Monk: Gina Stephens and Melissa Howsam of Raleigh Magazine take stock of the current Raleigh barbecue scene and heap praise on Durham’s Lawrence Barbecue and Jake Wood. They also discuss an epic barbecue road trip documented by the magazine and end the episode with a speed round.
Description: 2020 was supposed to be the year of BBQ in Raleigh—but, pandemic. 2021 brought supply chain issues, building and permitting delays, etc. Finally, in 2022, we are going hog wild as we are likely to see more cue shack openings than any year in recent history. Pig out with Publisher Gina Stephens and Editor-in-Chief Melissa Howsam as they chat what’s cookin’ (think: the long-anticipated The Preserve BBQ by LM Restaurants), a bingeworthy BBQ road trip and BBQ wars (tomato? vinegar?!).
This week marks the one year anniversary of the lockdown due to COVID-19. However, with the light at the end of the tunnel seemingly in sight (don’t let up now, though!), it’s fun to start thinking about all the things we used to take for granted that we will once again soon be able to do. Things like concerts, having a beer at the bar, lazily perusing the used section at a record store, and perhaps most pertinent, having huge parties centered around smoking and/or grilling.
In this article from Munchies, the author fantasizes about days to come and gives recommendations for smoking and grilling accessories to stock up in advance. He gets a quote from Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly (whom he mistakenly refers to as David) about how he plans to smoke a whole hog on cinderblocks in his backyard once its safe to do so and I couldn’t be more in. I have been itching to do it again after my first successful attempt Father’s Day 2019 and I’m now officially in planning mode for that to-be-determined day.
So let it be known: whole hog party at the Monk residence this Fall. Mark it down.
More coverage of The Preserve’s delivery service which began last Friday
Ed Mitchell is back in the barbecue game as of this Friday, albeit not quite in the way that we’ve been waiting more than a year for. With the opening date of The Preserve up in the air, Ed and team have opted to open a “delivery only ghost kitchen” (previously referred to as a “pop up”) starting this Friday, March 5. Which is, of course, over a month after their original date to open this part of their business on January 22.
Let’s hope this goes smoothly because in a since-deleted reply The Preserve’s official Facebook account stated that they were not going to open until next year “after things cooled down” (I’m paraphrasing here). If that’s the case, then that is the latest setback in a series of setbacks for Mitchell whose original Raleigh restaurant in the Brier Creek area never came to fruition in the years since his Durham restaurant shuttered in 2015. I am rooting that their delivery business goes well, but would feel a lot better if they were still charging forward with opening a restaurant this year. Nevertheless, I hope Raleigh folks will support The Preserve in earnest starting this weekend.
Buxton Hall makes Eater Carolina’s list of best restaurants in Asheville
J.C. Reid on barbecue-adjacent stews (paywall)
La Barbecue has collaborated with Zilker Brewing Co for a pilsner perfect for pairing with smoked meats
AGL’s Craft Meats is hoping to be the first to use traditional open-air smokers in LA County
Orlando Magazine has a feature on barbecue in their March 2021 issue
Shortly after my first visit to Mr. Barbecue in Winston-Salem in March of 2019 (which I greatly enjoyed), a spark caught fire in the pit house and nearly burned the entire restaurant down. Last I had heard, it was on track for a May 2020 opening and brick was being laid in the smokehouse but clearly that didn’t happen as scheduled (which can be excused during a pandemic, of course). Thankfully, the silence was not a bad omen as WXII is reporting that Mr. Barbecue will reopen later this month.
This will be one in the win column for classic, wood-fired NC barbecue joints, a sometimes rare occurrence these days. Of course, Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro came back from the dead last year under new ownership and there are a host of new or announced restaurants that are smoking barbecue the old fashioned way (most of which seem to be in the greater Raleigh area). But more often than not, these older joints are closing (see Allen & Son, Bill Spoon’s, Bill Ellis Barbecue, The Original Q Shack, among others). But not today, Satan. Not today.
Now, just cross your fingers and toes until late February…
Sam Jones BBQ has finally opened in Raleigh and is currently in a “soft open” mode
Lawrence Barbecue is hosting a Mardi Gras Party on February 16
More on Lagoon, the sister “leisure bar” to Lawrence Barbecue
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