Category Archives: Barbecue

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Skylight Inn showcases the artistry of North Carolina BBQ

AYDEN, NC – It’s an unassuming spot just off Highway 11 outside of Greenville, N.C., but inside is a third generation culinary tradition and a James Beard Foundation Award. You may already know the Skylight Inn and its reputation for the best whole hog BBQ, but owner Sam Jones gave us a backyard tour of this eastern N.C. institution.

“We go through about three cords of wood a week and eight to twelve hogs a day,” Jones said. “We chop it as needed, so you are getting it right out of the smokehouse.”

Meals are humble and legendary here. A simple tray of chopped pork BBQ, dotted with crispy skin, reveal the whole hog origin of your vinegary- smokey treat. Paired it with crispy cool slaw and a slab of dense cornbread, the meat stands out in a state where BBQ is a spiritual journey.

A glass bottle of Cheerwine or Pepsi from a Yeti cooler on the counter washes it all down. Part of the fun is watching how your supper companions assemble each bite; some layer it on a bite-size piece of cornbread, others use the bread to scoop slaw and pork out of each tray, to ensure a proper slaw to meat ratio.

Backstage, the smokehouse and immense piles of firewood have produced a down-east culinary tradition long before farm-to-table was cool. Here, 180 pound hogs are smoked in huge brick pits over slabs of burning oak. Jones said they try to get dirt-raised (AKA free-range) hogs whenever they can, but he’s acutely aware of the need to keep BBQ an affordable, accessible tradition.

“BBQ surpasses class divisions. At first, my family felt guilty charging people for their food,” said Jones. “I’ve been fortunate enough to take what my family taught me and share it with people who might not otherwise experience it.”

In 2001 Sam Jones took over the family business started by his grandfather, Pete Jones, in 1947. When his grandfather had a heart attack he put Sam in charge. He was 21 years old and a student at ECU. It wasn’t what he pictured for his future after years of working in the restaurant.

“We take BBQ for granted sometimes around here. When I was a kid I hated this place. It was a pure prison,” he said. “But somewhere along the line it stops become a job and starts being a way of life and I love it.”

That epiphany came quietly to Jones. When he first took over their challenge was proving that the Skylight Inn could survive without his grandfather at the helm. He was invited to cook at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival shortly after taking over. It was the first time anyone at the family business had cooked off site.


“I looked around and these people were pure rock stars,” he said. “We walked in carrying a whole hog and they applauded. We are just BBQ folks. We cook whole hogs every day to absolutely no applause.”

He was hooked, it was now a way of life. In 2003, shortly after The Skylight Inn ventured into foodie circles, the phone in the back of the restaurant rang. Jones’ father took a message from a New York woman calling about the James Beard Award, an award voted on by more than 600 culinary peers around the country. It’s often called “the Oscars” of food. She invited Jones to New York to accept the honor.

“What’s that gonna cost me?” Jones remembers asking the woman. “I was 22 years old, heck yeah I was going to New York. I hung up and said to my dad, I think this is some kinda big deal.”

Decked out in a tuxedo, Jones took the stage and accepted the “American Classics” James Beard Award, joining the ranks of classically trained chefs around the country. His subtle sense of humor, North Carolina manners and thick accent charmed the New York crowd. He made the rounds at the after parties, returning to his hotel at 4 a.m. It was quite an introduction to the national culinary stage.

“When you get an award like that, suddenly you’re the belle of the ball, everyone wants to talk to you,” he said.

Now Jones is part of the crowd, traveling around the country, proselytizing North Carolina BBQ culture. He and chefs from all over formed a group called the Fatback Collective, using their talents to put on high-dollar fundraising dinners across the south, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity at each event.

After three generations, Jones is gearing up to open a second restaurant. Sam Jones Barbeque in Greenville is slated to fire up the pits later this year with an expanded menu. He may not hear the applause everyday when he carries out the plates, but The Skylight Inn’s sweet, smokey song will now be in stereo in eastern North Carolina.

Where to Eat in the Triangle During Graduation Weekend

It’s that time of the year…college seniors are getting ready to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. The most important part of graduation? Where you take your family to eat, obviously. Friday night, your family arrives, hungry and ready to eat – where do you take them? Then there is Saturday lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. So much to eat in so little time!

Your family is from out of town and wants to experience something authentically southern:

Take your out-of-town family to get an authentic dish of chicken and waffles at Dame’s in Durham. Dame’s has a laid-back, casual atmosphere and a delicious selection of chicken and waffle creations, including choices of sweet potato waffles and vegan waffles.

Looking for something more elegant? If you didn’t already make a reservation, it may be hard to get into Elaine’s on Franklin, but if you can get a reservation, enjoy a refined, scratch-made meal in this Chapel Hill establishment. The menu at Elaine’s revolves around the best local ingredients available, so it is constantly changing but consistently exquisite.

The Pit serves North Carolina barbecue in a fun atmosphere, but be sure to book a reservation because this is a popular restaurant and tends to get busy on weekends. Ranging from North Carolina pork barbecue to turkey barbecue and a selection of scrumptious sides (mac and cheese, black eyed peas, sweet potato fries…the list goes on), The Pit has something for everyone.

Another good option is Watt’s Grocery in Durham, a distinctively North Carolina restaurant. With items ranging from Bourbon Brined Pork Loin to Seafood Gumbo, Watt’s serves southern food just right. The menu is limited and I have only been to Watt’s for brunch, which was fantastic. I would love to try their lunch and dinner menus as well.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Acme is another North Carolina restaurant that is good for dinner and Sunday brunch. If you go for Sunday brunch, expect a wait. The coffee cake and beignets (if they have them) are delicious ways to start out your brunch. If you are a UNC graduate, and you can’t make a reservation at a Chapel Hill restaurant, try Acme in Carrboro – you will be pleasantly surprised!

Your family is from North Carolina but you want to show them something different:

I had a great dining experience at Venable in Carrboro, serving local food since May 2012. As a relatively new restaurant, Venable is a good place to take your family if they are from North Carolina. Venable serves dinner and brunch as well as a late night menu. The Chèvre Salad and the local fish selection make for quite a tasty dinner.

Another option is Bida Manda, a fairly new Laotian restaurant in downtown Raleigh. You will need a reservation for Bida Manda; since it’s opening, Bida Manda has taken the Triangle food scene by storm. With authentic Laotian tastes and North Carolina decor, this is a perfect place for a nice dinner on Saturday night with your family.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad at Bida Manda

The Lantern is an Asian fusion restaurant: Asian flavors made with North Carolina ingredients. Since its opening in 2002, Lantern and its chef/owner Andrea Reusing have won awards in “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and “best farm-to-table restaurants” categories.

Family a little crazy? Don’t want to take them out in public?:

Sometimes, it’s easier to order in since restaurants tend to fill up quickly around graduation time. One of my favorite casual lunch restaurants in the Triangle is Neal’s Deli. Neal’s is a family business and uses local ingredients to create simple yet tasty deli sandwiches. Check out their catering menu here.

Turkey Reuben: Turkey with Swiss, kraut and Russian on rye

Turkey Reuben at Neal’s Deli

Nantucket Grill and Bar offers an expansive catering menu. However, if you decide to cater from somewhere else, you must at least order your celebratory cakes from Nantucket. The Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Bliss are two of my favorites. Nantucket has locations in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.

You’ve taken your family out for lunch and dinner. Time for the best meal. Brunch:

If you can’t get into Watt’s or Acme, don’t worry – there are plenty of brunch options in the Triangle. Big Ed’s City Market is a Raleigh establishment, serving fresh local eggs and house-made hotcakes since the 1980s.

When I was a student at UNC, I loved going to Breadman’s for brunch because I could always expect a delicious pancake that was almost larger than the plate it was served on. Breadman’s is perfect for the group who can’t agree – the restaurant serves breakfast all day along with a variety of lunch options, including sandwiches, burgers and salads.

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http://breadmens.com/gallery/food-location/

Another choice for families who can’t agree is Elmo’s Diner, with locations in Carrboro and Durham. Elmo’s makes for a good local brunch or lunch restaurant because of it’s vast options. One person from your party may order an omelette, while another orders a burger and yet another person may order a large salad or a wrap. Elmo’s is also a kid-friendly environment. However, they do not take reservations, but the wait usually goes by quickly.

If you don’t mind driving a little bit out of the way, Guglhupf Bakery and Cafe will satisfy your inner European with German-inspired delicacies. Guglhupf has a large outdoor seating area and an attached bakery, so you can take home some pastries.

Wherever you decide to take your family, enjoy this special time with them. And congratulations!

-Haley


REVIEW: Aviator Brewing Company SmokeHouse – Fuquay Varina

“Life is about the journey, not the destination,” my friend says to me during dinner. And that’s exactly the attitude you should have when eating at Aviator. You will need to put aside the thought of what the consequences may be, and just enjoy the crispy, beer-battered, blue cheese-smothered journey.

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I recommend starting off your dinner with the Aviator beer-battered onion rings. These crunchy delights are served with a spicy-sweet mustard sauce. It’s a huge portion and definitely big enough to split between 2 people.

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I got the chicken wings with the “Aviator” sauce, which is the mildest. The sauce options for wings are listed on their menu as:

Moco Loco: This will remove the flesh from your tongue.

Crazy: Very Hot! Habaneros, Jalapenos and Thai Peppers!

Monster: Habenero, Jalepeno, Honey and Spices…manageable.

Buffalo: The sauce that made wings famous.

BlackMamba: Our BlackMamba stout with a little kick to it.

Thai Red Devil: Little bit of spice with our Devils Tripel.

Aviator: Our sweet and tangy sauce….delicious.

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The wings are served with blue cheese and ranch, both of which are homemade. You can tell that everything is fresh and homemade. The wings are smoked and fried to perfection and then covered with your choice of sauce. I enjoyed the sweet-tangy Aviator sauce and the homemade blue cheese. It’s about the journey, right? So, hand over the onion rings and deep friend wings.

My friend got the “Brewers Beef Brisket,” which he finished to the last bite, along with french fries and coleslaw. I tried some fries and they were extra crispy and delicious.

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Remember, life’s about the journey!

-Haley

NC Food Vendors at Wide Open Blue Grass Street Festival

Many of you may be heading to downtown Raleigh this weekend for the Wide Open Blue Grass Street Festival. With 100+ bands, multiple music stages and the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, the event draws a large crowd. The event also has multiple food vendors and you can find such items as gluten-free BBQ sauce from Baldie’s BBQ and homemade old-fashioned cookies from Tonya’s Cookies (Tonya is Mama Dip‘s granddaughter).

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If you are looking for N.C. products, head over to Fayetteville Street between Martin Street and Davie Street for the “Got to be NC” area sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. Walk towards Hargett Street and you will find the “Beer and Wine Tasting” tent. If you’re still hungry, head to City Plaza for the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, where chefs compete to become the state’s whole hog barbecue champion. After the judging on Saturday, the barbecue will be chopped and sold in sandwiches.

If the hog competition does not cut it for you, and especially if you’re an out-of-towner or someone who does not get downtown often, try The Pit Authentic Barbecue. I’ve even had their turkey barbecue and tofu barbecue, and those were phenomenal. The Pit deserves its own review, which will be coming in the near future.

The festival will take place Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, from noon-11 p.m.

If you’re not one for big crowds – the festival is expected to reach 60,000 attendees – there is a “Bluegrass Ramble” leading up the festival. Some venues have been hosting “rambles” since Tuesday night and will continue up until the festival.

Bluegrass Rumble, Raleigh, NC

Enjoy the festivities and let us know what food you decide to try!

REVIEW: BBQ Barn (a.k.a. The Pink Pig) – Butner

One of the things that I love about North Carolina is that almost anywhere that you go in the state, you can usually find a good ol’ fashioned barbecue place to eat. Some people will argue about ‘the barbecue dividing line’ between eastern North Carolina barbecue and Lexington-style barbecue but I don’t really understand it because I love them both. Why would you argue about which is better when they are both great?

I was in Butner on business last week and my co-worker, Bryan, and I had about 45 minutes to kill early in the day so we decided to jump on Urbanspoon and see what kind of local restaurants were in the area. The majority of the restaurants within a two mile radius were littered with national and regional fast food restaurants that neither of us were interested in eating at. We expanded the radius of the search and came across BBQ Barn which was just a minute or two away from where we were. Since it was early (10:30 a.m.), we called beforehand and the friendly voice over the phone said they were open and already serving lunch so we jumped in the car and headed over there.

There were a couple of different barbecue items on the menu included barbecued chicken and a variety of different sizes of barbecue. I didn’t have breakfast that morning so I was pretty hungry and decided to go with the barbecue tray which seemed like a full pound of barbecue with two sides and hush puppies or a roll. I went with mac & cheese and fried okra with hush puppies because I was feeling gluttonous.

The barbecue was fantastic. It is cooked on site and then hand-pulled and sauced by the staff. BBQ Barn sauces it lightly with a bit of eastern North Carolina barbecue sauce before they serve it but they offer both an eastern and Piedmont style sauce if you want to add a little bit more although I didn’t think it needed it. The mac & cheese was pretty basic with macaroni noodles covered in a light yellow cheese sauce but it had great taste. The fried okra seemed to be made in house and were fantastic. I really enjoyed the hush puppies, too. Both the okra and hush puppies were made to order so they came out piping hot.

If you are in Butner, you should definitely pop into the BBQ Barn and pick up a barbecue plate or barbecue sandwich. I got loads of good southern food for $7 and Bryan and I were raving about our new find to friends later that day. I have heard that their chicken & dumplings (served on Thursdays) are out of this world and that locals don’t miss it much. I hope my job will have me headed back there on a Thursday sometime soon!

BBQ Barn on Urbanspoon

LINK: My review of Alleia in Chattanooga, TN for Eat It, Tennessee

I did a little guest writing for our sister site, Eat It, Tennessee, and it was just posted recently. The photo above is of the wood-fired pork shoulder with a grilled peach and balsamic whose taste rivaled that of many of the delicious pork shoulders that I have had here in North Carolina.

Head over and check out my review of Alleia in Chattanooga from a few weeks ago on Eat It, Tennessee. It was a delicious experience and I had a great time writing the post for my buddies in Tennessee. Thanks again for the opportunity!

REVIEW: Lexington Barbecue #1 (a.k.a. Monk’s) – Lexington

Photo Credit: John B. on Yelp

Lexington, North Carolina is what many people consider to be the capital of barbecue in North Carolina. The city boasts twenty barbecue joints which I think gives it the most barbecue restaurants per square mile of any other city or town in North Carolina and maybe the nation. I read on Wikipedia that, as of 2003, Lexington had one barbecue restaurant for every thousand residents which is pretty freakin’ incredible.

Lexington Barbecue #1 (or Monk’s as my dad calls it which is the last name of the owner) is where I learned to eat barbecue growing up. My family would take the occasional 25 minute trip down to Lexington from High Point to get lunch. It was more than just driving somewhere for food. It became more of an event than just eating lunch. We shared lots of great conversation growing up over some of of Wayne Monk’s ‘cue.

When you sit down, a waitress gets your drink order and sets down a basket of fresh hush puppies. The hush puppies meet all my requirements for a good hush puppy. They have a crispy exterior and soft inside. They aren’t very greasy so I will dip the occasional hush puppy into a bit of margarine. Most of the regulars already know what they want when they sit down so the waitress might try to get your order out of you right away if you are ready.

 

I drove to Lexington with Alex and Jackie for one of our occasional Friday lunches that we have been doing over the past few months. They both ordered the chopped barbecue which is the more traditional Lexington-style barbecue. I grew up eating this (in a sandwich with a side of fries) as a child and have a dear place in my heart for it. Each fork full is soft and tender making one of those little cardboard trays never enough to fill my desire even though it will still fill me up.

The picture above is of the chopped barbecue tray and the picture below is of the large coarse chopped barbecue tray. The quantity of barbecue gets a little confusing and difficult to figure out when you look at the menu. According to a note on Lexington Barbecue #1’s menu, the large barbecue trays have more barbecue than the plates but the plate come with French fries. I recommend going with a large tray because you probably will regret getting anything smaller because it is so damn good.

I ordered what I remember my dad ordering ever since we started going to Lexington Barbecue #1 back in the day. I ordered a large tray of the coarse chopped brown ($9.90) which is a lightly chopped portion of the outside of the shoulder. The outside of the shoulder has all of the char from the direct heat on the cooker so it is a bit crunchy but you have to request the “brown” to the waitress to get this part. It also has a a little fat throughout and a strong smokey flavor to boot which I really dig. I recommend ordering this because it gives you a little more bang for your buck and it is something that a lot of restaurants don’t tend to serve to their customers.

 

Nothing goes better with a huge plate of barbecue than a sweet dessert especially when it is peach cobbler. Lexington Barbecue #1’s peach cobbler dish is massive and comes in a paper bowl. The cobbler is made fresh daily on site and one of the best cobblers that I have had i the past few years. The ice cream may seem a little iffy at first because it comes out as a perfect rectangle. I am used to scoops so I was thrown for a loop when it came out but the ice cream tasted very good.

You have probably heard that Lexington Barbecue #1 or Monk’s or Honey Monk’s (all three names for the same place) is one of the must-try barbecue joints in North Carolina and there is no denying that. This isn’t just hype. It is the real deal. Wayne Monk has turned his restaurant into a place that people make pilgrimages to in search of the ultimate barbecue plate. If you are thinking about heading down here, let me tell you that it is worth the trip. You won’t be disappointed.

Lexington Barbecue on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Allen & Son Barbeque – Chapel Hill

Allen & Son Barbeque is a little barbecue joint located just about a mile or two off of I-40 near Chapel Hill on N.C. 86. Allen & Son Barbeque is kind of an odd hybrid barbecue joint. The restaurant is located right along the dividing line between eastern North Carolina and Lexington style so it is only fitting that they use a little bit from each style. Allen & Son doesn’t cook the whole hog. Instead, they just cook the shoulder hitting the Lexington-style. They use a tangy, vinegar-based sauce to keep the ‘cue moist hitting the eastern North Carolina-style sentiments.

Another thing to note about Allen & Son is that they are one of the few remaining barbecue joints in North Carolina that still cook over hardwood coals (with a mix of charcoal, I believe…). Additionally, they also chop their own hickory wood right outside the smokehouse which is pretty damn cool before they use it to fire the pit. Chopping wood kicks ass and the fact that they do it on site makes it taste even better.

The interior of the Chapel Hill restaurant looks similar to the hunting lodge that I used to go to with my dad when I was younger. There were paintings of ducks, quail, deer and other North Carolina wildlife on the walls. There are mounted deer heads hanging and it looks like a true Southern establishment. I’ve read that hunter’s will roll into Allen & Son in full camo after they have been sitting in the duck blinds or out in the field. You can always use “stuffed animals” as a selling point to your kids but make sure that you put a disclaimer in there that the stuffed animals might not be the cute and cuddly type. Anyways, let’s get on to the food…

Their hush puppies were quite impressive. A lot of barbecue restaurants across North Carolina have made it commonplace to bring a basket of hush puppies to the table when you sit down. I only wish that Allen & Son did this because I would be in hush puppy heaven. I had to order them for an additional charge of $1.55 because I had already ordered fried okra as the side to my barbecue sandwich but the additional charge for the hush puppies was well worth it. They are one more style in the various types of hush puppies across North Carolina. They have a thick, sweet glazed crust that is crunchy and followed by a soft interior full of that corn taste that you look for in hush puppy. Serious Eats, one of our favorite food blogs, considers Allen & Son’s hush puppies to be “revelatory”. I agree.

The barbecue sandwich was pretty dang good. I was a little thrown off by the sesame seed bun which you don’t usually see unless a burger patty is sandwiched between it. However, I think it worked well as a bun for a barbecue sandwich and would actually think about using it at home when I make some homemade barbecue. Allen & Son serves mayonnaise-based eastern North Carolina slaw which they topped the sandwich with. The barbecue was tender and moist with a little bit of char to it adding a bit of the crunch that I like in the barbecue that I eat.

I added a little additional sauce to the sandwich which was a little different than most sauces. It was a little spicier than most and there was definitely some butter in there making it taste like a vinegary, Texas Pete-like barbecue sauce. The barbecue doesn’t require the sauce because it tastes good by itself but it does add a different flavor to it If I had been a little hungrier, I would have gotten the barbecue plate because I like eating barbecue sans bun.

The fried okra was a good side for the barbecue but not good enough to warrant getting it again next time. I would probably check out their stew or give their potato salad a try. I don’t regret the okra but I do regret not ordering dessert because they are all made in house by Keith Allen. My friend, Bill, tweeted me that I should definitely give their homemade dessert but I didn’t get his tweet until I was already on the road away from Allen & Son. Guess I will have to get some the next time I stop in there.

Allen & Son Barbeque is open to satisfy your barbecue cravings on Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. It kind of sucks that they aren’t open to cure a case of the Mondays but I am still impressed by their hours especially since I can stop in there anytime that I am headed east on during the week. Allen & Son has a sister restaurant over in Pittsboro serving up the same good food…from what I’ve heard. I just haven’t had a chance to make it over there to compare the two yet.

Click here for a link to the Allen & Son Barbeque menu

Allen & Son on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Stamey’s – Greensboro

If you are in Greensboro and looking for a good barbecue joint to eat at, just start following the signs around the city for the Greensboro Coliseum and you will end up at Stamey’s Old Fashioned Barbecue right across the street from the coliseum. Stamey’s has been serving up their Lexington-style barbecue f0r over seventy years to North Carolina residents with a whole of lot of tradition and a whole lot of wood.

 

The original Stamey’s location, the one I went to, is located across the street from the Greensboro Coliseum. I went a few days before the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament started so it wasn’t too busy. They are normally slammed during the tournament or whenever other big events come to the coliseum so make sure that you get there early so you don’t have to wait in line forever. You can get in and out of Stamey’s pretty fast so it is a great lunch spot to hit up if you are trying to get back to work.

 

I ordered the combination plate with a cup of Brunswick stew. Even though Brunswick stew didn’t originate from North Carolina, it is one of my favorite things to order along side a plate of barbecue at North Carolina barbecue joints. Stamey’s has one of the better Brunswick stews in the state that I have had. It has a nice spice to it plus a bunch of fresh veggies and thin ribbons of chicken throughout.

The combination plate comes with a decent amount of barbecue and a piece of barbecued chicken with hush puppies and barbecue slaw. Stamey’s serves Lexington-style barbecue, a vinegar-based “red” sauce that is seasoned with ketchup and pepper. I think Stamey’s barbecue does better on a sandwich than by itself on the plate and adding sauce helps a little bit which gives it a bit of spice if you are looking for a kick.

I wasn’t a fan of the barbecued chicken. The sauce was good but it made the chicken a little difficult to eat. I prefer the charred barbecue chicken style that relies more on the cooking method than a sauce. The chicken was still juicy and I ate every bit of it but I will ask for sauce on the side next time (if they will let me) when I order the chicken.

Stamey’s barbecue slaw and hush puppies are both solid and plentiful. The slaw (crunchy, sweet & spicy) was the highlight of my combination plate. Stamey’s kitchen staff should have taken Judge Reinhold’s quote (“I shall serve no fries before their time.”) from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and used it on for the hush puppies because the little guys had been kicking it under the heat lamp for a little too long. This was the first time in a long time that their hush puppies hadn’t been on point when I have eaten there.

 

Stamey’s is one of only a few barbecue joints left in the state that still cooks their barbecue over a pit of hardwood coals. You can see the wood displayed outside of the barbecue pit which is a small building behind the restaurant. If you can’t see it, just follow your nose because you can smell the barbecue pit from miles away. Cooking on hardwood coals is an art and the art form is slowly starting to die out due to the price of wood and the overall difficulty of maintaining a hardwood coal pit versus a hybrid (charcoal, gas, wood) which is often easier and cheaper giving similar results.

CLICK HERE FOR THE STAMEY’S MENU

Stamey’s is the best barbecue in Greensboro but I don’t think it is the best barbecue in the area even though I still eat their regularly. The original location is only a few miles from where I currently live so if I get the hankering for some ‘cue, I go with Stamey’s but if I plan to eat barbecue in advance, I make the barbecue pilgrimage over to Lexington or down east. I know I will probably catch hell for this last paragraph but I would feel remiss if I didn’t write what I think. Everyone’s barbecue palate is different so give Stamey’s a chance and let us know what you think.

They have plenty of seats in the restaurant and serve barbecue pretty much all day. I suggest, as I would any barbecue joint, to go early to get the best barbecue because it is always best when it is straight from the pit. They also have a drive-thru window if you don’t feel like getting out of the car but still feel like getting your ‘cue on.

Stamey's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Pulliam’s Barbeque – Winston-Salem

You may have already seen the post we did on Pulliams in Winston-Salem and how Rachel Ray Magazine recognized them as the Best Hot Dog in the South. Well, we finally got a chance to try out their dogs and can confirm that they are worthy of that title (even if it is from Rachel Ray).

I jumped in the car with two of my buddies, Ron and Larry, and headed over to Winston-Salem to check out a record store that they heard had a good selection and grab a late lunch. On the trip over, I was selling the hell out of Pulliams because I had been wanting to try that dog ever since another friend, Doug Grimes, had recommended to me that I try it.

The menu at Pulliam’s Barbeque is pretty basic. You can get hot dogs or barbecue. I didn’t try the barbecue but Larry did. He said it was alright especially if you add a little bit Big Ed’s Hot Sauce to it but he didn’t go back for a second one. I was a little thrown off by the fact that they reserve space on their very limited menu for a barbecue sandwich with cheese. That combination just doesn’t sound right…especially in North Carolina. It is a combination that I can’t really fathom anywhere even though I am notorious for throwing cheese on about anything.

They don’t serve french fries like a lot of North Carolina’s infamous hot dog places. You can pick up a bag of chips to go along with it but I wouldn’t waste stomach space on chips because the dogs are so good.

If you are a old-school soda lover, you have just hit a gold-mine. Pulliams has a variety of old-school bottled sodas like Cheerwine, Sun Drop, RC Cola, NuGrape and Nehi in a few different flavors. Pulliams also serves beer and Coke if you aren’t trying to go with a retro dog. However, I like to take things back to my childhood so I grabbed a cold-ass bottle of Cheerwine out of the cooler. Cheerwine in the bottle is truly a North Carolina thing and one of the fondest things I remember about growing up.

One of my favorite things about Pulliams (obviously other than the dogs) was the tree trunk table that they had outside that you could eat it. This is the only table outside so if it is busy you might be out of luck. We got there a little late in the day so it wasn’t busy and we were able to land the stump. It was a beautiful day so sitting outside was perfect (except for a car wash directly next door which was a getting a lot of traffic the day we went).

I think their hot dog very close to  perfection. It is the classic Carolina style with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. Pulliam’s uses the classic North Carolina red dog which isn’t the prettiest wiener in the world but it makes for one helluva hot dog. Before the toppings are added to the dog, Pulliam’s brushes a good amount of butter onto the bun and then toasts it, basically to a char, on the grill before covering it with the classic Carolina toppings. The chili has a nice spice to it and the slaw is cool and crunchy. A lot of people like to add Big Ed’s Hot Sauce to the dog but I decided to stick with the way they normally serve it.

Pulliam’s is a 100-year-old place that is definitely worthwhile taking a road trip for if you are a hot dog lover and should be added on your places to eat in North Carolina. I’ve recently tried a few other legendary hot dog shacks across the state (reviews coming soon) and Pulliam’s is definitely winning so far in my book.

 

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