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Jan 3, 2013 08:50 AM

BBQ in Charlotte

I have bbq lovers from TX coming to visit and for some reason, they're interested in trying the BBQ we have here in NC. I'm not a huge fan so I can’t decide what bbq joint in the QC to take them to. I haven’t visited many of the newer places and need some advice. With all the new cue places popping up in town, who’s got the best smoked pork? Thanks!

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  1. For an old school atmosphere, go to Old Hickory House. For new school, Midwood Smokehouse.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Just so you know, you won't find good, authentic NC barbecue in Charlotte. There are plenty of good restaurants in Charlotte, but they don't do NC barbecue. Simply cooking pork with smoke isn't enough--it has to be cooked with real wood and have vinegar based sauce to be real NC barbecue. To get the real thing you have to travel to the eastern part of the state. You can also get Lexington style barbecue an hour or so north of Charlotte, but anyone who knows anything about barbecue knows that isn't the real thing. ;)

        So if you want, feel free to take your friends to a place in Charlotte, but please don't try to pass it off as NC barbecue. We have a reputation to uphold!

        8 Replies
        1. re: arbyunc

          That's really not true. While Charlotte isn't home to any of the, say, top ten traditional BBQ joints in NC, Old Hickory House is certainly good, and authentic. And Midwood Smokehouse is a good representation of new school, somewhat yuppie-fied BBQ...and they smoke with wood and have vinegar sauce. Neither are equal to Skylight Inn or Honey Monk's, but few are.

          For that matter McKoys isn't too bad either southernitalian...similar vibe to Macs but better, imo

          1. re: carolinadawg

            I haven't lived in Charlotte for some time and cannot comment on the new places but I never thought of Old Hickory House as being authentic NC BBQ. Heck, they serve Texas Toast and, IIRC, the sauce is rather thick. I always thought of it as more of a GA style and, while my memory is foggy, I think that is where the owner may be from.

            I never felt that there was any great authentic NC BBQ in Charlotte when I lived there, either, to echo an earlier comment. Maybe some of the newer places serve it but I always felt you had to go to Shelby, Salisbury or Lexington to get good Lexington-style BBQ. And if you want good Eastern-style, keep driving east for three or more hours.

            1. re: brentk

              As I said, Charlotte isn't home to any of the top shelf, old line bbq joints in NC. And the sauce at Bridges in Shelby is pretty thick too. In any event, the 'q at OHH is cooked over wood, and served with a vinegar based sauce. Arbyunc said that didn't exist in Charlotte, and it does.

              1. re: carolinadawg

                "As I said, Charlotte isn't home to any of the top shelf, old line bbq joints in NC."

                I'd agree with that statement. There's probably not a big demand of that old style NC Q in the big cities of NC.

                I've lived in NC for 20 years and grew up in Virginia and I've never liked the traditional NC BBQ.

                Maybe the OP's friends can bring us some Texas Barbecue from Rudy's - the greatest Q on the Planet!

                1. re: carolinadawg

                  carolinadawg, I said "good, authentic NC barbecue" doesn't exist in Charlotte. Serving "with" a vinegar based sauce is not NC style--the sauce must be blended into the meat before serving. The real thing doesn't need additional sauce because it has enough flavor to stand on its own. And it should be cooked over wood coals, not finished over flaming wood. Also, while Old Hickory's sauce may be vinegar based, it's certainly not traditional eastern or Lexington's much too thick. While it may be tasty to some people, my point is that people shouldn't assume that just because they're in NC they can find NC barbecue just anywhere. Sorry, but you won't find it in Charlotte.

                  1. re: arbyunc

                    You're simply arbitrarily creating definitions and rules to support your own predetermined end point. It's extremely common for the classic NC bbq joints to provide extra sauce (dip) on the table, so one can add more to suit. As I said, and will continue to say, OHH is a reasonable representative of NC bbq (and it is fully cooked over wood), especially given the parameters of the OP.

                    1. re: carolinadawg

                      Hey, I didn't make the rules...they were made long before I was born. I just know real NC barbecue when I eat it, and I've never eaten it in Charlotte. I've been to Old Hickory House, although it was many years ago. Unless they've changed their recipe since then, it's not traditional NC style.

                      1. re: arbyunc

                        As I pointed out, there is no "rule" against adding more sauce to the 'q at the table. That's a fabrication.

                        OHH serves bbq cooked over wood and a vinegar based sauce. As you yourself said upthread, that is the definition of traditional NC bbq.

          2. My favorite place for bbq is Ten Park Lanes Bowling alley, it's not the normal slaw, hushpuppy, sweet tea, bbq house, but delicious food and in a bowling alley!! I'm going to post a one picture of the bowling alley. One of my favorite menu items is a layered Mason jar, you can do bbq, slaw and beans and add smoked jalapenos!!! YUM.

            I also like Bill Spoon's and McKoy's.

            My favorite bbq place ---that is what I think of when I think of bbq restaurants is in Spartanburg, SC, not too far of a drive, but I stop every time!
            Southern Barbecue
            6 Fairview Church Rd Spartanburg, SC

            1. I swear, there is nothing like the subject of BBQ to get the natives riled up. Once, I cooked some BBQ on my smoker out back, and took it home to Virginia for a family visit. My mother immediately slathered a bun with mayonaise, put the BBQ on it, covered it with a slab of american cheese, ate it & loved it! My wife (who was raised in eastern NC,) almost keeled over. This has become a part of our family history. When we travel to Virginia & cross the state line, I tell my family "Ahh, I'm home, the air smell so much sweeter..", then my teenaged daughter says "oh yeah Dad, this is the state where they put mayo on their BBQ sandwiches". Oh well..
              Sorry to digress, this is not why I'm writing. This is not a restaurant, but a few years ago, a guy in my neighborhood, Mike Watson, retired, and started smokng BBQ (He calls himself "Magic Mike" . Its quite good, and Mike is quite a character. As said, its not a restaurant, but he does cater, and could probably also fill some orders for pick-up.Thought I'd pass this along FWIW. Website is here:

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jibe

                When managing a bbq restaurant more than a decade ago I had a "yankee" order a sandwich and asked to add mayo, red onions, and pickles. I shook my head and made him what he asked for. He ate and left happy. I guess that's all that matters.