Name: Sam Jones BBQ Date: 10/16/21 Address: 502 W Lenoir St, Raleigh, NC 27601 Order: Jones Family Original BBQ Tray (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Monk: Long time readers know that Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC has been on my to-do list for years and sadly it still remains on my to-do list in 2021. Regardless of the fact that I am not in that part of NC pretty much ever, I’ve thankfully been able to try the Jones family barbecue a couple of times in Charlotte over the years. The first time was at Midwood Smokehouse in 2013 when Sam Jones smoked a hog for a Midwood Smokehouse Sunday Supper even that also included an airing of the SFA documentary on Skylight Inn. The second time was at Free Range Brewing Pig Picking in 2017 that doubled as a viewing party for his Order/Fire documentary. Both times, the whole hog was life changing.
Since then, Sam Jones opened his first namesake restaurant in Winterville before opening a second location in Raleigh late last year. It was to be part of Raleigh’s supposed barbecue boom that was short-circuited by the pandemic. Thankfully Sam Jones BBQ persevered along with Prime Barbecue, Longleaf Swine, and Lawrence Barbecue.
After visiting the NC State campus with Lady Monk and the Monkettes, we made the short trip downtown to Lenoir Street. Though the lot for the restaurant is not very big, we found street parking right in front of the restaurant fairly easily. We waited in a short line and ordered at the front and not before too long a Jones Family Original BBQ Tray was placed in front of me.
Which I quickly turned into this to mimic what they do at Skylight Inn:
By now, everyone knows about the legendary whole hog with crispy bits of skin chopped in the way that the Jones family does it. The pork at Sam Jones BBQ in Raleigh lives up to that standard, although the skin could have been just a tad crispier. Just a minor nitpick in otherwise flawless whole hog barbecue.
Going in, I had wondered most about the corn bread. Theirs is a denser, non-sweet version that likely won’t ever be my favorite version of cornmeal served with barbecue. However, I can respect that its serving a different purpose than the sweeter corn meal in the hush puppies I’m used to in the Piedmont.
The mayo-based coleslaw was sweet and paired nicely with the cue and some Texas Pete.
It’s looking like 2022 will be the year I am able to finally make my pilgrimage to Ayden and I’ll likely stop by the original Sam Jones BBQ in nearby Winterville as well. Sam Jones BBQ’s outpost in Raleigh only made me anticipate that upcoming trip even more.
Name: Williamson’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood Date: 9/26/21 Address: 1011 N Brown St, Chadbourn, NC 28431 Order: From the buffet: pork, hush puppies, cole slaw, mac and cheese, banana pudding (link to menu) Pricing: $
Monk: Heading back from the beach on a Sunday, there’s usually just a few options for barbecue. Williamson’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood in Chadbourn is one of them, and a buffet at that. A barbecue buffet (usually including seafood) is a phenomenon I’ve encountered almost exclusively in the sandhills of eastern North Carolina, and I’ve previously checked out Fuller’s in Lumberton (now closed) and Pembroke.
Williamson’s is a small roadside shack off state road 410 near Highway 76 in Chadbourn that has both a dining room and a drive through. If you are dining in, you pay for you buffet at the cash register before grabbing your plate and going through the buffet line with options ranging from barbecue to various fried fish options.
I stuck with typical barbecue fare with their eastern style pork, cole slaw, mac and cheese, and hush puppies. Nothing wowed me but all were solid except for the hush puppies, which were fantastic.
I went back to the dessert bar before I left and grabbed some of their amazing banana pudding, the highlight of the meal.
Williamson’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood does a passable version of eastern NC barbecue but much like Joe’s Old Fashioned Barbecue from earlier on my trip, it was all tang and no smoke.
Name: Joe’s Old Fashioned Barbecue Date: 9/24/21 Address: 500 Green Hill Dr, Whiteville, NC 28472 Order: Small barbecue plate (link to menu) Pricing: $
Monk: I’ve been fortunate to spend a decent amount of time at Ocean Isle Beach, NC over the years. Coming from Charlotte, I’ve probably passed Joe’s Old Fashioned Barbecue in Whiteville (about an hour away from OIB) dozens of times without stopping. That’s in part because from Highway 701 there’s just a sign, as the restaurant itself is tucked away from the road behind a Lowe’s Home Improvement.
On my latest trip to OIB, I decided to finally make the stop at Joe’s Old Fashioned Barbecue. Or is it Joe’s Barbecue Kitchen? Or just plain Joe’s Barbecue as the restaurant sign says? The restaurant seems to go by a few different names, however on their website they state that “Joe’s Barbecue has been family-owned since it was established in 1964…Currently owned and managed by third generation family, Terri Edmund and Carol Ward.” At the time, I did not realize how long this establishment had actually been open.
Nevertheless, I stopped in for a quick lunch, which ended up being the small barbecue plate, curiously referred to as “Ladies’ Size.” C’mon guess, let’s get with the times. Sometimes a fella doesn’t wants to exercise portion control and didn’t want to gorge himself. No need to assign a lack of masculinity there.
Regardless, everything was solid but unspectacular; perfectly acceptable for a Friday lunch with co-workers as seemed to be the case for roughly half of the tables that day. The eastern-style barbecue had the vinegar tang you look for, although it wasn’t overly smoky since they apparently smoke with a gasser with wood added. Mixing it with the cole slaw and some table sauce made for quite the nice bite. And the hush puppies were fresh and delicious and my favorite part of the meal.
I was in and out of Joe’s Old Fashioned Barbecue in a matter of 15-20 minutes, which is exactly what I was looking for on this trip. While I wouldn’t suggest anyone go out of their way for it, should I find myself in a similar situation next time I’m headed to the Brunswick Islands of NC, I just may stop back in.
Now, with our most recent trip being to Siesta Key, Florida for some deep sea fishing, I didn’t have high hopes for barbecue. But by chance while killing time with friend-of-the-blog Boomsauce at a nearby beer garden waiting for the rest of the crew to fly in, Brick’s Smoked Meats in downtown Sarasota came onto my radar. A little research yielded the fact that despite sitting on the ground level of a parking deck they use “a fire-engine red J&R Oyler Pit smoker that stands almost two stories tall” and that sealed the deal. Next thing you know it, post-airport pickup we’re standing at the door supposedly to a place “where Texas ‘cue meets Florida flair.” We’ll see about that.
Speedy: Brick’s Smoked Meats was on the ground level of the State Street parking garage and had a big dining room and large bar. Our party of seven easily fit at a long table just by the bar, and a server was quickly by to take our order (which was pretty much a little bit of everything). We ordered some beers (including a fave barbecue pairing in Shiner Bock), and we were off and rolling.
As appetizers, the wings and bacon burnt ends came out first. The wings were good, but didn’t get as much smoke on them as I like. We got them tossed in both spicy and sweet barbecue sauce, but I couldn’t tell the difference. So while I’ve had better smoked wings, this was still a pretty good start.
The bacon burnt ends were great. They were melt in your mouth pork belly slathered in a sweet barbecue sauce that perfectly complemented the savory, salty meat. Honestly, we should have saved these for dessert. This is a must order item if you visit Brick’s.
Rudy: Once the main course trays came, I made sure to scout out the different meats and grab a bite of the good stuff before it was taken by others. I always want to make sure to get a piece of the brisket because, for me, it’s the easiest way to determine if a barbecue place knows what they are doing or not. The brisket to me was average at best. It was clear to me that it had been made much earlier and was reheated upon ordering. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything memorable either. With all of the other meats to choose from, I would lean away from the brisket.
I also made sure to try a rib, which was much better. The meat was very tender, had a good flavor, and didn’t need sauce to go with it (but they did offer 3 different sauces at the table in case you wanted to add to the flavor. As far as a side order, I really enjoyed the collard greens. They were cooked with bacon and had plenty of flavor and tasted like greens that I used to get at ‘meat and three’ restaurants in North Carolina.
Monk: The house sausage on that day was a jalapeno cheddar link so obviously Speedy was out. I assume they were shipped in and not made in house but were a solid meat on that meal, just a notch above the middle of the road pork.Their slaw looked to be a pre-chopped combo of cabbage and carrots and while it was not offensive in taste, it seemed an afterthought. Quick shoutout to the mini cornbread muffins that came with the combo platters.
Speedy: Loyal readers of the blog know that Monk and I have recently changed our tune and favored ordering smoked turkey. I don’t think Rudy’s there yet, but maybe Brick’s turkey would change his tune. The flavor of the turkey slice was good, and I got the smoke taste, but I found it just a touch overcooked and wanted a little more pepper. Not sure it was good enough to convert Rudy, but I’d order it again.
From a sides standpoint, the standout to me was the roasted brussels. I don’t often see these on the menu at ‘cue joints, but they’re just baby cabbages, so they fit a good barbecue meal. The flavor on the brussels was exceptional, and they were roasted to perfection. Again, something I’d highly recommend ordering.
Rudy: I’m going to have to take your word for it because with a menu full of that many good options, there’s no way I’m fitting turkey onto my plate.
We’ve had mixed results in the quality of barbecue on our trips so it’s hard to know what to expect. I was not anticipating getting any barbecue on this trip, so it was quite the pleasant surprise when Monk told us he found this place. Overall, I was impressed with the overall quality of the ‘cue and the depth of their menu. I would not have pegged Sarasota for having the quality that Brick’s had. Was it the best barbecue we’ve ever had? No. But I really liked it and would make sure to return if I was in the area again. And when you combine barbecue with the good company that we had with us, you can’t go wrong.