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Ideas for a BBQ tour in the south-looking for suggestions

Hello everyone: I am looking to go on a little BBQ tour of the south this summer for about a week. Ideally I'd like to fly in somewhere, rent a car and wind up somewhere else. I'm attracted to the deep South for some reason so ideally I'd like to start in Mississippi.

I'm open to any thoughts/suggestions.

I also looked for organized BBQ tours but didnt find anything.

Thanks and I'll look forward to hearing from you,
Ryan acewex@gmail.com

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  1. I would recommend coming to NC. There are lots of outstanding BBQ places in the piedmont and eastern parts of the state to try. Memphis, of course, is an obvious place to visit. I think if you do a search on here for BBQ you will find lots of suggestions to get you started.

    6 Replies
    1. re: carolinadawg

      Thanks for the suggestion-I had thought about that. What city could I fly into do you think would be a good start? Thanks, Ryan

      1. re: acewex

        I'd recommend Raleigh...most of the great bbq in NC is within a 2 hour radius of there. Plus it has the lower average airfares that the Greensboro or Charlotte airports.

        1. re: carolinadawg

          Stick to Mississippi and Memphis! I have to go do a few things right now, but I will post later with an itinerary- you might as well go with the best first!


            1. re: carolinadawg

              Let's see- North Carolina gets about 6 zillion tourists a year- Mississippi gets about 6 dozen- here we finally get somebody showing some interest, and you guys try to snag 'em!

              You guys might have better mountains than we do, you guys might beat us in sports- but when it comes to good eats we can hold our own against anybody!


            2. re: Clarkafella

              Please do-I'm looking forward to hearing your itinerary! Thanks, Ryan

      2. You've obviously definitely got to go to Memphis.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jamiecarroll

          You should hit several states because 'cue is different everywhere you go and it would be fun checking out the different styles.
          Definitely North Carolina. Definitely South Carolina (more of a mustardy sauce). Definitely Memphis.
          In Alabama, check out Miss Myra's in Birmingham, Dreamland in Tuscaloosa and Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur.
          Georgia's 'cue will be a nice transition from Alabama to South Carolina.
          My suggestion: Start in Memphis, hit some place in north Mississippi then go into Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and fly home from Raleigh.

          1. re: Big Daddy

            South Carolina is a mix as far as sauces, 4 in all. The upstate and most western part is tomato based. The SE part of South Carolina, coastal regions, are more vinegar based. There is a stretch in the midlands that is mustard based, and just above the midlands heading towards the NC line is light tomato based.

            J.B.'s Smokeshack - Johns Island(near Charleston)
            Sweatmens BBQ - Holly Hill(near Charleston)
            Circle M BBQ - Liberty(Upstate)
            Hog Heaven - Pawleys Island

            Those are some off my head.

        2. I would suggest that you hit the following heading from Greensboro/Raleigh direction toward Charlotte. Go into SC and finally Atlanta down the I-85 corridor)

          North Carolina
          Greensboro - Stamey's BBQ
          Lexington - Lexington BBQ No.1 (aka Honeymonk's), Speedy's BBQ, Jimmy's BBQ
          Gastonia - Black's BBQ and/or RO's BBQ (these are more BBQ sandwich places, not the traditional BBQ plate or tray, but very good)
          Shelby - Alston Bridges' BBQ - only open M-Fr (there is also a Bridges BBQ - good, but not nearly in the same league).

          Moving into SC there is:
          Spartanburg - Carolina BBQ

          Finally in Atlanta, GA:

          The whole drive time would be about 7-8 hours (conservatively). These are mainly traditional places and most are Lexington, NC style.

          1. From Memphis, it would be a miscarriage of justice to miss out on the remarkable BBQ in the northeast arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel. 2 of the best places for particular kinds of barbecue can be found within 10 miles of each other 1 1/2 hours north form Memphis in Kennett and Holcomb, MO. One of the best chopped pork sandwiches you will ever put in your mouth comes from Alford's Barbecue, and has the added bonus of being served with the best french fries ever. Then, Stawberry's MidTown Recreation( used to be a pool hall; still has 8 tables in the back, and league play on Wed. nites) does the most amazing pork steak or baby back ribs(dry cooked) you could find anywhere. here are also several other excellent places in the area including: Horton's BBQ in Kennett, the Dixie Pig in Blytheville, AR, Chubby's in Hayti, MO, Big Butts in Leachville, AR . If you're going, Alfords is only open for lunch wed-sun and dinner friday and saturday

            1. DEFINITELY North Carolina (and no, I don't live there)--in order of importance :
              (1) Lexington BBQ--Lexington (if you could only go to one) (2) Skylight Inn in Ayden
              (3) Stamey's in Greensboro (4) Allen and Sons in Chapel Hill (5) Wilber's or McCall's in Goldsboro--there's lots more good ones, but these will take you on a semi-circular tour in 2 or 3 days--I did exactly that (and a lot more) for a week in Sept '04

              1. If you do visit NC, please be aware that we have 2 distinct types of 'q, eastern style and western (or Lexington) style. You really want to sample both, which means you'll want to hit a couple of places east of Raleigh (Skylight Inn, Parker's, Wilbur's, Bum's as well as Allen and Son, which is technically west of Raleigh but serves outstanding eastern style), as well as some places west of Raleigh (primarily in and around Lexington, such as Lexington #1). Avoid Stamey's in Greensboro...it used to be one of the best, but sadly, it now is not worth a visit.

                1. Much as I love BBQ in the deep south, if I was going to get on a plane to go somewhere, drive for a few days, and eat Q along the way, well, I'd probably go to Texas. It's probably just that familiarity has bred contempt for my home landscape. Within a couple-hour radius of Austin, there's a tremendous amount of good Q, and I could easily spend a week just farting around in Austin.

                  I'm sure I could come up with a MS-AL-TN-GA-SC-NC tour, but it'd involve a lot of driving, mostly on pretty vanilla interstates.

                  So, that's my contrarian perspective.

                  If you end up in Atlanta, I'd go somewhere besides Dusty's. Search old posts for suggestions.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ted

                    I agree with ted, but if you happen to do the NC thing, stop in at Dickie's in Cary and have a brisket sandwich and see for yourself which you prefer. I know that it's a chain, but they have the closest to real Texas brisket that I've had around RTP.

                    1. re: blewgo

                      A Durham Dickie's is about to open very close to my house in a couple of days. Thier brisket sammich is gonna have to be really damn good to keep me from going to the Durham Q shack for brisket.

                      As for the tour. It might be hard but you should try to hit the main areas East/West NC-Memphis-Texas. I've lived in central NC for over 30 years and I like our Q's just fine but I'll be damned if I would want to eat it for a week straight.

                      I don't know many spots out side of NC but if you wind up near Tuscaloosa seek out Archebald's in the bordering Northport.

                      1. re: LBD

                        I've never cared for the Q-shack's brisket. Holy Smokes and Dickie's are the only two "Texas" style BBQ places that serve the style of brisket I like. They also both have links, ribs, turkey and pork although I've never tried the pork.

                        If the OP wants to try different styles of BBQ and is in this area, a stop at Dickie's or Holy Smokes along with a few NC joints would give him a good overview of BBQ in the US. He won't find NC BBQ in Texas.

                  2. hey if you do go to memphis you might find this bbq map handy!


                    1. Leatha's in Hattiesburg, MS is an incredible find. The place has been there forever, and it's in the middle of nowhere and worth finding.
                      Whole Hog Cafe in Little Rock does some great ribs, as does Smokin in Style in Hot Springs.

                      1 Reply
                      1. I'll speak up for Mississippi. We just got back from Greenwood, Mississippi, where we stayed at the Alluvian Hotel. Great town, great hotel, and we had fantastic 'cue, including the highly regional tamales, which you won't get anywhere but the deep south (I'm from Tennessee and we don't have them).. We ate at Ribs Shack on the outskirts of Greenwood, Miss. I have the menu, and I'll scan it and put a link to it when I have a minute. You could choose somewhere else though -- Greenwood had probably 5 likely looking 'cue joints downtown.
                        Mississippi is interesting for other reasons too. It's the hub of the blues heritage trail, so you get that whole Robert Johnson vibe, great barbecue and soul food, and some music travel. Right about Greenwood you start to see cypress swamps and levees and sharecropper shacks. Mississippi is a whole other world. But if you want the Southern tour de barbecue, you'll eventually have to do Texas, Mississipp AND North Carolina.

                        1. Gotta do 12 Bones in Asheville. Their BlueBerry Chipotle Ribs are out of this world. They also have great plate bbq.

                            1. In Mississippi, fly in to Jackson and rent a car. Go out Airport Road for a couple of miles- just before you reach I-20, stop in the gas station to your right and get some ribs. Get on I-20 and go east for a couple of miles until you come to I-55. Go north 5 or 6 miles and get off at the Northside Drive exit. Stop in to the Exxon station and get some more ribs. Get back on I-55. Keep going North 5 or 6 miles until you get to the Gluckstadt exit. Go east, and turn right at the stop sign. Go about a mile, and at the light, turn into the gas station to your left and get some more ribs.

                              There you have it... In Mississippi, you can sample 3 different racks of some of the best ribs that you have ever eaten in your life, all better than anything offered in at least 46 other states, all within 3-20 minutes of the airport, and all being served in gas stations!

                              Can that happen anywhere else? And we aren't even talking about rib joints yet!

                              Cut on over to Highway 61- the Blues Highway [http://www.nationalgeographic.com/tra...]. Take it up to Memphis. If you are hungry early, stop in at Ubon's in Yazoo City, if you are hungry later, stop in at Abe's in Clarksdale. In the meantime, grab some tamales just about anywhere along the Tamale Trail [http://www.tamaletrail.com/], and just meander. There are country stores that carry parts of pigs that I don't even want to guess where they came from, there are diners that have southern cooking down to a science, and of course, there is catfish!

                              Stay a night or two at the Shack Up Inn [http://www.shackupinn.com/] and just explore. If you are the least bit adventurous, you can really have a good time in these parts...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Clarkafella

                                Correction to Clarkafella's directions --- go WEST on I-20 from Airport Road to get to I-55. If you go east you will end up in Brandon, which is not so bad. There you can find Little Willie's Meat Market with some mighty tasty ribs. Also, between Pearl and Brandon near Patrick's Farm is C'Paw's Webster House --- delicious wet or dry ribs. Or, take Highway 471 and head north toward Lakeland Drive / Highway 25 to the Smokehouse (I think that is the name). I love the pulled pork sandwich.

                                1. re: Sister Sue

                                  That's the one thing that I really love about this place- you can eat better here just by getting lost than you can in most places when you have a map...

                              2. What a wonderful trip idea! My tastebuds are going with you, in spirit. More power to you, and may you eat lots of wonderful barbecue.

                                For research purposes, check out the BBQ trip report from the sainted David Ragals. It's 6+ years old, but still worthy. I still bless him daily for his recommendation of the Cozy Corner BBQ in Memphis, which was the highlight of my trip back in 2005.

                                Mr. Ragals' report was originally posted on Chowhound, but was lost when CNET took over. His posts have been archived at the link below - except for part 5, which I saved in text form and posted on a problem-report thread.

                                Parts 1-4 and 6-12:

                                Part 5: