Charlotte Barbecue News from the Second Quarter of 2021

Monk: In our first quarter wrap-up, I had optimism as things continued to move in a positive direction with vaccinations and the resulting re-opening of restaurants. That mostly continued, and while Charlotte lost a lot of its classic non-barbecue restaurants (Price’s Chicken Coop, Mr. K’s, Oakhurst Grill, Zack’s Hamburgers, etc), I only tracked one barbecue restaurant that closed during that time: the Tyvola Road location of the Sonny’s BBQ chain.

Charlotte barbecue even got some national attention, both of the good (Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn visiting and loving Jon G’s) as well as notorious variety (Charlotte as the #3 best city for barbecue according to chefspencil.com).

While we may never know about the barbecue joints that weren’t started during the past year, hopefully a corner has been turned (and the Delta variant of COVID doesn’t wreak havoc here like it has in other countries; get vaccinated people!) and the Charlotte barbecue scene can experience new concepts as well as expansion and growth of its existing ones.

April

4/9 Smoke Show BBQ is a new Texas-style barbecue pop up in the Charlotte area from transplanted Texan chef Brandon Belfer who has worked at fine dining spots The Stanley, Crunkleton, The Asbury, Kindred, and Hello, Sailor

4/12 Charlotte-based Mac’s Speed Shop finds itself coming out of the pandemic in a strong position for growth

4/13 Roddey’s BBQ has changed their lunch hours in Rock Hill to Fridays only

4/19 Jon G’s Barbecue gets in the pit fabrication game

4/26 K&N BBQ makes Axios Charlotte’s list of best food trucks; and they recommend you try the pork and brisket

4/26 Adam Richman (of Man vs Food fame) visits Midwood Smokehouse

4/30 In what was (somewhat embarrassingly) one of the oldest barbecue restaurant’s in Charlotte, the Tyvola Rd. outpost of the Sonny’s BBQ chain closed

May

5/7 Daniel Vaughn ends his NC barbecue trip at Jon G’s Barbecue, where I was fortunate enough to meet both him and Kathleen Purvis and also share a meal with him

5/12 Charlotte is obviously the number 3 Top City for BBQ in the US. No objection here.

5/19 Jon G’s Barbecue gets the highest of praise from the BBQ Snob himself, Daniel Vaughn; Noble Smoke also gets a mention for their brisket

5/25 Phar Mill BBQ introduces itself to the world and will be using a Jon G’s offset smoker

June

6/3 Sweet Lew’s Barbeque announces its new food truck

6/3 Noble Smoke announces details on its 2 year anniversary

6/8 Mac’s Hospitality Group, parent company of Mac’s Speed Shop, adds Rare Roots alum Jay Spungin as Director of Operations

6/19 Congrats to Jon G’s Barbecue on one year open

6/26 Charlotte-based EDIA Maps, makers of The Great NC BBQ Map, ends operations

6/29 And the name of the Sweet Lew’s Barbeque food truck is…Sweet Lucille

Linkdown: 5/26/21

Featured

Based on the book of the same name by Jessica B. Harris, “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” examines the contributions of African American cooking to today’s modern cuisine. The series is four episodes, each lasting roughly an hour, and while the fourth episode focuses on barbecue I won’t be skipping straight to it. This is definitely a series I want to watch as its presented in its entirety.

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” is available to watch now on Netflix.

Native News

This is so cool to see: Jon G’s Barbecue getting the highest of praise from the BBQ Snob himself, Daniel Vaughn; Prime Barbecue and Noble Smoke also get mentions for their brisket

Woodard Family BBQ is a “Hidden Gem of Fayetteville” (though its closer to Sanford) in this new series from the Fayetteville Observer

Non-Native News

Everything old is new again

Home Team BBQ continues its expansion

Behold, the predecessor to True Cue

Checking In: Noble Smoke

Monk: It’s been over a year since I last got takeout from Noble Smoke and much longer since I had last dined in. Recently, I found myself in the neighborhood just down the street getting my second COVID vaccine shot, so beforehand I decided to treat myself to lunch on their patio on a nice Spring day.

As everything is a la carte at Noble Smoke, I ordered a Lexington-style chopped pork sandwich ($8), a 1/4 lb of smoked turkey ($5), and a side of Anson Mills hush puppies ($4).

Speedy is on record as proclaiming Noble Smoke’s sandwich the best pork sandwich outside of Lexington. And he’s not wrong. As has been well documented, the pork shoulders are smoked in a brick pit that was fabricated to mimic the pits of Lexington Barbecue (owner Jim Noble got permission from his friends the Monk family). Topped with a red slaw on a fresh baked bun, it’s quite a satisfying sandwich. I’d be tempted to go with getting just two of those next time instead.

Speedy and I have both been into trying smoked turkey at more places so I went with that as a side. Noble Smoked has a very good version of smoked turkey, smokey and not overly dry. The sandwich might be a good switch up order sometime in the future.

Noble Smoke’s hush puppies are made with cornmeal from Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina. I find them to be the best hush puppies in Charlotte, no doubt.

Noble Smoke has a daily rotation of fruit hand pies ($4), and on this day they had blueberry, which was fantastic.

Noble Smoke continues to knock it out of the park. On a nice day, their patio is a great setting, with their pallets of wood from Carolina Cookwood providing some separation to the parking lot in addition to setting some nice ambiance and the recent introduction of a beer shack for outdoor drink service. I hope to spend more Spring and Summer afternoons on that patio.

Charlotte Barbecue News from the First Quarter of 2021

Monk: After nearly a year of various stages of lockdown and a big spike in COVID cases in January, the first quarter of 2021 had mostly positive news as restaurants managed through relaxed restrictions starting in March.

Here in Charlotte, restaurants are finding new and different ways to diversify their food offerings to attract customers and some are even in expansion mode. Let’s hope that trend continues into Q2.

January

1/5 North State BBQ announces it is opening a second location in Lake Norman off Statesville Rd

1/10 RayNathan’s in Gastonia celebrated their 2 year anniversary

1/13 Sweet Lew’s BBQ hires its first “barbecue apprentice” in Keywon Dooling from the local culinary school at Central Piedmont Community College

1/29 Jon G’s Barbecue gets their first national magazine feature

February

2/7 Pitmasters from Bobby’s BBQ, City Limits Barbeque, and Fork Grove BBQ have a “barbecue Saturday Texas BBQ Pitmaster Meatman meat-up” meet up at Jon G’s Barbecue

2/12 Jon G’s Barbecue introduces some awesome Coors Banquet Beer-inspired t-shirts

2/15 Noble Smoke launches taco kits now available every Tuesday

2/16 Bar-B-Q King makes this list of “50 must-try cheap eats in Charlotte under $10” from Axios Charlotte (formerly Charlotte Agenda)

2/24: Axios Charlotte posts their list of the 4 best barbecue spots in Charlotte, with another 4 worth the drive; we even get a brief shoutout in reference to Jon G’s

March

3/1 Jon G’s Barbecue acquired their restaurant one year ago on 3/1; they would open for business about 3 months later

3/2 Roddey’s BBQ food truck in Rock Hill changes locations

3/3 Noble Smoke introduces the “Mini Mary,” a smaller version of their “Miss Mary” platter that feeds 4

3/4 Sweet Lew’s Barbeque and Midwood Smokehouse make the Eater list for Charlotte

3/9 Mac’s Speed Shop and Noble Smoke have two of the best patios in Charlotte

3/12 Sweet Lew’s Barbeque announces a “Bootcamp and BBQ” event on April 17

3/19 Noble Smoke introduces “The Noble Smoke Pitmaster Experience” where you can learn from their pitmasters for the somewhat steep price of $500 a spot; the initial spots have since sold out

We are offering an exclusive opportunity to learn the step-by-step process of smoking meat first-hand from our pitmasters, Stuart and Ed. You get to take home the meats of your labor which includes a whole brisket and pork butt (5 lbs each). But that’s not all! 3 sauces, a hat, a pitmaster t-shirt, lunch, and a post-smoke beer are also included.

3/19 Charlotte-based Mac’s Hospitality Group, the parent company of Mac’s Speed Shop, eyes growth across the Southeast in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Florida under the leadership of recently-hired president Shang Skipper

3/19 Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ will open a location of its fast casual concept in Concord in the coming weeks