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Help Please -Sunday between Winston-Salem/Lexington and Charlotte

estufarian Aug 8, 2011 01:53 PM

I'll be travelling back from Virginia on Sunday (14 Aug), ending in Charlotte.
My tentative plan is to have BBQ around Lexington for lunch and dinner in Charlotte.
HOWEVER, it is now apparent that many places are closed on Sundays - and it's particularly difficult researching the places around Lexington, as many don't have websites. (Charlotte's a little easier).
I would appreciate a heads-up on the better places to eat (especially the BBQ - I'm assuming Lexington should be my target there) and a good place in Charlotte to wrap up my trip (currently planned as Magnolia Grill & Watts in Durham, then Town House in Chilhowie) to give me fond memories of South Carolina.

Thanks again, in advance for this, and already for the help I've got to date.
I'll raise a glass of Wink to you, even if it's not paired with a Sonker!

  1. estufarian Aug 25, 2011 03:37 PM

    First an excerpt from my other thread on ‘Triangle Dining’

    “My preferences: VERY concerned about texture – I like some ‘bite’ to my meat rather than fall-off-the-bone, which means I disagree with many of my local Chowhounds. And I dislike anything close to what I’ve called ‘baby-food’ texture.

    I prefer a medium-to-high smoke – subtlety is NOT an asset for me with BBQ. And I’ll judge the sauce separately – please put it on the side!”

    Given that many of the ‘top’ Lexington places are closed on a Sunday, we detoured to try Lexington Barbecue (aka Lexington BBQ #1), on the way to Durham on the Thursday. Multiple chimneys, all smoking; packed parking lot; at last some genuine North Carolina BBQ!

    Here’s my basic issue – chopped pork shoulder has a soft texture that has very little variation. This meant that, for me, the texture that arises from using essentially the same cut, just doesn’t have sufficient interest for me to place this in my top BBQ experiences. Flavor was actually pretty good – but even the brown bits (I wish there had been more) just didn’t grab me in the way I’d hoped. Technically no complaints – but clearly Western Carolina style just isn’t my favorite. I preferred the course chopped to the sliced, but even the sauce didn’t show much complexity – tried adding some pepper sauce as well as the vinegar/ketchup house sauce – but that just made the whole thing soggier – and worse texture. The one ‘great’ thing was the Hush Puppies – these were by far the best I’ve ever had – not previously a favorite side, but these were amazing. Finished every crumb. Pretty much decided that Carolina BBQ was just not my favorite style (hence my preamble – it’s a preference thing not a judgment of quality). And my first Cheerwine!

    My follow-up meal at Allen & Son near Chapel Hill (also see the Triangle thread) similarly found the chopped BBQ to be my least favorite.

    So I considered skipping the Sunday recommendation of College BBQ in Salisbury – except I didn’t really have an alternative and wasn’t too far away at lunch-time, so headed there anyway.

    Absolutely my favorite BBQ meal of the trip!

    Again shoulder (of course) so we tried the chopped and the sliced. Worth noting that the temperature of the food when served was significantly hotter than everywhere else – none of the others exceeded ‘warm’. Portions also seemed larger – or maybe I wasn’t as hungry. The chopped was the best texture of all I tried on the trip. Distinctly different parts – as identified by colour (some brown, some black). But the sliced was even better – actually didn’t look ‘sliced’ (per se), more of a pulled – which again gave additional texture. Absolutely I’d return. Restored my faith in West Carolina BBQ! Sauce, coleslaw and hush puppies were ‘OK’ rather than standout – but the pork itself was the highlight.

    And bizarrely, the latest health inspection gave them 100.5 – given that other places were promoting their 99.5% rating – how can one exceed 100%? Or is that a North Carolina thing?

    On to Charlotte, where again most places were closed. By coincidence we were already in the area where Soul Gastrolounge was located, so that confirmed it as our target for Sunday night. Actually worked quite well after our more focused dining for the previous days. Varied selection of small plates (although we had relatively few, as we were winding down) with no standouts and only one miss (veal ribs – too much fat and little flavor). Wine by the glass; great people-watching. Worth a visit – but probably not with a maiden aunt.

    So again thanks to those who responded.

    -----
    Lexington Barbecue
    W US Old Highway 64, Lexington, NC 27295

    13 Replies
    1. re: estufarian
      w
      wreckers00 Aug 25, 2011 03:43 PM

      how did you like Townhouse in VA?

      1. re: wreckers00
        estufarian Aug 25, 2011 03:47 PM

        I commented on my 'main' Triangle thread - One of the finest meals I've had in North America. Make the effort and go - this is a treasure!

      2. re: estufarian
        meatn3 Aug 25, 2011 08:18 PM

        The rating system is odd. If a manager has Serve Safe certification that automatically adds on some points. Combine that with a very high score and you can get over 100!

        1. re: estufarian
          picklelicious Sep 4, 2011 09:04 AM

          Next time you go through Lexington, if you are willing to give chopped BBQ another try, order the outside brown course chopped. The outside brown adds both a textural and flavor element to the meat that I think really enhances the dish, gives it a nice chew in addition to some added flavor from the skin, Lexington BBQ Center does a great version of this.

          1. re: picklelicious
            estufarian Sep 4, 2011 09:14 AM

            I'm guessing this is an option that's not listed on the menu - don't recall seeing it.
            Also, at several places (not sure about Lexington) there was a 'no substitutions' policy - DEFINITELY at Allen & Son.

            1. re: estufarian
              picklelicious Sep 4, 2011 11:28 AM

              No, it's not on the menu, just a hidden gem that you have to request, there are very few places in the Lexington area that won't offer it.

            2. re: picklelicious
              n
              NXS Sep 4, 2011 09:31 AM

              I SECOND that suggestion!!!!!

            3. re: estufarian
              b
              brentk Sep 4, 2011 11:58 AM

              Just thought I would share with you that, around these parts, the type of BBQ you had is referred to as "Lexington style" rather than "Western Carolina style." Not nearly as widely known as Eastern style and Lexington style, it is what you will find in the mountains and is served with a much thicker sauce. More like Georgia style, in fact.

              1. re: brentk
                estufarian Sep 4, 2011 02:29 PM

                I did 'perceive' the difference - didn't know that they were considered distinct styles (although they tasted different to me). I had what sounds like the 'Western Carolina' version just over the 'border' in SE Tennessee - wrote it up on a different thread (and possibly different board) a couple of years back.
                IIRC wasn't the Georgia version with a 'white sauce' - again, a few years back when I visited Savannah.

                1. re: estufarian
                  picklelicious Sep 4, 2011 02:41 PM

                  White sauce is more prevalent in AL, but things get intertwined from one state to the next where Q, and most any cuisine, is involved. One thing that never need be confused, is the stuff they call Q in the western part of NC with Lexington style Q...I've not had much luck finding any western style NC Q, but i guess the search shall continue.

                  1. re: picklelicious
                    estufarian Sep 5, 2011 09:24 AM

                    I checked back and my experience of 'Western NC' BBQ (at least that was what I concluded) was at Ridgewood BBQ in Bluff City, Tennessee (in June 2009). Not worth linking to the entire thread, but specific comments were "the sauce...really did taste like a mixture of ketchup and vinegar" and the meat was "thinly sliced and thrown on a griddle before serving".

                    Of course this is in complete contrast to the chopped 'Lexington' style.

                    Good luck in your search - here in Toronto, most places claim to offer 'Carolina ' style. It seems to me that almost anything can be made to qualify.

                    1. re: estufarian
                      picklelicious Sep 5, 2011 09:32 AM

                      My search is near complete...I have reached conclusions...but sometimes can not help myself. Hopefully one day I'll try some food in the Toronto area...one well traveled person told me it was his favorite city in the world. I don't imagine I'll be trying the Carolina style Q though when I do visit thogh.

                2. re: brentk
                  Naco Sep 5, 2011 11:07 AM

                  Mountain barbecue is like a traumatic memory; best to forget it ever happened and move on.

              2. estufarian Aug 10, 2011 02:20 PM

                On the assumption that we'll be pretty much chowed out, the most likely place will be Soul Gastrolounge - at least we can judge how much we'll eat. And no reservations, so don't have to rush there.
                Roosters is the back up (if we're more hungry).

                Thanks all - but will check in from time-to-time as we travel.

                1. estufarian Aug 9, 2011 01:39 PM

                  Anybody for Charlotte?
                  My flight is afternoon from Charlotte so I can do lunch (Monday) as well. For Sunday can drive to Charlotte or stop part-way - anything for Sunday dinner anywhere?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: estufarian
                    meatn3 Aug 9, 2011 05:18 PM

                    Roosters Wood-Fired Kitchen would be a good choice and a last bite of the South. Here's a review and link:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784455

                    http://roosterskitchen.com/reservations

                    1. re: meatn3
                      estufarian Aug 9, 2011 05:27 PM

                      Was searching concurrently and have found the following:
                      Customshop
                      Fig Tree
                      Roosters
                      Soul Gastrolounge

                      All open on Sunday.

                      Any thoughts, recommendations, or AVOIDS?

                      -----
                      The Fig Tree Restaurant
                      1601 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204

                      1. re: estufarian
                        meatn3 Aug 9, 2011 09:37 PM

                        My Charlotte experiences are not recent. Melanie posted a bit during her visit. Her take on places seemed to mesh with mine. Based on that I'd tend to favor Roosters.

                        Hopefully some Charlotte hounds will give a more balanced take!

                        Traffic in Charlotte can be challenging. You may want to take the location and its distance to the airport into consideration too. I'm usually very good with orienting myself in a new town, but the one week I worked in Charlotte I got lost daily - even with a map!

                        Charlotte has had a number of places featured on that "Diners, drive-ins and dives" show. Might be some possibilities if you are getting tired of more formal style meals.

                        Edit: Apologies if my posts aren't clear - a bit scattered hosting friends whose child just got out of the hospital. Reread earlier posts (another thread) and realized I wasn't making a bit of sense!

                  2. t
                    Tanglebriar Aug 8, 2011 07:08 PM

                    College BBQ in Salisbury, NC is open on Sunday. It's not to far from I 85, which sounds like the path you are driving. They serve wood burning bbq and just remodeled the inside of their place.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tanglebriar
                      estufarian Aug 9, 2011 06:48 AM

                      Thanks - completely new to me and a real possibility.
                      My route is 'flexible' and will depend on how much time we have, and the weather. I had targeted Lexington 'in general' because of its reputation - then hit the 'Sunday' issue.

                    2. f
                      fredb2548 Aug 8, 2011 06:50 PM

                      Cook's. Jimmy's, Smiley's, and Back Country barbecue restaurants are open on Sundays in the Lexington area. Jimmy's is probably the most versatile with good Lexington Cue, Fried Chicken, and excellent BBQ Chicken., also has a nice hot dog, and good desserts. Yelp'em for directions.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fredb2548
                        estufarian Aug 9, 2011 06:44 AM

                        Thanks - great help. Found stuff on Jimmy's already and looks good.

                      2. q
                        quazi Aug 8, 2011 05:56 PM

                        Go to Milners in Winston-Salem on Stratford Rd and have the fried chicken or a pimento cheese burger. I can't think of any good que open on Sunday

                        1. n
                          Nocturnalbill Aug 8, 2011 04:23 PM

                          I know Bridges in Shelby will be open on Sunday, and it would be worth the drive, but that's a bit out of your way. For decent BBQ, Mid-Wood Smokehouse in Charlotte over on Central, has been pleasently consistent since they opened.

                          1. meatn3 Aug 8, 2011 03:45 PM

                            BBQ is going to be very hard to find on a Sunday. Other regional specialties would be dipped chicken, but Keaton's is closed too.

                            You might be able to have the pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy - I'm not seeing anything about their hours.

                            I'll continue more later....

                            -----
                            Snappy Lunch
                            125 N Main St, Mount Airy, NC 27030

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