Name: Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q
Location: 5121 Trojan Drive, Charlotte, North Carolina 28278
Order: Bar-B-Q platter with hush puppies, cole slaw, and potato salad (link to menu)
Monk: Living in Raleigh during my college years at NC State, whenever we headed east on I-40 towards the coast, we tended to hit up the Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q in Garner on the way out or back home. However, I moved to Charlotte in early 2005 so the last time I had actually gone to any Smithfield’s was likely in fall 2004; it had been quite some time. Smithfield’s (not related to Smithfield Foods, the Chinese-owned pork producer and food-processing company out of Virginia) has been around for 40 years and since those days in the early 2000’s it has grown to 40 franchise stores and has expanded slightly west into North Carolina’s Piedmont. And I do mean slightly – their sole location in southwest Charlotte near the outlet malls is their farthest store west by a good bit with their nearest Piedmont location in Greensboro or Rockingham.
I recently visited that location headed west towards the mountains on my way out of town. While I was tempted by the titular fried chicken, I went with a bar-b-q platter and kept it simple with their standard order: hush puppies, cole slaw, and potato salad.
And you know what? The barbecue, while surely mass-produced on a huge scale, did the trick. Sure, it doesn’t have a ton of smoke, but it tasted fresh and was chopped nicely. Adding the vinegar sauce and/or Texas Pete enhances it but isn’t necessary.
The hush puppies were some of the better fast casual hush puppies, and I felt bad tossing some in the trash after I filled up (though I did briefly consider bringing them in the car with me, though that would have meant throwing them away an hour down the road). While I didn’t regret going with potato salad over French fries, after a few bites I had my fill.
In a pinch, stopping at one of many Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q across the state will certainly do, and is probably your best bet for chain barbecue ahead of Cook Out or Jim ‘N Nick’s. Oddly, I probably received the most feedback of any post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so people seem to feel strongly about them (good or bad) for whatever reason. Next time though, I’ll probably go for a fried chicken thigh in addition to the barbecue.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs