Old Brick Pit Barbeque – Chamblee, GA

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Name
: Old Brick Pit Barbeque
Date: 2/15/2017
Address: 4805 Peachtree Rd, Chamblee, GA 30341
Order: Combination platter (pork, ribs) with brunswick stew, slaw (link to menu)
Price: $13

Speedy: Old Brick Pit Barbeque is an old school joint that is just a couple miles north of where I moved in Atlanta. Despite driving by it many times, I never stopped until a recent February evening. Walking in, Old Brick Pit looks like it would fit right in Lexington, so I definitely felt at home. But would the food stack up?

Monk: I know that Marie, Let’s Eat! is a big defender of this place as a good representation of the definitely-not-a-catchall-term “Georgia barbecue”. As I passed by this place leaving Speedy’s place last August, I realized just how close it was. I’ve been really curious how he’d receive it.

Speedy: Of course I ordered a combination platter so I could taste both the ribs and pork and as a bonus, it came with Brunswick stew. The platter was ready shortly after ordering.

The pork was interesting – it came topped with a red barbecue sauce (with more on the side). But the pork was tender and tasty, and I think the sauce actually added an interesting flavor. This was, by a country mile, the best part of the meal. In fact, if I go back to Old Brick Pit, I’ll stick to a barbecue sandwich – available for only $3.

Monk: Based on your description, this sounds a bit like the late Old Hickory House here in Charlotte, which was a Georgia style joint of the chain which only has one location left in Tucker. I was never a huge fan of the tangy sauce that topped the barbecue, but could appreciate that it was a different style than I was accustomed to.

Speedy: Good call, Monk. It did sort of remind me of Old Hickory House. And I’ve been to the one in Tucker – it was not very good. I thought the Charlotte one (RIP) was much better.

As you might have guessed, the ribs were just not good. They were way, way, way overcooked and seem like they had been boiled prior to smoking. The meat was almost soggy. It had OK flavor, but not good enough to make up for the overcooking.

Monk: Seems like the ribs were the favorite of Marie, Let’s Eat! And Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else. Odd that it was not so great for your visit. Next you’re going to say that you weren’t a fan of the brunswick stew…

Speedy: The brunswick stew was OK, but a little lacking in flavor. I didn’t try the slaw since it was mayo based.

Monk: Well ok, then.

Speedy: Overall, I was disappointed in the Old Brick Pit. I might return for a quick sammie sometime, but I won’t be taking any out of town visitors over.

For more reviews of Old Brick Pit Barbeque, check out
Marie, Let’s Eat!
Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 1.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Old Brick Pit Barbeque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Old Brick Pit

True BBQ – West Columbia, SC

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Name
: True BBQ
Date: 12/30/16
Address: 1237 D Ave, West Columbia, SC 29169
Order: Small barbecue dinner with hash and rice, collards, and slaw (link to menu)
Price: $13.01

Monk: Ever since reading this Garden & Gun Magazine article last year about Hite’s BBQ in West Columbia, it shot to the top of my list. Being that it’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays, I took the opportunity during my week off between Christmas and New Year’s to make the trip to Columbia specifically to check it out on a Friday, only to find this:

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Nevertheless, my other planned stop was True BBQ not more than a mile away so I decided that I would head there and would figure out my second stop later.

During my research for the quick trip, I checked Marie, Let’s Eat! (as I always do when it comes to barbecue in the southeast) and True BBQ was received very favorably by those folks so at that point it was a no-brainer for me.

Speedy: Grant actually specifically mentioned seeing you here on Instagram and being jealous. It seems he’s been a bit disappointed by the Chattanooga ‘cue…

Monk: Yea, I get that sense based on some of the latest chapters on the blog, which is too bad…

I had timed my trip to arrive in Columbia as close to 10 as possible (which ended up being more like 10:30) since Hite’s opens at 8am, but luckily True BBQ opens at 10:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Seeing as how I was planning to eat another meal shortly after, I only ordered a small barbecue dinner. I’ll get the pork out of the way – it was a bit on the dry side, especially considering it was so early in the day and should have been freshly smoked. You get a choice of three sauces – the Pretty Lady mustard sauce, Sexy Lady red sauce, and Lexington vinegar sauce – and it needed it. Hopefully this isn’t the case normally.

Hash and rice is a dish that intrigues me more and more these days and at True BBQ it comes standard with every dinner along with two sides. This was damned good hash and rice and by far the best part of the meal. Next time, I may even get a double order as one of my sides. The collards were above average but the slaw was a bit of a letdown and would be my choice to be replaced by more hash and rice.

As an aside, apparently the pork chop is worth ordering since the only other customer there with me at 10:30 was raving about it to pitmaster Ernest Zanders who was back and forth between the kitchen and the smoker out in front of the building, which was the first thing I noticed pulling into the parking lot. So take that for what its worth for those who are considering ordering that item.

In addition to the pork, True BBQ has some daily specials like brisket and beef ribs that may or may not be worth checking out. But at the very least I can recommend the hash and rice. As Grant so succinctly put it, “it’s two-hundred mile hash.” Come to think of it, next time I may just go triple sides of hash and rice…

For more reviews of True BBQ check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!
Destination BBQ
Eat It Atlanta

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Hash and Rice – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
True BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
True BBQ

B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – Atlanta, GA

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Name
: B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque
Date: 12/31/2016
Address: 2061 Main St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Order: Sampler platter (pork, ribs, chicken) add brisket, fried okra, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: So it’s no secret that I’ve been a little slack in my barbecue eating since moving to Atlanta. So when Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat! reached out to me letting me know he and Marie (along with their boychild) would be in town on Saturday and asking if I were interested in meeting up for a meal, I jumped at the chance. Grant and Marie used to live in Atlanta, so are very in-tune with the culinary scene, including the ‘cue. Grant suggested that we meet at B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque and after reading his review, I was pumped to check it out.

Monk: Big thanks to Grant and co for dragging Speedy back into the land of barbecue blogging. And let me be the first to say that I can’t wait to see how this visit turned out.

Speedy: I arrived mere minutes before Grant, Marie, and the boychild, and we walked in at 5 pm on New Year’s Eve to find ourselves the only patrons. Grant greeted pitmaster Bryan “B” Furman on the way in, a good sign for sure.

Monk: I’m a little shocked that you were the only folks in there, but I’m assuming that has more to do with New Year’s Eve because everything I’ve read about B’s since its September opening has been supremely positive.

Speedy: Definitely, Monk. And I think there were plenty of people there for lunch, leading to a brisket shortage. But more on that later. Walking in, B’s has an old-school feel with plenty of seating, a big outdoor space, and a counter to place the order. I could smell the smoke upon walking in – not in an overpowering way, but in a way that made my mouth water. Obviously I ordered as much meat as possible on one plate, along with collards and fried okra, while Grant went with the two meat plate (pork and brisket) with a double order of the hash and rice (bold move, Grant). The staff informed us that they were out of brisket for the day, apparently a pretty common occurrence. Our disappointment was short-lived, as pitmaster Bryan told us that he could carve some directly off the smoker for us, as long as we don’t tell anyone. (We didn’t at the time, but now you know the secret loyal readers – blogging pays off.)

The meal was delivered shortly, and we eagerly dug in. Let me say this first off – I had enough food to feed three people easily – portions were not skimpy by any means.

I’ll start with what was my favorite portion – the brisket. Being carved fresh off the smoker, I could tell we got a little extra outside (bonus!). Also, it definitely came from the point of the brisket, as it was on the fatty side. Not that this is a complaint at all – the brisket was absolutely delicious. The seasoning was amazing, and the meat was tender and juicy. Overall, this was in the upper echelon of briskets that I’ve tasted. I’m curious as to what this tastes like in a normal setting, but overall, I was really pleased with a meat that is hard to find done well in these parts.

The pork at B’s is whole hog, which is also rarely found in Georgia. The meat here was also plenty tender, but came unsauced, making it slightly dry. At B’s, there are two sauces on the table – a spicy vinegar and a peach mustard. Normally, I would immediately douse the ‘cue in spicy vinegar, but Grant just raved about the peach mustard, so that’s what I tried first. Despite my well known aversion to mustard on pork barbecue, this stuff was excellent. It’s not anything like the traditional SC mustard sauce, but is rather quite sweet without the expected tang. I ended up having a conversation with Bryan about this sauce while eating – more on that later. Of course I tried the spice vinegar as well. Adding this to the whole hog pork would let it stack up favorably to nearly anything I’ve had in eastern NC. If I had to nitpick (and I do), I would love for some cracklin’ to be included in the pork to give it a little more texture, and I feel it would be fitting given the name. But I would definitely consider the pork and brisket “must orders” at B’s.

Monk: I am shocked (shocked!) to hear that Speedy willingly tried a mustard sauce on his pork. I think this shows real growth. Well done, Speedy.

Speedy: Only  because of the recommendation, Monk. The ribs were also very good. B’s serves big, meaty dry spare ribs that have been seasoned to near perfection. They were cooked perfectly – not too tender to fall off the bone, but well enough that you got an easy, clean bite. I personally prefer baby back ribs, but I can’t say I’ve had too many spare ribs that are better. I didn’t end up adding any sauce to my ribs, but would consider seeing how the peach mustard would taste on it. Overall, though, none was needed.

The chicken was also smoked perfectly and seasoned really well. The plate came with a quarter chicken, including the wing. The skin tasted smoky and good, and the chicken was tender without being dry. As a barbecue lover, this is never my top meat choice, and it isn’t at B’s either, but it was still very enjoyable.

The sides at B’s are also quite good. The fried okra had a really tasty seasoning on it, and the collards (made with turkey) are quite flavorful. I didn’t try Grant’s hash and rice (he offered, but I stupidly declined), but it looked fantastic. I think I’ll try that out next time.

Monk: I will say, hash and rise is becoming one of those dishes that I am becoming more and more interested in. With Grant getting a double order, sounds like it’s a dish I definitely need when we go to B’s next time I’m in Atlanta. Along with everything else you ate because it all sounds pretty darn good. At the very least, we could basically get the same order and you’ll just have less leftovers.

Speedy: I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how nice of a guy pitmaster Bryan is. He came and spoke with us for quite a while during our meal. To me, the most interesting piece was his upcoming partnership with Heinz for a mustard sauce (not the peach mustard – they wanted that recipe, but Bryan wouldn’t give it to them). Bryan said the sauce the ended up with is close, but not quite the same. He mentioned that it is a sweet mustard sauce, though (“it had to be sweet if I was going to put my name on it”). I’m looking forward to trying it!

At the end of the day, this was by far the best barbecue I’ve had in Georgia. It’s good to have a go to place to take visitors. Bryan, I’ll be seeing you again soon!

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Chicken – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
B's Cracklin' Barbeque

Hometown Bar-B-Que – Brooklyn, NY

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Name: Hometown Bar-B-Que
Date: 12/2/16
Address: 454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Order: ½ pound pulled pork. ½ pound brisket, ½ pound lamb belly, beef rib, medium queso mac and cheese, medium collards (link to menu)
Price: ~$90 (for 3)

Speedy: NO SLEEP TIL BROOKLYN. That’s right, Monk and I took a trip to the big city to play hipster for the weekend, so what’s the first thing on our agenda? Barbecue, of course!

Monk: And not just any barbecue, but artisanal wood smoked barbecue in Red Hook! Friend of the blog Johnny Fugitt actually ranked Hometown Bar-B-Que #2 in his book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America. I wanted to check it out last fall when we spent 8 nights in New York but it just didn’t pan out. Mostly because we realized that Red Hook is just not so convenient to get to whether by Uber (much less on fixies, another approved transportation method), whether you are in Manhattan or even in a different part of Brooklyn (as we hipsters found out staying in Williamsburg that weekend).

Speedy: So we rolled up to Hometown, a standalone building near the Upper Bay. The atmosphere is supercool for a couple hipsters like us. It definitely reminded me of a Texas joint, with a cafeteria-style line, a separate bar, and a second dining room complete with a band setup (so hipster!). Monk and I immediately went to work and ordered a little bit of most things on the menu. The meat was cut and weighed right in front of us and we were good to go.

Monk: Well, good to go in the sense that they charged us a buttload of money just to get a decent amount of barbecue. But I guess that’s kind of touristy of us to complain about high prices in New York, so nevermind, back to hipster mode…

Speedy: The first thing to discuss is definitely the beef rib. It was definitely quite the piece of meat. It was seasoned well, providing some bark on the outside, and was cooked to perfection – tender but not overly so. Overall, this was a great start!

Monk: This was my first real beef rib and I agree that it was pretty great, though of course I don’t have the frame of reference that Rudy or even Speedy have. As for the pulled pork, it was fine minus the small pool of grease it was sitting in. This got more and more unappetizing as our lunch went on. I would rank it last of the meats we tried but it was still above average.

Speedy: The brisket definitely exceeded expectations. Monk and I got a cut off a fresh brisket, complete with extra outside.

Monk: Real recognize real…

Speedy: …It was oh-so-peppery and delicious. Not overly seasoned at all – just a really good brisket. The only drawback is that it was a little on the fatty side (we weren’t asked fatty or lean), but I’m nitpicking. This is one thing I’ll be ordering again if I ever find myself in Red Hook again.

Monk: Why would you find yourself in Red Hook again? Pre-gaming for a Bon Iver show or something?

The most interesting meat we ordered was the lamb belly, which was served pulled similar to the pork. In fact, if you weren’t paying attention it was hard to tell the difference between the two just by looking – just a slight variation in brown. It was very, very good albeit again I had nothing to compare it to. The texture varied slightly from the pulled pork and it was more succulent maybe? This being my first time, I’m not doing a good job describing it but I would order it again even if it did have the same pool of grease issue as the pork.

Speedy: I thought the lamb belly was excellent. I was expecting it to look/taste more like pork belly (the only belly with which I’m familiar), but it ended up being quite different. There was definitely a lot of flavor, some vinegar tang, and a little sweetness. I think it tied the brisket for me for my favorite meat of the day (something I try to pick out at the end of every day).

Monk: For a couple of wannabe hipsters like us, Hometown Bar-B-Que was worth the trip from Williamsburg and is now my favorite barbecue joint in New York over Arrogant Swine, Mighty Quinn’s, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (still so mad about The Smoke Joint, which came up again during this trip).

Speedy: Totally agree, Monk. Overall, I haven’t been uber impressed with NYC ‘cue, but you could drop Hometown in the middle of Lockhart and it would pass just fine.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Beef Rib – 4 hogs
Lamb belly – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
Hometown Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hometown Bar-B-Que

Full Service BBQ – Knoxville, TN

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Name: Full Service BBQ
Date: 10/20/16
Address: 104 Cedar Ln, Knoxville, TN 37912
Order: Big Boy Box (pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken) with fries and beans (link to menu)
Price: $18

Monk: On this year’s annual guys trip, Speedy and I (no Rudy this year, unfort) and the crew coming up from Atlanta were passing through Knoxville around lunchtime, so I solicited the advice from Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat!, the perfect man to ask for barbecue recommendations around the southeast (seriously, he knows his stuff). His first choice, Sweet P’s Barbeque and Soul House, was too far south and out of the way, so we went with his #2 in Full Service BBQ with their Knoxville location being perfect for us just off I-75 on our way to Lexington for a weekend of the bourbon trail and horse racing.

Speedy: And let me tell you – if we didn’t know we were in Tennessee before we got to Full Service, we sure as heck knew it when we got there. There’s no inside seating at Full Service – just places to park your car, picnic tables (complete with napkin logs), and a walk up order window. I thought I was in heaven. That is until I found out that we had just missed smoked wing day (Wednesdays) and were a little too early for burnt end day (Fridays). So while that was a bummer, I was still pumped to try the aptly named Big Boy Box, which I split with Monk, since we’re only medium sized.

Monk: You know I always like a good napkin log. Instead of going meat by meat and offering up our critique, let’s focus on the best meat at Full Service. That ok with you, Speedy?

Speedy: I like it when you spice up our relationship, Monk. So the best meat at Full Service is the brisket.

Monk: By a country mile.

Speedy: By a Tennessee mile. Or maybe a Texas mile is more appropriate. We didn’t get offered a choice of fatty or lean briskets, but what we got seemed like the flat, or lean side. Even so, it was moist, flavorful, and cooked nearly perfectly. It had the tug that you want, the peppery bark, and the juices flowing throughout. All in all, a great brisket, especially from outside of Rudy’s hood.

Monk: It was pretty clear to us from speaking with the person who took our order that the brisket is what they take the most pride in at Full Service. Maybe “after thought” is too harsh for the other meats, but in descending order they ranked ribs, chicken, pork, sausage. And all far, far below the brisket. As for the sides, the fries were fresh with a nice seasoning salt and the beans were solid.

Speedy: Totally agree. I actually thought the sausage and pork weren’t even passable. Had we only tried those two meats, this would rank as one of the lowest we’ve reviewed. But you know what they say, Monk – it only takes one good meat to make a good barbecue restaurant.

Monk: Who says that, exactly?

Speedy: We do, Monk. We do.

Monk: Fair point…Speedy recalled that Full Service BBQ had been mentioned in Johnny Fugitt’s book The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America, listed as part of the other 75 (though he, like Grant, went to the Maryville location). And when I went back to the book, I realized that the brisket was #3 on his list of “10 Best Briskets Outside of Texas (better than 99% in Texas)” (FYI Midwood Smokehouse which was #6 on the list). That might be a bit high for me, but it was a good brisket nonetheless.

Speedy: Overall, I would go back to Full Service BBQ for one reason and one reason only: brisket. And to try the burnt ends. So, maybe two reasons. But I’d recommend that anyone get the chance head through to try that beef.

(For another review, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings: 
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 1 hog
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Chicken – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Full Service BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Full Service BBQ

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – Atlanta, GA

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Name
: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q
Date: 8/27/16
Address: 1238 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
Order: The Everything plate (pork, brisket, ribs, wings) with tater tots and collard greens, brisket egg rolls, jalapeno cheddar link, Frito pie, jalapeno corn bread, 5 beers (link to menu)
Price: ~$82

Speedy: It wasn’t long after my move to Atlanta that Monk and friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong started planning a trip down to visit. I still don’t know too much about the city, but I knew for sure one thing would be on the agenda – barbecue. Fox Bros is probably the most famous place in town – a Texas-style joint with a little bit of everything on the menu. We went early on a Saturday to beat the crowd.

Monk: Acknowledging that Fox Bros definitely is not a “Georgia style” barbecue joint, next time through we’ll plan to visit a more regionally appropriate joint. For instance, Old Brick Pit Barbeque is actually not far from Speedy’s hood.

Speedy: The first thing to come out were the brisket egg rolls and boy were they good. It was an egg roll filled with brisket, onions, and a little bit of mustard sauce. A simple concept executed to perfection. It made me wonder – why don’t more things come in egg rolls? Another conversation for another time I guess.

Monk: You may recall that Speedy also really loved the southern egg rolls from The Pit in Raleigh. This guy just loves a good egg roll, darnit. Can’t say he’s wrong, though.

Speedy: We also had brisket as part of our combo platter, and ordered the fatty cut. Loyal readers of this blog know I’ve sworn off of North Carolina brisket. I’m happy to report I will not have to make the same proclamation in Georgia. It wasn’t the best brisket I ever had, but it was had a solid bark, good flavor and tenderness, and was just solid.

Monk: Solid, yes. But in Charlotte I’d actually put up the brisket from The Smoke Pit or Midwood Smokehouse against Fox Bros any day.

While the coarsely pulled pork had bark mixed it, I found it to be disappointingly dry and bland. Texas joints aren’t generally known for their pork, and that was certainly the case for Fox Bros.

Speedy: The ribs, on the other hand, were meaty and cooked to perfection. I was able to get a nice, clean bite and enjoyed the flavor. I do think there could have been a little more dry rub used, but overall a good rib. I was similarly impressed with the smoked wings, that came with a spicy bbq sauce. I’d consider them a must order for wing lovers.

Monk: The jalapeno cheddar link was a special on the day we were there, but being that it had cheddar Speedy was unable to partake. I liked it quite a bit, though I will say my sausage knowledge is still lacking. Having followed Fox Bros on Instagram for the past few years, one of my most anticipated items to try was the Frito Pie. Brisket chili, cheese, jalapenos, and sour cream mixed into a bag of Fritos. It was one of the best things I ate at that meal and if I can’t find it closer to home in NC, then I’m almost certainly going to have make my own version of it at home.

Speedy: The collards were quite good, and I’ll order them again, but they didn’t really make or break the meal. The tater tots were ordered were better than average, as they were seasoned nicely. Of course the big win was at the end of the meal when friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong lost credit card roulette and picked up the tab. Thanks, buddy!

Monk: Oh right! Thanks for reminding me of my favorite part as well. I definitely won’t go as far as to say that I was disappointed with our meal at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – the food was generally above average and the beer was cold. Whether the buildup in my head was fair is a valid question, but in any case I was hoping for just a little more.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q

Carolina Bar-B-Q – Statesville, NC

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Name
: Carolina Bar-B-Q
Date: 7/19/16
Address: 213 Salisbury Rd, Statesville, NC 28677
Order: Regular chopped barbecue pork dinner with baked beans, barbecue slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $11

Monk: About 3 years BBB (before barbecue blog) – that’s 7 years ago in layman’s speak – I tried Carolina Bar-B-Q on a lark while heading back to Charlotte from a day tubing on the New River. I don’t recall a ton about the meal other than generally liking it but the presence of it on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail has made it a target for a revisit on our neverending quest to try all of the joints on the trail.

Only about a mile off I-77 in Statesville (about an hour north of Charlotte), its hard to miss the joint. The building was opened by owners Gene and Linda Medlin in 1985 and has a  huge green roof and “CAROLINA BAR-B-Q” prominently displayed in white block letters.

Carolina Bar-B-Q is a Lexington-style joint (Statesville is about 40 due west of Lexington), and thus smokes pork shoulders before mixing a dip prior to serving. It’s offered either chopped or sliced and while I liked the chopped it is a little lean and lacks much fat or gristle mixed in. The lack of fat or gristle is a complaint apparently shared by Charles Kuralt calling it “too refined,” but a small note at the register says it’s available on request. I do wish it was noted on the menu itself, so that I would know to ask for it when placing my order. There wasn’t a lot of bark mixed in either but at this point I should know to ask for outside brown at a Lexington-style joint. Rookie mistake.

Speedy: Monk, Monk – you never learn! But a little bark mixed in, whether requested or not, is a sign of a truly superior ‘cue joint. Not including it in a standard order shouldn’t be excused.

Monk: You do get a choice of coleslaw or barbecue slaw, and the barbecue slaw was a pretty standard version. The beans were passable, though they did remind me of Bush’s from a can. The hush puppies were perfectly fried and the best of the sides.

Speedy: True Lexington style joints don’t even offer coleslaw. Just sayin’…

Monk: Fair point. Carolina Bar-B-Q is a barbecue joint reminiscent of a few we’ve tried on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail – solid but unspectacular. All in all, I’d say its still worth a stop for sure.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Carolina Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Carolina Bar-B-Q

Luella’s Barbecue – Asheville, NC

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Name
: Luella’s Bar-B-Que
Date: 6/26/16
Address: 501 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
Order: Chopped Plate with Fries, Slaw and Hushpuppies, Cheerwine (link to menu)

Speedy: A day after visiting Buxton Hall, I decided to have a treat yo’ self meal at another ‘cue joint, so I texted Monk to see where he thought I should go. He mentioned that he’d wanted to try Luella’s for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it, so I undertook the task. Walking in, Luella’s has ample seating and a nice, long bar, as well as some outdoor seating. Overall, it seemed like a great place to have a meal.

The menu advertises the chopped pork BBQ as eastern style, so that was my order, along with fries, slaw, and hushpuppies. The food came out quickly and I dug in.

The pork was, simply, divine. It had great smoke flavor, lots of bark, and was cooked and chopped perfectly. I think it could have used a little more tang, but I’m definitely splitting hairs. When compared to Buxton Hall, this pork had more bark and smoke, but was just a little behind in terms of tenderness and tang. Knowing Monk, I think he’d disagree, but I’d have to give Luella’s a very slight edge. But you can’t go wrong either way.

The sides were also good. The vinegar based slaw was enjoyable, even if it didn’t quite stack up to the Lexington style barbecue slaw. And the hush puppies were no slouch either.

Monk:  Before Buxton Hall and even Etowah Smokehouse came along, Luella’s had been on my radar. So that’s great to hear that it worked out for you. I mean, 4 hogs? That’s high praise.

Speedy: Overall, I only had time for a quick meal at Luella’s, but I’ll definitely return. I hate that I didn’t get a chance to try any of the other meats, but this is definitely a place worth visiting.

(For another review of Luella’s Bar-B-Que, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Luella's Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville, NC (Monk’s take)

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Name
: Buxton Hall Barbecue
Date: 6/18/16
Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Order: Pulled whole hog barbecue plate with hush puppies appetizer and sides of chicken bog, waffle-cut fries; Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $23

Monk: I’ve been following Pitmaster Elliot Moss’s pursuit to open a whole hog barbecue joint for what seems like most of the life of this blog (4+ years). What was initially announced as Buxton Hill Barbecue with one business partner later turned into a venture with another called Buxton Hall Barbecue. As I understand it, throughout the journey bringing whole hog barbecue to Asheville remained the focus, and it finally opened in Asheville’s booming South Slope neighborhood (literally heading south downhill from downtown) last August.

Buxton Hall took over part of an old building that used to house a skating rink and its immediate neighbors include Catawba Brewing and Vortex Doughnuts. The interior maintains some of the character from the skating rink (like some of the old paintings on the wall) while adding modern craftsman touches (Edison bulb fixtures, subway tiling, etc). An open air kitchen contains two BQ smokers and wood smoke wafts into the dining area when logs are added to the in-kitchen firebox to create coals to place into the smoker. In short, it’s exactly the type of barbecue place that I would try to open if I were able to.

The whole hog barbecue is a just about perfect recreation of eastern NC/SC pulled pork (Moss himself is originally from the Florence, SC area). Tender strands of moist pork with a little hint of wood smoke and spice – just fantastic. While I didn’t order it on this visit, I’m still curious about barbecue hash (a nod to his SC roots) and would likely try that next time in addition to the pork. In any case, everyone should order the pork at the very least.

Chicken bog is not a barbecue dish I am familiar with and thus, had to try it as one of my two sides. It’s essentially a rice dish with chicken, sausage, and veggies topped with dashes of Texas Pete. I have no comparison, but I thought it was a very successful side and loved every bite of it. The plate came with a small ramekin of a vinegar-based coleslaw, so instead of doubling up I got waffle-cut fries in case the Monkette wanted some. They are almost exactly like Chic-Fil-A fries in all of the best ways. Plus, Buxton Hall made a smart decision to include barbecue-perfect drink options like RC Cola, Diet Rite, Cheerwine, and Sun Drop. Naturally, I opted for Cheerwine.

Speedy: I just want to jump in here, as I visited Buxton Hall just short of a week after Monk did with my bro (same parents variety, not barbecue variety). This was my second visit (the first being shortly after it opened), and I once again had a great meal. I think Monk is spot on in his description of the pork – it’s excellent – but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the collards are flat out phenomenal. A can’t-miss side, in my opinion. I also like that Elliott puts different specials on the menu to keep things fresh – when I was in, it was a pulled rib meat sandwich, which I didn’t try, but sounded intriguing. Anyway, carry on, Monk…

Monk: Oh hey there, Speedy – thanks for the input. After our meal, we had moved on to Burial Brewing around the corner but as it so happens ran into Moss where him and I were able to talk all things Asheville and barbecue over a beer. He was then nice enough to take us back to the restaurant to give us a quick tour of the kitchen (something he’ll do for anyone who asks, I believe). Elliot is a super nice guy and though I was initially hesitant to approach him (for my own shy reasons), I’m glad it worked out. He even sent us away with a piece of delicious fresh peach pie which while did not influence the ultimate rating, it certainly did not hurt.

At Buxton Hall Barbecue, Pitmaster Elliot Moss is part of the new breed of pitmasters (along with Tyson Ho at Arrogant Swine, Bryan Furman at B’s Barbecue, Sam Jones at his new Sam Jones BBQ, among others) who are opting for smoking barbecue in more traditional ways that take a lot of time and effort. That means all night smokes 6 out of 7 nights of the week (Moss himself doing it a couple nights each week). More often than not, the time and effort is worth it and in the case of Buxton Hall it definitely is. In the tl;dr version of this review, it would simply read: “Just go there.”

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
Buxton Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Buxton Hall Barbecue

‘Cue Barbecue – Alpharetta, GA

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Name
: ‘Cue Barbecue
Date: 6/17/16
Address: 13700 GA-9, Alpharetta, GA 30004
Order: Combo plate with sliced brisket and chopped pork, collards and fries (link to menu)
Price: $14

Speedy: Well boys – I’m checking in with my first review as a Georgia resident. I hadn’t planned on going to ‘Cue Barbecue, but I randomly drove by it on a Friday night and thought some ‘cue sounded good. So here I was.

Monk: I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that unfortunately, Speedy has relocated to Atlanta. On the bright side, that means the Barbecue Bros have expanded to Georgia!  

Speedy: Walking in, I really liked the ‘Cue atmosphere. It had old time decor with wood everywhere, including a decorative barn door, which was a nice touch. There was also a bar and an acoustic guitar player, and overall, it’s just a pretty cool place. I saddled up to the bar and ordered a local beer – Dry County IPA – and a combo plate with pork and brisket. The beer was solid, which was more than I could say about the food.

Monk: And it was off to such a good start, too…

Speedy: The pork was just OK. It had lots of bark, which was nice, but the bark lacked flavor, so I’m not sure the meat was properly rubbed before cooking. The pork was also dry, so it required some of the vinegar based sauce provided. One I liberally applied the dip, the pork was better, but still mediocre. The brisket, however, was plain bad. The slices I was given were served without sauce, but were incredibly dry. I could taste a bit of pepper in the bark, but it also needed more seasoning. After dousing it with some sweet sauce on the table it become edible, but I still didn’t finish my portion.

I don’t have much to say about the sides. The collards were bland and the fries were good, but there was nothing here to salvage the meal.

Overall, my first barbecue meal as a Georgia resident was very disappointing and definitely had me missing North Carolina.

Monk: I hate that this wasn’t a better first barbecue experience for you, but at least there’s plenty of good barbecue in Georgia for you to explore.

Speedy: Well it can only go up from here…

(For another review of ‘Cue Barbecue, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs
'Cue Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Cue Barbecue