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May 9, 2010 06:25 AM

Best BBQ in Charlotte

We will be staying a couple of days and really want the best, most authentic BBQ in the area.


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  1. These threads pop up from time to time, and the responses you'll get will be that authentic BBQ is lacking in Charlotte. And that's fairly true. Charlotte is one of the last cities to go to in NC if you want "authentic" BBQ. That said, Bill Spoon's does a pretty good version of eastern-NC BBQ. If you're willing to travel about 45 minutes, you can go to Lexington and get some authentic Lexington BBQ. FYI (If you weren't already aware), there has always been great debate within NC about which type of BBQ is better; eastern-style or Lexington-style (also referred to as western-style). Most people form NC would probably side with eastern-style, and while I agree, I think they're both good. Eastern-style is vinegar-based, while Lexington BBQ is tomato-based.

    But in a nutshell, when people in Charlotte are craving the best, most authentic BBQ, they generally travel somewhere else in NC to get it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ickymettle

      Lexington style is not tomato based- it has the same vinegar base as eastern style sauces, but adds a bit of ketchup.

    2. These seem to get the most good reviews from Chowhounds.

      Bar B Q King @ 2900 Wilkinson Blvd., Charlotte, NC. 704 - 399 - 8344. *

      Bill Spoon's Barbecue @ 5524 S. Blvd., Charlotte, NC. 704 - 525 - 8865. *

      Old Hickory House BBQ Restaurant @ 6538 N. Tryon, Charlotte, NC. 704 - 596 - 8014. *

      Sticky Finger's BBQ @ 12410 Johnston Rd., Charlotte, NC 704 - 926 - 3441. *

      Good luck.

      Bill Spoon's Barbecue
      5524 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217

      1 Reply
      1. re: Littleman

        No offense, but I don't think I've ever heard a Carolinian recommend Sticky Fingers. Barbecue shouldn't be sticky....

        Bar-B-Q King is good if you're in the neighborhood but not really a place to seek out (unless you like real drive-ins!)

        Bill Spoons is where I'd send you.

        Bar-B-Q King
        2900 Wilkinson Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28208

        1. Bill Spoon's, on South Boulevard. We ate there all the time when I was growing up - the Spoon family went to our church. Bill passed away a few years ago, but his grandson, Steven, runs the place now, and it's supposedly still as good as it used to be.

          When I went veg, this barbecue was the hardest thing to give up...

          5 Replies
          1. re: pseudoliterati

            My wife did an overnight last year and thought Mac's Speed Shop was fantastic. Our concern is that with kids in tow we may not be able to go in. I am surprised it was not mentioned...any comments on this place?


            p.s. any other must not miss places..we love everything so different, new, regional, it's all good.

            Mac's Speed Shop
            2511 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203

            1. re: foodiesnorth

              Never been there but I've seen the menu. It ain't the real thing if anything says "Texas style" or "KC style".

              If you want real NC BBQ make sure it's pork (never ribs or beef) and cooked over wood.

              1. re: Sue in Mt P

                You've never been to Mac's so why would you even comment? In Mac's defense, it's locally owned and they do smoke their pork (among other things) . The words Texas & St. Louis on the menu reference their brisket and Texas toast and ribs, not their pulled pork. The tables have a caddy that holds different styles of sauces. It's more about the scene and it's not some little mom & pop joint on a back road serving up the whole hog, but it's decent 'cue in a city not known for their bbq.

              2. re: foodiesnorth

                Mac's is kid-friendly. We've taken our kids there on many occasions. It's a fun place to sit outside and watch the bikes roll in and out and the brisket is good. The pork bbq is okay, but it doesn't have the "wow" factor.

                Another place not yet mentioned is McKoy's Smokehouse, just around the corner from Mac's Speedshop. This is another biker bar & grill type place but more authentic than Mac's. You won't see yuppies and bankers here. Again, we've taken the kids to this place also. Great 'cue, wings, service, etc. And people watching is not to be missed. During the warmer months they sell 'cue and beer outside and have music playing outside also. Nothing like some Johnny Cash, a plate of pork and slaw and a couple of beers at McKoy's.


                1. re: foodiesnorth

                  Had the smoked then grilled wings here which were killer with the chipotle sauce. The St. Louis ribs were really good as well. Yummy mac & cheese and real onion rings, not the prebreaded crap a lot of places serve. Not NC style BBQ but a big thumbs up for Mac's.

              3. okay, let me put a bit of a different spin on get real mom and pop, whole hog, rural road BBQ, how far would we have to travel from Charlotte (by car). A short road trip is possible....if the destination is really worth it. When you are as carnivorous as our crew, you go where you have to. Thanks for all the advise thus far. The DW will be happy to hear Mac's is an option for the kids as she really had a good time and a good meal there last year. It would be nice to contrast it with something more rural.

                4 Replies
                1. re: foodiesnorth

                  Lexington BBQ # 1, about an hour or so north of Charlotte on I-85.

                  1. re: mcap

                    To confuse things even more, Lexington-style is pork shoulder, Eastern-style is whole hog.

                  2. re: foodiesnorth

                    You'll likely have to make a trip to eastern NC for whole hog bbq. Not exactly sure about that, but whole hog isn't the "western NC" style. Maybe you'll find of luck!

                    1. re: JayL

                      Bill Spoon's says it right on the sign: "We cook the whole pig. It makes the difference."

                      The whole hog/shoulder difference might be a general rule for small towns and rural joints, but the decent sized cities will usually have both regardless of where they're located in the state.