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Good NC BBQ in Charlotte, NC

I am heading to Charlotte in a few weeks and some of my buddies meeting up with me there are asking about Good NC BBQ in Charlotte? Not looking for the chains like Smokey Bones (whichis right next to where we are staying at the Hilton), looking for good local favorites. I perfer the Eastern style but the Lexington brand may be more common in Charlotte?

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  1. There's no oustanding bbq in Charlotte. The places that get mentioned the most are Mac's Speed Shop, Bill Spoon's and Olde Hickory House. My opinion is that Olde hickory House is the best, but its still pretty average. If you do a search you'll find a couple of other suggestions and lots of opinions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bbqdawg

      It is no accident that the vast majority of opinions on here support bbqdawg's first sentence - There is no outstanding bbq in Charlotte. That said, I'd opt for Olde Hickory House as well, also not far from where you're staying.

    2. Being a true eastern NC native, the closet thing to eastern style bbq in Charlotte is Bill Spoon's. He was taught by some of the best in their day from eastern NC. Sadly, he died a few years back, but I understand some of his family took over the place - not sure if they still own it now. When he ran it, the bbq was as good as any you'd find anywhere.

      While the other places mentioned in previous posts probably are very good, I have never tried them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodeatsinadive

        Yes, GE. Bill's grandson, Steve, had been running the food side of the operation for several years. When Bill died last year, Steve took over. So you shouldn't notice any change, other than missing Bill's smiling face at the cash register.

      2. make the short drive to Bridges BBQ Lodge in Shelby.Its worth it.

        1. I might get shouted down on this board, but I enjoy Mac's Speed Shop on South Blvd. I like the brisket (okay, so that's not NC barbecue, but it's tasty). It's an attractive spot and fun. But if you're foodies looking for truly great barbecue you'll have to head out of town.

          1 Reply
          1. re: QueenCityHound

            My favorite thing at Mac's are the bbq soft tacos with cilantro and onion, at two dollars a piece, you can order as many as you like.

          2. There is no quality BBQ in Charlotte, strangely enough. You'll have to travel - in Gastonia there is Black's and RO's and in Shelby there is Bridges.

            1. You must try 521bbq. Its down 521{Johnston rd} about 15 mins into s.c. Its the best bbq I have had. Inexpensive, big portions, great ribs. Worth the drive.

              1 Reply
              1. re: deliman

                I've heard that it's good 'cue. I sometimes get down that way - I'll have to try it. A friend of mine swears by it but she doesn't really like food so I didn't really trust her opinion. Ha!

              2. I mention this not for the bbq (because being a vegetarian I wouldn't know what the bbq is like), but from an interesting place to take out of towners point of view, but the Penguin in Plaza Midwood comes to mind. It's become super popular, but maintains that special something despite the infiltration of yuppies at lunch time. Almost everything is fried and served in paper baskets. Good juke box, people watching, and drink specials. Maybe someone could add their input on the bbq itself?

                1. I think Bill Spoon's gets less respect here that it should because its an eastern (NC) joint in a western (NC) town. I have spent much of my youth eating at Parkers and Bea's and I do think that the swine at Bill Spoon's (with Stephen cooking) is the equal of those places. Spoon's does loose points for not cooking with wood (Bridges and old Hickory house still do) but the overall quality of the meat at Spoons is (IMO) far superior to any other BBQ joint west of I-95.

                  While I have an admitted Eastern NC bias I think Spoons is among the best BBQ places in all of NC.

                  I live around the corner from Mac's, I go in ocasionally to watch a game. But other than a nice faux-dive vibe I think the food is merely standard bar fare. The brisket is too fatty to be appealing to me and the pulled pork is fine in a strip mall kind of way.

                  YMMV

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: bobr821

                    I, too, am an Eastern style fan. Most folks I know around town here are Eastern-style folks also. But I think a lot of transplants (of which I am one) are new to the vinegar based sauce and gravitate more to the tomato-based sauces b/c it is more familiar to them.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Western (or Lexington style) is still basically a vinegar based sauce...it merely has a bit of ketchup or tomato paste in it. I think the difference is pretty subtle, actually.

                      1. re: bbqdawg

                        I prefer my bbq ketchup free. And its enough of a difference to have driven a wedge between those loyal to either style. Pretty much split the state in half... or is it 1/3 vs. 2/3??? Seems like Eastern style has the edge.

                    2. re: bobr821

                      The problem with Bill Spoon's is not the sauce, its the meat. No wood cooking = no smoke flavor. Its not bbq, its just roast pork.

                      1. re: bbqdawg

                        I do understand what you are saying about smoke, but for me meat quality / chop consistency is as important as smoke flavor. I have been to too many wood fire pit places where the meat is far too greasy and fatty for me to enjoy the smoke flavor (e.g. Stameys (lately) and Old Hickory House). While I am sure I'll be called out as a non-traditionalist, I think electric pits (like at Spoon's) have some positives, they bring out a really nice nutty flavor to properly cooked pig and allow for much more consistent cooking.

                        I do agree about the difference in sauce, taste-wise the difference is subtle (unless the ketchup is excessively sweet). But my problem with western sauce is that it allows the choppers to hide poor quality meat beneath it. Can't do that with eastern sauce.

                        1. re: bbqdawg

                          "No wood cooking = no smoke flavor. Its not bbq, its just roast pork."
                          Amen, brother... Barbecue is cooked over wood coals-for better or worse. That being said, well roasted pork can be fantastic. Good, real barbecue disappeared from Charlotte when Old Original Barbecue on Camp Green St. closed or when Hog Heaven quit cooking with wood.