HOME > Chowhound > General South Archive >


Pulled Pork in Eastern North Carolina?

The last week of August will find me in the Outer Banks on North Carolina with family. Was figuring to spend a day going around Eastern Carolina trying variations on pulled pork bbq.

Looking for Chowhounders for some guidance as to where might be good places to try. Where should I go? If there are other places or foods along the way worth trying, can give them a shot too.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Not sure you're really going to have time to accomplish that. Where on the Outer Banks will you be exactly? You'll most likely be at least 2 or 3 hours from any of the well known BBQ places, which are themselves fairly spread out. Maybe hitting one or two on your way to OB would be a better idea. If you do a search here you'll find more information...this is a somewaht controversial topic. Some of the options are B's in Greenville, Skylight Inn in Ayden, Parker's in Wilson (I think?).

    4 Replies
    1. re: carolinadawg

      I highly recommend Bum's and Skylight Innin Ayden but it's probably at least 1.5 -2 huors to the Outer Bbanks from there. Bunn's in Windsor is excellent as well.

      1. re: carolinadawg

        Are there no well established or worthy BBQ places on the outer banks?

      2. The North Carolina BBQ Society has published a BBQ trail that lists some of the top BBQ restaurants.


        1. The NCBBQsociety misses some of the good ones, like Clyde Coopers in Raleigh, and Holdens in Youngsville/Wake Forest.

          http://hkentcraig.com/BBQ.html has a website that is slowly going out of date, alas, but was pret-ty accurate in its day. He even is willing to admit that there IS barbeque (not just edible, mind you, but real barbeque at all) west of Durham, which except for the exception of Short Sugars, I am not. If people in Memphis & Texas and Lexington, NC want to claim they have real bbq that's fine, but I won't admit it, stubborn as I am.

          The best barbeque in the 21st century you can't even get anymore, it was Mitchell's in Wilson.

          And with this being searchable on these boards, that is my absolute last comment on NC Barbeque for at least a year.

          11 Replies
          1. re: fussycouple

            The NC BBQ society trail is focused on wood-burners, which Coopers, at least, is not.

            Since you are 100% correct about Mitchell's (RIP), I can only assume you're joking about H. Kent Craig, author of this infamous screed: http://web.archive.org/web/2003060500...

            A review so wrong-headed that he recently took it down (without repudiating it, mind you -- he just replaced it with a note about how he was no longer going into detail over his 1-pig reviews).

            1. re: rossgrady

              Anyone who loves Bullock's and hates Allen and Son has no credibility (sp?) with me!

              1. re: rossgrady

                Ross, you are the man. Surely you must be a former Scout because you are always prepared. What a great link! That's a screed that loses credibility by virtue of its vitriol.

                I don't get Cooper's in Raleigh. I didn't think it was that great. Wilbur's in Goldsboro was rock solid. With regard to the OP, North Carolina is a very large state and the good 'cue is distributed. With more info as to his location, we can provide more suggestions. Otherwise, he's best off to go to the nearest outpost on the BBQ Trail.

                1. re: rossgrady

                  Holden's isn't a wood-burner either. You're right about Craig's review. There appears to be more at issue than the food...

                  1. re: Hushpuppy

                    The thing with Cooper's is that it is the best within Raleigh. No it is not wood cooked and no it is not as good as Wilbur's, skylight or the late and great Mitchell's, but it is the best us poor folks in Raleigh have. And when I want BBQ and do not want to spend more then 20 minutes in my car it is just fine. And you have to admit that notwithstading sky lights dome it is the coolist looking BBQ joint around.

                    1. re: chazzer

                      Oh, I meant no disrespect of Cooper's; anyplace that has managed to survive virtually unchanged right smack dab in the center of the Downtown Raleigh Theme Park for that long deserves mad props. I was merely pointing out that the NC BBQ Trail, as it stands now, is wood-centric, and that's why Cooper's didn't make the list.

                    2. re: Hushpuppy

                      Since when is Holden's not a wood-burner? It was, at least according to the Bob Garner book from a few years back.

                  2. re: fussycouple

                    Wait, what happened to Mitchell's in Wilson? I've been out of NC for a number of years, living in the NY area now, but he was just at the Big Apple BBQ festival in NYC recently wasn't he?

                    and no, in case you're gonna ask, I have yet to find satisfactory BBQ in the North. *sigh*

                    one more note, B's is still the best I've ever had.

                    1. re: TarheelYankee

                      My husband is in Wilson frequently for business, Mitchell's was his favorite. It's no longer there due to gambling and tax problems. Check out King's (they ship) in Kinston, it is FAR better then Wilbur's, IMHO. My husband has this ongoing thing with a rather large customer of his in Memphis (it's a shipping business) on the best BBQ, we've used King's to prove the point-we win on pulled pork, they win on ribs (Rendezvous).

                      1. re: hipquest

                        Wow, I had no idea! Thanks for the info about Mitchell's... I get to NC every couple of months as my family's still down there, I usually try to get a smoked pork butt to bring back with me, smoked on a pig cooker by a guy who's a local BBQ name near Lake Gaston, I pull it off the butt myself and separate it into a few containers, freeze it and bring it back north with me. (and I use a secret Eastern NC BBQ sauce that I make myself...hehe)

                        Have you or your husband had B's? It's just on the outskirts of Greenville. They put most well known places to shame... when they run out of BBQ they made that morning (usually run out mid-late morning) they close for the rest of the day.

                        I've never had King's before, surprisingly, since I dated a guy from Kinston when I was attending ECU.

                  3. I like Whitley's in Murfreesboro, but give them a call... the hours are somewhat limited: (252) 398-4884
                    Parker's in Greenville
                    Bunn's in Windsor... good q but the cornbred was awful
                    And farther west, but serving eastern style is my favorite place in all of NC: Barbeque Joint in Chapel Hill.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: winstondawg

                      Obviously your bbq taste is quite different than many true North Carolinians, especially those in eastern NC, bless your heart. Whitley's is good, Bunn's is the best of those you mentioned and their cornbread is excellent - perhaps you've been mislead as to what constitutes good cornbread, too. Parker's in Greenville is good, but isn't anywhere near as good as the original in Wilson.

                      BBQ Joint is fair, but their sides are what carries the place.

                    2. Two years ago I had a fairly good bbq in Nags Head. I believe the place was called "Sooey's. It lo

                      1. depending on where in the outer banks you are going, it's worth a detour to the Skylight Inn in Ayden. The place is unique and the barbecue is great, tho sad to say, the other things on the short menu (like the cornbread) aren't so great.

                        We stop there on our way down from NYC to Emerald Isle every year. This NC native has to get her BBQ fix! And no, there ain't no place in NYC that does good chopped BBQ the way I like it. And I'm always looking.

                        Otherwise, I think we've done both B's and King's at least once, and both are good. The cue is not as good as skylight inn, but the other stuff is way better.

                        1. On your way to the Outer Banks, if you're driving through Currituck County, Currituck BBQ on Highway 158 is great...and they have several different sauces to satisfy your craving. If you're vacationing on the south banks...Bubba's does a pretty good job and if you're in Corolla, in the north, Village BBQ next to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla Village is not to be missed.

                          Happy BBQ Chow eating!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: SweetPhyl

                            we did Bubba's in Frisco on the way back from a killer fishing trip off Hatteras last summer... very pleased, considering we're from NJ and rarely find good Q... we're off to Emerald Isle next week, considering a side trip to Skylight Inn or just a run to either Big Oak in Salter Path, Roland's in Beaufort or White Swan in Atlantic Beach... any thoughts?

                            1. re: aklein

                              That's a big side trip to the Skylight Inn but if you love Eastern NC style BBQ, it's like a trip to Mecca. You can also stop by Bum's in the same town for some of the best southern style veggies on the planet - rutabagas and collards are a must.

                              Skylight's food doesn't travel well as the cracklin gets mushy after a day, but at Bum's you can stock up on food to take with you to Emerald Isle.

                              I like Big Oak in Salter Path for lunch, but cannot comment on the other places. For a nice dinner in Beaufort, I highly recommend Blue Moon Bistro.

                              1. re: brentk

                                thanks... blue moon is on our hitlist already... was checking the map and might just do skylight on the way in or out, since I can justify that run north of Kinston to 95...

                          2. Has anyone been to Grady's in Dudley? It's on the NC BBQ Trail (thanks for posting that, Chazzer!), and vaguely on the way to Jacksonville, where I'm headed this weekend, so I figure worth the adventure. If anyone else has any suggestions for 'cue off Rt. 70, I'm listening...

                            1. Sorry for not responding sooner. Thanks for all the suggestions! Yeah, I am realizing that OB is sort of far from a lot of the recommendations based on your feedback.

                              I will be in Corolla so SweetPhyl's recommendations in the area will be easy to get to. Will be getting to OB via SE Virginia so will surely hit Currituck BBQ. Will look into Sooey's in Nags Head to see if it is still around.

                              From the replies, seems like there are a good number of places in the Rocky Mount/Greenville/Wilson area, so will build up an appetite and try to make a day trip out there from OB.

                              Pulled Pork, here I come! Will try to post up what I find if I am not too lethargic from eating too much! I leave tomorrow for a week - will check in again in a few days to see if there are any more recommendations.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: neofood

                                You're most likely to find chopped pork in eastern NC. Some spots may serve sliced, but real pulled pork isn't that common anywhere in NC. (Unfortunately...)
                                Still really good stuff. And yes, barbecue can absolutely make you ready for a nap! I can't resist nodding off after a tray of barbecue and a slab of cornbread from the Skylight Inn.

                                1. re: Hushpuppy

                                  ksherk - Ken's Grill in LaGrange gets great reviews - only has Q on Wed. and Sat. get there early from what I'm told. Heard good things about Branch's in Mount Olive and Grady's as well. Bob Garner reviews him in his book.

                                  I struck out again at B's in trying to get their chicken last weekend. Did get a sandwich from B's and Skylight Inn and sides from Bum's so the trip wasn't a waste.

                                  1. re: steveindurham2

                                    Thanks, I'll remember that for next time!

                                    We did hit Grady's on the way there, and even though they were closing up, Gerry Grady still fixed us up with some 'cue and cole slaw. She's very sweet, and worth it just to chat with her. The 'cue...well, my friend and I have a disagreement. I think the pork is better at Allen & Son's, but I loved her peppery vinegary sauce. My friend thought the opposite. Clearly we will have to go back and try again!

                              2. there is a sooey's in Corolla also.... not very good. better q can be had at corolla bbq in the historic village. It is a little dry but once they put the slaw and texas pete on it is it pretty good. a far better smoke flavor than Sooey's bland tasting version.
                                of course inland at Skylight, or Bunn's you will find the prime q.

                                1. Ok, here are the details of the tour. I ended up going to seven places but only trying six (as one was closed). I focused solely on the BBQ Pork Sandwich. Because I flew into Richmond, I stopped at two places in Virginia along the way to serve as contrast. And the remainder were in North Carolina. I was not able to get as far west as the Rocky Mount, NC area which I wanted to though - maybe next time.

                                  Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que
                                  Lightfoot, VA (off of I-64 just north of Williamsburg) 757-565-2955
                                  They have been here since 1971, and I have visited them before when I was living in the area. The place was very busy with the lunch crowd. They have a pretty large smoker next to the restaurant. Their BBQ Sandwich (Jumbo $3.95/Reg. $3.65) packs a lot of tangy flavor and rich smokiness for Tennessee-style BBQ. Cole slaw optional. Gotta say that this was a great way to start this tour. Wanted to get some more, but I had two more joints to hit that day.

                                  Norfolk, VA (not far from Downtown on Monticello Ave between 19/20th) 757-627-4163
                                  I wouldn't really call this place a BBQ joint, but worth a visit. Has been an institution in Norfolk for over 100 years (and it looks that way too). It does offer the old-fashion drive-in curb service still. I went inside to order. The guy behind the counter seemed annoyed and impatient that I needed to look at the menu to order (hmmm, must have a lot of regulars). Their minced pork sandwich ($2.00-$3.80) comes with slaw (hot sauce optional) - seemed like a standard BBQ sandwich. Not impressed but not really disappointed either. They do offer interesting options for the sandwich - lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese, and double meat. Go for their ice cream in their homemade cones or their shakes instead if you want something good. If there is a next time for me here, I want to try their Taylor Pork Roll, "a gourmet's processed pork, sliced and grilled" - sounds interesting.

                                  Currituck BBQ
                                  Barco, NC (4467 Caratoke Hwy - Rt 158) 252-453-6618
                                  As recommended by SweetPhyl, I stopped at this place on the way to OBX. For a joint that has been around for only about a year and does a hickory-smoked bbq, their pulled pork is pretty moist and is fairly flavorful. They take a more democratic approach, and leave the sauces to you. I am not a big fan of this approach for just one visit, but trying the 5-6 different sauces with the pulled pork sandwich (Jumbo $4.20/Regular $3.25) was interesting. Since it was after lunch when I got there, it was rather quiet so I did meet one of the owners, Larry, and was taken out back where they have their two smokers. Larry was very friendly, talked a bit about his history, and offered me a sample the brisket with different sauces to get my opinion.

                                  Sooey's BBQ and Rib Shack
                                  Corolla, NC (Monteray Plaza) 252-453-4423 - Locations also in Nags Head, Duck, and Frisco
                                  Of the all the places I went to try pulled pork, this one was the most disappointing (but the most convenient to get to in a nearby shopping center). The meat was dry and bland with only a (very) faint vinegar flavor. I ordered take-out (reg $7.50/huge $8.50 - two sides with either). It needed some bbq sauce but none was included, so not sure if they forgot, or if they want me to try the meat as I did - either way, the sauce would only be to cover up for the mediocre meat.

                                  Corolla Village Bar-B-Que
                                  Corolla, NC (Historic Corolla Village behind Twiddy Real Estate) 252-457-0076
                                  It took a little while to find this joint - we luckily spotted the BBQ sign down the street. Being located in the historic village, ordering only through a window, and having no indoor seating (only outside picnic tables) definitely gives this place a quaint feeling. The pulled pork sandwich (Reg $3.95/Large $4.95) was pretty good - nice balance of flavor between the meat and sauce. The cole slaw though seemed like something that was bought in the store. We also tried the pork ribs, but getting the last batch in the day before closing (I think 8 pm?), it turned out a bit chewy. Would go back again and try this place again earlier in the day and to avoid the mosquitoes.

                                  Windsor, NC (Downtown - 127 North King Street)
                                  Easily, of all the places I tried, this one was the best for a pulled pork BBQ sandwich ($2.00). The 'cue was right on. For great vinegar-based BBQ, this definitely met and exceeded my expectations. Throw a bit of Texas Pete on - and the sandwich is complete. Even the slaw stood out in flavor and freshness. Just thinking about it right now is making my mouth water. If you go at lunch during the week, make sure you get there before 2pm. The place is a run-down former gas station but that only lends to its authenticity. It doesn't affect their cooking conditions as they proudly hang their recent 95.5 sanitation score right on the menu over the door to the serving area. Look for the old Pepsi sign out front and the Texaco sign on the side.

                                  Whitley's Barbeque
                                  Murfreesboro, NC (315 Beechwood Blvd - Rt 11) 252-398-4884
                                  As mentioned by winstondawg, this place might be closed - and it was. It was on the way back, so I did not call in advance. Will put it on the place still to visit when I return.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: neofood

                                    Man, that sounds like a lot of fun! I believe I'll have some for lunch...hehehe.

                                    For all of you Mitchell's (Wilson, NC) devotees, I think he might be on the way back. I'm a native of Wilson, but I haven't lived there since I was 18...however my mom said just last week that he's now running an "organic/natural" pig farm and plans to open up a restaurant serving the same. Not sure where it will be though. Just thought you folks might be interested in that.

                                    If I was gonna do a tour of NC, with no limit on how much I could eat, I'd have to do these:

                                    Wilson: Bill's, Parker's, Mitchells (when it opens again)

                                    Parkers has been slipping a little bit IMO...Bill's seems to be better over the last decade.

                                    Greenville: B's, Parkers

                                    Triangle Area: Cooper's, Allen & Sons, Bullocks, A&M Grill, BBQ Joint

                                    There's a huge variety of the stuff up here where I now reside. Allen & Sons and Bullocks are my two faves. A&M's que is great and different than most places up here, but the rest of their stuff has been declining in quality lately. I just tried the BBQ Joint for the first time last week and was impressed by the meat for sure, don't know if I'd choose it over any of the others though.

                                    I am hoping to try Wilbur's in Goldsboro soon on a trip back down east!

                                    1. re: planbee

                                      I'd replace Bullock's and go to Hog Heaven instead since both are in Durham.

                                      1. re: planbee

                                        Look for a big story on Ed Mitchell in the News & Observer in the next couple of weeks. Mitchell is pairing with Greg Hatem to open a new barbecue restaurant in downtown Raleigh. The one thing Mitchell is unquestionably good at is marketing. He's done a great job of selling himself, and the foodie crowd has bought it hook, line and sinker. It helps that he puts out a pretty fine product, and I have a lot of hope for him. He just has never had much in the way of business acumen, and time will tell whether this partnership with Hatem will work.

                                        As far as Mitchell's organic hog farm, he'll likely rely on Wade Cole and Dallys Merritt, two former tobacco farmers who have been raising pigs following the Niman Ranch protocols for several years. I've cooked their pigs, and they're mighty fine.

                                        1. re: planbee

                                          I would definitely add Wilburs to the list and Kings in Kinston.

                                            1. re: steveindurham

                                              I lived in Murfreesboro for 5 years and loved Whitley's. Great people, very good food and one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I've ever had. My first husband and I were living there and had no family for T'giving so decided to go there and it was great. I hope it hasn't closed.

                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                Found out that the owner is helping out her sister that had a stroke in PA. Is closed right now - will have to probably go to Ralph's in Weldon.

                                      2. the name escapes me right now, but there's a place on US321 in Lenoir (It's near the US321 and US64 intersection) that does a really good eastern NC style BBQ. It's the best I've had west of I95.

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: Hushpuppy

                                            I think that's exactly what it is. Thank you. Also, I just noticed this thread was devoted to eastern NC. Sorry about taking it off-topic. Hannah's is as good as a lot of places east of 95, though. (Especially now that Bob Melton's and Buck Overton's are long gone.) They offer a great vinegar sauce that isn't overrun with almost half to a 3rd ketchup, like most places in that part of the state.