This weekend the University of Kansas Jayhawks face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Final Four. Today’s Greasy Five is inspired by this monumental event.
You won’t ever catch me making any disparaging remarks about the great state of North Carolina in this blog because I don’t want to be barred from the state. You see, someday I hope to dine on their great BBQ. I know the BBQ universe extends well beyond Kansas City, and while I’ve enjoyed great Texas and Memphis BBQ, I’ve never had the privilege to feast on Carolina Q. Before I die I will visit the great state of North Carolina and partake in their glorious BBQ tradition.
How is the Tar Heel state’s BBQ different than Kansas City Q?
1. The pig is King in the Tar Heel state. It sounds like you’d have to search long and hard to find beef brisket on any menu.
2. In the eastern portion of the state they BBQ the whole hog and serve it with a vinegar-pepper sauce.
3. In the western half the state, pork shoulders are BBQ’ed and served with a tomato-based sauce.
4. Hush puppies or something called corn sticks are served with their BBQ.
5. You probably won’t find fries on the menu. However, you might find boiled potatoes served with your meal.
This month's Greasy Five consists of the five North Carolina BBQ restaurants I hope to visit before I die. To help compile this list, I pulled from my cookbook shelf North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time by Bob Garner, and John T. Edge’s outstanding book Southern Belly.
The Greasy Five
North Carolina BBQ Bucket List
Note: Each restaurant on my list still uses wood in the cooking process. Call me a BBQ snob, but I refuse to eat at a restaurant that cooks any other way.
- B’s BBQ in Greenville: In Bob Garner’s book on North Carolina BBQ, there’s a picture of B’s Barbecue where smoke lingers above the restaurant and the parking lot overflows with cars – two sure signs that this BBQ joint knows their business. B’s also doesn’t have a telephone. I like the thought of good BBQ being disconnected from mainstream culture. They’re out there doing their own thing, oblivious to the trends, fads, and whims the rest of the world follows.
- Parker’s in Wilson: They raise their own hogs for their BBQ. This is the type of dedication and commitment I expect from a great restaurant. They also serve fried chicken, and supposedly do it very well, selling as much chicken as BBQ.
- Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden: Their motto is the following: “If it’s not cooked with wood, it’s not BBQ.” National Geographic declared this restaurant the BBQ Capital of the World in 1984.
- Lexington #1 BBQ in Lexington: The owner of this restaurant, Wayne Monk, is considered one of the godfathers of Carolina Q. I’d love to dine at this establishment because you can order what they call a “brown” tray, which consists of chopped meat from the flavorful, smoky, outside portion of the pork shoulder.
- Wilber’s BBQ in Goldsboro: A BBQ restaurant that serves fried gizzards and oysters along with BBQ sounds like my kind of place.
My list could easily be longer because North Carolina is a BBQ Mecca. Someday maybe I can talk my wife into letting me spend two weeks rambling around North Carolina.
North Carolina BBQ Trail Map from the NC Barbecue Society