Over the summer months in 2008, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Carolinas, in particular, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (The Triangle) and also the Columbia, South Carolina area. Two cities which are as different as can be from a cultural and socio-economic perspective, but which do share something in common — Barbecue.
Even if you are trying to shed the pounds like I am, when you travel, maintaining discipline can be extremely difficult, especially when you are surrounded by co-workers who want to go out and have a good time. And when you’re in the South with a bunch of out-of-town males, particularly in the Carolinas, evening entertainment can usually be classified into two distinct areas — ones which involve Pork and ones which do not. I’m not going to get into the details of the ones which do not, because that could get me in trouble with the wife.
Here are all my Carolina Barbecue sins exposed, some of which I am proud of and would repeat again, and some of which I would not.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Allen & Son BBQ
6203 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill NC
If you’re visiting the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, and if you ask anyone where the best Barbecue restaurant is, the answer will probably be “Allen & Son”. I have my own biased opinion of who makes the best pork BBQ in the Triangle, but I will say that Allen & Son makes some damned good pulled pork and is an experience that should not be missed, particularly if you are a Yankee like myself that has never experienced the REAL South. The restaurant has been open for 30 plus years and has a devout following.
Allen & Son is a truly authentic North Carolina BBQ experience. Just getting there is half the fun, driving through back roads and passing beautiful farmland, particularly during the Spring and Summer months. However, like many barbecue restaurants, be advised that Allen & Son has limited hours — closed Mondays, Tue-Wed 10am-5pm, Thu-Sat 10am-8pm. The first time I tried to get there was 5:30PM on a Tuesday afternoon after work and I was devastated when it was closed.
I’ve been told the home made desserts are excellent, but as this was going to be a total sin in terms of screwing my diet plans for the week, I decided to bypass them.
The interior of the restaurant looks like something out of a BBQ Americana exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, or a theme restaurant at the North Carolina pavillion at EPCOT, if one ever existed. The kitsch is REAL, folks.
The classic North Carolina BBQ menu. Pulled Pork, Ribs, and Chicken. As it should be. Click on the photo to enlarge.
Here’s a plate of BBQ, with Brunswick Stew and Cole Slaw. My only major complaint is that the restaurant does not serve greens, which I think any self-respecting BBQ place should.
However, they do have awesome hush puppies which more than makes up for that glaring omission.
Diet Coke, in a nice big frosty mug. I was kind of hoping for a Ball mason jar, but that would have just made it over the top redneck.
Okay, maybe I spoke too soon.
This one doesn’t sing. I’m guessing this Big Mouth Bass was noodled for real.
Jim’s Famous BBQ
115 S Elliott Rd, Chapel Hill, NC
Web Site: http://www.greatpigs.com
On the Tuesday night my co-worker and I arrived at Allen & Son when it was closed, we searched for other BBQ options in the local area. One place which was recommended to me was Jim’s, which is a more family-style, mass market appeal BBQ restaurant. While I would be happy to have anything close to a Jim’s back home in New Jersey, it was pretty standard issue for BBQ, and probably more smoked than I would like.
If Allen & Son is minimalist, then Jim’s is all over the map in terms of the broadness of the BBQ styles it offers.
While the main menu gave me some pause, I was happy to see they had a nice array of sides.
The cornbread is skillet style. Texturally, it was pretty good, but I thought it was way too sweet. I’m more of a savory, corn taste type guy when it comes to cornbread. This tasted more like a corn muffin than cornbread.
Jim’s Pulled Pork. It had a nice chop, but not much of a smoke flavor.
The greens weren’t as cooked as I liked, but I did like the mashed cauliflower very much.
According to the server, these Memphis-Style Baby Back Ribs were smoked for 8 Hours. They had a very overpoweringly smoked flavor, which any North Carolinian or skilled pitmaster will tell you is a no-no. I ordered my Ribs dry, but you can also get them sauced.
Here’s what my co-worker, Karl ordered.
The Brunswick Stew was pretty heavy on the Lima Beans.
I will say this, the array of sauces and condiments is impressive.
And the atmosphere is definitely festive.
The Pit Authentic Barbecue
328 W. Davie Street, Raleigh NC
What can I say about Ed Mitchell and the Pit That I haven’t said already. He’s a Barbecue Genius and a national treasure, and I am completely biased in my opinion that it’s the best BBQ restaurant I have ever been to in all of the Carolinas. Nobody else does what he does, and nobody else can do it like he can do it. That’s all that there is.
The Pit on West Davie Street.
Ed Mitchell firing up one of his custom built pits for cooking Whole Hog, a process that takes approximately 14 hours.
A 200 lb Hog being prepped for his 14-hour smoke.
And there he goes.
This may be a barbecue restaurant, but its no shack either. Its got a wine cellar and a comprehensive beverage program that includes select small batch bourbons.
Ed’s Brunswick Stew is a meal in and of itself. In fact, it would be more appropriate to call this Barbecue Stew, because of all the smoked meats in it.
BBQ Chicken. While not the specialty of the restaurant, it’s mighty fine.
A proper array of BBQ sides, all of which are excellent.
Whole Hog, Pulled Turkey and BBQ Ribs.
Hush Puppies and Biscuits
Columbia, SC (Various Locations)
Web Site: http://www.mauricesbbq.com/
So much has been written about Maurice Bessinger that I think that it would be a waste of bandwidth on Off The Broiler to go into verbose detail of what this man is all about. I’d prefer to let his food and his restaurants, and not his views on politics and race speak for itself.
While it certainly wasn’t my preference to visit one of Maurice’s restaurants — I tried to go to the reportedly excellent Little Pigs on a weeknight (What is it with Mondays and Tuesdays in the South, anyway?) only to find it was closed due to to limited hours — it was the only BBQ restaurant that was open in that part of town I was in, and I figured that for the sake of informational purposes, it would be a service to my readers to actually eat the food there, even if I had my reservations about patronizing the establishment of an avowed Racist, Segregationist and White Separatist. And I had another duty, which was to verify the findings of the local food media. According to Columbia’s local free weekly paper, the Free Times, which had a taste-off back in May of 2008, they voted Maurice’s the #1 barbecue restaurant in the city. While I don’t agree with this sentiment, you can read their tasting notes here.
It should be noted that the location I chose was actually one of the newest branches, not the original Piggy Park. However, it’s my understanding that the ‘Q is pretty consistent between branches.
Okay, no obvious Ku Klux Klan symbology or Swastikas here. Looks safe enough. Maybe I was making a big deal out of nothing.
Prisoner transport vehicle parked in the lot. Oh, this is not a good sign.
Maurice’s BBQ sauce, the very same that used to be stocked on Wal-Mart shelves before the company pulled it due to Maurice’s insistence of vocalizing his racist beliefs. Vocalizing how, you ask?
The components of Maurice’s mustard-based BBQ sauce. The best way I could describe it is Mustard-flavored ice cream topping.
As you can see he’s got gift packs of different flavors. No preservatives, but the stuff is full of HFCS and sugar. ROTFLMAO!
Yup, they voted him best in 2007 too.
I hear he does a pretty brisk mail order business. I didn’t snap a photo as several very large good-ol-boy Department of Corrections cops were staring at me, but every employee in the establishment was white.
I like menus with pictures.
I’ll say this for Maurice, his restaurant was immaculately clean.
The tomatoes were fresh and I liked the hush puppies. Green beans were overcooked. I couldn’t even taste if the pork was smoked properly due to the overwhelming cloying sweetness of the BBQ sauce. You can’t get your ‘Q “dry” with the sauce on the side at Maurice’s — this is the default way it is served. Apparently some people actually ask for EXTRA sauce on top.
I’m not entirely sure exactly what battle this is supposed to depict from the Civil War (click on the photo to enlarge) but this looks like something from the opening scene of The Birth of a Nation. I took one peek at this and got really, really uncomfortable.
I’m telling you, I can’t make this shit up.
I tried a takeout order of ribs. Decent smoke, but again, the cloying sauce totally ruins it.
And this is what Maurice calls “Brisket”. Ugh.
Palmetto Pig Barbecue Restaurant
530 Devine Street, Columbia SC 29201
After the culinary disaster that was Maurice’s I needed to get some decent BBQ in Columbia, and fast. After doing a bit more research, I found out about Palmetto Pig, a great cafeteria-style BBQ place right in downtown Columbia. For $9, you get all you can eat Pulled Pork, Fried Chicken, sides, and Iced Tea. I don’t think there is a better deal anywhere in the entire city.
Palmetto Pig restaurant on Devine Street.
Again, the limited hours. Don’t go on a Monday or try to eat there after lunch on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Palmetto has community-style seating. Everyone gets a pitcher of Iced Tea at the table. You can get sweetened or unsweetened ice tea.
Everything is serve yourself. Grab a disposable plate and get right to it.
As if the place wasn’t cheap enough, on Thursdays and Fridays, college students can eat for $7. Wow. Who needs a meal plan?
Pork Cracklins. Mmmmmmmmm. Crunchy porky good.
Pickles, Tater Salad, Cole Slaw.
Green Beans (overcooked, but hey, its the South) and fresh fried chicken, which is constantly being refilled. There’s also “Hash” which I have been unable to determine the exact composition, but my understanding its pork and potatoes and … stuff.
Plate #1. I admit, I had a few helpings, and at this place, its hard not to. Unlike Maurice’s, the pork is juicy, in big pieces rather than completely shredded, and has the sauce ON THE SIDE. Palmetto offers a somewhat less sweet Mustard BBQ as well as a “Spicy” BBQ sauce. I like to mix the two.
Big T’s BBQ
North Columbia, SC
Another trusted local source sent me over to Big T’s, which has two locations, the original on Garner’s Ferry Road, and also a satellite location in North Columbia on Congaree Road. My co-workers and I ended up at the North Columbia location, which doesn’t actually do smoking on premises, but the food is still pretty good.
The staff at Big T’s is friendly and eager to help.
The North Columbia location is in a strip mall… not much in terms of ambiance, but this is not why you’re here.
Big T’s has got everything you’d expect from a BBQ restaurant, and then some. In fact I’d say it has a full blown Soul Food menu.
Big T’s hash, which is served over rice.
The BBQ pork, which is already lightly sauced.
My BBQ plate of Pork, Greens, Hash and Rice.
As you can see they also have ribs, which I didn’t try, a co-worker ordered them and said they were good. Big T’s has both Collard Greens AND Mustard Greens, so I ordered both. I actually preferred the more bitter taste of the Mustard greens, but both were excellent, and I drank the pot likker.
Awesome, awesome entry.
I’ll be sure never to eat at Maurice’s.
Yeah, Maurice’s is scary from both a culinary and sociological standpoint. That being said, his cousin in Charleston, which runs “Bessinger’s BBQ” is NOT a racist and is supposed to serve some pretty good Q.
Displaying the Confederate flag isn’t an indication of racism. Your knowledge of American history is not your strong suit. Stick to blogging about computing and food and you’ll be much better off.
I know those Carolinians are proud of their barbecue, but Brunswick Stew and Hushpuppies? I don’t get it. Fried chicken has it’s place, but it ain’t barbecue. Come on down to Memphis and get yourself an education. Take a tour of Corky’s, The Rendezvous, Interstate, and Neely’s, they’ll all do you up right. Better yet, you owe yourself a trip to the Memphis in May Barbecue Festival.
Love the photography. Keep up the good work.
notachef: American History is actually something I have a very strong suit about. The Confederate flag bothers a lot of people, whether you want to classify it as Southern Heritage or not. That South Carolina removed it from its State Capitol building in Columbia in the year 2000 is a strong indication that it polarizes and offends many. That the State of Georgia in 2001 and 2003 went through such huge pains to remove it from its own State Flag amid a huge amount of controversy is a classic example. The Stars and Bars may not overtly indicate that Bessinger is a racist, but his past practices of denying blacks from eating at his restaurants until the Supreme Court forced him to do so and his association with white separatist and racist groups does.
Your one word comment underneath a photo of a label with the Confederate flag speaks volumes. There is nothing inherently wrong with the CSA flag, or “support all heritage,” and your P.C. silliness, and equally silly comment explains nothing. If you have a problem with this man’s politics, don’t frequent his business, and explain with more than a flip “Yep” why you think what you think. Otherwise, as I said, stick to networking and food photos.
Hey, the Confederacy was racist. What’s so difficult about understanding that its flag is a racist symbol?
I’m a Tar Heel and I see no need to “support” all of our heritage. Understand it, yes, but there’s a lot of it that I can’t support.
Iamnotachef: I wasn’t going to respond because I honestly feel sorry for people like you, but while the Civil War was fought for many reason, one of the biggest issues was slavery. And in case you can’t read, let me cut and past what was written before: “Bessinger[‘s] past practices of denying blacks from eating at his restaurants until the Supreme Court forced him to do so and his association with white separatist and racist groups does.”
By the way, I have served in the military.
What have you done?
Jason, very nice writeup. My family and I had dinner Saturday night at The Pit. Not my first excursion but certainly theirs. Damn fine barbecue, great sides, and a peek at the heights good barbecue can aspire to. Ed Mitchell stopped by the table for a bit, which was a treat. I was pleased to note, however, that my mac & cheese is better (though to be fair, I think The Pit’s biscuits are a little lighter than mine).
iamnotachef, I’m not sure if you are riled because too many northerners have stereotypical views of southerners (and I certainly understand that sentiment) or if there is some other agenda, but I can tell you as someone who was born southern and has lived in both North and South Carolina for a long time, Maurice Bessinger is a racist douchebag of the first order. Jason’s perceived lack of southern street cred aside, he’s got it exactly right. Maurice is an embarrassment. The Piggy Park used to have decent South Carolina-style mustard based barbecue, but even past successes can’t change the depths to which he has dug his own hole. The food quality has declined as Maurice’s entrenchment into his persona has increased. His restaurants reflect both sides of that.
We had been hanging in the Triangle this past year till the end of this summer. When McCalls got hit by a plane I took it as an omen. I dig the potatoes at McCalls. Boiled in Eastern Carolina vinegar pepper sauce they are tangy and good.
Bill’s BBQ is another must try in Wilson. I have gone everywhere Holly has gone. Of all cues NC is my fav cue.
When you get home Jason, Dave’s Famous is popping up all over. The ribs are not too shabby for a chain.
Many people claim that Maurice is just a colorful character. That’s correct, as long as that color is white — which is what his place was up until he could no longer legally or economically keep his business afloat with a blatantly discriminatory establishment.
The point is not that Maurice isn’t a racist. He undoubtedly is. The point is that a photo of one of his products and a silly one word comment does not explain anything. If OTB is going to make political comments on his blog (as is his right and privilege) I would hope that they are coherent, and not simply a nod to political correctness. And if OTB was so offended, he should have walked out, or never gone in in the first place.
My dislike of stereotyping certainly played a role in my comments, but Southerners weren’t the only ones being stereotyped. We Northerners were too. Don’t assume that we are all one homogeneous group that will sneer and laugh at the stupid rednecks and their racist flags.
And for all of you amateur historians, the Civil War was fought over something called “state’s rights,” not slavery. Read a little bit about Abraham Lincoln and his reasoning behind the decisions he made.
As for anyone who uses his supposed military service as support for his arguments? Uh, that’s just silly.
Good post. If you like Palmetto Pig, you should make every effort to stop into Earl Duke’s Barbecue on Highway 301 in Orangeburg, SC (30 miles from Columbia). It’s definitely worth it. The same cafeteria style, but the food is much better.
I’m just curious. Did you get sick of BBQ after this report? My spouse can’t eat too much pork in a week or else “pork pains” set in. LOL.
The cold hard truth:
I am from Texas, lived in N.C., and now live in Georgia.
BBQ is beef, not pork.
That is just the way it is.
I’ve given Texas ‘Q its due, but c’mon, Carolina, KC and St Louis is legit BBQ.
Gee, where to start? OK, low hanging fruit. The flag stuff is kind of a side area to a Q site, but I guess it had to rear its ugly head here eventually. Yes, there are racists still alive and well in the South and the North and the East and the West. Check out the presidential candidates and tell me why a person who is not a trillionaire would vote for 4 more years of a failing economy rather than a possible new direction (as if presidents have much power–this one excluded–at all in shaping what laws actually get passed). What is important, as we have seen, is to have the executive and legislative and judicial branches all with the same in party affiliation. Then, the other side has no say in anything at all, and we end up with an illegal occupation in a foreign country or three, no money in the treasury, most people in debt beyond their means, 6000 people a day going into foreclosure, and people who run unregulated investment schemes TAKING HOME over a billion dollars a year–as if they paid taxes anyway. I guess the point is this–politics and race have always been and will always be joined at the hip until a generation (like my daughters’, who don’t see race or national origin at all in others) comes of age and sets the agenda for the USA. You can’t get past it no matter how much back and forth discussion goes on. My suggestion is to confront it when you see it in an intellectual manner. Sure, you can kick someone’s butt for not believing what you believe, but I am not sure that solves anything at all. Sooner or later these ignorant ideas will die a natural death, although the rise in the number of people who don’t believe in evolution scares me.
OK, now on to the Q. Disclaimer: I went to school in Chapel Hill and return several times each year to attend games, pick up my daughter from school in VA, and generally visit my old friends. Allen and Son may not have impressed you like some of the other places, and son, that is precisely the point. No, it is not fancy and they do not cook over their heads. They serve a few items, and, if you read (disclosure–my friend and college classmate) Bob Gardner’s book about the history of NC Q you will find that Allen is pretty much the ONLY owner still doing pit in a real pit with real wood! Does the Q have good days and great days? You bet. We are dealing with variables here–even if you get your wood and hogs from the same person year after year, you are going to have some variations. I have had Allen Q that was so complex in flavor that you would have a tough time even describing it. I have also had it where it was very good, but not their best ever. When you eat at a place for over 35 years, you get some variation. I maintain, however, that Q is cooked in a pit over wood smoke, period. Everything else is good pork, but it ain’t pit Q.
As for our friends from the great state of Texas, no lie that Q in Texas means beef. And, I might say, great beef when it is done right. The difference is that it ain’t Q. It is smoked beef, it is wonderful, and anyone who loves smoked food would be crazy not to try as much brisket and ribs and sausage possible when they are in Texas. Doesn’t make it Q, however!
May I suggest that Jason returns several more times to Allen over the next year or so and see if he doesn’t come to a slightly different opinion on the food. All that history of people saying it is the best Q did not come from people just ’cause. Most of us have been to Hillsboro and Asheboro and Raleigh and eaten at the places there that are quite good in their own right. On some random days they may even have slightly better Q than Allen, but most days my money is on the traditional methods and great atmosphere (!) found in the taste of Allen and Son Q. As for greens, OK, you win. I like them as much as the next guy, but honestly, after plate or sandwich at Allen and some raw fries (french fries made from fresh potatoes but only fried once instead of twice) and a glass of tea, I would have little need for some greens. However, if that is what you are looking for at a good Q place, I concede! But Jason, you darn sure should have tried the desserts! Better than greens in my book any day!!
Cheers and good Q eatin’ to all–no matter what state or region you like best!
First of all, barbecue is a noun, not a verb. And it is pork that has been slowly cooked over hard wood that has been burned down to coals. No gas, no electricity. Sorry, Texas but beef is not barbecue. While I enjoy a good brisket, it is not barbecue.
richopp: Don’t mistake what I said, I really liked Allen & Son and would go back again. Unfortunately I tend to be only able to enjoy the Triangle’s food in the evening, and to be able to eat at Allen & Son pretty much limits it to the rare times I spend weekends here. Which is why I’m going to Ed Mitchell and The Pit tonight :)
And as for the desserts… I’m a Type II diabetic, so that kind of puts the brakes on that unless someone is sharing it with me. Preferably two or three people so I can just taste a bite.
Gentle folk, we are raised never to make fun of any affliction in others, therefore I post this disclaimer:
If you have not eaten BBQ from west of San Antonio, DO NOT DO IT, I say again, for those who were born and raised far from God’s country, do NOT eat even one plate of real BBQ from South Texas.
Unless you are at least a forth generation Texan or better, never, I say again, Never, go to the Terlingua Chili cook off, where you will be exposed to the finest BBQ on earth along side the Rio Grande.
That care addressed for the unfortunate, the truth is slightly hard to see for those who have never enjoyed saddling up a horse and riding across land that is clearly visible from horizon to horizon.
I have lived in Hispanola, which lays claim, falsely I might add, to the first BBQ stand for passing ships. The buccaneers were rascals and outcasts of various nations who set about roasting goat per the manner of the local Indians before that people were rubbed out, and upon sighting sail from the Eastern most part of what is now the Dominican Republic would set out in small swift vessels with that roast goat to sell to the Atlantic crossing vessel, who were delighted to purchase the BBQ, unless of course the rascals saw an easy prize and took the ship rather than sell the BBQ.
Though some credit this as the first barbecue it is simply a sad imitation to the real origin of the real thing.
In the Eastern Colonies of the now US of A the poor settlers having no real meat, beef, actually ate pigs. Yes, it is sad but true, humans having to eat pig rather than beef. I understand you poor relations of my ancestors were forced to eat pig so long, that you actually arrived at the conclusion that there is nothing else, but this kind souls is not as God made us, and the plains Indian tribes knew better, lived better, ate better, and rode their ponies better.
You see when the poor folk arrived in the Colonies the Spanish had long since arrived before and brought cattle to the new world. The Indian tribes, with a very few exceptions, immediately understood: horses were made for stealing, and cattle were made for eating. A cultural exchange was soon struck between Spaniard and Indian resulting in Mestizo children and barbecue which was the mesquite cooked beef using buffalo cooking expertise.
From those humble yet auspicious beginnings the hard riding, hard drinking and (censor for children) hard whoring vaqueros sprang forth like water gushing from Barton’s Spring. And lo, there came settlers from the easterlies, where upon the poor folk from the colonies of gringolandia (to become the US of A) moved into the land of milk and honey. As quickly as these gringolitos showed up, lo and behold, my cunning great great grand pappy made his own cultural exchange latching hold of a magnificent Senorita (remember the previous Spanish/Indian cultural exchange resulting in Mestizos) and there were Texans, riding hard, and doing other things hard as well, and instantly in keeping with the first chapter of Genesis and the first chapter of John, little Tejanitos ran around campfires eating none other than real beef Barbecue. And they went forth and multiplied.
Gentle Folk, I understand fully the wonderment of real beef barbecue to you. If the senseless have never seen a sunset, can they imagine it. Might they well demand the darkness should they suddenly see such a marvel?
I do not wish the whole of the Eastern US of A to suddenly uproot itself to rush South Texas in mass upon discovery of real barbecue, complete with home made pico de gallo fresh chilled to slather over hand made corn tortillas with real BBQ or simple BBQ with pinto beans and fresh sliced onion and jalepeno on a plate.
Folk just keep on with that hog imitation, but file away somewhere in your mind’s recesses, there is a place on earth where heaven touches the prairie, and mesquite logs are free, a place where God still smiles down on creation as it is meant to be. And when the night is dark and stormy, and you are all alone, just recall there is real barbecue somewhere, too delicious for your own.
Be comforted. Live a good clean life. You may taste the best in the sweet bye and bye. (If you go to heaven, you’ll find the lone star flag flying there and REAL barbecue in abundance.)
Jason–Thanks very much for your reply. Sorry about the diabetic issues; my niece has that and it is pretty rough. Yes, a taste would be the right thing on any sugar product given your situation.
Understand that you did like the food there; please give Bob’s book a look; actually, he now has another one out. His first came from a series he did on WCHL–Bob works there–and the second is a bit broader in scope. You will like the historical perspective he provides. For example, pits were really a part of the political scene in the old days–but I will let you read it on your own and not spoil the content:
Bob Garner–North Carolina Barbeque: Flavored by Time or Bob Garner’s Guide to North Carolina Barbeque. Both are fun reads and very well researched.
And Jason, I hear you about the open hours issue. If I fly in to town (RDU) after 4pm I sometimes don’t make it until the next day, which I really hate! If we drive up, I leave at 4am to get there by around 4pm and make it over by closing time. Good news is that the person I usually stay with lives about 5 minutes from the restaurant, so we get there pretty quickly! So, when you have the time try it a few more times. I believe you will hit it on a day where it exceeds your expectations! By the way, there is a place in Asheboro whose name escapes me now that is also excellent, so continued good hunting and eating!
You might want to check this out: http://www.chow.com/tour/156
You can hear Bob on this site talk a bit about Q.
Hi, bootiehooker–that’s quite an ID!
Guess we totally agree. Texas smoked meat is awesome, but it ain’t Q.
batquano101–Well, you clearly win the stick-up-for Texas prize, and no one will dispute the greatness of quality Texas smoked meats. While I have been to El Paso in the past (1964!), and used to frequent Austin and Dallas when I worked for a big company, I must admit I ate only Mexican in El Paso and did not partake of West Texas smoked meats. However, I promise to get there eventually and try out all the items you discussed–not the goat, however. We have many people from Haiti in South FL and it is on lots of menus here; just not something I am adventurous enough to try yet, however.
Now the fresh pico de gallo we have in spades, but the pintos probably have to come from out there to be truly authentic. I will admit that, in 1983 or 84, I discovered both Tex-Mex (fajitas and the like) and Corona beer (I have heard it is not thought well of in Mexico, but it was new to us at the time and NOT available in FL) in Austin–too far East, I know. I purchased 2 cases of the beer–in those days a case contained 20 bottles and it was in a thin cardboard box–and carried them with me on the plane home. (Let’s pause here and think about that for a minute; can you imagine trying to walk onto an airplane today with a case of beer under each arm?? Thought you would like that!) AND–they slid UNDER the seats in front of me. Amazing!
I then called friends and held the first, as far as I know, fajita and Corona party in FL, and I have the pictures to prove it! I made everyone dress up in “Western” garb as best as they could, and I put out all the items. Yes, the tortillas were store bought, but I had little knowledge in those days and frankly, I knew of no one in FL who was making them fresh at the time. It was a great party–still being discussed from time to time–and one that I will always remember. So, far from being a person who does not recognize the greatness of Texas smoked meats, campfires, horizons, and even riding–I do it often–I enjoy and appreciate each and every one of them. Nothing like smoked meat from Texas, and I am sure West Texas is everything you say it is and more.
Unfortunately, however, it ain’t Q, and can never be Q. Q is pork and will always be pork. (Oh, and personally speaking, a little mesquite goes a LONG way when smoking meats. Not bad, but some places tend to overdo it for my tastes.) So yes, I miss the smoked meats of Texas, but late in the night when yearnings for food dance in my head, it is Allen and Son’s pulled pork cooked slowly over hickory in a real pit that entices my taste buds for the real deal!
richopp: I have Garner’s book, the one that is sold at Allen & Son. I forgot which one it is, its a listing of BBQ places all over NC. The problem is it is quite a few years out of date, it lists a number of BBQ restaurants in the Raleigh area which have been closed for years. I agree however, its an excellent treatise on Carolina Q.
Also as to whether Q is pork or Q is beef, I am of the opinion that any animal protein smoked over fruit and hardwoods cooked low and slow can be classified as BBQ.
Hi, Jason–Yes, the original book is dated; I was thinking the latest one was a bit more up-to-date as it came out in 2006. Clearly an ongoing issue with any book about restaurants, but glad you have it anyway. The site I listed in one of my posts is interesting, too, as the CHOW people visit various Q places in NC and elsewhere.
Regarding your comment on meat and Q, hey, I’m just tryin’ to have a little fun here. Some of the comments above were serious, and that’s fine of course, but really, on a site about Q, fun HAS to be the word of the day, so I was just trying to get a rise out of our friends from Texas. Everyone agrees that smoking meat slowly over wood charcoal is the way to go, and truly it does not matter what you are smoking. Here in FL, smoked fish dip is very popular, and growing up we ate smoked whitefish on special occassions, so really, all this is done in the spirit of fun. I would assume that everyone here understands that.
Still doesn’t mean that beef is Q, of course, but then…
Yes, the Civil War was likely more fought over States’ Rights, but its always been a garbage argument that this ALSO redeems the Confederacy in ANY way shape or form from being an inherently racist institution. It doesn’t.
Not that every citizen of the Confederacy was racist–far from it. People sometimes forget that only a small percentage of pre-Civil War Southerners were slaveowners, but they ruled the roost, having most of the money and virtually all of the influence over the politics and social mores of their breakaway nation.
That’s what that flag represents. Not necessarily a nation of racist people, but an inherently racist system. So I can ALWAYS see why there’s a knee-jerk reaction against it–its deserved. If someone truly wanted to represent other aspects of the pre-Civil War South which need to be celebrated there are a lot of better symbols or emblems. If someone needs to declare themselves a modern States’ Right’s advocate, again, there are better ways to do it.
And its not worth the energy of most decent folk to defend anything having to do with Maurice Bessinger, a man who likely would have had Jason beat to a pulp if he’d known he was there, and remembered Jason’s own religion and racial background. I’m sure there are some people who legitimately invoke the symbolism of the Confederate flag without the full baggage attached to it, but Maurice Bessinger isn’t one of them. If he puts in on a bottle he does so because he believes in the FULL message of what the original institution stood for.
On to other matters. BBQ? I agree that its pointless to define it as just beef. Or just pork. The people who are stupid enough to define it as a kind of sauce, or as putting meat on a grill, deserve a full measure of scorn, but anyone who knows to smoke the meat and consider the sauce nothing but a garnish is on the right track. I’d even go as far as to suggest that smoked poultry is “cue”, as much as that sounds like heresy. Its WHAT you do that makes it cue, not what you do it WITH. I see that a few folks have fessed up to arguing over this as a joke, but for every person who fesses up to that, I bet there are five who actually believe that any one style is the real actual definition.
I don’t know why I read these things during lunchtime. Soooo hungry now.
Awesome read, Jason.
I was born and raised in Alabama, my mama is from North Carolina and I lived in Memphis for a while, and I really dislike pork barbecue, I don’t like overcooked vegetables and I don’t like banana pudding.
Jon – your statement really cracked me up. Anyone who raises any type of confederate flag is a racist. Believe me, I have spoken to a lot of these people. Not one of them was not a racist. Not being a racist and flying the confederate flag are a contradiction.
I prefer Argentinian Gaucho-style barbecue. Now that is the real deal. I’ll take chimichurri sauce over barbecue sauce any day.
Texas BBQ brisket is delicious. Hook’em horns!
i’ve began recently looking for some good q in the ny/nj area. i have heard of several places in manhattan like dinosaur bbq and others. i have been to cubbys off route 46 which I have found to be decent. the oversized portions and quick service are commendable.
i’d like to see some posts of Q in the ny/nj region if possible. thanks!
Great rundown! I’ll keep this one on file in case I travel down that way. And I love the deer head detail… reminds me of hometown bars and diners in the Midwest. :)
Maurice is not racist and he DOES have black employees and black people DO eat at his restaurant. Try BIG T’s BBQ in Columbia and tell me how many BLACK employees you see though…Anyway Maurice is very religious and beleives in states rights, not all that liberal hogwash favored by those above the mason dixon line.
I love this. A New Yorker telling people from the South what good BBQ is. Classic!! Stick to pizza, falafels and gyros.
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A few years ago, I ended up eating at a Maurice’s in Cincinatti. I didn’t know about the “power to the Confederacy” vibe from the place: I just thought it was a regular BBQ. I realized I was wrong when I spotted the KKK members on the wall.
Busby’s BBQ in Bandera, TX (in the hill country) is amazing!