City Barbeque – Charlotte, NC

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Name: City Barbeque
Date: 5/6/17
Address: 11212 Providence Rd W, Charlotte, NC 28277
Order: Judge’s Sampler (pulled pork, brisket, 1/2 slab ribs, and 1/4 chicken) with mac and cheese, collard greens, hush puppies, and two beers (link to menu)
Price: $12 (the $26.99 judges platter was covered but did not affect my review in any way)

Monk: City Barbeque is an Ohio-based chain that in the past 2 years has begun to make inroads into NC and even more recently, Charlotte. The Ballantyne location was the first in the area to open in 2016, and since then a Matthews location has opened with a University location on the way later this year. Speedy had previously checked out the Cary location a few years back and came away fairly impressed, so I knew to expect a fast casual set up with decent barbecue from a gas-assisted wood smoker and scratch made sides. 

For the first Charlotte location, I was invited to check it out and provided a gift card for a free Judge’s Sampler which allowed me to check out 4 of the meats. Mrs. Monk and I got an extra side of hush puppies and a couple of beers on top of it, plus a kids meal for the Monk-ette. All in all, the amount of food we got ended up providing more than enough for 3 total adult meals, so the portion sizes are nice.

The pork and brisket were in small portions next to each other on the tray and were so hard to distinguish between each other that at first glance to the point where I wasn’t sure that we had gotten any brisket at all (we were initially missing our order of hush puppies so it wasn’t too far fetched). Though I will say the folks at City Barbeque were nice enough to provide us extra brisket even though clearly it was a mistake on our end. As for the meat, both were decently smokey. The pork was moist and was nicely accentuated by the spicy vinegar sauce on the table. The brisket was haphazardly sliced and came across as chopped in texture – which led to our mistake in the first place – but was tasty nonetheless.

I found the half slab of ribs to be the best meat of the meal. The heavily-applied rub created a dark, flavorful bark on the ribs and the meat pulled away from the bone nicely. I would go for these ribs here again for sure.

Chicken is not a smoked meat I normally go for (and I didn’t think to substitute it out on this visit) but I will say that it was pretty good. You could do a lot worse if that is the meat you prefer at a barbecue restaurant.

Mrs. Monk was disappointed that the mac and cheese was not baked (she’s a bit of a snob that way) and while I didn’t mind that fact as much as she did, I could see her point. The collards had plenty of pulled pork and were pretty good. The corn bread and Texas toast that came with the sampler were actually quite good but the hush puppies were the best sides we had. Needless to say, we were fine on carbs for the rest of the day (and weekend for that matter).

When it opens, the University location will be pretty convenient to my work and I wouldn’t have to be convinced too hard to go there for lunch. In terms of chains I’ve had, City Barbeque are on par with Jim ‘N Nick’s and way above Moe’s Bar-B-Que.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Linkdown: 5/17/17

Happy belated National Barbecue Day!

– Jim Shahin steps back and looks ahead to the future of barbecue not just in NC but in other barbecue capitals across the country

One weekend last October, some of the nation’s top young pitmasters gathered on a pig farm just outside Durham, N.C., to participate in an event called the N.C. Barbecue Revival.

On undulating farmland, the cooks, veiled in wood smoke, tended their creations while Duroc and Berkshire pigs trundled freely in the surrounding woods. Without setting out to, these pitmasters — they’re all in their 30s and opened their places in just the past few years — were making a statement: that the next generation of barbecue has arrived.

– Aaron Franklin in Bloomberg (huh?): Eight Things You’re Doing Wrong When You Go Out for Barbecue

– The story of how Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que came to be

– Grant continues his Memphis barbecue trip at Pollard’s Bar-B-Q and ended up digging the side of barbecue spaghetti

– Kosher barbecue festivals are starting to pop up in cities in the south like Memphis, Atlanta, and Charlotte

– Tickets are now available for a Lenny Boy Brewing and Midwood Smokehouse beer and barbecue dinner

Join Lenny Boy Brewing’s Owner and Founder, Townes Mozer, and Midwood Smokehouse Pitmasters in a three course beer pairing event. Sip on Lenny Boy’s famouse Citraphilia IPA, Burndown Brown English Style Brown Ale, and a small batch suprise created special for this evening while enjoying a three course slow smoked menu coming soon.

– How a small town north of Fort Worth, TX became a barbecue destination

– Daniel Vaughn screencapped the barbecue scenes from Master of None season 2

– Cheerwine’s 100th birthday celebration is this Saturday in Salisbury and includes a barbecue competition; more details here:

Dan Good Que (food truck) – Charlotte, NC

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Name
: Dan Good Que
Date: 4/21/17
Order: Pulled pork barbecue plate with coleslaw and baked beans (link to menu)
Price: $9.50

Monk: When we started this blog almost 5 years ago, the original intent for me and Speedy (when he was still living in town) was to find the best barbecue in Charlotte once we realized we were each too much of a barbecue snob to depend on suggestions from Yelp. In the time since, I’ve had some very good barbecue in Charlotte and I’ve had some that is not so good – all in the name of being as exhaustive and thorough.

I do try to be as positive as possible when reviewing barbecue, focusing on other more positive aspects to the experience (plus, Speedy is better at being snarky than I am). Our friend Grant at Marie, Let’s Eat! is a really good example of focusing on the positive, but then again his posts aren’t reviews as much as they are chapters within a larger, ever-continuing story.

Dan Good Que is a new-ish food truck that’s begun popping up in Charlotte and I tried it at the same weekly food truck festival where I tried Rocky Top BBQ Company a few weeks earlier. I may have been a bit harsh on Rocky Top and in the spirit of continuous improvement, let me simply say that I was disappointed in the lack of smoke in the chopped pork on this day from Dan Good Que. The cole slaw and baked beans were middling and while this may seem a little bit of a backhanded compliment, I imagine mixing all 3 would have created a perfectly acceptable barbecue sundae.

I am open to giving Dan Good Que another try at a later date but will be sure to give them enough time to work out the kinks. Here’s hoping they do.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – N/A
Pork – 1 hog
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 1.5 hogs

Linkdown: 5/10/17

– We are honored to be recently added to the list of patrons of True ‘Cue alongside our buddy Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat

– Grant tries a “catfish” sandwich from Scott’s-Parker’s BBQ, which is not a fish sandwich as you might expect based on the name

– Not a good look, pt 2: An update on the Smithfield’s v Raleigh PD story, which may have been greatly embellished

– Good news from our new-ish Charlotte #1: Jon G’s BBQ is getting a food trailer

– One of the things you may not have known about Cheerwine (but probably did if you grew up in NC): Cheerwine is often the number one or two brands sold at BBQ restaurants

– Three Wilson men were honored by the Chamber of Commerce last week

While the trio don’t date back to Parker Barbecue’s opening in 1946, they have been a part of the iconic restaurant on U.S. 301 for more than a century collectively. Williams joined the staff in 1963 as a waiter before heading into the kitchen to cook ‘cue alongside one of the original owners, Ralph Parker. He stepped into an ownership role in 1987, eventually bringing Lamm and Lippard along for the ride. Lippard started working in the kitchen in his twenties while Lamm started in 1985.

– Speaking of Parker’s, Our State Magazine tweeted out their profile of them back in 2013

– Could barbecue be why Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro came to be? That’s apparently how the story goes, according to writer Julian Pleasants

And, Pleasants writes with a smile, the Seymour Johnson air base came about when “the War Department, in search of delicious eastern North Carolina barbecue,” designated the municipal airport near Goldsboro “as essential to national defense.”

– Some of our favorite pitmasters – Sam Jones, Elliott Moss, John Lewis, among others – will be in Greenville, SC in September for a barbecue brunch as part of Euphoria Greenville

– The new Whole Foods store in south Charlotte is having a barbecue and bluegrass opening on May 20; no word on where the barbecue is from

– The latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opens Thursday, May 18

– Charlotte Agenda includes dishes from Bar-B-Q King, Bill Spoon’s, and Art’s Barbecue & Deli on this list of 50 must-try Charlotte cheap eats under $10

Linkdown: 5/3/17

– Thanks to Feedspot for including us on this list of best barbecue blogs!

– Registration for NC State’s Barbecue Camp is now open (hint hint, Mrs Monk)

– The details on John Mueller’s new barbecue food truck, Black Box Barbecue

– The latest barbecue roadtrip book is from Matt Moore, a genre I happen to love

– Not a good look for the Garner Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q, whose employees sang “F— Tha Police” at some local police officers

– Coincidence?

Linkdown: 4/26/17

– Congrats to The Smoke Pit and Midwood Smokehouse for winning Charlotte Magazine BOB Awards for best brisket and pork respectively

– A nice article from Marie, Let’s Eat! on Ten Underrated Georgia Barbecue Joints; we even get a nice little mention

– A locals guide to Lexington, KY contains Blue Door Smokehouse, which was unfortunately sold out by the time we made it last fall (after reading this article we were probably several hours too late)

– An oldie but goodie from Our State Magazine

– Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin BBQ, Jeff Miller of Luella’s Bar-B-Que and Wyatt Dickson of Picnic Durham, will serve whole-hog barbecue at a charity event this weekend in Asheville

– Can’t wait for the remix: an audio review of Rodney Scott’s Barbecue in Charleston by Hanna Raskin

– Uptown Charleston: so hot right now

Rodney Scott’s BBQ

Expect a line for chicken, spareribs and pulled pork slow-smoked overnight then drenched in Carolina whole-hog ambassador Rodney Scott’s signature vinegar sauce.

– It me:

Photo Gallery: Quick stop in Lexington, NC

Monk: Mrs. Monk was bringing a good friend of ours a quart of Lexington Barbecue on the way from Charlotte to High Point. However, we arrived in town 15 minutes before it opened, so to kill time I had her stop by Barbecue Center first. Speedy and I had previously checked out (and dug) Barbecue Center almost 4 years ago but I hadn’t had the opportunity to go back since.

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This is the first of three different signs that The Barbecue Center (or Bar-B-Q Center) has on its property.

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This is sign #2 with the classic Coca-Cola signage. Note the different spelling of “barbecue”.

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And finally, the iconic sign off Main Street that is the most well known of the 3. Perhaps one day I’ll devote a post to barbecue signage in and around Lexington.

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The Barbecue Center is True ‘Cue certified and has the sticker to prove it. I was surprised to see that they also accepted both Apple Pay and Android Pay.

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Sonny Conrad was a barbecue icon who owned the Barbecue Center and was one of the creators of the Barbecue Festival. Every year, he would present the first barbecue sandwich of the festival to the mayor of Lexington. Here are some festival posters throughout the years.

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Sonny Conrad passed away in 2013 and a plaque in his memory is near the register. It is now run by his sons and his entire family works there.

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I got a chopped barbecue sandwich for breakfast and it was fantastic and just as good as I remembered. As you can see, the meat-to-bun ratio is very favorable towards the meat.

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Then, it was onto Lexington Barbecue to pick up that quart of barbecue and side of red slaw we had promised our friends.

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The smokestacks were going full throttle at 10am on a Saturday morning, which is always a good sign.

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I stepped away from the parking lot because I had never taken a photo of the street sign on the way to Lexington Barbecue and snapped this photo on the way out.

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Finally, here’s my photo of Smokehouse Lane. Then, it was onto High Point.

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Until next time, Lexington!

Photo Gallery: A Free Range Pig Pickin’ with Sam Jones

For the second year running, Free Range Brewing and Order/Fire combined powers to host a premiere screening of an episode of the web series with a pig pickin’ to follow. While last year’s episode featured four NC breweries (Burial Beer Co., Fonta Flora Brewery, Fullsteam Brewery, and Free Range Brewing), this year’s episode was on Sam Jones and Skylight Inn. Sam joined the festivities and smoked a 230 pound hog the night before for the pig pickin’. The whole shindig and its $10 suggested donation for the barbecue benefited the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, so there was an abundance of reasons to make it out to Free Range on a Sunday afternoon.

The 40 or so minute episode of Order/Fire was primarily a discussion between Sam and host Mark Jacksina that took place at Skylight Inn with topics ranging from the history of Sam’s family and barbecue to his first experiences gaining exposure outside of Ayden and his involvement with the Fatback Collective. It was a casual conversation between the two, with Sam peppering in his usual mix of one-liners and idioms. The packed house enjoyed the screening and you can view it here once it is made available online.

Now the first time I tasted Sam Jones’s barbecue, it was at when he smoked a whole hog at Midwood Smokehouse’s Southern ‘Cue Supper in 2013 and the whole hog literally (actually figuratively) blew my mind. I had not yet tasted cracklin’ skin mixed in with whole hog barbecue and absolutely loved that texture. The whole thing was a “revelatory experience” I hadn’t been able to try in the 3.5 years since. That is, until this day, and it definitely did not disappoint in the slightest. I’m still thinking about that pork as I type this, as a matter of fact.

Afterwards, I made a resolution: I will visit Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ in 2017. Mark it down.

 

Linkdown: 4/5/17

– Looks like NC Governor Roy Cooper will be getting some smoked salmon, coffee, apples, and chocolate from Washington Governor Jay Inslee

– A NY Times profile on Kansas City with some great photography

– Rodney Scott was featured in a KC vs SC barbecue showdown on Late Show with Stephen Colbert

– Southern Living readers voted Carolina BBQ in Spartanburg the best in the state

– Pulled pork + Giant Hush Puppy =

– Jim Early, founder and CEO of the NC BBQ Society received the Winner’s Circle Award from Visit NC 365

– Queen City Q remains the barbecue vendor at Charlotte Knights stadium this year, and are now smoking all barbecue in-house

Barbecue smoked in-house, which had previously only been available on the catering menu, has been added at the outfield picnic area. New items offered to fans include house-smoked, hand pulled pork; slow-cooked, carved brisket; grilled hot dogs; and corn on the cob and potato salad.

– It’s not barbecue, but Bojangles is a NC institution (duh)