Eastern NC Whole Hog Tour: Sam Jones BBQ – Winterville, NC

As the old saying goes, more often than not a person’s favorite barbecue is what he or she was raised on. Here at Barbecue Bros, it should be no secret that we are Lexington-style barbecue fans (sometimes known as Piedmont- or Western-style barbecue). Each of the three of us were raised in High Point, NC, just under 20 miles up I-85 from the Barbecue Capital of NC.

However, despite the two warring styles of barbecue in the state, I have never harbored any ill-will to my whole hog compatriots to the east. While I’ve spent many a tank of gas exploring all the Lexington-style joints in the western Piedmont of NC, I’ve bemoaned for years the fact that I just simply haven’t had a ton of reasons to spend much time in the eastern part of the state where whole hog and a vinegar pepper sauce reign supreme. 

Thankfully, the oldest Monkette’s gymnastics competition travels recently took the whole Monk family to Greenville, NC for USAG State Championships. We even stayed in an AirBnB in Ayden. Finally, I had a reason to be in Pitt County for a couple days. I hoped to make the most of being in the heart of whole hog country!

Part I – B’s Barbecue

Part II – Skylight Inn

Sam Jones BBQ – Winterville

Address: 715 W Fire Tower Rd, Winterville, NC 28590
Order: Two meat combo with collards and potato salad (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: In Pitt County, there seem to only be a couple of barbecue options on Sundays. B’s Barbecue, Skylight Inn, and Bum’s Restaurant are all closed to give those family-run operations a day of rest (though of course the prep for the next week surely begins). Parker’s Barbecue has a few Greenville-area locations and is open 10-8:30 seven days a week, but is a gas-cooked barbecue that may actually be better known for its fried chicken. For true ‘cue, wood-smoked barbecue, your main option is Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, between Ayden and Greenville. You may recall that the Monk family had previously checked out the Raleigh outpost of Sam Jones BBQ last year, with great results.

While I was still very much on the whole hog train, Sam Jones BBQ gave the family a few more options to order something else besides barbecue (I know, I know). It also has a full bar with local beer options on tap including the Sam Jones BBQ Eager Clever Kölsch, a beer made in honor of Sam Jones by Pitt Street Brewing in Greenville made to complement barbecue.

Compared with the barbecue I had just the day before at Skylight Inn, although Sam Jones BBQ’s whole hog was very good it somewhat paled in comparison. The chop was coarser, the cracklins weren’t quite as crisp, and the barbecue portion was a little lacking. Still, it was very good barbecue and one that I’d recommend to anyone.

On my third barbecue restaurant in Pitt County, I finally tried the pit chicken that seems to be the second barbecue item at each restaurant. We’re on record here in rarely ordering poultry at barbecue restaurants (although I’m starting to change my mind about turkey) and while this “slow-cooked chicken” was rather good I wouldn’t necessarily order next time

I switched it up as far as sides went and went with collards and potato salad.The collards were Mrs. Monk approved – she’s contemplated starting a “Collards Sisters” blog so she’s clearly an expert – and the potato salad was a nice changeup from the slaw I’d had a couple times in the past 24 hours.

The original Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville knocks it out of the park, and seem to be doing wll, as evidenced by the near-constant line out the door throughout our Sunday lunch visit. While there are clearly better options for barbecue nearby (which in this case means transcendent), I would happily eat at a Sam Jones BBQ were it in my hometown. Speaking of which: any plans to open a store in Charlotte, Sam?

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

Friday Find: “Pitt County Brew and ‘Cue Trail”

Monk: Pitt County, NC is home to several classic NC barbecue joints including B’s Barbecue in Greenville as well as Skylight Inn and Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden plus newer ones like Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville. Throw a few breweries in the mix and baby, you got a stew goin’. NC Weekend checked it out 2 years ago when it started and reported back.

Description: Lovers of barbecue and beer can have a field day in Pitt County where you can follow a brew and ‘cue trail, get your tickets stamped, and have a whole lot of fun.

Linkdown: 11/15/17

– A promising new barbecue joint has opened up in Manteo on the Outer Banks, Carolina Bar-B-Que Company

Behind the smokehouse, owner Mike Weaver raises an axe in an arc over his shoulders. The blade comes down sure and fast and cleaves a broad section of pecan trunk in two. This is barbecue at its most basic level, starting with the wood. Weaver is in his element, living his dream, but it was a long time in the making.

– Virginia is still at it:

– The story of how a Benson, NC man went from a NC State Barbecue Camp to a state whole hog champion in about 18 months

– The Greenville-Pitt Community Visitor’s Bureau continues to advertise the Pitt County Brew and ‘Cue Trail

– Wisconsin-style barbecue? Really?

“It’s going to be tangy with a little bit of sweet, but not mustard tangy, not Carolina barbecue,” Stahl said. “I focus on my rub. I use European spices that reflect my Czech and eastern European heritage. I personally don’t like sauce on my barbecue. I put a lot of work into the smoke and rub, so I don’t think it needs that much sauce.”

– Franklin Barbecue remains in Bill Addison’s 38 Essential Restaurants in America

– Great story on Stan Hays, the man behind Operation BBQ Relief

– Good use of Twitter’s new 280 character limit or great use?