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Allen and Son Bar-B-Q in Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • t

A recent trip to Durham provided an opportunity to eat some cue at Allen and Son. Unfortunately, time didn't allow travelling to the Pittsboro location, which is reputedly the best, so I "settled" for the Chapel Hill location on Airport Road. I thought the barbecue was totally wonderful, with just the right balance of vinegar and pepper that accented, but didn't overwhelm, the taste of the pork. I relished every bite. Good pups too. French fries were soggy and pretty awful. Onion rings and slaw were good. The Brunswick stew was nothing special. (Where does one go for a knockout Brunswick stew?) Coconut pie was good.

I'm not an expert on North Carolina barbecue in general, or on eastern N.C. cue specifically, but I'd sure go back for more at Allen and Son anytime. Highly recommended.

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  1. The Pittsboro location of A&S no longer cooks with wood. I'd avoid it. The CH store is very good. The Q is excellent and the deserts are all home-made and well above average. A&S departs from other eastern NC joints with their utilization of shoulders rather than whole pigs and the fact that their dip contains butter or margarine. Anytime I travel between Greensboro and Raleighwood I make a detour.

    Jim

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim

      Thanks for the very useful information. My daughter and my new grandchild live in Durham, so I will happily have opportunities to return to Allen & Son in Chapel Hill for more of that delicious cue.

      1. re: Tom Armitage

        I live near the CH location. I have often enjoyed their barbecue as a carry out item. However, the one time we ate there, the desserts were quite disappointing. We ordered 2 varieties of cobbler and were completely underwhelmed- I'd avoid the cobbler. One other warning, the decor includes one or more taxidermied animals and there are leg hold traps hanging on the walls, so if your sensibilities may be offended, be forewarned.

        1. re: Tom Armitage

          Tom,
          I took your advice about a Yongsusan birthday dinner. We enjoyed it. But it was a lot of food.

          Anyway, I am originally from North Carolina and return to see family several times a year. Allen and Son is, in my opinion, the best bbq in the state. You might try Scott's up in Goldsboro. There is a new book out on NC barbeque--North Carolina Barbeque, Flavored by Time--by Bob Garner. It is an interesting read.

      2. the best bbq in nc hands down is at this little place in ayden, nc. it used to be called the skylight or starlight inn, and it's the oldest bbq joint in nc (1790 or something is when they opened). there are 5 items on the menu: bbq, slaw, this terrible cornbread, pepsi and sweet tea. the bbq is so tender and juicy and they don't mix in the skin until you order it, so when you eat your bbq, you bite into tiny pieces of light, crispy, bacon-flavored ecstasy. i seriously went here because a college buddy didn't believe me when i said i hate nc bbq. i ended up reimbursing him for the meal to fulfill the bet we'd made, with my shattered claim laying by the wayside. I now love nc bbq at the right places, but nothing can top or even match this place, even despite the mediocrity of the rest of the menu. it's probably a 2 hr drive from the triangle if you actually do the speed limit. with the new bypasses it takes like an hour and a half from durham going 10 over. i know it's not in the triangle, but if you're heading to the outer banks or something, it's worth a detour for the pure swine ecstacy you'll experience. i'll get back to you with the real name of the restaurant, but i guarantee it's in any of the forementioned bbq guides.

        1. Tom, you went to the right one. Don't bother with the other location.

          1. One thing I've noticed about the Allen and Son estabslishments in both CH and Pittsboro is that the bathrooms do not have locks. I wonder why this is? I mention it only as a curiosity.

            1. I'd recommend that you do yourself a BIG favor and try Bullock's, in Durham. CONSISTENTLY excellent, even if they don't burn logs.

              The absolute, hands-down, best BBQ I've had in North Carolina is at Wilber's, in Goldsboro. It's WELL worth the drive down Highway 70!

              1 Reply
              1. re: chimchim

                Sorry, gotta disagree on Bullocks. I love their fried chicken, and their family-style dinners are great, but the 'que is just decent. Certainly nothing worth making a special trip for.

              2. If you want great Brunswick stew in the Chapel Hill area, try The BBQ Joint out on Weaver Dairy Rd. in Chapel Hill. They are also my favorite place in the area for BBQ and they sometimes have brisket as well. I like Allen & Sons (on Old 86), too, but BBQ Joint has better hushpuppies and lots of great sides (try the brussel sprouts with bacon) and desserts (don't miss Billy's apple pie with cheddar crust or the Sweet Potato bread pudding), too. Plus, they have lots of chalkboard specials. They make their own sausages, and sometimes have beautiful pan-fried snapper or delicious Cajun or Creole specials. I eat there twice a week. As you can tell from what I've described, this is not a strictly traditional BBQ joint, but they do a great job. Call ahead if you want Brunswick Stew. They don't always have it, but it is worth making the trip for if they do. Bring friends because you'll want to order a lot!

                1. If taxidermied animals and leg hold traps offend your senibilities, I wouldn't go into a BBQ joint anywhere in the South!

                  Allen and Son's Chapel Hill location (which is really closer to Hillsborough) is excellent. And Bullock's Q isn't fit for human comsumption

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    LOL, harsh re: Bullock's que but I have to agree.