John Turner’s been making the rounds at your favorite places in Texas:

City Market in Luling

Smitty’s Market in Lockhart

Terry Black’s in Austin

Valentina’s in Austin

Pinkerton’s in Houston

And finally, Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville

Defining east vs central Texas barbecue, Open AI chat bot style

Linkdown: 2/9/22

I covered this on the Facebook page briefly a few weeks back, but Smiley’s Lexington BBQ has officially announced its closing due to the NCDOT widening of Winston Road in Lexington. This widening was first announced in 2018 with a start date in summer 2020 but had likely been delayed due to the pandemic.

While owner Steve Yountz is not ready to retire just yet, per him “right now there is no definite plans on relocating as far as availably and affordability.” Patrons will have until February 26 to dine at the current location of Smiley’s before it closes its doors for good.

Nearby barbecue restaurant Speedy’s is also expected to close as a result of the road widening, however they are more optimistic about reopening in a new location and plan to rebuild and relocate, depending on the compensation they receive from DOT.

While the optimist in me hopes that both restaurants are able to relocate and continue business in due time, I worry that by next month we will be down two more classic NC barbecue joints.

Native News

A helpful post from Grady’s

Non-Native News

Applications for the Preserve the Pit fellowship are due March 1st

Tim Carman of The Washington Post comes out with his annual barbecue list, with the wrinkle of releasing it in the winter time when some joints are closed

Carman also mourns the loss of pitmaster Corries Hardy

Rodney Scott and Eric Church getting into the honkey tonk game, and bringing whole hog to Broadway at Chief’s

Loro’s second location opens in Houston later this month

J.C. Reid on the evolution of the “Texas Trinity”

Roegels Barbecue opened their Katy location last week

Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema finds Myron Mixon’s Hoboken restaurant to be mixed in quality

Monk’s Favorite Barbecue of 2021

Monk: While my hunch is that I had roughly as much barbecue as last year, I suspect the ratio of mediocre barbecue to great barbecue was higher than in past years. There’s always highlights to pick out, but let’s hope next year is a more favorable ratio.

In alphabetical order:

Jon G’s remains the gold standard for the Charlotte area. And it seems that the rest of the southeast is starting to catch on with Eater Carolinas naming them “Barbecue Restaurant of the Year” and Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn raving about them in an article from mid 2021. The future for Garren and Kelly remain bright.

Chopped pork sandwich from Noble Smoke – Charlotte, NC

Some of the meats at Noble Smoke can be a little hit or miss for me, but the Lexington-style chopped barbecue sandwich is ever reliable.

Speedy has said he often thinks the ribs at Peg Leg Porker are the best in the state of Tennessee, and who am I to argue? The full wings are also a must-order.

Randy’s ribs are a sub-regional variety with a sauce that I understand is found primarily in the Savannah area. It expanded my framework as to what barbecue is in different parts of the US.

Life-changing whole hog. So far I’ve only made it to Sam Jones’ outpost in Raleigh but I can’t wait to try this same tray at Skylight Inn this spring.

Sausage, wings, hash and rice, ribs, brisket, and turkey from Sweet Lew’s BBQ – Charlotte, NC (link to post)

Between the house-made sausage, the barbecue hash, and Lewis Donald’s ever-constant tweaking of his main meats, Sweet Lew’s continues to evolve, and I’m here for the the journey.

It’s a shame that Whispering Pines was takeout only but I’ll make the hour drive to Albemarle again I’m sure. Great Lexington-style barbecue.