Friday Find: The Tar Heel Traveler Visits Gary’s Bar-B-Q in China Grove

Monk: The Tar Heel Traveler Scott Mason recently stopped in Rowan County to visit Gary’s Bar-B-Q in China Grove near Salisbury. It’s been around since 1971 and similar to many other storied barbecue joints, it is housed in an old service station. Its decor consists of vintage soda signage and it even houses a few classic cars. I’ve yet to stop by Gary’s despite passing by it a handful of times, so I may need to fix that soon.

Description: It’s a popular barbecue restaurant near Salisbury. The inside is full of old signs and vintage memorabilia and even a few classic cars.

Linkdown: 7/6/22

Monk: After a 2 month break to recap season 3 of “BBQ Brawl,” we’re back with a roundup of the latest barbecue news in North Carolina and beyond.


Catching up on some of the NC barbecue posts the past couple of months from Friend of the Blog John Tanner, he was making the rounds in eastern NC during the spring starting with a return trip to Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson where he enjoyed the barbecue but particularly the fried chicken

He then headed to Marty’s BBQ across town and did a head-to-head comparison with his meal at Parker’s

He followed up those meals with another return trip to Grady’s BBQ which, despite John’s near persistent drum beating, is still not a UNESCO world heritage site

John also visited Southport Smokehouse and Leland Smokehouse in the Wilmington-area and came away resolved to eating seafood at the beach in the future

But that was followed by the best pork of his trip (and contender for best in eastern NC according to him) at Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q in Willow Springs

John then swing through the Piedmont and hit up Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro which, while he had a fine meal, he was surprised to learn that hush puppies didn’t come with the meal

When news of Richard’s Bar-B-Q in Salisbury closing later this month, he also spun some words reflecting on the pending loss of yet another True ‘Cue joint

Native News

Congrats to Grady’s BBQ on 36 years open

Elliot Moss has parted ways with Buxton Hall Barbecue, according to his Instagram post, but will be staying in Asheville and has another restaurant in the works; as for barbecue: “I’m NOT done with BBQ. My passion for BBQ will live on forever. I’ll be doing some bbq traveling & cooking. Stay tuned”

ICYMI, our latest Lexington (NC) Barbecue Rankings

College Barbecue – Salisbury, NC

Name: College Barbecue
Date: 2/21/22
Address: 117 Statesville Blvd, Salisbury, NC 28144
Order: Small chopped barbecue tray, Cheerwine (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Reviving an old pastime of mine, I used a banker’s holiday as an excuse to try out a new barbecue restaurant out of town. Looking to stay within an hour or so, I realized that Salisbury had another True ‘Cue-approved joint besides Richard’s an pointed my GPS to College Barbecue.

As I parked, I exited the car and got whiffs of wood smoke in the air. Good start, to be sure. Luckily, at this lunch hour the youngest Monkette and I found the last booth and as is the case with a classic NC barbecue joint had a drink and our order with the waitress within minutes.

As we waited for our food (chopped tray for me, kid’s cut up hot dog for her), the sounds of cleavers slamming down on a wood barbecue block filled the restaurant. Great sign number two.

Unfortunately, that optimism was quite met by the barbecue itself. I ordered extra brown but even still did not detect much wood smoke on the chopped pork. Or flavor, if I’m being honest. Only after a few dashes of the table dip and Texas Pete did I feel that the pork started to come to life. Even the red slaw was a bit on the bland side. puppies

The small tray only came with two hush puppies, though they were on the larger side to the point of splitting one with the Monkette. They were fresh but more on the savory end of the savory-vs-sweet spectrum.

College Barbecue has been smoking barbecue over Hickory wood coals since 1965 just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from nearby Catawba College where they presumably get their name from. If you’re in Salisbury, you couldn’t be blamed for going to there but next time my money would be going to Richard’s.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Charlotte-area Thanksgiving Specials

Monk: This Thanksgiving, consider leaving the cooking to the professionals at these Charlotte-area barbecue joints. You also get the added benefit of supporting a local business while you take it easy because let’s face it, we should all take it easy when we can. See below for information.

Big Tiny’s BBQ – Mooresville, NC

The Dixie Pig – Rock Hill, SC

Farmhouse BBQ – Gastonia, NC

The Improper Pig – Charlotte, Fort Mill

Jon G’s Barbecue – Peachland, NC

Mac’s Speed Shop

Midwood Smokehouse

Noble Smoke

OooWee BBQ – Pineville

The Q Shack

RayNathan’s – Gastonia, NC

Rock Store BBQ – Stallings

The Smoke Pit – Concord, Gastonia, Monroe, Salisbury

Sweet Lew’s BBQ – deadline has already passed