allen & son's obsession
Coming from Eastern NC, I can't really understand the Chowhound obsession with Allen & Son bbq in Chapel Hill. It's decent, but certainly not the best BBQ I've ever had. Is it just because there's nowhere else to get decent BBQ in the Triangle (which is like an NC pork black hole since it's largely populated by yuppies now)?
Yes. Although I'm not sure this is a new phenomenon or anything . . . I didn't grow up around here (though I've been here for 15 years), but near as I can tell, it's not like there's awesome BBQ either due north or due south of the Triangle, either. I think we're just too far west, or else too non-rural (and the Triangle area has been fairly non-rural for many decades now).
This isn't to suggest that Allen & Son isn't worthy of attention; it's good Q. But you're right: line it up directly adjacent to the best BBQ in the Rocky Mount/Wilson/Goldsboro area, and it'd hold its own, but would hardly be a standout.
I hear you on your issues with Allen and Sons. I like it well enough but it doesn't knock me out. Of course, I'm not a huge fan of Eastern NC que. I mean, it's tasty and all, but then again, it's made from pig so that should be a given. My issue is that there are about a million and one tasty things you can do with pig and Eastern NC que doesn't crack my top 20.
As for calling the triangle a pork black hole. Us "yuppies" are doing a lot of great things with pork, we're just not smoking it and covering it with vinegar. The menus of progressive upscale restaurants around here are loaded with great preparations of lesser known as well as common cuts of pork; bellies, jowls, cheeks, shanks, and of course, shoulders to name a few.
I'm not sure I agree with the "Chowhound obsession with Allen & Son". It seems to me that I read more negative comments than positive on here. That said, I'm definitely in the "obsessed" camp. It is the best Q I've ever had (and as an NC native, I've been to a lot, but certainly not all NC Q joints). For me, it is just amazingly good...every time I eat there I just fall in love with it all over again. The larger size of the pieces of meat, the perfect vinegary, spicy dip, the great smoke flavor...I just think its amazing.
I haven't been that pleased with either Allen & Son's, however the one on 15-501 seems to have less greasy bbq and definitely better service. Growing up in eastern NC, it's disappointing that the Raleigh area really doesn't have good, traditional vinegar based bbq. My picks for the best of what's available are: Holden's in Youngsville, Cooper's in Raleigh, and Hog Heaven in Durham. As a side note, the fried chicken at both Holden's and Hog Heaven is outstanding as well.