– Another (more promising sounding) coastal barbecue restaurant, Southport Smokehouse BBQ, is opening sometime this month:
Natives of Lexington – a town some would argue is North Carolina’s barbecue ground zero – the Hemphills’ restaurant specialized in pork shoulders cooked over hickory logs “imported” from Davidson County. The pits, Elaine Hemphill said, were modeled after those at the famous Lexington Barbecue along Interstate 85 Business.
A trio of restaurateurs, Troy Knight, Jim Sparks and Ryan Salley (who will serve as pitmaster) has taken over the spot and are returning it to its roots. They’ll offer brisket, ribs and pulled pork with both Lexington-style and vinegar sauces cooked over hickory. Salley said he’ll mostly be smoking shoulders, a hallmark of the upstate variety, but would occasionally go whole hog, the more traditional method in the Eastern region.
– Scott’s BBQ is having their annual picnic on April 19 and oh how I wish I could make it back down to Hemingway for it
Name: Wink’s King of Barbeque Date: 3/2/2013 Location: 509 Faith Rd, Salisbury, NC 28146 Order: Chopped barbecue tray (with coleslaw, hush puppies, and barbecue bread), Diet Cheerwine Bill: ~$9
This past Saturday, I met my parents in Salisbury to trade cars for a week or two (long story short my father has this genius mechanic to which he wanted to take my car in for a tune-up), so I thought it would be a good excuse to try out a barbecue joint that was both on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail and in the city that claims to be the original birthplace of Piedmont or Lexington-style barbecue. Because of it’s proximity just a half mile off the highway, Wink’s was the place for us.
Because it is included the NC Barbecue Trail, it should be no surprise that Wink’s does indeed cook their barbecue low and slow over a stick burner and I confirmed that by the glorious wood pile and burner out back. Wink’s not only does barbecue but also has seafood, breakfast, and regional items such as livermush or chuckwagon (a favorite of my wife’s) on their menu. In that respect, they are more akin to a local diner. However, inside it definitely looks the part of a barbecue restaurant with light colored wood paneled walls adorned with old Cheerwine and Sundrop signs (two more wonderful Salisbury creations).
I ordered the small chopped barbecue tray (sliced was also an option, but screw that noise), which came with white slaw (boo), hush puppies, and a side of “barbeque bread.” As per yoosh, the food came out shortly after our order. The first thing I tried was the spherical hush puppies and they were pretty much perfect. Nice and fluffy, not too dense, with a nice sweetness to them. Some of the best I’ve had in quite a while as a matter of fact. The barbeque bread was essentially Texas toast and once I tried a half piece of it I decided I didn’t need any more.
As I stated above, the coleslaw was mayonnaise-based and while I am not necessarily against it *COUGHSPEEDYCOUGH* it was a little disappointing considering Salisbury’s proximity to Lexington. This is atypical of the region, and it is curious that Wink’s serves it as opposed to red slaw.
The chopped pork was tender, had nice pieces of bark mixed in, and had good smokiness. The sauce was a bit sweeter than I’d have preferred (or have had from a Piedmont-style barbecue spot) but for the most part I had no real complaints. My parents, also big fans of Lexington #1, liked their food but my dad happened upon a chunk of unchewable gristle in his sandwich. He simply removed it and trucked along.
So would I eat at Wink’s again? Well, if I have ever left Charlotte, am ever driving north on 85, and our upcoming firstborn absolutely cannot make it another 15-20 minutes to get to Lexington #1, sure. But that scenario just seems unlikely to me, and chances are I would just go ahead and make drive into Lexington in this hypothetical scenario. Still, it’s good to know that Wink’s is still doing their old school thing and is conveniently located off the highway if I am ever in a pinch.