Eastern NC Whole Hog Tour: Sam Jones BBQ – Winterville, NC

As the old saying goes, more often than not a person’s favorite barbecue is what he or she was raised on. Here at Barbecue Bros, it should be no secret that we are Lexington-style barbecue fans (sometimes known as Piedmont- or Western-style barbecue). Each of the three of us were raised in High Point, NC, just under 20 miles up I-85 from the Barbecue Capital of NC.

However, despite the two warring styles of barbecue in the state, I have never harbored any ill-will to my whole hog compatriots to the east. While I’ve spent many a tank of gas exploring all the Lexington-style joints in the western Piedmont of NC, I’ve bemoaned for years the fact that I just simply haven’t had a ton of reasons to spend much time in the eastern part of the state where whole hog and a vinegar pepper sauce reign supreme. 

Thankfully, the oldest Monkette’s gymnastics competition travels recently took the whole Monk family to Greenville, NC for USAG State Championships. We even stayed in an AirBnB in Ayden. Finally, I had a reason to be in Pitt County for a couple days. I hoped to make the most of being in the heart of whole hog country!

Part I – B’s Barbecue

Part II – Skylight Inn

Sam Jones BBQ – Winterville

Address: 715 W Fire Tower Rd, Winterville, NC 28590
Order: Two meat combo with collards and potato salad (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: In Pitt County, there seem to only be a couple of barbecue options on Sundays. B’s Barbecue, Skylight Inn, and Bum’s Restaurant are all closed to give those family-run operations a day of rest (though of course the prep for the next week surely begins). Parker’s Barbecue has a few Greenville-area locations and is open 10-8:30 seven days a week, but is a gas-cooked barbecue that may actually be better known for its fried chicken. For true ‘cue, wood-smoked barbecue, your main option is Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, between Ayden and Greenville. You may recall that the Monk family had previously checked out the Raleigh outpost of Sam Jones BBQ last year, with great results.

While I was still very much on the whole hog train, Sam Jones BBQ gave the family a few more options to order something else besides barbecue (I know, I know). It also has a full bar with local beer options on tap including the Sam Jones BBQ Eager Clever Kölsch, a beer made in honor of Sam Jones by Pitt Street Brewing in Greenville made to complement barbecue.

Compared with the barbecue I had just the day before at Skylight Inn, although Sam Jones BBQ’s whole hog was very good it somewhat paled in comparison. The chop was coarser, the cracklins weren’t quite as crisp, and the barbecue portion was a little lacking. Still, it was very good barbecue and one that I’d recommend to anyone.

On my third barbecue restaurant in Pitt County, I finally tried the pit chicken that seems to be the second barbecue item at each restaurant. We’re on record here in rarely ordering poultry at barbecue restaurants (although I’m starting to change my mind about turkey) and while this “slow-cooked chicken” was rather good I wouldn’t necessarily order next time

I switched it up as far as sides went and went with collards and potato salad.The collards were Mrs. Monk approved – she’s contemplated starting a “Collards Sisters” blog so she’s clearly an expert – and the potato salad was a nice changeup from the slaw I’d had a couple times in the past 24 hours.

The original Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville knocks it out of the park, and seem to be doing wll, as evidenced by the near-constant line out the door throughout our Sunday lunch visit. While there are clearly better options for barbecue nearby (which in this case means transcendent), I would happily eat at a Sam Jones BBQ were it in my hometown. Speaking of which: any plans to open a store in Charlotte, Sam?

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Friday Find: “Pitt County Brew and ‘Cue Trail”

Monk: Pitt County, NC is home to several classic NC barbecue joints including B’s Barbecue in Greenville as well as Skylight Inn and Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden plus newer ones like Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville. Throw a few breweries in the mix and baby, you got a stew goin’. NC Weekend checked it out 2 years ago when it started and reported back.

Description: Lovers of barbecue and beer can have a field day in Pitt County where you can follow a brew and ‘cue trail, get your tickets stamped, and have a whole lot of fun.

How to Order Takeout from Our Favorite NC Barbecue Restaurants (East)

Monk: We featured our favorite Charlotte barbecue restaurants and how to order takeout from them as well as select restaurants from the Piedmont and western part of the state last week. Here in this post we are featuring more notable restaurants from the eastern part of the state, some of which we’ve tried and some of which we still need to get to – at least those that posted updates on Facebook.

Please note: As everything is pretty much a fluid situation these days, please call ahead or check on social media to ensure that the restaurant is open and serving.

Grady’s BBQ (Dudley)
Wednesday to Friday, 10am to 3pm; Saturday, 10am to 4pm Now Closed
Call ahead to order (919) 735-7243

Lawrence Barbecue (Raleigh)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm
Link to order online or call ahead to place order (919) 596-6923

Longleaf Swine (Raleigh)
Order by Wednesday for Sunday delivery and by Sunday for Wednesday delivery
Link to order online

Picnic (Durham)
Sunday to Saturday, 9am to 8pm
Link to order online

Picnic (Raleigh at the future Wyatt’s Barbecue location)
Varies; check Facebook page
Call ahead the day before to place order: (919) 908-9128

The Redneck BBQ Lab (Benson)
Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 7pm; Friday to Saturday, 11am to 8pm
Link to order online, call ahead to order (919) 938-8334, or pull up and put on hazards on for curbside service (seriously)

Sam Jones BBQ (Winterville)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 9pm; Sunday, 11am to 3pm
Link to order online

Skylight Inn (Ayden)
Monday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm
Call ahead to order (252) 746-4113

Southern Smoke BBQ (Garland)
Pick ups will be in Clinton, Elizabethtown, and Garland at 5:30
Link to order online, call ahead to order (910) 549-7484, or email Matt Register at matt@southernsmokebbqnc.com

Linkdown: 8/22/18

– This all sounds very promising; can’t wait to try Sweet Lew’s sometime soon

– Red Bridges has set up their mobile stand, Little Red’s, at the American Legion World Series

– A former fish camp in Gastonia is turning its focus to barbecue after a change in ownership and a new name – Ray Nathan’s Barbecue

– Does the Texas barbecue taxonomy need updating?

– BBQ at The Catering Kitchen is seemingly becoming a must-stop spot in the Atlanta-area (Cumming, to be exact)

– Also in Atlanta, B’s Cracklin’ BBQ will now be available at Atlanta Hawks games at Phillips Arena this season

– Scotty McCreery is looking forward to eating some eastern NC barbecue on his way to headlining the Watermelon Festival in Winterville this weekend

– ICYMI:

– The rapidly franchising Mighty Quinn’s may be opening a Washington, DC location soon

– In other barbecue franchising news, Rodney Scott’s has announced the location for the forthcoming Birmingham store; after the build of a cinder block pit and some minor interior work it could open as early as late October

– The hashtag says it all