Linkdown: 2/3/21

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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…

Native News

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

Bill Ellis Barbecue, which closed 2 years ago, is going on the auction block as part of a parcel of land in Wilson

Another delay for The Preserve; the pop-up from Ed and Ryan Mitchell has been pushed back to March 5 from late January

Big Mike’s BBQ is opening a location in downtown Cary after expanding to Apex last year

Make your own Cheerwine barbecue sauce with Cheerwine syrup

Non-Native News

Smokejack in Alpharetta, GA is a “must-visit” according to The BBQ Review

Moe Cason has announced his plans for a barbecue restaurant in Des Moines, IA, and pulls no punches when it comes to other restaurants in the area

How Franklin Barbecue has adapted to barbecue during a pandemic

Linkdown: 3/11/20

Mr. Barbecue is still on track to reopen in mid to late-May and the block mason started working on the pits as of early last week

Charlotte-based Mac’s Speed Shop names former Del Frisco’s vice president of operations George Shang Skipper as its president with the charge to expand their barbecue business

Duke’s Mayonnaise expands to barbecue sauce

Pik-N-Pig in Carthage is the rare combination of an airport-slash-barbecue joint

Franklin Barbecue Pits is targeting to begin shipping their first units by Memorial Day

Picnic is an essential restaurant in Durham, according to the News & Observer

The 10 best barbecue spots in Richmond according to travel site Trip Savvy

Micklewaith Barbecue’s Smithville location has closed after one year

Details on Carey Bringle’s new barbecue restaurant, called Bringle’s Smoking Oasis, which will focus on barbecue not-native to Tennessee and is eyeing a September opening

The stories behind six Charlotte-area barbecue joints; a re-up from last year from Charlotte Magazine

Linkdown: 1/29/20

RIP to another classic NC barbecue joint: Hill’s Lexington Barbecue in Winston-Salem has closed after 68(!!) years

Prime BBQ will finally open this March in Knightdale

A decent list from Big 7 Travel of the 25 best barbecue places in NC, but there are also some head scratchers

Texans are starting to go whole hog for…well, you know

Barbecue historian Robert Moss digs deep to find out where the idea of “pulled pork” came from when most pork barbecue (aka “barbecue”) is chopped in the Carolinas

RIP Woody Phillips of Woody’s Bar-B-Que in LA

Condé Nast Traveler with their list of favorite Austin barbecue joints

Always worth revisiting this gem from Our State Magazine

A few of Charleston’s less-heralded barbecue joints have closed: Smoke BBQ and Black Wood Smokehouse

Smoking wings for the big game? Jess Pryles has you covered

Monk’s Favorite Barbecue Meals of 2019

Monk: I never got those “best of the year” lists that publish in early December, whether it’s barbecue, music, or film (yes, I understand deadlines but stay with me here). What, do they think they aren’t going to potentially eat a great barbecue meal (or discover a new album or film) sometime in the last three weeks of the year? Not me; I’m always going to give myself every opportunity to eat a meal which could possibly make the list. And then I’m going to post that list in January.

That being said, with no signs of the barbecue boom slowing down any time soon, some of the best meals I’ve had yet in the history of this blog happened in 2019. Here were the best of those, and here’s hoping 2020 is full of even more great barbecue.

Honorable Mentions: Brisket and pork from Farmhouse BBQ (review), Whole hog sandwich from Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (review)

10 (tie). Chopped sandwich with hush puppies and Cheerwine from Mr. Barbecue (review)

Sadly, shortly after my visit in March Mr. Barbecue experienced a fire in their stick burning brick pits that has temporarily closed the restaurant but hopefully they will reopen soon and continue slinging their Lexington-style barbecue to the lucky citizens of Winston-Salem.

10 (tie). Pork, brisket, ribs, burnt ends, chicken from Hubba Hubba Smokehouse (review)

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse has been quietly churning out great barbecue from their massive brick pits in the mountains of NC since the early 2000s. They had been on my list for years and I finally got a chance to check them out this year and also spend a little time with pitmaster Spencer Purcell. They are closed for the winter but any serious barbecue fan should check them out once they reopen in the Spring.

9. Bryan Furman’s whole hog and brisket at Sweet Lew’s BBQ (post)

In September, Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque in Atlanta and Savannah did a “pit takeover” of Sweet Lew’s and brought together several of Charlotte’s pitmasters for his overnight cook. He also brought his whole hog barbecue and brisket to Charlotte, and here’s hoping it was a trial run for a future restaurant in Charlotte.

8. Brisket, pork, ribs from Revenge BBQ (review)

Revenge BBQ is one of two places on this list from an unexpected barbecue location, with Revenge being in the scenic Hudson Valley town of Irvington, about 45 minutes north of New York City. And as is the case with just about any restaurant in an unexpected location, they adhere to the Texas tradition pretty closely and with good results. The brisket shone that day and the Kreuz Market-imported sausages were properly smoked, proving that disciples of Texas barbecue are continuing to spread the message far and wide.

7. Chopped barbecue tray with onion rings from BBQ King (review from 2017)

This meal from late December is exactly why I waited to publish my list until January. My previous stop at BBQ King was nearly 3 years before this visit but this simple tray of fresh barbecue on a Friday at 3pm on December 27 reminded me that I need to make it a point to stop by there more often. As should all barbecue fans in western NC.

6. Pork, ribs, and brisket from Apple City BBQ (review)

While Apple City BBQ had been on my radar for some time, my visit this year was completely unplanned and only happened as a result of several detours on the way from Charlotte to the Wilkesboro area for a weekend getaway with the oldest Monkette. As soon as I passed Apple City in Taylorsville right at dinner time on that Friday, I turned the car around and made the stop. Thankfully I did, as it was a fantastic meal of pork, ribs, and brisket. Plus, those deep fried corn nuggets were a unique and noteworthy side.

5. Cheerwine hot link from Jon G’s Barbecue (Speedy’s take)

While the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs were on point each and every time I had Jon G’s Barbecue this year, the Cheerwine hot link represented a cool and exciting development for owners Garren and Kelly. From what I am hearing, 2020 is going to be a big year for them and I can’t wait for more folks in the Charlotte area to be able to try their barbecue. It is our #1 on the Charlotte Big Board, after all.

4. Brisket, pork belly, ribs, and pulled pork from Owlbear Barbecue (review)

I certainly didn’t expect one of the best barbecue meals I had in 2019 to be in Denver, CO. While in the past I would have considered Denver to be a bit of a barbecue wasteland (from a local circa 2013: “Head to Texas if you want good barbecue”), that appears to be changing as part of the nationwide barbecue boom. Owlbear Barbecue owner and pitmaster Karl Fallenius is originally from Texas and previously worked at Franklin Barbecue and has brought that approach to Denver. The brisket rivaled some of the best I’ve had in or out of Texas and the pork belly was the best meat on the platter that day and one of the best meats I tasted in 2019.

3. Whole hog barbecue sandwich and hash and rice from Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que (review)

The simplicity of the whole hog sandwich from Sweatman’s reminded me that, when done right, mustard-based barbecue isn’t some unholy union of sauce and pork. Plus, that hash and rice was life-changingly good.

2. The Miss Mary Platter (Lexington-style barbecue, brisket, turkey, ribs plus eastern and red slaw) and smoked wings from Noble Smoke (review)

In July, Noble Smoke gave Charlotte a true destination barbecue joint and based on several recent visits, locals and out-of-towners alike have shown up for it. I can only hope that with the recent additions of Noble Smoke and Sweet Lew’s BBQ, both in our top 3, Charlotte’s barbecue scene continues the momentum into 2020.

1. Mine and Speedy’s own whole hog (post)

2019 certainly was the year of whole hog barbecue, and that looks to be continuing into 2020 (Particularly in Raleigh, who is getting no less than 4 whole hog joints – Sam Jones BBQ, Wyatt’s Barbecue, Ed Mitchell’s new place The Preserve, and Lawrence BBQ). 2019 was also the year that I finally achieved what I had been hoping to do for several years – smoke a whole hog on a cinder block pit in my backyard. Speedy made the trip into town and the two of us took shifts manning the pit overnight. I was extremely pleased with how (relatively) easy it was and how good the barbecue turned out. For my first whole hog, I couldn’t have been happier (or more tired).

So that’s it. What were some of your favorite barbecue meals this year?