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Looking for a good Eastern NC style BBQ place in King County

I'm really craving some decent Eastern NC style bbq. Not VA style, not Western or Southern NC, but that Rocky Mount, Raleigh, Elizabeth City and the Outer Banks style vinegar based pork bbq on a bun with coleslaw.

Can anyone help me out with recommendations?

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  1. Having traveled to both Northern and Southern Carolina, my sincere suggestion is to buy a plane ticket; there is nothing in Puget Sound that warrants a blip on the serious radar screen, Memphis included.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leper

      Leper, I like your style :)

      I'm going to hang out and hope someone knows of some little hole in the wall, 'cause you can never tell. Or maybe post for a couple of pig pickin' recipe suggestions.

    2. I can unfortunately confim leper's report. The only pulled pork you're going to get here has tangy BBQ sauce mixed in...obviously worlds away and, in my opinion, much worse than great Eastern Carolina BBQ. Let us know if you find something though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yoyo11

        Longhorn BBQ, formerly on 1st Ave S, had a "clean" pulled pork sandwich. Their sauce (on the side) wasn't vinegary enough to really be NC style but it this sandwich was the only thing edible at Longhorn FWIW.

        They are still in business apparently, but only in Auburn & Kent (except for their 'outposts' in Qwest field and the Puyallup fair) as far as I can tell.

      2. Ro Ro BBQ on Stoneway in Wallingford/Fremont serves a pulled pork sandwich that you can "make a deluxe' aka add coleslaw for $1 extra. They do have a NC vinegar style sauce on the table but I haven't tried it.

        1. Lived in NC for a bit and can tell you that you are SOL here in the emerald city. Best bet is using bbq as an excuse to visit friends back east (or using friends back east as an excuse to visit bbq) or making your own. Thrill of the Grill has a recipe, or check the home cooking page on CH.

          1 Reply
          1. I've yet to make any pilgrimages to the BBQ holy lands east of the Mississippi or in Texas, but I truly enjoy the Georgia Gold sandwich at Roy's in Columbia City, which features pulled pork, slaw and a mustard-based sauce; I'm told this is more akin to the South Carolina style. They have a conventional pulled pork as well, with a more tangy sauce. The sauces IIRC are toppings, and are not mixed in the meat, so one could request without.

            1. I can't verify the authenticity of this place because I have yet to try, or go to n.carolina, but I have driven past a place recently in Redmond called Carolina Kitchen bbq. It is near the municipal complex-court,police etc.

              1. I finally checked out Roy's in Columbia City yesterday for lunch and was very impressed. I lived in Texas for a while and have my own smoker so I consider myself a bit of a BBQ snob but this place was pretty good. The Georgia Gold sandwich was tasty: not Eastern NC style but it also wasn't soaked with sauce mixed all throughout. There was just a nice slather of spicy, tangy sauce on top of tender, smoky pork with some good slaw on top of that. I also tried the Brisket sandwich and that was good too: sliced, not chopped, and again just topped with a different spicy TX-style BBW sauce.

                It may not be Angelo's in Fort Worth but it's the best BBQ I've had in Seattle, hands down.

                2 Replies
                1. re: yoyo11

                  Yesterday? I thought it was closing last weekend. Is there hope.....?

                  1. re: yoyo11

                    If you like TX style, you might try Gabriel's Fire in Loyal Heights (North Ballard). He's a local Seattle guy and does a good dry rub with a nice smoke ring. I've spent lot of time in TX. We think Gabriels is the best we've had in Puget Sound. I really like the ribs, brisket, and pork shoulder. Not as happy with the chicken or links.

                    Gabriels Fire
                    2408 NW 80th St, Seattle, WA 98117

                  2. Carolina Smoke BBQ in Bothell's Country Village (right up front by Bothell Everett Hwy): Incredible BBQ! The regular BBQ sauce is described as an apple-butter and the hot, well, it just kicks butt! Lot's of specials depending on the day of the week (still need to try 'em). This place was an instant hit with the kids, even the picky eater liked the corn bread but give the jalapeƱo corn bread a try if you like it hot 'n sweet! The service is southern style so be prepared to "come and set a spell"!

                    Carolina Smoke
                    23806 Bothell Everett Hwy, Bothell, WA 98021

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bobeso

                      Apple butter BBQ sauce? Eastern North Carolina BBQ???

                      1. re: bobeso

                        I don't know, bobeso. I don't remember anyone putting apple butter in their sauce. Maybe it's a new kind of Southern NC thing to go along with the mustard?

                      2. I love BBQ - especially the Carolina style you request. The fact that you differentiate between even the Carolina styles tells me you are serious about BBQ as well. I hate to tell you that there is generally no good BBQ here in the Seattle area. Nothing, not Memphis, KC, Texas or Carolina. What do I do? Make it at home as I did just this weekend. Smoked pulled pork, mustard vinegar sauce, and a spicy coleslaw on plain old white buns to sop up all the goodness. Oh, and a cold beer.
                        Stan's in Issaquah makes a good brisket though.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: White Castle

                          I love me some smoky BBQ pork. Please give up the mustard, vinegar BBQ sauce recipe. Can't wait for BBQ season to start. (Yes I know this makes me a BBQ wimp, but I like to be warm when I have a 5 hour+ smoke going)


                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                            Mustard-Vinegar BBQ sauce:
                            1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
                            1 cup yellow or brown mustard (I like regular old yellow mustrad Plochman's if possible)
                            1/2 cup ketchup
                            1/3 cup packed brown sugar
                            2 garlic cloves run through a garlic press
                            1 teaspoon salt
                            1 teaspoon cayenne (you can leave this out depending on how spicy you want it. I sometimes put in a half a seeded habanero (diced) instead)
                            1/2 teaspoon black pepper
                            Combine it all and heat to a simmer (about 10 min.) and you are done.

                          2. re: White Castle

                            that's very sad. :( I'm still looking, and finally bought myself a smoker. It takes a long time, but I'm finally coming close to what I remember about the bbq in Rocky Mount. And you're right. BBQ, coleslaw and hamburger buns--the holy trinity. :)

                          3. From what I have read, you are going to have to have it shipped if you want the real thing. Here is one that will ship what you want....

                            King's Restaurant
                            405 East New Bern Rd.
                            Kinston, NC 28504-6737
                            Telephone: 1-800-332-6465

                            1. I remember driving at dusk through the Smokies and this odor was wafting in the car windows for miles, until we came to the barbecue place, which was delicious.
                              You're simply not going to be able to re-create that experience here, because if you do smell barbecue made that way in the Cascades, they won't be using hickory, which is unavailable, instead they'll be using alder (or possibly apple) and they won't be smoking pork, they'll be smoking salmon.
                              Lots of little barbecue houses on Rainier Ave So, and in Columbia City, but they have to serve Southerners from all over the South, and in both colors, and include Cajuns, so the same place you can find barbecued pork here might also sell you boudin.
                              They all try, and they're doing the best they can to keep their culture alive, but you're very far from home and people live differently here.
                              We jes' ain't got no hickr'y!
                              But that don't mean we ain't got no barbecue here! We got lots of it! It's just not Andy of Mayberry kind. (A North Carolina town that had no black people, if you remember!)
                              One more problem, more of a Texas problem than an NC one, is that certain cuts of meat are sold in different parts of the country. You can get brisket here, for $5.00/lb! (an awful high price) but you can get pork shoulder here for $1.50/lb sometimes if you shop around.
                              Still, it seems that the cheapest cut of meat to barbecue here seems to be ham! (Go figure)
                              That said, the locals here are mighty partial to their salmon, probably for good reason! Planked barbecued salmon is good.
                              It jes' ain't hillbilly heaven.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: PeteSeattle

                                That's as good an explanation of the challenges we face here as I've heard to date. But they aren't insurmountable.

                                Hickory is certainly available here; it's just not abundant and free. You have to get it in those little bags at the hardware or BBQ supply store and it's expensive. But it's all I use at home.

                                Pork butts are in plentiful supply at Costco Business Ctr (Lynnwood) and Cash & Carry for as little as $1.19/lb quite regularly, as are whole untrimmed Briskets at about $1.99/lb. You'd never buy those $4.99/lb trimmed flats that are devoid of all fat and flavor for BBQ anyway.

                                I'm personally suspicious of any place that sells "St. Louis Style" spare ribs. All that means to me is that they've hacked off and thrown away all the best parts. But that's just me. BBQ is such a personal thing it's no wonder people get into fistfights about it.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  I ain't no hillbilly that fo sho, which is prolly why I don't know what you mean by cut off the best stuff. IS my understanding that there is Baby back ribs, which come right off the spine, then St Louis rib, which is the rib coming down the side and then their is a Spare rib or what is sometimes called a Kansas City rib, which is the St Louis with the extra flap at the bottom of the rib. Often looks like a pennant. You is that partial to the extra flap you'd call it the best part? I am sure I made a heapin mess of these decriptions and look forward to being edified.


                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                    There's the whole spare rib, and then when you trim off that big meaty knob at the top of the rib with the cartilage running through it near the breastbone, as well as that meaty flap on the backside you referred to, you're left with just the bones and the meat between, and that's the St. Louis cut. Some people leave the flap on the backside. Wikipedia says St. Louis ribs are "spare ribs with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed to create a rectangular-shaped rack." Them's the parts I likes.

                                    But we digress.

                                    1. re: acgold7

                                      I have always enjoyed a good digression. Here's a youtube of what you're talking about. If I undertood you, you like the part he's cutting away.


                                      Think I'm going to have to get some spare ribs and trim up some of my own St Louis style. Been having trouble finding them at the markets.


                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                        Yes, exactly. I weep when I see that. All the juiciest, tastiest stuff is going away. The meat on the back is the skirt steak, the fajita, if you will, of the pig, and the membrane back there holds in all the lovely juice, fat and flavor. (I believe Texans call this the "candy" when they do Beef Ribs.) The rib tips are the thickest, moistest, juiciest part. But obviously others disagree. The rack sure looks nicer when trimmed, I'll give you that.

                                        But this discussion probably belongs on the Home Cooking board and sorry for going so far OT. To atone, I'll visit Carolina Smoke tonight and write up my findings.

                                        Carolina Smoke
                                        23806 Bothell Everett Hwy, Bothell, WA 98021

                              2. Well, based on some positive posts on this and other threads, I stopped by Carolina Smoke tonight with high hopes but was disappointed. Maybe they were just having an off night; I will visit again at some point. But overall, all the meats were really dry and not very smoky. The sauces were overwhelmingly sweet. For a place that puts so much emphasis on its website about how the meat should never need sauce and how moist and juicy it's supposed to be, it was pretty sad.

                                For the record it should be noted that, with regard to the OP, this place doesn't claim to be *Eastern* NC and it isn't. Their Carolina sauce is the Mustard based sauce of *Western* NC and is mostly like a jar of Honey Mustard with Vinegar added, not the clear Vinegar, Sugar and Pepper Flakes concoction I know of as Eastern NC sauce. Their regular Apple Butter sauce is a red Tomato based sauce and while tasty, is like pouring candy over your food. Their Hot Sauce is quite good; it's just as sweet but is balanced by some very nice heat that will have your lips a-burnin' for a nice long while afterwards. Head and shoulders better than Dixie's "The Man," which is all searing heat and nothing else.

                                The Pulled Pork was all dry bark with no hint of moisture anywhere, a very light smoke flavor and not much seasoning. Perhaps if you doused it with sauce and piled coleslaw on it, it'd be fine in a sandwich, but eaten straight it was hard to choke down and necessitated the assistance of a cold beverage. Besides, the coleslaw was not much more than a flavorless amalgamation of not-very-finely shredded cabbage and a dollop of mayo, in desperate need of seasoning and tang.

                                The brisket wasn't much better. Not very smoky, with no observable smoke ring, it was dry and flaky. Brisket really shouldn't flake like overcooked halibut, should it?

                                The baby back ribs weren't bad. Moist but not juicy, with a pleasant chew and a nice smokiness, they were a happy surprise and avoided that nasty fall-off-the-bone raglike softness that is often a dead giveaway for having been boiled. And another surprise was the tri-tip, especially because it's from the other coast. Well-seasoned, with a good smoke ring and flavor to match and not dry at all. A winner.

                                Both corn breads -- the "sweet" and the Jalapeno -- were like eating Birthday cake in the middle of the meal, except coarser. Very, very sweet and I frankly couldn't tell the difference between them. Not a bit of heat in the jalapeno version that I could tell. I mean, there were some visible chunks of something in one of them that I assumed were Jalapenos, but turned out to be little hard bits of corn. I think.

                                The Hot link wasn't very hot and wasn't as good as the Evergood Hot Links you can buy at Costco -- it may have been one, in fact, but seemed to have the flavor sucked out of it. The Hot Wings are an odd inclusion on the menu and were unexceptional -- you can get better from Domino's. I wouldn't have tried them at all if they weren't included on the Combo Platter and there wasn't a large admonition on the website reading NO SUBSTITUTIONS (rather offputting, I thought).

                                The Chicken, as it is wont to be and as it is everywhere, was dry and overcooked beyond belief, but in today's litigious society, you aren't likely to find a juicy barbecued chicken anywhere except at my house. But the skin was nicely seasoned and attractively brown and crisp, and with enough sauce you could probably manage to eat it if you're not diabetic.

                                On the upside, the place is attractive and easy to get to and park at if you're on the Eastside, and that's good enough to give them some points and another chance in my book. Service was fast and friendly, and the lovely scent of smoke greets you as you enter the place.

                                Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go shoot up double my usual amount of Insulin and explain to my wife why I just spent 75 bucks on a BBQ dinner for one. God, the things I do for my fellow CHers.

                                Recommended: Tri-Tip, Back Ribs, Hot Sauce.

                                Carolina Smoke
                                23806 Bothell Everett Hwy, Bothell, WA 98021

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Loved your review! You left several indications in the review that show who the clientelle is, and it ain't us Southerners!
                                  I'll mention that a friend of mine invited me to their house for "Nasi Goreng" once, which is Indonesian Rice and stuff. I expected a fiery, flavorful Southeast Asian dish I could have barely eaten.
                                  But my friend is Dutch, and his wife is German. He learned to make Nasi Goreng from his mother, who learned to make it in Holland.
                                  So it was most definitely not the fiery tastes of Jakarta, it was the cabbage and pork of Rotterdam. Might as well been from Poland.
                                  The ultra-sweet corn bread you mention is a specifically Yankee concoction, designed by English and German immigrants who settled north of the Mason-Dixon line. (you'll also notice there's no buttermilk in their recipe)
                                  Yankees won't make, won't touch, and in fact won't even allow normal corn bread in their environment.
                                  I know the business name is "Carolina" but the sweet cornbread and lack of general flavor indicates (in that beautiful insult) "THIS STUFF'S MADE IN NEW YORK CITY. "NEW YORK CITY!? GIT A ROPE!"
                                  The Carolina Barbecue ain't lookin' fer us. We'll jes' have to go elsewhar!

                                  1. re: PeteSeattle

                                    Well, I wanted to be really specific because, as I mentioned above, all this is really personal taste. Paul Prudhomme, who is a god to me, said in his first cookbook, that "Cajuns like (their cornbread) sweet" but also says you can leave out the sugar if you prefer. A lot of people I know like the really sweet stuff and I can't argue with them -- it's what they like. It just doesn't happen to be my taste.

                                    Their website claims the owner is from Charleston, SC. But it also contains the howling inaccuracy that the Brisket is from the hindquarter of the cow, as well as a whole bunch of really bad typos. It also says they trim off most of the fat from the Brisket, which could explain why it was so dry. The serving I got appeared to be all from the flat cut, not from the point, so it could be they used those over-trimmed flats you see in the markets rather than the juicer and much more flavorful points or whole packer cuts.

                                    It's unlikely that a second visit will yield different results for the sauces and sides, as these are from fixed recipes and won't likely vary much. But as meats are a natural product with much variance, I'll try to drop by again in the near future for another stab at the brisket and pulled pork.

                                    As predicted, after my wife read the review, her only comment was, "you're not going to spend another 75 dollars, are you?" I assured her I'd just pick up a sandwich next time.

                                2. I think I know where to look, but understand I have a lot of misgivings about making this recommendation..........

                                  You see, we have a hamlet in the North Cascades entirely populated with expats from North Carolina. It's name is Darrington.

                                  I can't tell you if there's even a restaurant in Darrington, but if there's any barbecue available at all there, it's going to be North Carolina barbecue because no one else lives there.

                                  But be warned before you go.......These are North Carolina Sheets.

                                  I would never go, because I was born in Virginia (among other reasons)

                                  You, on the other hand, might find exactly what you're looking for.