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Charlotte BBQ

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I'll be visiting Charlotte for a few days and was looking forward to some Carolina barbeque, but most folks on the board say there isn't any good BBQ in Charlotte! However, some of those posts were a couple of years old. Have things improved any?

Or are there other places 20 miles or less away that would be better than anything in town? I'm also driving to Raleigh on Sunday so anything on the way there would be good. Thanks!

Paul

P.S. I read some posts about the importance of actual wood smoking, etc. That's what I want. I'm a Yankee, so I need help...

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  1. Charlotte has NO good Q. Barely passable...maybe.

    The Sunday drive is also a problem as most Q places close on Sunday. I don't do Sunday travel either so Google is your friend.

    There might be a place open in Lexington on Sunday, probably your best bet.

    Places to NOT go...
    Charlotte...Bubba's I-77 @ Sunset RD, if you must get the stew plate not the Q
    Spoon's South Blvd, went to elementery school, jr high and high school w/ the second generation and it still stinks...sorry Steve.
    Blast it...any Q place in Charlotte sucks, and I'm a Charlotte native.
    Gary's in China Grove
    Porkey's in China Grove is still a wood burner and fairly good
    Interstate in Burlington
    Hursey's in Burlington is OK but not great. Again go for the stew.
    options
    Allen & Sons in Chapel Hill is great but dollars to donuts they are closed on Sunday.

    Good news...Bridges in Shelby is only thirty minutes away on hwy 74 off I-85 and well worth the drive.

    1 Reply
    1. re: michael b

      You might want to give Mac's a try. It's on South Blvd, not too far from downtown. They cook using wood in a commercial smoker and the result is pretty decent. They are open on Sundays.

    2. r
      raleighfoodlover

      To show the varying degrees of like/dislike of bbq, not only in Charlotte, but all over NC as well:

      Bill Spoons on South Blvd. is normally pretty good - Eastern NC style, with vinegar based sauce. We used to travel from Hickory to Charlotte at least once a month to eat there.

      Bubbba's is okay as well.

      Couldn't care less for either of the Bridges' places or Allen & Son's.

      2 Replies
      1. re: raleighfoodlover

        Spoon's...I wouldn't feed to my dog.

        Bridge's and Allen & Sons are some of the best in the south. Right up there w/ Stamey's and Lex # 1. Check the ratings on the net. Spoon's gets three grease stains on www.hollyeats.com while te others get five. you decide. Mai's Japanse place is 400 M down on the right from Spoon's and is much better food. Spoon's is a six on a ten point scale.

        1. re: raleighfoodlover

          i must humbley disagree

          NO I must say BS

          Spoons is crap. Bubba's is crap.

          Bridges and and Allen & sons is in another league from he crap offered in Charlotte

        2. The only wood cooked barbecue in Charlotte is found at the Hickory House on N. Tryon St. It's so-so at best. Troutman's Barbecue in Concord may still be good. I haven't been in several years. Glenn's Barbecue in Kannapolis is a log burner and can be good. Or not...

          A Sunday drive to Raleigh offers a couple of possibilities. Most barbecue joints in NC are closed on Sundays. Jimmy's Barbecue in Lexington is an exception. They're located just off I-85 on NC Hwy 8. Clark's Barbecue in Kernersville, NC will also be open. They're on NC Hwy 66 off of I-40 between Winston Salem and Greensboro. I prefer Clark's. On a bad day, they're really good. On a good day, they are as good as any place in the state.

          1. Try the SmokeHouse on Wilkingson Blvd.

            For a commerical joint, better than all the other places around town.

            1. I eat BBQ all over the country when I travel. BBQ in Charlotte does not suck. No it is not like eating at Bill's out in Wilson, but their is good BBQ.

              Bubba's is far from "crap". If you like Eastern NC style then you will like it. He pulls all the fat from the pork. If you are driving in the area it is worth a visit.

              Just North of Bubba's in Mooresville is Lancasters. It too is Eastern NC style and worth a visit.

              Spoons is not bad but catching them open is another thing all together. Spoons is also Eastern NC style.

              If you like ribs you will find none better than what you can get at Smokey Bones in north Charlotte off WT Harris Blvd. Their pulled pork is also pretty good. I suggest the combo plate of baby back ribs and pulled pork. They also offer memphis style ribs AND you can get a brisket as well. It is a bit nicer establishment than most BBQ houses, but don't let that fool you.

              The only other BBQ place in charlotte worth eating at is Arts.

              Stay as far away from Sonny's as you can.

              If you are in Shelby Bridges is good eating. I suggest going into town and eating at Alston Bridges on Grover St. It is better than Bridges Barbecue Lodge out on 74.

              7 Replies
              1. re: dale

                I must humbly disagree that there is any decent Q in Charlotte. I wouldn't eat the pork at Bubba's if it was free. Same thing for Spoon's. Old Hickory is a seven on a ten point scale. The other two don't even make a five.

                When "Duck" ran Ole Original on Camp Greene St the was great stuff in town but he's been gone for more than ten years. Shelby and Lexington are just too close to put up w/ or eat the Q in Charlotte.

                I was born in Charlotte, went through my first twelve years of school there, returned after college and wish it wasn't so but then again its just my opinion. Great Japanese, soul, French and German food Charlotte's got but BBQ, sorry.

                1. re: michael b

                  Methinks you are too generous with Old Hickory!

                  1. re: brentk

                    You're probably right.

                    My better half saw some of the earlier posts and closed the beer chest.

                    Her comments ran along the lines of "You'd eat in the Waffle House down from Bubba's before eating in Bubba's and so would I" to "You'd give someone a twenty for gas to get to Lexington before recommending a Q place in Charlotte"

                    I truely wish it wasn't so but there is not a single good, much less great, Q place in Charlotte. Maybe this is a business opportunity...nah I don't want to work that hard. The ones here just aren't worth serving to my dog. Charlotte Q places are on par with places in Cleveland (I actually broke out w/ laughter at a Q place friends in Cleveland took me to for dinner) or Madison, Wisconsin. We're in the middle of it and have none of it worth eating.

                    There is not a single Q place in Charlotte I would got to if it was free. Sonny's, Bubba's, Carolina's, Art's, Old Hickory (I do like their chicken, but is that Q?), Herlocker's, Smokey Bones, and that little place on the right on Beatty's Ford road north of 85 before you get to Sunset Rd. are all just ...well...crap. Sorry, just the way I feel.

                    1. re: michael b

                      I agree with you to a point.

                      I would separate Bill Spoon's from the pack. Not so much that the BBQ is that good - it isn't - but because the place has the feel of a real BBQ joint. It's the closest thing Charlotte has to the real thing so it is where I would take an out-of-towner if we didn't have time to drive to Lexington.

                      Have you tried Mack's yet. While it isn't Carolina BBQ, the product is OK and they have one of the best beer selections in Charlotte. Since I don't care for lagers, by and large, there are very few places I can get a decent beer in Charlotte, so Mack's, Mellow Mushroom and, to a lesser extent, Brixx and Wing Stop, fit the bill when I want a quick meal with a good beer.

                      I have not eaten at Gone Hog Wild, but I tasted their BBQ at the Brews Blues and BBQ festival last year. If they serve the same stuff at their restaurant, that should be OK as well.

                      Neither Gone Hog Wild or Mack's fit the bill as BBQ joints, however, so I agree that you just need to hop in the car and head to Lexington to get the real thing.

                      1. re: brentk

                        Never have cared for Spoon's. Went all through my first twelve years of school w/ founder's son and they lived five doors down from us the whole time. I don't think they have anything to do w/ it anymore. The Q they cooked at home was exceptional but the stuff in the restaurant never tripped my trigger.

                        Gone Hog Wild is an interesting little place. Started as catering only and then put in two large tables in the front of the place. They put so much "juice" back on the meat or it picks it up in a steamer that the meat is swimming in it. I've eaten there four or five times but would get the stew if I went back.

                        Since Patout's Bistro is 200 ft away, Rheinland house is twenty feet away and Ru San's sushi bar is 100 ft away it's hard to eat at Hog Wild.

                  2. re: michael b

                    michael b, I drive the 20 or so miles for the Hickory House bbq about once a month. Your comment about the Old Original brought back a few memories, as I worked across the street during college and we ate there often. But do you remember the joint next door, the Greene Street Grill, corner of Wilkinson & Camp Greene? Those were hamburgers, my friend. And the cold draft wasn't bad either. Is there an equivilent to the Greene Street Grilll in Charlotte now?

                  3. re: dale

                    I agree with you, dale. I used to work at IBM Charlotte and I ate at almost all the barbecue joints in Charlotte while I was there. Bubba’s gets my vote for the best barbecue joint in Charlotte. I always enjoyed eating at Bubba’s. It may not be outstanding, but the food is plenty good. I will go back next time that I am in Charlotte.

                    Link: http://www.bubbasbbq.com/

                  4. I eat BBQ all over the country when I travel. BBQ in Charlotte does not suck. No it is not like eating at Bill's out in Wilson, but there is good BBQ.

                    Bubba's is far from "crap". If you like Eastern NC style then you will like it. He pulls all the fat from the pork. If you are driving in the area it is worth a visit.

                    Just North of Bubba's in Mooresville is Lancasters. It too is Eastern NC style and worth a visit.

                    Spoons is not bad but catching them open is another thing all together. Spoons is also Eastern NC style.

                    If you like ribs you will find none better than what you can get at Smokey Bones in north Charlotte off WT Harris Blvd. Their pulled pork is also pretty good. I suggest the combo plate of baby back ribs and pulled pork. They also offer memphis style ribs AND you can get a brisket as well. It is a bit nicer establishment than most BBQ houses, but don't let that fool you.

                    The only other BBQ place in charlotte worth eating at is Arts.

                    Stay as far away from Sonny's as you can.

                    If you are in Shelby Bridges is good eating. I suggest going into town and eating at Alston Bridges on Grover St. It is better than Bridges Barbecue Lodge out on 74.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dale

                      I lived in Memphis most of my life before moving to Charlotte. There is no good barbeque, ribs, shoulder, or otherwise, in Charlotte. I have to go back to Memphis to get anything work eating.

                      Stay away from Smokey Bones if you truly like barbeque and aren't just looking for barbeque flavored food. This is a very large national chain.

                      1. re: DRawlins

                        some here in NC would say Memphis bbq is not worth eating.... not me personally, but I have heard it said.

                        1. re: mcap

                          As a native North Carolinian who lived in Memphis but is back in NC now, amyone who says "Memphis bbq is not worth eating" has never to Memphis!

                        2. re: DRawlins

                          You don't have to go all the way to Memphis for good 'cue...there may or may not be any good bbq in Charlotte proper, but there definitely is plenty of outstanding NC-style bbq within an hour or less of Charlotte. I sincerely hope you aren't dissing all NC 'cue.

                      2. good Q in Charlotte is hard to find
                        but try these three
                        McKoy's Smoke House and Saloon
                        Macs Speed Shop
                        and Gone Hog Wild
                        all pretty good - listed in Best first order

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                          The problem with barbecue in Charlotte is manifold. There is little barbecue heritage left there. Blackwelder's and Old Original are long gone. Brick pits that are capable of producing real barbecue are now outlawed by your friendly EPA-protecting us from the environmental horrors of pit cooked barbecue...Add to that, there aren't that many native North Carolinians left in Charlotte, and we arrive at the point where Mac's is the best "barbecue" in town. Old Hickory House is grandfathered in for cooking over wood. Too bad they're merely OK on a good day. Face the facts, folks. Great, REAL barbecue will never again be commercially available in Charlotte. According to my parents who lived there in the late '50's, it was never that great, even back then. If you want the good stuff, go to Salisbury, Lexington or Shelby.

                        2. Paul,

                          If you are in or going through Lexington, then that is obviously the place to eat for BBQ. Pick one there - it will be good. Or better yet, hit a few of them and get small plates to share and compare.

                          If you are going to be in Charlotte and want some BBQ and a good time, go to Mac's on South Blvd. The place is fun, the beer selection is great, and the pulled pork plate is pretty good.

                          Is it "authentic" backwoods, hillbilly BBQ? No. But neither are you, so would you really know the difference?

                          1. Well, this one has been beaten to death, but if you can't go to Lexington for BBQ, there are many places in Charlotte to have a great meal and none of them are BBQ.
                            Mac's is decent, but not worth sending an out-of towner there; it really is nothing special.
                            Paul, any other cuisines that you are a fan of? We have some good soul food--Mert's uptown comes to mind.

                            1. Three words: Macs Speed Shop. Done. BBQ is amazing, brisket is to die for, and ribs are smokylicious.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: beanryboy

                                Welcome to Chowhound. I hope you will be able to find some more recent posts to reply to. However, I must respectfully disgaree with your assessment of Mac's bbq. Its ok, but hardly amazing.

                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                  Gotta agree with my fellow Dawg there. Mac's is OK.

                              2. By far one the most controversial posts I have ever made.... but here it goes.

                                I totally jones for the BBQ place in the Charlotte Airport.

                                There, I said it. And I am OK with it. I try and plan my flights in and out so I can either get lunch or dinner....