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Jan 29, 2011 11:55 PM

Help Needed in SC then NC

We will be heading to Spartanburg SC for several days and then up to Ft. Bragg in NC for another day or two. Looking for recommendations for some exceptional dining including regional BBQ sites. Willing to travel off interstates to find truly memorable dining. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Here's a link to the NC barbeque trail:

    Bridges in Shelby is excellent. Which route are you taking to Bragg?

    11 Replies
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      At this point unsure of road route as we've never been anywhere near Spartanburg or Fort Bragg before. Brother in Law and wife just posted there and this will be our first trip to visit them. We will have the luxury of time so more than willing to wander around a bit in search of great roadfood and local cuisine. We love to smoke on our BGE everything from pork shoulders to briskets to ribs and even brats and kielbasi but would really like to sample some of the regional differences as we travel; hence the request for help. Thanks for your link and any other suggestions that might come our way.

      1. re: ThanksVille

        Well, be aware that in NC barbeque is pork. Pork. LOL. It is a source of friendly contention amongst the posters here. Do a search for NC barbeque and you'll see. I think Lexington #1 is the best. It's jus off I85.

        I worked at Ft Bragg a couple of years ago. There's not much fine dining there, but there are a couple of really great Asian places in Spring Lake, not far from the main gate: Thai-Esan and Sawtadee.

        The NC people might be able to help you more.

      2. re: Sue in Mt P

        That's an outdated version of the NCBS trail map. At some point, they delisted Parker's and Bill Ellis in Wilson, and rightfully so.

        Here is the current one:

        That is a nearly definitive list of good barbecue in North Carolina. The OP should note that there are two main styles- Lexington style, which you find in the western Piedmont, and eastern style, which is more or less from Raleigh eastward. Bridges will let you sample the Lexington style. The closest good eastern style places to Fayetteville will be Wilber's in Goldsboro and Grady's in Dudley(about 10-15 minutes south of Goldsboro).

        Most people recognize the Skylight Inn in Ayden as the top place to get eastern style barbecue, but it's a bit of a haul from Fayetteville. If you're really into barbecue and want to get the purest example of eastern NC style, this is it. The main thing that distinguishes this place from somewhere like Wilber's or Grady's is that they mix pieces of chewy/crispy skin into the barbecue. Grady's sometimes mixes skin in, but they don't do it as well as it is done at the Skylight Inn.

        The only things that are served at the Skylight Inn are barbecue, slaw, and a thick, dense cornbread. Recently, they started doing chicken a couple of days a week, but it's unremarkable. I've been going here all my life and love it, but it is not to everyone's taste. It will assuredly not be what you are used to, so bear that in mind.

        There are also quite a few taquerias and other Mexican restaurants catering to Mexican immigrants in the inland counties of southeastern NC. The best of these that I have found is La Cuata, which is also in Dudley, just a few miles down the road from Grady's. Really excellent mole, caldo de res, birria, and other stuff. Soups and stews are the best things to get here. Ask about specials if the specials board isn't posted.

        I think that La Cuata is really special, but you will see a fair few of these places in that area, and most tend to be pretty good. English is often limited in these places, more so during the week than on the weekends, usually.

        1. re: Sue in Mt P

          That bbq trail list isn't the gospel I'll assure you, although it does hit on some good spots, and some not so good.

          1. re: picklelicious

            What are the not-so-good ones? I can't speak for the Lexington style parts, which is admittedly most of the list, but the eastern recommendations encompass just about every place that is worthwhile, save Blackbeard's in Conetoe, which I think doesn't meet their age requirement- the trail spots have to have been in business for at least 15 years.

            1. re: Naco

              Recently when I ate at Speedy Lohrs, the product was so greasy it was mush, i was equally unimpressed with Carolina BBQ in Statesville,on my visit it was extremely dry, and their sauces/dips i found to be very unappealing. Little Richards in Winston Salem is not up to par with several Lexington joints that were left off, and perhaps Richards in Salisbury has a strong following, I personally have never enjoyed their Q, but it has been a while since I've tried it.
              In a state like NC where there are so many different quality bbq restaurants, obviously it's going to be impossible to create a short list of the best BBQ restaurants that everyone agrees on.

              1. re: picklelicious

                You have a point; the two-places-per-town max thing may be a flaw in the methodology when it comes to the town of Lexington.

                I disagree about it not being possible to create a short list- places that cook with wood or charcoal are like hen's teeth, and basically everything I've ever eaten that was cooked with gas was crap, and recognized as such by people with any taste at all. Even if you chucked some of the NCBS' pickier criteria and just made a list of places that cook with wood or charcoal, I doubt it would be much bigger than the current list. I know of exactly one wood-burner east of I95 that isn't on there. You might pick up a handful in Lexington, and I suspect that would be about it.

                1. re: Naco

                  Yea, i was a member of the organization (NCBS) until i spent some time with the head man at one of his bbq boot camps, after which time i, and most every other camper who attended, resigned our memberships. One interesting tidbit the head man did say though, was that some of these BBQ restaurants will swear they use hardwood, they'll even make it visible, change the sizes of the woodpiles, but the wood is simply a facade, they use gas.

                  1. re: picklelicious

                    Interesting; I had thought about going to one, but besides the cost, had been put off by the relentlessly self-promoting tone of a lot of the stuff he puts out. But I wasn't trying to argue the merits of the NCBS, I just think that their trail list is pretty strong.

                    Down here the gas cooking places don't even bother with that kind of pretense. Oftentimes they're in locations where they obviously couldn't be cooking with solid fuel.

                    1. re: Naco

                      My thoughts on the restaurants I referenced above were not based on personal feelings for the organization, just opinions of visits.
                      BTW, I think the NCBS is a great idea, and a worthy cause, and I'll leave it at that...

                      1. re: picklelicious

                        Didn't mean to imply otherwise, and thanks for the comments.

        2. The BBQ Hut has two locations in Fayetteville. Fuller's is a good BBQ joint.

          The Barbecue Hut @ 2965 Owen Dr., Fayetteville, NC. 910 - 484 - 1975.

          Fuller's Old Fashioned BBQ @ 113 N. Eastern Blvd., Fayetteville, NC. 910 - 484 - 5109.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Littleman

            Have you ever eaten at either of these places?

          2. Many thanks to all with your NC recommendations.

            Really can't wait to try a few both from the trail and off; but what about South Carolina around Greenville and Spartanburg? Could really use some recommendations there including at least one great restaurant to celebrate with my wife. Gotta believe there is culinary life there beyond the couple references.

            11 Replies
            1. re: ThanksVille

              Wish I could help you. I never go up there. High Cotton here in Charleston is one of my local favorites and there's one in Greenville, but I haven't been there.

              1. re: ThanksVille

                Last time I was in that area I spotted a casual Cajun place called Chops. It looked promising and I hope to try it next time I pass through the area.


                I haven't experienced anything I'd return to on my few trips there.

                1. re: ThanksVille

                  Just North of Greenville on 276 is the town of Travelers Rest. There is a Cafe at Williams Hardware that seems to be the favorite of all the locals. Rarely run the same soup twice, have a set menu and revolving specials. Makes for hit or miss on the recommendation because they're not really famous for any one thing. If you don't stop at the original Henry's Smokehouse down on Church St. in Greenville, SC then you've wasted your whole trip. I drive past no less than 10 other bbq joints to go there. Safe Travels

                  Henry's Smokehouse
                  240 Wade Hampton Blvd, Greenville, SC 29609

                  1. re: french5000

                    Have you actually eaten Williams Hardware? I've not heard anything good and I don't like the looks of their menu, but I sure would LIKE to like it, because it's in a very good location for me.

                    The High Cotton is G'ville was not very good on my one attempt. In G'ville I would do Sushi Koji, Wine Cafe or American Grocery for a"celebration"

                    I adore Wades in S'burg, but some people don't. I think you just have to happen to be a fan of the things they do well. If you're not fond of fried chicken and yeast rolls, you're not going to really love it.

                    American Grocery Restaurant
                    732 S. Main St., Greenville, SC 29601

                  2. re: ThanksVille

                    I've lived in Spartanburg for the better part of 40 years, and sadly, the dining scene is rather abysmal here. Luckily I travel for a living so am able to eat in numerous parts of the country. The only restaurants I would rec for Sptg woud be:

                    Four Seasons on Fernwood-Glendale Road (east side) Nicer restaurant, wide variety.

                    La Taverna Italian at the Dorman Center (west side) casual italian, Italian owner cooks

                    Ike's Korner Grille for Hamburgers. Sit at counter or on long community tables in a former mill village. You might sit next to a day laborer, or the Mayor, or the 2nd richest man in SC.

                    Converse Deli on E. Main Street across from Converse College.

                    I also like Carolina BBQ off Hearon Circle and Business 85. They do cook with wood. Also, Bull Hawgs BBQ in Pauline.

                    If you want to see some Spartanburg institutions, pack your Tums and go to the Beacon on John B. White Blvd. I haven't eaten there since I was younger and my stomach was made of steel. Sugar 'N Spice is similar, has a cool retro awning where they use to have carhops. Some people will tell you to go to Wade's for meat 'n three, and it's real popular, but I can't recommend it.

                    Greenville has many more dining options, with some previous posts on CH. My office is downtown Gville so we eat there often. High Cotton is very good, as is Rick Erwins, Nantucket Seafood, ChopHouse 47 off 85 and Pelham, and Stella's Southern Bistro in Simpsonville.

                    Good Luck!

                    Ike's Korner Grille
                    104 Archer Rd, Spartanburg, SC 29303

                    Four Seasons
                    1071 Fernwood Glendale Rd, Spartanburg, SC 29307

                    La Taverna
                    120 Dorman Commerce Dr Ste A, Spartanburg, SC 29301

                    Stella's Southern Bistro
                    684 Fairview Rd, Simpsonville, SC 29680

                    1. re: slotmansc

                      MegaThanks to one and all for your suggestions and guidance. That is precisely why Chowhound is such an informational powerhouse. With 12 hours of driving ahead of us, we now have an abundance of options to discuss and settle upon prior to arrival.

                      1. re: slotmansc

                        Second The Beacon. Spent some time in Spartanburg recently and couldn't get enough of their food. Great selection and excellent sides. It's a landmark.

                        1. re: PoppiYYZ

                          Great trip south and truly enjoyed our meals out in Spartanburg and Greenville, the latter being one very attractive community and downtown core. Sequestered out at the Marriott off Pelham Road, we were committed to the breakfast offerings at their inhouse Giatu restaurant. Actually they put forth a pretty substantial buffet including a fresh omelette station that created a perfectly cooked ham, onion and pepper omelette (soft, moist, no browning of the eggs, etc. House coffee was weak but fresh juice and wonderful sausages and cheesey grits as options.

                          In Greenville, we enjoyed a birthday celebration dinner at Deveraux's (couple blocks off Main St) in a beautifully restored warehouse structure. We enjoyed the chef's tasting menu of 5 courses paired with 4 wines plus champagne starter. Exceptional dining with a focus on seasonal local ingredients (several root vegetables in a variety of forms), exceptional seared scallops, 48 hour braised beef and a truly memorable dessert course. Expensive yes but for a once a year splurge truly worth every penny. Did I mention the exceptional service? Overall this dinner made our trip.

                          We did a late lunch at the Beacon and enjoyed absolutely everything. En route back stopped at Chap's Beef in Baltimore to see if we could understand some of the mystique surrounding pit grilled beef. Shared a picnic table with four local police officers who make it one of their weekly stops. Overall the beef was excellent, we asked for rare and medium rare and received our order as requested. Unfortunately, their rolls were not up to the quality of the beef with some generic soft bread variety; however, the grilling flavor came through each slice and paired with some bbq sauce and horseradish it was good enough to assure a return visit.

                          1. re: ThanksVille

                            Glad to hear you enjoyed Greenville. As a life-long resident here, it's been interesting to watch the transformation to the downtown area that has happened. Twenty years ago, almost no one went downtown; now, it's the spotlight of the city.

                            1. re: Danimal174

                              sorry I didn't see this until today ........... ditto on Ike's! Fabulous burger. The Beacon is another landmark that everyone should experience. Wade's is a solid "meat and three" type place that is also an institution in Spartanburg.