Thursday, December 22, 2005

Acceptable - Lewis Barbecue (Morrisville), Now South House Cafe

This was another branch of the Lewis chain of low key barbecue places. I had the ribs with stew, yams and huch puppies. The ribs were fattier than I like and the sides weren't as good as the other Lewis ( on 55 south of 54 ). They do not served sliced pork, only barbecue. All in all, this place was low end of acceptable.

The building used to house one of the 1910 Diner's, which were pretty good lunch places. These were run by a father and son. When the father retired, they closed the one on NC 55, which became China One. Eventually the son sold the one on old Aviation Parkway. The new owners kept the name, but changed the menu entirely, which was a complete letdown. The building has been vacant for a while and now is a Lewis. The 1910 Diner had a barbecue chicken sandwich, which was a grilled patty covered in a barbecue sauce. It was pretty good, if no relation to NC barbecue.

UPDATE: This Lewis has been sold and renamed to South House Cafe. A review is forthcoming.

News - Lewis BBQ, Durham, now A.W.s BBQ Pit

Lewis BBQ has been sold and renamed A.W.s BBQ Pit. The barbecue cook has stayed on and they have added beef ribs.

A re-review is forthcoming.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Acceptable - Bon's BBQ, Carrboro (Now reborn as Bon's Home Cooking)

Bon's has good Southern roots. The owner is the daughter of Mama Dip.

The original restaurant was a storefront in a strip mall in Carrboro. The place was neat, with framed family pictures covering several walls.

The food was acceptable. At lunch, there were four medium sized hushpuppies for a single. Fairly good, but not the heaps that I get elsewhere. The bbq sandwich was okay, with no real spiciness or negative tones. The sides were mundane.

UPDATE - After closing for some months, Bon's is reborn as Bon's Home Cookin in University Square on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill NC. A review is forthcoming.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Murray's BBQ & Seafood is no more

I'd heard that Murray's had closed, but it wasn't clear which one, so I drove by Murray's BBQ & Seafood on Old Poole Road to check. On the door is a hand written sign that says "Out of Business". This is too bad, since it was one of my favorite red-neck barbecue places. Thanks to Richard, details in this News and Observer article.

Now if Don Murray's on Capital were to close, no tears would be shed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Acceptable - Dixie Bell's - Apex NC

Address - 1241 Laura Village Rd, Apex Map
Style - Fast food restaurant

The restaurant is in building that was built as a fast food restaurant. Outside, there is a small wood smoker encased in walls to match the rest of the building. I do not know how they can produce enough pork for the restaurant and catering business in that small smoker. They must have a smoker elsewhere (or shudder, gas).

Ordering is at a cash register. They give you a glass to serve yourself a drink from the usual machines and then bring your order to the table.

My lunch was a regular pulled pork with four (count'em, four) hushpuppies, regular slaw (they have BBQ slaw as well), potato salad and tea. The hushpuppies were nothing to write home about, as was the slaw, but the potato salad was real homemade. It was a little tart for my taste, but the texture and quality of the potatoes were excellent. The pork was wood smoked with a decent crust, but a little bland. I used the on table sweet dark sauce on the meat, which helped. The sauce reminded me of Danny's, which is good.

For fast food bbq, it was above average, but for great fast food bbq, visit BBQ Ribs & Co is Siler City and elsewhere.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Acceptable - Ole Time Barbecue, Raleigh

Address - 6309 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

Years ago, there was a restaurant on Hillsborough or Western that had a pig pickin' on Wednesdays. I was in the area on a Wednesday and went looking for that restaurant. I found the Ole Time Barbecue instead.

I ordered BBQ and Fried Chicken with slaw and fried apple sticks. The waitress brought a basket of hushpuppies to the table before I ordered, which is always a nice touch. The hushpuppies were alright, except for some overfried pieces in the bottom of the basket. The BBQ had a good flavor, with visible red spices. The chicken was about average fried with some spices in the coating.

The fried apple sticks were superb. I have never seen them quite done this way. These are worth a revisit.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Acceptable - Byrd's Bar-B-Que, Durham

Address: 2816 Cheek Rd, Durham NC
Style: Order at counter, served at table

Byrd's is back in business, according to the waitress, since February. I know that I checked it out about then, but it was not open. I must have just missed it. Matt Pendergraft, from the defunct Durham Sandwich Company, has reopened the restaurant.

I ordered the sliced plate with hush puppies and slaw, which came with a slice of Texas toast, as well. Hush puppies is a side option, rather than part of the plate, as I would expect. The sliced pork was sliced thicker than I would expect. I needed a (plastic) knife to cut the pieces. It was a little fatty, but not too bad with a touch of their decent barbecue sauce. Everything is served on disposable dishes. Obviously they are geared more for the carryout business.

The restaurant is pleasant, though small. It is going to take a couple of visits to get a feel for the place.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pitstops Along the Barbecue Highway

Pitstops Along the Barbecue Highway is another excellent website on bbq in North Carolina and elsewhere. They even review a bbg restaurant in Austria. The reviews are a little dated, but aren't they all? Even this site is dated. That is one thing about a blog, you can get a feel for when the information was current.

The gem of this site is as complete (as possible) a list of bbq joints in North Carolina, sorted by city/town. Even though there are a couple of places not in the list, I am truly amazed at the work that went into compiling this list.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Don Murray Passes On

"William Donald "Don" Murray, 64, of 3610 South Beaver Lane, died Thursday, March 31, 2005 at Rex Healthcare after months of declining health. Don was born in Wilson County on May 15, 1940 to the late William Doyette Murray, Sr. and Tempie Lindsey Murray. A self-employed entrepreneur, Don began his career at the age of 9 working for Parker's Barbecue in Wilson until the age of 33. He left Wilson and moved to Raleigh in 1973 where he formed a partnership and opened Don Murray's Barbecue on Capital Blvd. Soon Don decided to strike out on his own, dissolving the partnership and in August 1979, Don opened Barbecue Lodge, Inc. in Mini City on Capital Blvd. His business thrived and soon had restaurants around North Carolina."

Garner News, 04/08/2005

Recommended - Allen and Son North - Chapel Hill

Address - 6203 Millhouse Road Chapel Hill, NC Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

After months of less than stellar barbecue restaurants, we have a winner. Allen and Son has been on my must try list since the beginning, but I kept dropping by when they were closed.

I ordered the barbecue plate, which comes with a decent serving of pulled and chopped pork, a decent slaw and a handful of decent hushpuppies. The pork is very good. It has a good full flavor, a mix of the hickory smoke and the spiciness of the barbecue sauce. A pitcher of the house sauce was brought with the plate. I tried a dash on a chunk of pork and nearly had my teeth knocked out. The sauce is not for the timid. Easily, the best pork I have had since my adventure with the smoker at camp.

The walls of the restaurant are covered with prints of duck hunting stamps. It seems like an odd mix, but more to my taste than the Nascar decor at Murray's BBQ and Seafood.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Kent's North Carolina-Style BBQ Page

Kent Craig has an outstanding North Carolina BBQ blog at

It is much as I wish this blog to be, if I were a better writer. We do disagree on some things, such as Lexington style barbecue.

News - Red, Hot and Blue, Chapel Hill now Jim's Famous BBQ

After 12 years as Red, Hot and Blue, the Memphis-style barbecue restaurant in Chapel Hill is no longer part of the national franchise. Jim Groot, who owned the franchise, is now running the restaurant as Jim's Famous BBQ. A re-review is forthcoming.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Acceptable - Lexington #1, Lexington NC

Address: 10 Highway 29-70 South, Lexington NC
Style: Table Service

Here I am back in Lexington, trying to find decent barbecue. Maybe I just favor the vinegar tang of Eastern barbecue, but I find the Lexington meat bland. The Lexington branded restaurants are well spoken of, so let's try one out.

I ordered the sliced tray, which should be enough for lunch. The tray is small, not much larger than the tray of hushpuppies. It contains one quarter decent red cabbage slaw and three quarters chunks of pork. The pork is soaked in liquid and a bit bland. The meat is cooked well, but there is no personality. I douse a little of a bottled (not made in house) sauce to give it some pep.

The hush puppies are decent. They have a corn meal coating, which makes them crunchier than eastern puppies. The waitress brings me a second tray, which is nice.

Maybe next time will be the charm for Lexington.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Acceptable - Bob's Barbecue, Creedmoor NC

Address: 1589 NC Highway 56, Creedmooor NC
Restaurant Style: Steamtable Service

Bob's was the first BBQ restaurant that I ever ate at. I was still living in Michigan, but was on a business trip to RTP and visiting a plant in Creedmoor. The guys from manufacturing took me there to introduce me to NC barbecue. That was fifteen years ago. I did not know anything about barbecue. I had not been back and had not wanted to rate this place until I visited it again.

The restaurant is very much a working class lunch spot, with bare tables and minimal ambience.

I ordered BBQ and Stew combination. It came with slaw and hushpuppies. All were served from a steam table in styrofoam dishes, as is usual in such a place.

The barbeque had a decent body to it, but was a little bland. Adding a little of the table BBQ sauce made it quite nice. The hushpuppies were dry after too long on the steam table.