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.
In 2010, Charlotte Observer food writer Kathleen Purvis documented a barbecue road trip in 3 short blog posts and if there is anything we love here at Barbecue Bros, it’s a barbecue road trip. If you want to read the opinion of someone who is actually qualified to write about barbecue and food in general, please read on. I’ve included a few short sentences below from each of the entries.
I’ve been hearing about Brandon Cook at Cook’s BBQ for a couple of years. I had just been waiting for an open travel day to check his place out. The son of barbecuer Doug Cook, who owns Backcountry Barbecue in Lexington, Brandon opened his own place and decided to forego modern shortcuts like electric or gas cookers and go back to all-wood cooked barbecue.