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mitchells bbq in wilson, nc

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  • lmccarthy Mar 31, 2004 12:59 PM
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i heard this place was excellent and ate here as i was passing trough on 95 north. the service was friendly, my meat with two sides was only $4.99. When i left they were really friendly and nice to us.

but...my pork ribs were just okay and the mac and cheese was so-so and the collards were ok. it wasn't like the way people talked about it being so great. maybe because i ate at lady and sons in savannah the night before? is it just a certain way of cooking that's N.C. style and people are particular to it? i like ribs so soft they're almost falling off the bone. these were a bit tough and kind of fatty.

of course, it is hard to beat $4.99.

just curious as to others' opinions on this matter.

also, i passed by parker's on the way back and it was packed. yet i was told mitchell's was way better and were were pretty much the only people in the place. that semed odd.

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  1. Well, ribs are not what this part of NC is known for. Wilson-style cue is chopped whole hog pork.

    We've always been Parker's fans. The family-style dinner -- cue, slaw, potatoes, corn sticks/hush puppies, and maybe limas? -- is a great deal. Fried chicken (not unlimited like the rest of the stuff) is included and when you get chicken fresh out of the Fryolators at Parker's it's hard to beat.

    Bill's has almost the exact same menu as Parker's. Locals go to one or the other.

    If you're really in a hurry get off 95 in Kenly, just south of Wilson, and get your cue and chicken at Moore's.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Bob W.

      Bob - glad to see someone else has eaten at Moores. As you said, pretty good if you are in a hurry.
      Did you ever eat at Bob Brown's BBQ in Selma when it was open years ago?

      1. re: raleighfoodlover

        Never made it to Bob Brown's, but I have tried that place in Smithfield that puts chopped pickles in the 'cue. I think it's called White Swan BBQ or something like that? Bob Garner discussed it in his first book.

        Can't say the pickles really did much for me.

        1. re: Bob W.

          I was disappointed in Mitchell's. We were passing though town--from my notes--we didn't like the hushpuppies (almost like a doughnut), the collards were mush, the tea was bitter. To be fair we arrived at the end of serving time. The chicken had a great smoke flavor but was dried out from sitting too long. We loved the sauce.
          Great rutabagas and great beans. How many places can you go and get rutabagas? White Swan has good barbecue (no smoke), good hushpuppies. Also had boiled potatoes, green beans. Fried chicken better than Holt Lake (also in Smithfield) but "ambience" better at Holts.

          1. re: Bob W.

            Yes, the Swan does put pickles in their slaw... not too crazy about it myself. Linwood Parker has opened a steak house next to the Swan, and it is pretty good too, if you like steak. Have you made it to Ken's down toward LaGrange yet? To me, their bbq is argueably the best in eastern NC.

            1. re: raleighfoodlover

              Unfortunately, when I get down to NC I'm flying down 95 or 85 and don't get east of 95 too often. Ken's and that place in Greenville (?) with no phone (B's?) are two I would love to try but just haven't gotten to yet.

              Of course, if the Swan covered its walls with pics of Smithfield native Ava Gardner, they could put whatever they wanted in the cue and at least the male customers might not notice.

              1. re: Bob W.

                True about Ava Gardner. She & my dad graduated from high school together; her brother was a former state representative and also owned a restaurant (now closed, good country style cooking though) in Smithfield.
                Haven't tried B's yet either, but everyone I have talked to about it says it is wonderful. To me, Pete Jones' Skylight Inn is over-rated. Certainly not the worst we've had, but not the best either - one of those take it or leave it places.
                McCall's BBQ & Seafood in Goldsboro is opening a place on Hwy. 70 in Clayton - construction has just begun so it will probably be fall before it is open. They have pretty good 'Q, but we always seem to end up at Wilber's (which is my all time favorite) unless it's Wednesday or Saturday morning, then we head on down to Ken's. You need to hit Ken's, it's worth making a trip for. BTW, do you live in the Raleigh area?

                1. re: raleighfoodlover

                  If I lived in Raleigh, believe you me I would have hit every decent cue joint in NC by now.

                  I'm up in Northern Virginia, where there is very little decent cue of any kind, never mind NC cue, although a funny little place called the Weenie Beenie does serve a commendable eastern NC cue sandwich, complete with little packets of Texas Pete.

                  What's your opinion of Nunnery-Freeman up in Norlina? I really like their sauce.

                  Finally, if you don't have one yet, get a copy of Jim Early's barbecue guide, The Best Tarheel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy.

                  Link: http://www.interestingideas.com/roads...

                  1. re: Bob W.

                    D#%n, man northern VA?.... once you get past the NC border on either side you're defintely struggling.
                    You do have a lifeline though which you may already know about: King's BBQ in Kinston has a toll free number & will ship 'que anywhere in the country. They call it the Oink Express... I'll try to get the number for you.
                    I have eaten at Nunnery - Freeman twice and liked it both times. I have a good friend who just relocated to Roanoke Rapids, so hopefully I'll get to eat there more often. There's a pretty good place over in Weldon called Ralph's that you should try as well. Also, if you get down toward Windsor, hit Bunn's. A very small, family owned place that still serves 'Que the way God intended it to be. Great cornbread squares too. Don't have Early's book yet but intend o get it. Do keep a copy of Garner's NC BBQ guide in each car so that when we travel we might be able to find a place we haven't hit yet. So far it's worked pretty good. If you absolutely have to have a fix quick you can always hit Smithfield's Chicken & BBQ. For the "McDonald's" of BBQ chains the quality is always consistent, fresh, hot & with a little of their sauce, not too bad for a chain.

                    1. re: raleighfoodlover

                      My brother raved about a place in Hanover Courthouse, Va., called Hound's Tooth where he always stops for barbecue. He goes out of his way to eat there. The only thing I found online said, "Small place. Go early or wait on the porch." I can recommend Jim Early's book--I am working my way though it one by one. Adds a lot of fun to every trip we take. We got to Ken's about 11:45 on a Sat. and shortly thereafter the line was out the door with people waiting for a table. Good barbecue but I thought their coleslaw was tad too sweet though it was nice and fresh.

                      Has anyone eaten at BJ's which is right before Ken's? I noticed a barbecue sign. Also has anyone eaten at Grandpa's on Rt. 58 between Snow Hill and Wilson? It also had a sign for barbecue.
                      So many places, so little time!

                      1. re: raleighfoodlover

                        My brother raved about a place in Hanover Courthouse, Va., called Hound's Tooth where he always stops for barbecue. He goes out of his way to eat there. The only thing I found online said, "Small place. Go early or wait on the porch." I can recommend Jim Early's book--I am working my way though it one by one. Adds a lot of fun to every trip we take. We got to Ken's about 11:45 on a Sat. and shortly thereafter the line was out the door with people waiting for a table. Good barbecue but I thought their coleslaw was tad too sweet though it was nice and fresh.

                        Has anyone eaten at BJ's which is right before Ken's? I noticed a barbecue sign. Also has anyone eaten at Grandpa's on Rt. 58 between Snow Hill and Wilson? It also had a sign for barbecue.
                        So many places, so little time!

                        1. re: panski

                          I apologize for the repeats. I was attempting to get back to the board--I will be more careful in the future.

                          1. re: panski

                            pass by Grandpas every week going to the beach never heard if its any good...Snowhill is starting to grow...will be interested if anyone responds....

                          2. re: raleighfoodlover

                            The number to King's Barbeque "OINK EXPRESS" barbeque shippng is 1-800-322-OINK. They will ship it anywhere.

                            1. re: raleighfoodlover

                              King's BBQ
                              Order Online from the "Oink Express"

                              Link: http://www.kingsbbq.com

            2. r

              Parker's is an institution in Wilson, and had you stopped there you probably would have been pleased with your meal. A true eastern NC BBQ restaurant, Parker's menu is limited to Eastern NC style chopped BBQ pork (vinegar & crushed red pepper based sauce), fried or BBQ chicken, slaw, brunswick stew, BBQ boiled potatoes, and some seafood items. Suprisingly, the fried oysters are quite good. The BBQ items listed above are pretty much staples of most BBQ restaurants in eastern NC.

              Mitchell's serves the buffet style menu that pretty much covers the spread of what one might consider "soul food" moreso than just a traditional BBQ restaurant. We have dined at Mitchell's on several occasions; I normally get fried chicken and pork BBQ with various sides. While not quite as good as Parker's, it certainly is way better than most western NC BBQ that I have eaten. I have tried their pork ribs and found them to be fair, but nothing outstanding. The BBQ chicken is good. Their prices, and the variety of food choices available, are hard to beat. Generally when we have been there it has been about half to 3/4 full; it is usually packed on Sunday after church. Certainly it doesn't compare to Lady & Sons in any way, shape or fashion. That is a hard stick to measure up to for almost any southern restaurant. However, for the Wilson area, Mitchell's is pretty good.

              Whenever I want a traditional eastern NC BBQ plate that is consistently good, Parker's is where I go because it is close to my home. If I have time to travel, there are other places in eastern NC that I prefer to eat BBQ at. Although Parker's cooks over gas now and not a true BBQ pit as they originally did, their BBQ is argueably the best in the Wilson area. It would be worth your while to stop there on your next trip. For other good NC BBQ places, check some of the previous threads below this one.

              1. I have to agree with Bob W and raleighfoodlover about Mitchell's - the bbq is decent, but Eastern NC has never really been known for its ribs. Both Parker's and Bill's (I'm a strong Parker's adherent) have fantastic barbecue, but what does it for me is Parker's fried chicken. It can't be beat.

                1. Ditto on Parker's. I've been going there since the early 80's (when I lived in Selma, NC) and them along with Smithfield BBQ were a Sunday after church treat. (Along w/sausage Biscuits at Bojangle's)

                  1. Okay, I'll have to post a vote for Bill's fried chicken. Combined with the whole hog on the buffet, and phenomenal selection of sides, the fried chicken puts me over the top. Or let's just say that if you eat at Parkers or Bill's, you will be full and very happy.

                    1. I've lived in eastern NC since '94 and we are blessed with a variety of bbq joints. Based on a consensus of my friends and colleagues, here's how they stack up:

                      Parkers (Wilson and Greenville, NC): BBQ is decent, sides are good, fried chicken is outstanding. Parkers has a tendency to add too much fat and skin back into the chopped meat. For those who aren't familiar with BBQ, adding these back in small amounts is OK since it gives the meat a better texture, but there are those who would argue that point. Parkers is where we go when we some BBQ fast or we have a pack of wild screaming children in tow (usually the former AND the latter). It's not the best and it's not the worst.

                      Skyline BBQ: Very obviously trading on their pedigree. If I want cold BBQ (and I don't mean lukewarm, I mean COLD) I'll eat it straight out of the refrigerator. Whoever wrote in his book that Skyline was the best eastern NC BBQ must have caught them on a good day (very rare).

                      Wilber's (in Goldsboro): Outstanding BBQ (and southern-style breakfast!). Good sides, easy to get to on US Hwy 70. You cannot go wrong with Wilber's. Good wood-fired BBQ, authentic and tasty!

                      Kings: Buffet BBQ. Decent (along the same caliber as Bill Ellis' or Parker's). Sides are hit and miss. If you like buffets or want the option of pulled vs. chopped pork, Kings is a good bet. Kings is also easy to get access on US Hwy 70 in Kinston.

                      Boss Hoggs BBQ (Washington, NC): Good BBQ, but some would argue that Boss Hoggs is more of a Lexington-style BBQ. At either rate, it ranks high on the list. Sides are delicious (try the lattice cornbread and collards) and you get your choice of vinegar or tomato-based sauce. Many locals order their Thanksgiving/Christmas collards from Boss Hoggs in lieu of enduring the pain and suffering associated with cooking them at home. Either way, this is good BBQ. Period.

                      B's Barbecue: Considered by locals to be the finest pork BBQ in eastern NC. Many people recognize B's because they are always showcased by ESPN when East Carolina University hosts nationally-televised football games. But understand, B's BBQ doesn't get a big head about it and cater to tourists and out-of towners. B's is located in a ramshackle old block building with a raggedy screen door on the front, and it's quite normal to see a line standing outside the door whether it's 20 degrees outside or 95 degrees. Most folks realize it doesn't matter because it's always about 90 degrees inside the restaurant. The parking lot will hold a total of about 10 cars, so most folks just park up and down NC Hwy 43 and walk down the ditch bank to get to the restaurant. B's is a eastern NC institution; when people dream of the "hole-in-the-wall" joint by the side of the road, it's B's BBQ. restaurant is only open for lunch and (like Wilber's) they only cook a specific amount of BBQ each day. And when it's gone, it's gone. Oh yeah, if you want to experience a true, old-fashioned BBQ joint, you'd better swing by Greenville soon. The State of NC is currently widening NC Hwy 43 and B's location will be included in this project. The state is buying the property and the building is slated for demolition. Once the original location is closed, the owners have stated (much to the dismay of us locals) that they will not reopen in another location. So the moral of this story is that "when it's gone, it's gone."

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: bunky1998

                        The last four visits to skylight were spectacular and the barbecue was not cold. Out of curiosity, why did you revive a four year old post about a defunct restaurant? Also, when you say "this is how they stack up", in what order are you stacking them?

                        1. re: bunky1998

                          I'm not sure how the bbq at the Skylight could be cold when they chop it right in front of you and serve it practically right from the chopping block? I've always gone at regular meal time...maybe that's why I've always had a positive experience.

                          1. re: JayL

                            I go there at odd hours* much of the time, and I've never had cold barbecue. They do enough volume to go through whatever is out on the chopping block pretty quickly.

                            *Middle of the afternoon and just before closing, typically.

                        2. As a rule, if you're at a barbecue place adn you aren't eating the same thing as everyone else, you're making a mistake. The local specialty is what's best. Skip ribs in NC, skip pork in TX.. If you really want ribs in Wilson, go to Bill's and pull the ribs out of the whole hog they have on the buffet every day.
                          Io doont' beleive nay of the places in Wislon cook over wood, and this definitely costs them something. That said, the barbecue at Parker's tastes good, as does the fired chicken there. The corn sticks are the real star. They are worth a visit all by themselves

                          1. any updates on bbq in wilson

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jpr54_1

                              From the WRAL website:

                              BBQ pit master Mitchell to open new restaurant in Durham
                              By Kathy Hanrahan

                              Published: 2013-05-14 17:53:00
                              Updated: 2013-05-16 14:46:14

                              Posted: May 14
                              Updated: May 16

                              Durham, N.C. — Ed Mitchell, the barbecue pit master who helped bring national attention to The Pit in Raleigh, is opening a new restaurant this fall at American Tobacco Campus in Durham, ATC announced Tuesday.

                              1. re: JTomWilson

                                Durham and Wilson are 75 miles from each other...