Charlotte Barbecue News from the Second Quarter of 2020

Monk: Despite the generally bad outlook for restaurants, there was mostly positive news for our top ranked Charlotte barbecue restaurants. Noble Smoke and Sweet Lew’s both reopened with reduced capacity and social distancing measures in place and of course there is Jon G’s Barbecue which finally opened its long-awaited doors in Peachland.

Things were not so great for Queen City Q, which when we started the blog in 2012 was our second favorite barbecue restaurant in Charlotte at the time behind Midwood Smokehouse. And things seemed to be going pretty well in the mid-2010’s, with expansion to locations in Ballantyne, Matthews, and Concord. However, those quietly closed in recent years and the original location in Uptown Charlotte was apparently hanging on by a thread before it was forced to close as a result of the state’s pandemic response. It briefly opened in May as part of North Carolina’s phase 2 but then the final nail in the coffin came when it was forced to close again due to the threat of protests.

If I’m honest, Queen City Q had fallen off quite a bit from when it first opened. Our last visits were my solo trip to the Concord store in 2016 in which a poor experience prompted a re-review of the 6th Street location by Speedy and me a few weeks later. We left that visit disheartened and convinced that the drop in quality wasn’t an isolated incident. Neither of us had not been back since, and now they have shuttered their remaining location.

RIP Queen City Q (2012-2020)

April

4/7 Hillbilly’s Barbeque & Steaks in Lowell is moving to a new building on South Main Street

4/14 Jon G’s Barbecue updates their website ahead of their forthcoming brick and mortar in Peachland

4/20 Noble Smoke begins delivery service in Charlotte

4/30 Sweet Lew’s BBQ, which had been closed but serving their smoked meats out of Dish (also owned by Lewis Donald), announces they are reopening their store for to-go orders on May 7

May

5/1 Jon G’s Barbecue announces they are officially permitted for their upcoming restaurant

5/7 Sweet Lew’s BBQ reopens

5/20 A limited edition Sweet Lew’s BBQ shirt became available and supported two local small businesses with each purchase

5/21 Bill Spoon’s BBQ decides to remain curbside only even as restaurants are allowed to open with reduced capacity in phase 2

5/22 Noble Smoke reopens with extended safety precautions

June

6/4 Queen City Q announced that they are closing their uptown location, which was the last remaining location of their Charlotte locations after numbering as many as 4 in recent years.

6/8 Jon G’s Barbecue announces their soft opening dates starting June 19

6/19 Jon G’s Barbecue officially opens

6/27 Sweet Lew’s BBQ smoked enough pork for 175 plates for the Charlotte Community Kitchen

Friday Find: Bob Garner Checks Out Whole Hog at Ken’s Grill and NC Bar-B-Q

Monk: Bob visits Ken’s Grill and NC Bar-B-Q in La Grange, which serves his favorite eastern NC whole hog barbecue (only available on Wednesdays and Saturdays) even though it “has never been cooked over wood smoke” and Bob is admittedly a “wood smoked and live coals kind of guy.” Color me a bit skeptical.

Description:
Bob Garner visits one of his all-time favorite BBQ spots, Ken’s Grill in La Grange.

Linkdown: 7/1/20

Soul Food Scholar Adrian Miller writes about the union between July 4th and barbecue; thankfully he is “not talking about hamburgers and hot dogs on a kettle grill. I’m talking about ‘old school’ barbecue, where a whole animal carcass was skewered with wooden poles and cooked over a trench filled with burning coals from hardwood trees.”

Brisket roulade, you say?

Midwood Smokehouse’s Roadhouse burger, made of ground chuck and brisket, makes Charlotte Agenda’s Top 23 burgers in Charlotte list

Queen City Q is one of the 14 Charlotte businesses that have permanently closed due to COVID-19 according to Charlotte Five

Old Bay Hot Sauce while supplies last

Louie Mueller back

Some good deals to be had at Hardcore Carnivore in case you are woefully late on a Father’s Day gift (or heck, even Mother’s Day)

I will be eagerly following how this story about Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge unfolds

Jon G’s Barbecue – Peachland, NC

Name: Jon G’s Barbecue
Address: 116 Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133
Order: 1 pound brisket, 1/2 lb ribs, 1 Cheerwine hot link, 1 jalapeno cheddar, cheddar grits, baked beans, cole slaw (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: On the first day of their soft opening dates, I made what is sure to be the first of many trips east to Peachland out to Jon G’s Barbecue. Assuming there was going to be a line for a 4pm start, I arrived at about 3:25 and found that indeed there was one. Once in line I confirmed that I was 12th in line (behind Adam and his wife of Apple City BBQ nonetheless!). I cracked open a beer with my (actual) brother Andy and friend of the blog Chris and happily began our wait in line.

For this first day at least, Jon G’s was just letting one group in at a time to order at the counter so the line moved a little slower than it ultimately will once things are normal (whenever that may be). No matter though if you’ve got a cooler full of beer, which I can’t recommend enough.

Once through the line, we headed out to the picnic tables with our food. On this warm day, some intrepid patrons ahead of us in line set up a tailgate tent over one of the tables and I was immediately jealous. The heat was not unbearable despite it being late June, and between the intermittent breeze and the cold beer we managed. Of course, the barbecue helped.

If you’ve been paying attention, you already know how I feel about Jon G’s Barbecue, so I won’t dwell too much on the food. But as expected, the Texas Trinity of brisket, ribs, and sausage each hit the mark. The mix of lean and moist brisket was buttery soft with a great pepper crust, the ribs are rapidly becoming my second favorite meat there, and the sausages (their signature Cheerwine hot link and a jalapeno cheddar) each had a nice kick with a great snap.

Kelly and Garren will be understandably focusing on the restaurant for the foreseeable future at the expense of the food truck so if you want to try the best barbecue in Charlotte, you’re just going to have to make the trip to Peachland to try Jon G’s Barbecue. I would recommend getting there early if you can, as the line had grown to upwards of 60-70 as I left. Regardless, make the trip, bring a cooler, and I promise you won’t be mad that you did.

Ratings:
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Sausage – 5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 5 Hogs