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.

Linkdown: 12/1/21

In a collaboration you simply love to see: Jon G’s is collaborating with Salud Beer Shop to create a series of barbecue-inspired pizzas available until all month until December 24. The Monk clan used to live down the street from Salud when we lived in NoDa and I am a huge supporter of what Jason and his wife Dairelyn have built; what started out as a kickass bottle shop soon expanded to a small brewery and coffee shop upstairs before offering creative pizzas more recently. Its long been my favorite beer bar in Charlotte and all of North Carolina. And you don’t have to take just my word for it; they’ve been voted “Best Beer Bar” in the U.S. three years running.

Put together by mutual friend Stephen Philpott, these pizzas look simply delicious:

🍕The Jon: Brisket, Jalapenos, Pickled Red Onions, Jon G’s Barbecue Sauce, Salt and Vinegar chips, Chives, Smoked Sea Salt, Black Pepper.

🍕The Kelly: Cheesey Tex Sausage Link, Mozzarella, Bacon, Chopped Calabrian Chilies, Ham, Crispy Cajun Onions, House Honey Mustard, Chives.

🍕The Philpott: Cheerwine Sausage, House Chimichurri, Salud Kutless Lager Braised Sweet Onions, Bianco Dinapoli Tomatoes, Mozzarella.

The pizzas are available at Salud and I hope to try at least one but hopefully all three this month.

Native News

Jon G’s will finally be at Rhino Market in Wesley Heights tomorrow

Carolina Smoke, a food truck in Morganton, has opened its brick and mortar dubbed Carolina Smoke Barbeque Grill and Copper Still

Barbecue books from Asheville-area Buxton Hall and 12 Bones make great gifts

The First Pickles, Pigs, & Swigs Festival in Mount Olive looked to be a success

Non-Native News

More on the reopening of Franklin Barbecue indoor dining

Marie, Let’s Eat! makes a stop at the 75-year old Carlile’s BBQ in Birmingham

Dr. BBQ is a spokesman for the National Turkey Federation and recently stopped by WGN Radio

Bringles Smoking Oasis opens this Saturday in Nashville

Zavala’s Barbecue is in expansion mode

Linkdown: 8/25/21

After taking the summer off to recap Food Network’s BBQ Brawl, we’re back with our weekly rundown of barbecue news. We start by first celebrating the fantastic folks over at Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton, who we featured on the blog earlier this week ahead of their big 50th anniversary coming up September 1.

At the risk of repeating myself, its fantastic to be celebrating a milestone in longevity as opposed to mourning the closing of yet another classic NC barbecue joint, which Kathleen Purvis so eloquently did in a story for Garden & Gun in 2019 (third link). Let’s hope it continues to be more of the former and less of the latter.

Native News

The Charlotte Observer covers Bar-B-Q King’s upcoming 50th anniversary

…as does WBTV who had owners Steve and Keith on TV

..which is a nice contrast from this story from Kathleen Purvis originally from 2 years ago

Buxton Hall Barbecue reopened last week with brisket on the menu (but thankfully keeping whole hog on as well)

Southern Smoke BBQ is collaborating with Wilmington’s Flying Machine Brewing Company on an upcoming beer

Mac’s Speed Shop is expanding to Fort Mill

Cheerwine has some thoughts

After founder Jim Early’s passing earlier this year, the North Carolina Barbecue Society plans to keep things moving

Non-Native News

Congrats to Fox Bros Bar-B-Q on 14 years!

Jiyeon Lee of Heirloom Market BBQ discusses their Korean-influenced sides

John Tanner checks in at The Federalist Pig in DC, whose upcoming Hyattsville location will smoke with all wood

Both Martin’s and Peg Leg Porker make this diary of Nick Solares

Eddie Jackson describes Flay as a “mentor” and “great friend” after working with him on BBQ Brawl

Speaking of BBQ Brawl, ICYMI from last week

Peg Leg Porker – Nashville, TN (RE-REVIEW)

Name: Peg Leg Porker
Date: 6/18/21
Address: 903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203
Order: Full rack of ribs, pulled pork, smoked wings, Kool-Aid pickles, cole slaw, smoked green beans, french fries (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Peg Leg Porker is a new-school Nashville barbecue institution, even inspiring a little bit of a Martin’s vs Peg Leg rivalry for barbecue enthusiasts in the city. Despite Speedy now living in Nashville, our only other review to date was from nearly 6 years ago a few years before Speedy had even moved to Nashville. While we had briefly stopped in for some wings at the bar last time I was in town 3 years ago, I had not officially had a meal there on the books. I made sure to change that with my most recent visit to Nashville to visit Speedy as well as my real life Bros.

Speedy: Peg Leg is not my favorite barbecue in town (in fact, it comes in at #4), but it certainly is worth a visit for anyone spending any amount of time in Nashville. Located in the trendy Gulch neighborhood, it is easy to get to but gets crowded fast, so we showed up for an early-ish lunch and after a short wait, placed our order at the counter.

Monk: My understanding is that the ribs are the star of the show for Peg Leg, and this full rack did not disappoint. Peg Leg does Memphis-style dry rub ribs and there were perfect bites all around.

Speedy: Agree, Monk. The ribs have always been my favorite part of any meal at Peg Leg, and I do think these are probably best in town – maybe in the state. The generous rub offers plenty of spice and flavor, and no sauce is needed. 

The pork (served unsauced) is pretty consistent in that while flavorful, is always a little dry. There are sauces provided, but I always prefer not having to use extra sauce if not needed, but in this case, it is needed. So while still enjoyable, the pulled pork is a notch below the ribs.

Monk: The smoked then fried wings come with the drumettes, wingettes, and wing tip all attached which from my experience isn’t the norm for a wing at a barbecue restaurant.

Speedy: …Quick interjection: Central BBQ wings are also served this way. Ok, carry on…

Monk: The wings are also finished with a dry rub and were more successful than the pork for me. I had the wings on both of my trips to Peg Leg Porker, and I will probably get them on my next visit, whenever that is.

Speedy: Definitely agree, Monk. Wings and ribs are the pro order. And you know what – I’m just fine with that. The other solid order, which was skipped on this go round, is the yardbird half chicken. It uses the same rub and is equal to the wings. This is a popular item at Peg Leg, and for good reason. But not worth passing over the ribs for.

Monk: Of the sides we ordered, the one I want to call out is the Kool-aid pickles. This is a Delta-region delicacy where Kool-aid mix is literally added to the pickle juice so that the pickles take on the color and flavor (looked to be “red” on this day), resulting in a sweet and sour experience in the form of a crunchy pickle. Just awesome.

I agree with Speedy’s statement above that Peg Leg Porker is definitely worth a visit when in Nashville. Now that I’ve experienced a full meal there, I’ll go with the ribs, wings, and Kool-Aid pickles next time I visit Speedy in Nashville.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Wings – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs