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Triangle BBQ

As much as I used to love Allen & Sons, I believe it to have slipped recently. The atmosphere at the pittsboro location (and to some extent the CH location) is still great, but I have to hand it to Barbecue Joint on weaver dairy rd for the best pulled pork in chapel hill. Also, can someone tell me what the big deal is about Bullock's? I thought their barbecue was too finely chopped and their sides sucked.

So what's your favorite triangle barbecue spot? I'd love to know about some great places I havent been to before. I live in georgia now but will be coming home soon and would love to show my girlfriend the best nc bbq i can. THANKS!

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  1. It truly pains me to see the way Bullock's is regularly dissed on this board....I've been going for 33 years (some of the waitresses have been there that long!), taken over two hundred people (literally) and have yet to have anyone be remotely disappointed. In fact, most out of town guests require a return visit when they come back to the Triangle. I agree their chopped BBQ is fairly lame and the sides aren't that great (though some love the fried okra) but I LOVE their sliced BBQ and must have a regular fix. If you haven't had the sliced BBQ at Bullock's, you really haven't been.....

    1. so I should go to bullocks just because the sliced bbq is good? (sliced and bbq in the same sentence, to me, conjures grotesque images)

      there has to be somewhere better than bullocks. aside from the sides/chopped sucking really hard, it's in a shitty neighborhood and the atmosphere is AWFUL to boot!

      Is bullocks really your favorite? Im looking for the best. I'll go far, but not as far as kinston or greensboro (from chapel hill)

      plus, your out-of-town guests were probably not impressed with bullocks, but with east nc BBQ in general! this shit is like GOLD, man! outsiders could eat the worst nc bbq and still want more, because let's face it, it is amazing. But I need the cream of the crop. I like bullocks, but theres got to be better out there

      1 Reply
      1. re: batdown

        For me, Bullocks is best with a big group of family or friends. Order family style around the table, and pig out on endless quantities of fried chicken, pulled pork, ribs, brunswick stew, hush puppies, coleslaw, green beans, french fries, and sweet tea.

        Sure there's better pulled pork in the triangle. Sure there's better fried chicken. But for the price and the the quantity, it really can't be beat. Plus I enjoy the old country family feel of the place.

      2. A& M Grill in Mebane has good BBQ, do not order anything else but the BBQ.

        1. When Allen & Sons is on top of its game, I think it is generally the best but I've had some less than stellar experiences there and so have to question consistency sometimes. I tend to agree about Bullocks from a bbq standpoint. The stuff is good--probably better than most--but tend to view dining there as observation / paying homage to a great institution more than getting the best bbq. My personal favorite without heading to Goldsboro is Stephenson's in McGee's Crossroads. I love the bbq and the atmosphere.

          1. thanks, I've never tried stephenson's. And I agree with you about Bullocks. I feel like the place is all history.

            Also Allen & Son's has awesome french fries. weird I know but true

            1. Coming from GA, especially if it's south GA, and you're looking for an alternative to NC-style BBQ, you may want to give Rub's in Morrisville a try. They make que in the style I was used to growing up in north Florida. That is, heavy smoke flavor with a tomato-based sauce. I really like Rub's sauce because it has a little bit of every flavor: salty, vinegary,sweet, and spicy. I know some people feel that sauce covers up the true flavor of barbeque. Well, whatever, I like my que with sauce and I think Rub's sauce enhances the barbeque, not covers it up.

              As for NC style barbeque, I live near and thus frequent both Allen & Son and the Barbeque Joint. I give the slight nod to Allen & Son because their que has more smoke flavor and it's more authentic. When Rachel Ray featured the Joint on her show she said they cooked their barbeqque by first smoking it in a gas burning pit with wood pellets and then finished in the oven. It still tastes good but that's just not authentic.

              1. I have had the "sliced" que at Bullocks and can attest to its quality. It's actually pulled and loosely cut as opposed to sliced, making it closer to the experience of tasting a pig while cooking it at a pig pickin. I do not recommend their standard que as it can be too finely chopped.

                I have not had any below average que at the BBQ Joint so I was surprised to hear the poor experience of McLaugh.

                I have had mixed experiences at Allen & Sons Chapel Hill location, but only good experiences at the Pittsboro location. Go figure.

                To me, there is no steller eastern style que west of Goldsboro, where the great stuff begins. From there Wilson, Ayden and Greenville comprise the heartland.

                Ideally you should go to the Newport Pig Cooking Contest at the end of March and make friends with some of the top competitors there. Once you get associated with them they are more than happy to get you into most of the pig pickins that they cater in exchange for a little beer and a serious interest in their craft. No restaurant can compare to the average pig pickin. A great one is an experience you'll never forget. If you're lucky, there'll be live bluegrass.

                6 Replies
                1. re: tablewines

                  I'm relatively new to these forums, so excuse me if this has been done already... but would anyone be interested in organizing a Triangle Chowhound pig pickin'? I've never been to a pig pickin', but would love to attend one and help out in any way possible. Approximately how many persons does it take to consume a whole pig? Just a thought...

                  1. re: SenorSuarez

                    Discussion about planning/organizing a local gathering is off topic for this board. The scope of the Chowhound regional boards is the discussion of where great chow can be found in any given locality. Chowhounds do occasionally organize group dining events, however, all planning, logistics, RSVP's, etc are conducted off the board.

                    Anyone is welcome to organize a local group dining event and announce it here (through a single posting, that must include an email address for all off board communication.)

                    Of course, after the fact reports of any "Chowdown" are welcome here.

                    1. re: SenorSuarez

                      You're looking at about fifty people minimum for a whole pig. If you get a smaller pig to accomodate fewer people, then you will get one with too little fat and the meat will not be moist enough. From what I have experienced, a pig between 80 and 100 pounds is ideal and will feed between 50-70 people, Chowhound people.

                      1. re: tablewines

                        According to the NC Pork Council, a 75-100 lb. dressed pig will yield about 70 servings. Their guideline is to allow about 1 1/2 lb. of carcass weight per person. Nahunta will, however, also sell half pigs.

                    2. re: tablewines

                      Yes finally someone telling the truth. The best eastern carolina BBQ is out east, what we are left with in the Triangle are good at best. Out of what is avialable my Favs are McDonalds on Old Poole Rd in Raleigh, A&M Grill in Mebane (the only BBQ joint that would not let Bob Garner film his NC BBQ show in the restaurant), Holden's in Youngsville. My first rule on BBQ is if you do not see a stack of wood in the parking lot it will not be anything special.

                      1. re: chazzer

                        FYI, A&M Grill has let Bob Garner film inside for NC Weekend on WUNC-TV, though.

                    3. Just in case some of you don't know, the two Alen & Sons locations do not share common ownership - and haven't for years and years.

                      The one in Chapel Hill is a log burner, and I agree that it can be inconsistent. When they are "on," it is among the very best, but when they are "off," you will regret the visit.

                      The one in Pittsboro cooks with gas, I believe, and is generally mediocre.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: brentk


                        Is it conventional wisdom that wood is highly variable and inconsistent? I've been to the Bynum/PBO Allen and Sons six or so times and never found the Q to be that big of a deal. My first visit to the Chapel Hill location, however, blew me away. Smoky, moist perfection.

                        1. re: peetoteeto

                          I've never heard that to be the case and, of all the BBQ joints I frequent Allen & Sons is the only one that I approach with the concern about whether I might be catching them on an off day.

                          I suspect it has to do with letting the BBQ lay around too long, but I don't know for sure.

                        2. re: brentk

                          , I went to the one in Pittsboro, not knowing about the different owners & it was deeply mediocre. The pork was dry, what a disappointment. I've avoided the one in Chapel Hill due to that.

                          1. re: Rory

                            Rory, I'd be interested in seeing if you fare better at the CH location, should you have the interest/inclination to give it a shot. I live three miles from the Bynum/PBO location and wish I were that close to the CH site. Or maybe not...this former vegetarian is packing on the pounds now that I've discovered NC BBQ!

                        3. I like Clyde Cooper's downtown. Old Time BBQ on Hillsbourgh heading to Cary is pretty good to. I live in Fuquay and Suttons in Angier is also very good. Granted if you head to Greenville, Wilson or Washington, NC there are better choices.

                          1. Well I think off I go to Barbeque Joint tomorrow & we'll see. I've been vegan/veg for 20 years do it by letting myself have 'que when I want!

                            1. I recently tried Dixie Belle's in Apex. It was very good and they are open daily.

                              1. Just back from the Barbeque Joint in Chapel Hill. I ordered a small tray: chopped pork, cornbread, pickles, cole slaw. I had a side of hushpuppies. My dad had the special: bbq brisket which had a light tomato based sauce on the hot side & had the above & ordered a side of baked beans.
                                I don't eat meat often, so when I do have it, it's a big treat & I have high expectations: My pork was moist with a delicate smoky flavour. I'm a convert to this vinegar based 'cue. First class, those pickles that fellow Chowhounders praised were excellent, crunchy, fresh, tangy. The slaw was vibrant too no mayonnaise dressing. Real crunch there. The hushpuppies were dry & crunchy & hot. I was impressed. They were delicious & so was the cornbread. I ate everything.
                                My dad, who's had 'cue in Kansas City, S. Carolina, Manhattan (okay he does like tomato based sauce..) said this was the best he ever had. His brisket was tender enough to cut with a fork but still had some chew to it. The sauce was not overpowering, & had some heat which I like. I make my own bbq sauce all the time (I put it over fake soy meat) so I'm fussy. His beans had that same great smoky flavour.
                                The counter guy was very helpful.. I had a nice dry pilsner to wash it down. We both loved this place, the top-flight food plus, I particularly appreciated the varied menu. I'm keen to try the crab cakes, the collards, bbq chicken. Someone is really cooking.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Rory

                                  Glad to hear you had a good experience at the 'Joint. I eat there regularly and have never been disappointed. Make sure to stop next door at the GBS for a tasty beverage next time.

                                  1. re: Rory

                                    Try their catfish, it's outstanding. And they make a lot of smoked/cured products in house: bacon, pastrami, tasso hand, andouille sausage. It's good stuff.

                                    Hey Rory, why do vegetarians try so hard to make soy lookand taste like meat? Never quite understood that paradox? :-)

                                  2. I have eaten there four or five times and am yet to try the barbeque.

                                    1. HI guys:
                                      I think the bbq joint is very smart, as now I can go a lot, instead of my 2x year treat.

                                      bbqme, the vegetarians I know are 90% for health, so they love fake meat...& they feel virtuous;-)
                                      Have you ever tried Chinese Buddhist vegetarian restaurants? They are famous for their fake: sea urchins, duck, chicken, beef, oysters & more! The Chinese monks really resented giving up meat & invented this cuisine. It's mind blowing. NY & Philly have some great ones.

                                      1. my favorite dish i had at one of these restos in ny was the "phony abalone"... and it tasted like real abalone, and with that name it's seared into my memory.