Bubba’s Barbecue Has Reopened After 2+ Years Closure

Name: Bubba’s Barbecue
Date: 1/5/23
Address: 4400 Sunset Rd, Charlotte, NC 28216
Order: Chopped pork plate with slaw, green beans, hush puppies, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Remembering that Bubba’s Barbecue quietly reopened late last year (with an event quieter reopening in the summer), I recently made my way there for lunch on a weekday. This would be my first meal there in 9 years at the 37 year old restaurant.

After placing my order, I was greeted by a light lunch crowd of 3 other tables between the two large dining rooms. Before I could sit down from getting my drink, my food was brought out and placed on the yellow checked table cloth. While Bubba’s had these same table cloths the last time I visited in 2013, I always think of the recently departed Spoon’s Barbecue, which they of course share a lineage with.

Speaking of which, a quick detour for some Charlotte barbecue history. A barbecue restaurant first opened in 1963 as “Jackson and Spoon’s Barbecue” (later just “Spoon’s Barbecue”) on South Boulevard. In 1987, owner Ralph “Bubba” Miller purchased the restaurant and the original recipes. He later renamed the restaurant to “Bubba’s Barbecue” and a few years later moved it to it’s current location on Sunset Road, where it has been serving Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue since 1994. The Spoon family, meanwhile, opened “Bill Spoon’s Barbecue” on South Boulevard in the previous location for Bubba’s until they closed in fall 2020.

The pork was unfortunately just slightly above average. The texture was a bit stringy and it lacked any noticeable smoke. The branded table vinegar sauce did help, as did the addition of their slaw. This unique mustard-based slaw was another similarity between Bubba’s and Spoon’s.

The hush puppies were fresh but the green beans tasted out of a can.

While Bubba’s Barbecue will not become my go-to lunch barbecue spot, with most classic barbecue restaurants seem to be closing these days, it’s great to have one reopen. Give Bubba’s a try if you are in north Charlotte.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 Hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs

Despite Pitmaster Changes at Buxton Hall Barbecue, the Food Remains Consistent and That’s a Good Thing

Name: Buxton Hall Barbecue
Date: 12/22/22
Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Order: Combo platter with whole hog barbecue, sliced brisket, and ribs with chicken bog and collards (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Since the last time either Speedy or I visited Buxton Hall Barbecue, there’s been quite a bit of change. This past summer Elliot Moss, the face and pitmaster behind the launch of Buxton Hall, announced that he had parted ways with the Chai Pani Restaurant group which owns both Buxton Hall Barbecue as well as the Buxton Chicken Palace that Moss also helped start. Moss is staying in Asheville and opening a concept of his own (a “comfort classics restaurant” called Regina’s Westside) but it should not be overstated how much he helped put whole hog on the map in western NC as the brains behind Buxton Hall. 

On a day trip to Asheville, Speedy and I wanted to check out the restaurant to see if anything had drastically changed in the past 5+ months to our beloved Buxton Hall. While we’ve each visited the restaurant plenty on our own, this was our first time visiting as a duo. Plus, it was Speedy’s birthday and we had Papa Speedy and Cousins Daniel and Matt in tow!

Speedy: And what better to do on your birthday than have barbecue! One thing I noticed first off is that brisket (which I believe was a 2019 or 2020 menu addition add) was off the regular menu but available as a special (though only sliced was offered, instead of sliced and chopped). Obviously, you can’t go to Buxton and not get chopped pork, so when we were offered a special plate with pork, brisket, and ribs, Monk and I jumped on it. And add two sides to boot!

Monk: Apologies in advance for the subpar food photography – we visited for dinner and the lighting was quite low. Great ambiance, poor lighting conditions. Back to the food – the whole hog portion was a bit on the small side but tasted just as good as I remembered.

Speedy: And that is a good thing. I agree – top notch pork. The ribs, which I had not had at Buxton previously, were also really, really good. They were cooked perfectly – tender but not falling off the bone, and well seasoned without being either too sweet or too salty. The pork at Buxton is always the star (and was again today), but the ribs made sure they were heard. 

Monk: The ribs were definitely a revelation for me, as I also had not tried them previously. Unfortunately its hard to say if any effects were felt here, but at least what we had was really freaking good. The brisket slices were all lean (we weren’t asked our preference) and while they were fine, by no means were they the standout of the meal. 

Speedy: I had previously really enjoyed chopped brisket at Buxton, so I’m curious as to whether this is where the change in the pitmaster was truly felt, since it’s not a meat cooked every day and mastered. As for the sides, I didn’t notice any difference in the collard greens, which are some of my favorite anywhere and a must-order. 

Monk: While the collards had a nice kick and plenty of vinegary tang, I felt the chicken bog was perhaps a little on the dry side and at least on this night was not quite up to par with previous offerings. We should mention the smoked wings we got as an appetizer, which were very solid as well.

Going in, I wanted to order the hash and rice but it wasn’t a side option (and I didn’t think to ask to sub it in). I’d be really curious to see how that in particular holds up since that is a Pee Dee Region staple that was near and dear to Moss’s heart. Oh well – next time.

Speedy: The last time I was at Buxton, I texted Monk to ask whether it’s the best barbecue joint in NC. We decided that while we weren’t sure we were ready to go that far, it has to be in the conversation. At least so far, the loss of Elliott Moss doesn’t change that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

The 8 Best Barbecue Meals Monk Ate in 2022

Monk: 2022 was yet another year of great barbecue. In addition to finally getting to spend some time in the eastern part of the state for whole hog (although still not nearly enough), I tried two of the best new school barbecue at Palmira Barbecue in Charleston and Lawrence Barbecue in Durham. In terms of North Carolina, in the last weeks of the year I ate at two of the best joints in Buxton Hall Barbecue and Stamey’s. Here are the meals in photos listed in alphabetical order.

Whole hog barbecue dinner from B’s Barbecue, Greenville, NC (link)

Whole hog and ribs from Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville (re-review coming soon)

Hash and rice from Duke’s Barbecue in Orangeburg, SC (link)

A little bit of everything from Jon G’s Barbecue in Peachland, NC

Pork, brisket, and sticky ribs from Lawrence Barbecue, Durham, NC (link)

Whole hog barbecue, hash and rice from Palmira BBQ, Charleston, NC (link)

Whole hog barbecue from Skylight Inn, Ayden, NC (link)

Chopped barbecue plate with extra brown from Stamey’s Barbecue, Greensboro, NC (re-review coming soon)

Phil Does a Barbecue Crawl on the Austin Episode of Netflix’s “Somebody Feed Phil”

Monk: I can’t say that I’m all too familiar with Phil Rosenthal outside of work on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” But he’s turned into a sort of Anthony Bourdain travel docuseries guide in his most recent career turn (albeit a less-knowledgeable-but-more-agreeable version of Anthony Bourdain). The show’s clearly been a success for Netflix, as it somehow just released its sixth season of episodes, including one that focuses on the Austin food scene.

Phil starts the episode in a studio talking directly to camera relaying anecdotes from when he was shopping his show to various networks including Travel Channel and Food Network. According to them, barbecue was apparently all that anyone wants to watch these days. So when he finally visited Austin in season six, Phil obliged.

Along for the ride is Daniel Vaughn, BBQ Editor of Texas Monthly Magazine, and together they embark on a barbecue crawl across Austin. But their goal is not to hit the obvious spots in the Franklins or the La Barbecues, but rather to visit the newer joints.

At LeRoy & Lewis (3:55), Phil and Daniel of course get the standard Texas platter but with LeRoy & Lewis’s “new school barbecue” including beef check, sausage, bacon rib (aka pork belly on the bone), smoked burger, and cauliflower. LeRoy & Lewis is located in a food truck park in South Austin and has reached must-visit status for any serious barbecue fans, as evidenced by it #5 ranking in 2021’s Texas Monthly Top 50 list. And word on the street is that a brick and mortar is in the works.

Next on the trail is Distant Relatives (8:30), where traditional southern barbecue is influenced by sauces and spices from Africa in addition to the usual southern traditions. Owner and pitmaster Damien Brockway currently serves at Meanwhile Brewing in an industrial park in south Austin and was recently named to the most recent Texas Monthly Top 50 list as an honorable mention.

Fast forward to 15:38 where Phil and Daniel visit Interstellar BBQ and before eating we get a little bit of Vaughn’s backstory and how he got into Texas barbecue from his former life as an architect from Ohio. At Interstellar, Chef Jon Bates serves a typical central Texas platter of typical barbecue meats including turkey, which Jon jokingly considers a vegetable at his place. Bates honors Texas barbecue with some fine dining touches here and there. While I’m sure its all good (after all, it was #2 on last year’s Top 50), this is the most classic Texas barbecue of the places featured on this episode.

After taking a break from barbecue Phil treats the friends he’s met along the way in Austin to a family meal at Salt Lick Barbecue (43:30). The famed restaurant and winery is located just outside of Austin proper and while its not going to a show up on a Texas Monthly Top 50 list anytime soon, it certainly seems to hold a soft spot in the hearts of many barbecue snobs in Texas. It was one of our first stops as the Barbecue Bros in 2012, and I can understand why.

The Austin episode of “Somebody Feed Phil” was my first exposure to the series, and I will certainly be on the lookout for any more barbecue-related content in future seasons. While no Anthony Bourdain, Phil’s likable nature makes it an easy watch.