Monday, December 14, 2009

Speedy's Barbecue Inc, Lexington

Address - 1317 Winston Rd., Lexington, NC Web-site Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

Speedy's in on NC 9 north of Lexington between Business I 85/US 64/US 29/US 70 and US 52. The interior back where I ate was decorated with movie posters.
The barbecue there is real Lexington style. My chopped barbecue tray came with barbecue slaw with hushpuppies and dip on the side. The pork was nicely cooked with a decent flavor without adding any dip. The tomato based dip added to the pork without overwhelming the meat. The slaw was a little watery and the hushpuppies were uninspired.
For a long time, I have been disappointed with Lexington barbecue. Speedy's did not disappoint.

Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q Working with SAFEchild

Smithfield's has announced a partnership with SAFEchild in its Press Release
The company is providing meals to participants in the anti-child abuse program.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fast Food Bbq, Dickey's vs BBQ Ribs & More

In some ways, barbecue is perfect for fast food. The meat is cooked ahead. The sides can be handled at a steam table. Bojangles has been successful serving Southern Fried Chicken and sides for years. A higher percentage of meals is being served in fast food restaurants everyday. NC bbq is missing out on this tresnd. Why is there no NC barbecue fast food chain?
BBQ Ribs & More was a small but growing chain of barbecue fast food restaurants. As described elsewhere, it was a victim of its own success. The chain was acquired by a restaurant management company, who decided that NC bbq did not fit into their network and closed down the chain. One restaurant was sold to the local franchisee. It continues to sell decent NC barbecue to this day. The meat there stands up to the best barbecue joints.
Now, Dickey's has come to Central North Carolina. Dickey's uses the classic fast food formula to sell less than exciting Texas style beef brisket, ribs and pulled pork. The meat there cannot stand up to authenic Texan barbecue, much less to North Carolina bbq. How can this survive in NC when a true NC fast food chain could not.
Looking at the two chains, the difference appears to be the size and nature of their home markets. Texas barbecue draws from all of Texas. NC bbq draws just from NC. Even then, the barbecue wars have divided the market even more. Differences in Texas barbecue are accepted as variations in the whole, not as dividers into competing styles. It is hard to create a mass market for what is a niche product.
Until somebody figures out a way to do NC bbq fast food right, we have NC bbq lovers opening restaurants out of area and/or ordering NC bbq shipped.

"Holy Smoke" by John Shelton Reed et al

During a book store closing, I snagged a signed copy of "Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue" by John Shelton Reed, the famed essayist on the American South, his wife Dale Volberg Reed, and Carolina Barbecue Society founder William McKinley. If this is not the Bible of NC barbecue, it is among the Holy Scriptures. The first sixty pages recount the history of barbecue in NC, which alone makes the book worth reading.

The book continues with descriptions of the different styles of bbq in NC, including how they have changed, barbecue restaurants and recipes. The finest jewel is the penultimate section, titled The People, in which legendary barbecue greats tell their story. Here you hear from Ed Mitchell, Keith Allen, Chad Stamey and a host of others recount how they got into the business and most important, why.

The book is currently on sale (but not signed) at Amazon. Go get your copy.

"Lunch at The BBQ Joint" in Food&Wine

Tom Colicchio, the head judge on Top Chef on Bravo is blogging a Southeastern road trip on the Food&Wine web-site. His entry for day 3 features Chapel Hill's own Tbe Barbecue Joint". With all of the Eastern NC possibilities in the area, picking The Barbecue Joint shows the place has the high repute it deserves. The short blog post is at

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BARBECUE FOR U2", Cooper's BBQ on The Story

The Story is a daily radio program is produced at North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC and is hosted by Dick Gordon. Dick interviews people from all walks of life and tells their stories. In the April 8 broadcast, Dick interviewed Debbie Holt, owner of the Cooper's BBQ in Raleigh. Debbie tells the story of delivering barbecue for 25 to U2's private jet after their concert in Raleigh. The program can be downloaded at the web-page. The hour-long program has two stories. The interview with Debbie starts at 31:00 and runs 17:00.

U2's manager found out about Cooper's by Googling and finding that Cooper's is considered among the best. Cooper's is very good, but not necessarily the absolute best. Apparently, the band loved the barbecue and will order again when they're playing in town, which is good PR for NC barbecue.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Double J's BBQ Ranch - New Florence MO

While driving across Missouri, we ran into a traffic jam on I 70. We got off the interstate and stopped at Double J's BBQ Ranch for lunch. The decor in the restaurant is definitely not like any BBQ joint in NC. The walls are decked with Cowboy regalia, up to the restrooms for Cowboys and Cowgirls.
We ordered chopped pork and beef brisket sandwiches. The pork was nicely smoked with a good flavor, but was drowned with Kansas City style sauce. The brisket was not bad, but also was drowned in the sauce. This is the way KC style is. I do prefer NC style, when the meat is not drowned in the sauce.
The highlight of the meal was a side of baked beans. The beans were cooked with chunks of ham and diced sweet peppers.
This stop was a interesting diversion from my normal NC barbecue experience. We didn't do any more barbecue on the rest of the trip out to Seattle.

The Filling Station - Robersonville NC

After finding B's closed for vacation and the next several barbecue places closed on Mondays, I finally stopped at the Filling Station in Robersonville NC. This is not the standard barbecue place, but more of a meat and three Southern restaurant. I did try the barbecue, but I do not thing they smoke their own. It was pretty standard Eastern style, with the flat flavor of reheating.
What stood out from this visit was the building itself. It is an old pack house converted to a large dining room. Back in the 1940's, a local artist painted murals on the walls above the normal wall height. The art evokes 19th century folk art, with a touch of Grandma Moses. I couldn't get acceptable photos.
Stop by the restaurant for the art and decent Southern cooking, but not for the barbecue.

Lexington Barbecue Video

Recently, the Barbecue Jew blog posted about this video on Lexington barbecue on the Davidson County web-site. It really is a good, if dry, introduction to general Lexington barbecue. There are variations in style elsewhere around the Triad, but the differences are what makes NC barbecue fun. If the barbecue is as dry as this video, you need to add a little dip.

You need to scroll down to find the video. NoScript complained about the play button, but there was no particular technical problem.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Acceptable - Dixie Belle's BBQ - Apex

Address - 1001 Davis Drive, Davis Drive Village, Apex, NC Web-site Map
Style - Counter Service

The new Dixie Belle's BBQ is in a strip mall anchored by a gas station. The Dixie Belle sign is visible from northbound Davis Drive coming up from US 64, but is not at all visible heading south from RTP. The restaurant is the typical coffeshop or sandwich place with a counter to order at and both cafe tables and high tables scattered around the floor. There is a sauce rack next to the soda machine with multiple commercial barbecue sauces, including Sticky Fingers from South Carolina, along with others from Memphis, St Louis and Austin. Even at the table, along with a house sauce marked Western, there were a couple of out-of-state commercial sauces.

My lunch was the Carolina Pork BBQ with potato salad with five hushpuppies. The pork was very good, obviously wood-smoked with a pleasing texture. The sides were exactly the same as my last visit at the old location. The potato salad was well made, but a little tart for my taste.

Purists will look down at the non-NC aspects of this place: the out-of-state sauces, the broasted chicken, etc. The pork barbecue is very good. If the fixin's were better, I'd give this place a Recommended.

Monday, May 04, 2009

"Save My Barbecue Joint", Jonathan Childres on The Story

The Story is a daily radio program is produced at North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC and is hosted by Dick Gordon. Dick interviews people from all walks of life and tells their stories. In the April 8 broadcast, Dick interviewed Jonathan Childres, the owner of the Barbecue Joint in Chapel Hill. Jonathan tells the background of the restaurant's current financial issues and how the gift card program is coming along. The program can be downloaded at the web-page. The hour has two stories. The interview with Jonathan starts at 35:30 and runs 14:30.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Acceptable - Short Sugar's 2, Reidsville

Address - 234 S Scales St, Reidsville NC Map
Style - Lunch Counter

There are two locations for Short Sugar's in Reidsville. Both are on South Scales Street. The larger restaurant is Short Sugar's Drive-in which is a sit-down restaurant. The other is Short Sugar's 2, a lunch counter in a downtown storefront. They certainly seem related, but I do not know their history. They are not related to the (IMO) better Short Sugar's in Danville VA, a half an hour's drive north.

The menu at the lunch counter is extremely limited. Basically, you can get a sandwich or a platter with the choice of minced, chopped and sliced. Sides are slaw and hushpuppies. I had a sliced sandwich and hushpuppies for a quick and cheap lunch. The meat had a good flavor, seemed to be smoked. The slaw on the sandwich was run of the mill. The hushpuppies were overcooked.

This is a place for a quick lunch; there is free parking on the street in front of the place. For more substantial meal, head down to the Drive-in or even up to Dansville.

Update: Short Sugar's 2 has closed. The main restaurant remains open.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Barbecue Joint Move Hits Snag

According to WRAL, the Barbecue Joint's move to the new location hit a snag, due to a couple of investors backing out. The new location, which was a book store with a small coffee bar, needs major renovations to make it a restaurant. When the investors pulled out, there was not enough money for the renovations. The owners came up with a novel way to raise cash. They will sell an investor a gift card for $1000 cash which is worth $2000 in meals. For the full story, see the link.

We wish the restaurant luck. I'd consider purchasing a card myself, but I need to spread my barbecue money around to more restaurants as a reviewer.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Barbecue Jew Got Reviewed in the Independant

The Barbecue Jew blog got reviewed in the Independent, the Triangle's independant weekly newspaper. The Independent has some funky political slant to their main articles, but the restaurant reviews and news are generally well done.

A Cobb Salad at the Q-Shack

A buddy of mine and I had lunch at the new Q-Shack in Carrboro. He had a brisket sandwich. I had been curious about the Cobb Salad which had been recommended, so I ordered one. The salad was huge. It was made up of Romaine lettuce, cubed avocado, hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes covered with a layer of chopped smoked turkey and beef brisket. Overall, the salad tasted fantastic. The first bites of chopped brisket were a little fatty, giving a greased feel to the tongue. But that was only that little bit, as the rest was very good. My buddy, who is a Texas barbecue fan, thought the brisket was a little fatty and not the best brisket he has had in the Triangle, but not the worst either. I will return to give the Q-Shack a proper review. I do recommend the Cobb Salad.

Update: This Q-Shack has now closed.

Barbecue Pit to Open New Location in Durham

According to the Durham Herald-Sun article, the Backyard Barbecue Pit on NC 55 is opening a new location in the old Pizza Palace building at 3218 Guess Road. The building has seen a turnover in tenants in the last ten years, including a steakhouse and the latest tenant, the Pizza Palace, owned by the Rodenhizer family. The Pizza Palace was a Duke University and Durham favorite on Ninth Street since 1963, but it closed in 2008, four years after its move to Guess Road. The building sits back from the street and has a funky look.

The Backyard Barbecue Pit on NC 55 likewise gone through a history of changes. It has had at least three names as a barbecue restaurant. It was originally Lewis's and then AW's. Visits to each version found little changed except the name. The barbecue is a little acidic for this reviewer's taste, but Kent reviews it favorably. I will definitely check out the new location for another taste.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Q-Shack Now Open in Carrboro

The Q-Shack in Carrboro opened earlier this month. It at 302 Main Street, near the Artcenter. This Q-Shack is associated with the Raleigh Q-Shack, but not the Durham branch. I have only eaten at the Durham branch. I plan to try the Carrboro branch and submit a review soon.

Update: This Q-Shack has now closed.

Monday, February 16, 2009


There's a new humorous barbecue review site run by a pair of North Carolina BBQ fans of the Jewish persuasion. There're not many reviews yet, but the humor in the FAQ and BBQ U tabs makes a visit worthwhile. There's also a respectful link to this blog in the Oinks tab, which I much appreciate.

Let's hope they keep it up, so we barbecue fans can trade info. I put a link up in the right hand panel for later viewing.

Take a look at the BBQ Jew.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Acceptable - Stephenson's Bar-B-Q, Willow Springs NC

Address - 12020 NC 50 West, Willow Spring NC, 27592 Map
Style - Sit-down Restaurant

Stephenson's is a stop on the NC Barbecue Society Historic Trail. It has been around for a long time. The address is a little confusing. The restaurant isn't in the town of Willow Springs, but out in the country a mile north of McGee Crossroads.

My lunch order was a Small Pig, a nice sized serving on coarse chopped barbecue with hushpuppies with two sides, spiced apples and cabbage, and hushpuppies. The barbecue was nicely spiced with red peppers and standard vinegar based sauce. The vegetables and hushpuppies were nicely cooked. However, everything was over moist. The pig was soogy leaving a watery juice behind. The pork was not overcooked. It was like it had sat in extra water waiting to be served. The same was true of the veggies and even the hushpuppies. I liked the taste of everything, but the extra liquid feel was offputting.

My iced tea was served with a bowl of crushed ice and a extra pitcher of tea. On the table, there was a small squeeze bottle of sauce next to a large squeeze bottle of Texas Pete. Neither of these were needed.