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Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

Greenville, SC
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Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

We are spending a long weekend in Charlotte. We were wondering if there were any "must have" BBQ places in the Charlotte area. We are willing to drive outside of Charlotte if we need too. Thanks in advance!!

Los Angeles...
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1. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

Midwood Smokehouse on Central Ave... Hands down best BBQ in the city limits. Go with the beef brisket!

North Carolina
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2. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

If you are willing to drive an hour, visit the small town of Lexington, NC. This town is all about the BBQ. There are dozens of unassuming BBQ joints within a few miles of each other. Lexington BBQ and Speedy's are excellent, but you really can't go wrong with most of them. While up there, stroll the streets of downtown as they have a nice little historic district as well.

Clemmons, North...
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for North Carolina, Winston Salem
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3. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

Yeah, just to give you some background--the word "barbecue" in NC traditionally means chopped, smoked pork with a vinegar-based sauce. There is eastern style (found primarily east of I-95) and western (or Lexington) style. The two are similar, but eastern is traditionally whole hog, and Lexington is made only from shoulders with a touch of catsup in the sauce. These two make up the barbecue for which NC is famous. For whatever reason, you won't find really good versions of NC barbecue outside the regions where they originated (including Charlotte).

So the short answer is--you won't find great barbecue in the Charlotte area. You may find great ribs, and good "pulled" or chopped smoked pork, but it won't be the same as the original, and it shouldn't rightly be called barbecue. As gator says, it's not a long drive to Lexington, and there's also some pretty good western style BBQ in Shelby. But for the real stuff, you have to drive a few hours east. ;)

NC
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4. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

Kyle Fletcher's on Highway 74 ( Wilkinson Blvd) in Lowell, NC ( 15 minutes from Charlotte). I've eaten BBQ in Charlotte area for over 50 years - restaurants come and go. He's goto some of the best. They've won lots of awards. Cash only- no credit cards.

Charlotte
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5. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

Real NC BBQ is pulled, not chopped.

Midwood Smokehouse is my favorite inside the city limits.

Clemmons, North...
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for North Carolina, Winston Salem
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6. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

"Real NC BBQ is pulled, not chopped"...says the guy from Charlotte (a virtual barbecue desert).

Pete Jones would heartily disagree, as would anyone else who really knows barbecue. :)

Charlotte
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7. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

I also like Mac's Speed Shop if you're on that side of town and Queen City Q downtown is pretty good. Smoke City (also downtown) is not.

Winston-Salem, NC
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8. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

If you're thinking of venturing north on 85 toward Lexington to find the best western-style cue, I have 2 primary recommendations depending on how far a drive you're willing to take. First, for the most part I'd say take a pass on almost all of the actual Lexington cue joints-the sauce and BBQ slaw most of them serve are too ketchupy sweet and imo a good number of them are living on hype these days.

Richard's BBQ in Salisbury (~45 min drive) is better than any of the Lexington cue stands imo, with a sauce that is way more peppery hot and less ketchupy sweet than any of the actual Lexington stands. Another 45 min north, Little Richard's in Winston-Salem (no relation to Richard's) is the best of the north Piedmont western-stylers, again with a sauce that is slightly less ketchup-reliant than most of the Lexington stands.

If you're interested in trying both eastern & western styles with a bit of a drive, there's Prissy Polly's in Kernersville (1.5 hrs) which serves both, though in all honesty I think there are better alternatives for the western style, at least.

One thing I would suggest is checking out any of the stands you're thinking of visiting to make sure they still do their cooking over actual wood coals rather than using an electric smoker. If they don't smoke with actual wood coals, then it ain't the real thing. Pit cooking over wood coals is an art requiring years to master-"set it and forget it" electric smokers shortcut the knowledge required to maintain the consistent coal heat for slow smoking the pork.

As far as eastern-style cue is concerned, having lived down east for a number of years and sampled most of the better-known cue stands down that way, I can say that eastern-style has some cue stands that are excellent, some that are merely average and some that are downright awful, just as you will also find the good, bad & ugly among western-style stands. I prefer western-style because I grew up here and prefer BBQ slaw (rather than mayo-based cole slaw) and a hybridized ketchup-pepper sauce, but both styles are delicious when done properly.

For more info on the stands in the area, check out the "NC BBQ Trail":

www.ncbbqsociety.com/bbqmap/trail_map.html

Charlotte, North...
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9. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

not even close, do not waste your time with Midwood Smokehouse, over priced and NOT good!

Charlotte, North...
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10. Re: Great BBQ in the Charlotte area??

As stated NC BBQ is PORK (not beef). We also 'do' chicken, but the 'real thing' is pork. Western style is a tomato based, usually milder sauce. Eastern style is a vinegar and red pepper based, spicy sauce. You can get either sliced or chopped, with or with out 'outside' meat (the crispy/crunchy almost burned bits). I like sliced or chopped western style with a bit of outside meat. You can get plates or platter with the meat, fries, slaw (plain or with bbq sauce/pepper added), and sometimes hushpuppies (fried corn bread nuggets). Some restaurants serve it with baked cornbread and/or sliced white bread. Or you can get sandwiches- meat, sauce and slaw). I'd encourage you to head towards Lexington as suggested. Just look for a local 'joint' that has lots of cars in the lot and smoke coming from the back ( it will smell GREAT!!!). That's also in the direction of NC wine country. There are plenty of wineries that give tours and have tastings. Some specialize in 'unique' wines- like berry based wines or honey based (mead), etc.