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North Carolina BBQ- Tray or Sandwich?

How do you like to eat your barbeque? I live in eastern NC, and I almost always get a sandwich rather than a tray. I like the mix of flavors; the coolness/sweetness of the slaw, and the smoky/spicy flavor of the bbq. You don't really get that with a tray. In some cases, the sandwich makes the 'cue- Pete Jones' sandwich is one of my absolute favorites, but I don't care for the tray at all.

If I'm farther west and eating Lexington style, I do tend to get trays more, because the Lexington style slaw doesn't create the same type of flavor mix that you get with a sandwich down east. I like the Lexington slaw, I just think it creates a less exciting sandwich.

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  1. A BBQ Sandwich with Slaw and Fries is always a good call.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jellybear

      Jellybear, I was reading an older post from you in Dec. 08 about Topsail restaurants not using local seafood. I will be coming there July 25-28. Could you please suggest seafood restaurants that use local seafood? I have not been to Topsail in 15+ years. I remember frequenting the Breezeway restaurant. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    2. I usually get a tray or a plate, and get a forkful of slaw and 'q together on each bite. That way, I get the coolness of the slaw and the smokiness of the meat togeher without the bread interfering. I do love the the combination of the 'q and the slaw together!

      1 Reply
      1. re: bbqdawg

        this is my credited way of doing things. At Allen&Son, I do the combo. since it comes with brunswick stew in addition to 'q and slaw. 'q and slaw together in one bite, then a spoonful of brunswick stew, then a bite of hushpuppy. rinse, repeat, rejoice.

      2. I get the tray if it comes with hushpuppies!

        1. I always get a tray unless there arent any plates available

          1. Eating in...tray or plate

            On the go...sandwich

            1. I like the pulled pork sandwich with slaw and House East sauce form Granny Lucy's in Carlotte with a big pile of onion rings and a sweet tea. Feels like being in my Granddaddy's BBQ restaurant out in Sampson County NC (way east) when I was a kid.

              Granny Lucy's
              Charlotte, NC, Charlotte, NC

              1. I am a fan of the sandwich, with finely chipped cole slaw, and have been known to sneak a drizzle of sauce on both the sandwich (when the server is not looking) and the fries.

                Depending on the BBQ, we have also been known to also split a plate afterwards, and then waddle to the car.


                PS, the chipped slaw is something that I usually do not see outside of NC and more in the Western part of the state, than the Eastern. My wife has the touch to turn the AZ version of cole slaw into a "near" NC version with her mini-Cuisanart. Last time that I tried, I ended up with a slaw "paste." Not what we were looking for.


                1. I like both. It depends on the place I am eating at. If it's Parker's in Wilson, I get the combo platter. If it's Smithfield Chicken and BBQ, I go for the sandwich with slaw.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luvmath1

                    I get the plate. Why eat white bread when I can get more 'Q? My favorite choice is the BBQ and Fried Chicken combo (2 thighs, please).

                  2. I get the platter with slaw. I'm a light eater and bring the rest home to become a sandwich later!

                    1. I like a sandwich but some places use the crappiest of crappy white bread buns that just fall apart. Not traditional but at home I prefer potato rolls as they hold up better. Really not traditonal but I love the braised pork sandwich at The Federal in Durham, the pork on a crusty baguette is great.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: LBD

                        The low quality white bread hamburger bun is part of the charm for me! But when I make barbecue at home, fresh tortillas or bolillos(torta bread) work really well and are a bit more interesting.

                        1. re: Naco

                          Who eats food that is poor for "charm"?

                          1. re: observor

                            I don't agree that it's "poor". Typical bbq bread has a neutral flavor that allows the other ingredients to shine.

                            But for those who grew up on the stuff like I did, nostalgia and familiarity are important factors- that's what I meant by "charm".

                            1. re: Naco

                              I know what you're saying and agree. No fancy bread with BBQ. I adore great breads but when it's barbecue, then it's about the meat.

                      2. You can get the flavors of the slaw and the meat without getting the bread on, which is often of bad quality.

                        1. I like more meat for the money, and I don't like bad bread, so I am more likely to get a tray...ideally, I'll make my own 'cue with some good crusty bread on the side...