The Sophisticated Taste of Southern Hospitality

My wife Alison and I have visited many of North Carolina’s finest BBQ eateries. We’ve listed a few of our favorites, and remember, here in the Old North State, barbeque is not a verb.

Eastern NC BBQ
It’s a location and a style. These tradition-rich pit masters serve up a vinegar based, primarily whole hog style of BBQ born and bred “down east.”

  • Whitley’s Barbecue – Murfreesboro: pure eastern flavor with a hint of unique sweetness; hands down the best chopped pork in the state. It’s worth driving an hour out of the way to sample and you’ll want to take a quart home for the freezer.
  • A&G Barbecue & Chicken – Carolina Beach: great little “hole in the wall” and perfect for the beach (try the homemade chips).
  • Bill Ellis BBQ – Wilson: maybe the best known outside of NC and well deserved. Great family atmosphere and superior Q (most evenings you can pull your own pork).
  • Barbecue Lodge – Raleigh: a wonderful true old standard bearer.
  • Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue – Raleigh: the iconic downtown Raleigh BBQ eatery.
  • McCall’s Bar-B-Q & Seafood – Clayton: the buffet is king here and the place to go if family members want more options than just Q.
  • Gardner’s Barbeque – Rocky Mount: make sure you visit the main site on Highway 301.
  • Hursey’s BBQ – Burlington: traditional eastern pit cooked Q west of Raleigh (try the ribs).
  • Wilber’s Barbecue – Goldsboro: true to the pit cooked tradition.
  • Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q – Willow Springs: great smoked flavor and traditional sweet slaw. Tea and crushed ice on every table.
  • Ralph’s BBQ – Roanoke Rapids: just off I-95, educating all east coast travelers to the true taste of BBQ. Served with our traditional NC hospitality.
  • Griffin’s Barbecue – Williamston: down east flavor plus a warm local welcome for everyone.
  • Bob’s Barbeque – Butner/Creedmore: A favorite of locals for 50 years. Chopped pork with a hint of sweet flavor and signature homemade pies.

Lexington NC BBQ
A reference to a style of BBQ more common to central and western NC. These purveyors rely primarily on pork shoulders using a vinegar and ketchup mix, slow cooked to perfection.

  • Lexington BBQ – Lexington: this namesake has served presidents.
  • Blue Mist Bar-B-Que – Randleman: you’ll find all the local folks here.
  • Mr. Barbecue – Winston-Salem: fast service without sacrificing a high quality pit cooked flavor.
  • Little Richard’s Bar-B-Que – Winston-Salem: pit cooked taste with style.

Best of the Rest
Several additional top of the line BBQ haunts that cater to a more diverse crowd (interpreted: transplanted Yankees can choose their own perfect sauce).

  • Dixie Belle – Apex
  • Woodlands BBQ – Blowing Rock
  • City BBQ – Cary
  • Ole Time BBQ – Raleigh
  • Braves Turner Field – Atlanta, GA: pork bbq nachos and baseball

North Carolina icons
Don’t miss a few of our non-BBQ favorites with a traditional southern welcome and a taste you only receive south of the Mason – Dixon line.

  • Jimmy Mac’s – Bryson City: here the handmade burgers are king.
  • Big Ed’s– Raleigh: brilliant country style home cooking proudly serving downtown businessmen, politicians and blue-collar patrons.
  • Britts Donuts – Carolina Beach: think hot, homemade, melt in your mouth, one of a kind goodness that you will most certainly stand in line for.
  • Smithfields Chicken ‘n’ Bar-B-Q – Laurinburg: love the southern fried chicken. Yes, this is a chain but the management staff at this specific location is the best in the Carolinas.
  • Fish Bites – Carolina Beach: If you can find it, this tiny costal seafood and more eatery is unsurpassed in its menu and southern favorites. Try the smothered and stuffed flounder – amazing.

White Spot Grill
Charlottesville, Va: OK, not in Carolina but a great college town grill known for the “Grillswith” (grilled glazed donuts with ice cream) and the giant “Gus Burger”.