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Abbreviated NC BBQ Tour

I will be in eastern and middle North Carolina in a few weeks and I would love to hit some of the best BBQ places along my journey. I have a list of about 20 places I would love to get to but unfortunately there will just be no way to get them all in during this 36 hour car trip (from roughly the Greenville/Ayden area to Lexington/Winston-Salem). If you were forced to choose a couple places in Greenville/Ayden that best represent Eastern NC BBQ which would they be? Skylight Inn and Bum's? What about B's? What about Jack Cobb's? My thinking is Skylight and Bums since they are very close to each other and it would minimize time but I want to hit the best one or two.

Same question for the Raleigh Durham/Chapel Hill area. Im told if you go ANYWHERE you MUST go to Allen & Son. Is it that good? Anywhere else? Best two or three in that area.

And finally Lexington where I can better concentrate visits because of the density of the Lexington BBQ places. Best 2 or 3 there that best represents the native Cue. Thanks for your help!

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  1. In Lexington go to Lexington BBQ for chopped, and you must go to Speedy's and get "Sliced Outside Brown" Amazing flavors. Also, get a bag of skins and some dipping sauce to go. Be prepared to walk or run about 200 miles to make up for this, but I can tell you first hand, it's worth it!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: lutherben

      Eastern--B's, Skylight Inn
      Triangle--Allen and Son in Chapel Hill (not in Pittsboro)
      Lexington--who cares? ;-)

    2. You could probably just leave it at Allen & Son's for the Triangle area, but, if you really want to go somewhere else too, I would recommend The Pig in Chapel Hill.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brsmith2

        Agree about The Pig but I'd skip the que. The pastrami, country ham, bologna, hot dogs-- all homemade-- are great.

      2. Greenville:

        Definitely the Skylight Inn. My other regular place is Blackbeard's, in Conetoe(about 30 minutes from Greenville).

        I think Bum's is overrated. I would go to B's or Jack Cobb's before I went to Bum's. Between B's and Cobb's, I'd pick the latter.

        Blackbeard's is Thu-Sun only and Cobb's is something like Wed, Fri, and Sat.

        1. Thanks for the recommendations all. I feel like a kid in a giant candy store trying to figure out which 3 or 4 candies he wants to get...

          What about Wilburs and/or Gradys? Is it worth it to continue south west to Goldsboro to hit those two places rather than up to Jack Cobbs or Blackbeards?

          And in Lexington, Lexington BBQ is definitely on the list. But what about Smileys or Barbecue Center? And is it worth going 10 miles south to hit Cooks if we are heading north?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Insidious Rex

            Wilber's and Grady's are both quite good. It really depends on what route you prefer and when you'll be traveling. The places listed are all pretty close in quality.

            1. re: Insidious Rex

              Smiley's, Bar-B-Que Center, Smokey Joe's and Cooks are all worth a visit in addition to Lexington Barbecue. Asks for some outside meat mixed in. Speedy's isn't a wood cooker and is not worth the calories if you're seeking out real barbecue. For the down-east stuff, I'll defer to Naco, although I've had some fine barbecue at Bum's.

            2. I did a similar thing back in Sept '04--started a BBQ tour in Kansas City, then drove straight thru to NC and had BBQ a total of 14 times in 11 days--roughly a clockwise tour starting up in Banner Elk, then Greensboro, Lexington, Ayden, Wilson,Goldsboro etc. Posted a lengthy trip report here and I think it's still archivable. (Try a Yahoo search of "Chowhound"+"Banner Elk"+"Wilson"+"Stamey's"+"KyMikey" and you will pull it up.) I would definitely recommend Stamey's, The Skylight Inn, Wilbur's, Lexington BBQ (maybe more than one in that golden BBQ town!), Allen and Son, maybe B's in Greenville if you get there when they open. Skylight Inn is pure history (before the Civil War) and is BBQ in its purest form--2 guys hacking away with cleavers at a mound of meat, minimal menu served on paper, etc. If you could only go to one, this would be the one Just realized you only have 36 hours--If you hit The Skylight Inn and B's close together (the latter as early in the day as you can-maybe get carry out), then maybe Allen & Son, and hit Lexington BBQ when you get there, that's a pretty good sampling of the best.