Linkdown: 2/1/23 – The Barbecue in a Bowl Edition

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Monk: The second annual Carolina BBQ Festival is once again bringing some of the best and brightest pitmasters to the Queen City in early May. Lewis Donald has invited many of the same pitmasters from last year’s festival and added a few new faces: Jake Wood of Lawrence Barbecue, Keith Henning of Black Powder Smokehouse, Michael Letchworth of Sam Jones BBQ, and Tank Jackson of Holy City Hog.

The full list of pitmasters and chefs:

Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 10th. More information here.

Native News

Backyard BBQ Pit has received nearly $50,000 from its GoFundMe campaign and even got new kitchen appliances donated by an angel donor; now they are paying it forward to other local small businesses

It’s Brunswick stew season

In sad news, Clyde Cooper’s daughter Joyce recently passed but the occasion brought together is grandchildren and great grandchildren

Sweet’s Turkey BBQ is a Greensboro food truck serving chopped turkey barbecue, a healthier alternative to pork and beef

Midwood Smokehouse‘s Raleigh location has gotten their Oyler

Non-Native News

The James Beard semi-finalists were announced last week and pitmasters from Moo’s Craft Barbecue in LA, Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta, Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach, Distant Relatives and KG BBQ in Austin, Goldee’s in Fort Worth, Curry Boys BBQ in San Antonio, Gatlin’s BBQ in Houston, and Burnt Bean in Seguin make the list

Charleston’s Swig & Swine BBQ is expanding to Myrtle Beach

Adrian Miller’s field guide to US barbecue

Bill Murray recently enjoyed a beef rib at Heritage Barbecue

30 pitmasters will be in Greenville, SC for Southern Roots: A BBQ Reunion on April 15

Episode 3 of Peacock’s “Poker Face” is brisket-focused and actually gets the specifics mostly right

Bubba’s Barbecue Has Reopened After 2+ Years Closure

Name: Bubba’s Barbecue
Date: 1/5/23
Address: 4400 Sunset Rd, Charlotte, NC 28216
Order: Chopped pork plate with slaw, green beans, hush puppies, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Remembering that Bubba’s Barbecue quietly reopened late last year (with an event quieter reopening in the summer), I recently made my way there for lunch on a weekday. This would be my first meal there in 9 years at the 37 year old restaurant.

After placing my order, I was greeted by a light lunch crowd of 3 other tables between the two large dining rooms. Before I could sit down from getting my drink, my food was brought out and placed on the yellow checked table cloth. While Bubba’s had these same table cloths the last time I visited in 2013, I always think of the recently departed Spoon’s Barbecue, which they of course share a lineage with.

Speaking of which, a quick detour for some Charlotte barbecue history. A barbecue restaurant first opened in 1963 as “Jackson and Spoon’s Barbecue” (later just “Spoon’s Barbecue”) on South Boulevard. In 1987, owner Ralph “Bubba” Miller purchased the restaurant and the original recipes. He later renamed the restaurant to “Bubba’s Barbecue” and a few years later moved it to it’s current location on Sunset Road, where it has been serving Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue since 1994. The Spoon family, meanwhile, opened “Bill Spoon’s Barbecue” on South Boulevard in the previous location for Bubba’s until they closed in fall 2020.

The pork was unfortunately just slightly above average. The texture was a bit stringy and it lacked any noticeable smoke. The branded table vinegar sauce did help, as did the addition of their slaw. This unique mustard-based slaw was another similarity between Bubba’s and Spoon’s.

The hush puppies were fresh but the green beans tasted out of a can.

While Bubba’s Barbecue will not become my go-to lunch barbecue spot, with most classic barbecue restaurants seem to be closing these days, it’s great to have one reopen. Give Bubba’s a try if you are in north Charlotte.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 Hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs

Despite Pitmaster Changes at Buxton Hall Barbecue, the Food Remains Consistent and That’s a Good Thing

Name: Buxton Hall Barbecue
Date: 12/22/22
Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Order: Combo platter with whole hog barbecue, sliced brisket, and ribs with chicken bog and collards (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Since the last time either Speedy or I visited Buxton Hall Barbecue, there’s been quite a bit of change. This past summer Elliot Moss, the face and pitmaster behind the launch of Buxton Hall, announced that he had parted ways with the Chai Pani Restaurant group which owns both Buxton Hall Barbecue as well as the Buxton Chicken Palace that Moss also helped start. Moss is staying in Asheville and opening a concept of his own (a “comfort classics restaurant” called Regina’s Westside) but it should not be overstated how much he helped put whole hog on the map in western NC as the brains behind Buxton Hall. 

On a day trip to Asheville, Speedy and I wanted to check out the restaurant to see if anything had drastically changed in the past 5+ months to our beloved Buxton Hall. While we’ve each visited the restaurant plenty on our own, this was our first time visiting as a duo. Plus, it was Speedy’s birthday and we had Papa Speedy and Cousins Daniel and Matt in tow!

Speedy: And what better to do on your birthday than have barbecue! One thing I noticed first off is that brisket (which I believe was a 2019 or 2020 menu addition add) was off the regular menu but available as a special (though only sliced was offered, instead of sliced and chopped). Obviously, you can’t go to Buxton and not get chopped pork, so when we were offered a special plate with pork, brisket, and ribs, Monk and I jumped on it. And add two sides to boot!

Monk: Apologies in advance for the subpar food photography – we visited for dinner and the lighting was quite low. Great ambiance, poor lighting conditions. Back to the food – the whole hog portion was a bit on the small side but tasted just as good as I remembered.

Speedy: And that is a good thing. I agree – top notch pork. The ribs, which I had not had at Buxton previously, were also really, really good. They were cooked perfectly – tender but not falling off the bone, and well seasoned without being either too sweet or too salty. The pork at Buxton is always the star (and was again today), but the ribs made sure they were heard. 

Monk: The ribs were definitely a revelation for me, as I also had not tried them previously. Unfortunately its hard to say if any effects were felt here, but at least what we had was really freaking good. The brisket slices were all lean (we weren’t asked our preference) and while they were fine, by no means were they the standout of the meal. 

Speedy: I had previously really enjoyed chopped brisket at Buxton, so I’m curious as to whether this is where the change in the pitmaster was truly felt, since it’s not a meat cooked every day and mastered. As for the sides, I didn’t notice any difference in the collard greens, which are some of my favorite anywhere and a must-order. 

Monk: While the collards had a nice kick and plenty of vinegary tang, I felt the chicken bog was perhaps a little on the dry side and at least on this night was not quite up to par with previous offerings. We should mention the smoked wings we got as an appetizer, which were very solid as well.

Going in, I wanted to order the hash and rice but it wasn’t a side option (and I didn’t think to ask to sub it in). I’d be really curious to see how that in particular holds up since that is a Pee Dee Region staple that was near and dear to Moss’s heart. Oh well – next time.

Speedy: The last time I was at Buxton, I texted Monk to ask whether it’s the best barbecue joint in NC. We decided that while we weren’t sure we were ready to go that far, it has to be in the conversation. At least so far, the loss of Elliott Moss doesn’t change that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Linkdown: 1/18/23 – The Clyde Cooper Anniversary Edition

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North Carolina’s oldest barbecue restaurant will celebrate its 85th anniversary on February 11. That’s right, 85 years! Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue has seemingly been invigorated by the “BBQ Karen” controversy from late last year and will take its newfound energy into its 86th year in existence. A big congrats to them!

Native News

Eater has released an updated restaurant list for the Triangle

A construction update of the Raleigh location of Midwood Smokehouse

Ray Nathan’s recently celebrated their 4th anniversary earlier this month

Meet Cece of Lincolnton’s Bar-B-Q King

Jon G’s has rolled out a separate “Carolina chopped barbecue” service out of their trailer at Barbecue Saturdays in Peachland

Non-Native News

Have you tried the foil boat method?

Hill East Burgers in DC cold smokes their burgers with brisket trimmings for their take on smoked smash burgers

John Lewis’s Rancho Lewis makes the Charleston Hot List from Eater Carolinas

Brett’s Barbecue Shop opened their Katy location this recently and it sure seems the city embraced them

Adrian Miller dropping some Colorado barbecue knowledge