This is the king of all the trails! It’s no secret that North Carolina is known for its authentic and mouthwatering barbecue. It’s second-to-none and this trail of 20 different BBQ joints proves exactly why! In order to qualify for the trail, each barbecue pit has to be open for at least 12 years, cook their meat on pits fueled by either wood or charcoal, and make their own sauce. Finally, they must be a positive presence in their community and a good representation of North Carolina Barbecue. So is your idea of the perfect Bar-B-Que vinegar or tomato-based? Our list has a sampling of both…
Skylight Inn – Ayden
The Skylight Inn was recognized as the best barbeque in the world by National Geographic in the late ’70s and they have held on to the pride of that title ever since! When you’re there, don’t underestimate the homemade coleslaw – It is the perfect complement to the sweet, yet smokey, world-renowned barbeque.
Bum’s BBQ – Ayden
Bum’s has been a staple in Ayden since the 1960s and barbeque runs through the family’s blood dating all the way back to the early 1800s! Aside from the mouth-watering barbeque served at both lunch and dinner, it’s a must to save room for their world-famous banana pudding.
B’s Barbecue – Greenville
Another family-run barbeque pit, you’ll always see the whole family when you stop by B’s. Don’t get there too late! The sauce is served in whiskey decanters on each table and once the barbeque is gone, they close for the day, so don’t delay!
Wilbur’s Barbecue – Goldsboro
No one is more synonymous with Eastern North Carolina barbeque than Wilbur’s. Known for their delectable, lightly sauced, pork, it’s no wonder they’ve been known to serve more barbeque than anyone else in the state.
Grady’s Barbecue – Dudley
Rich and smoky meat combined with a fiery sauce that Eastern North Carolina is known for! To top it off, the kitchen is known to always be impeccably clean and sanitized, a true feat when having to smoke meat for 12-15 hours a day!
Stephenson’s Barbecue – Willow Springs
Some of the smokiest meat you’ll ever taste, all of the pork has been impressively raised and handled by the owners since they opened in 1958.
The Pik-n-Pig – Carthage
In the mood for an adventure? You can actually fly to the Pik-n-Pig due to its location on an airfield! Known for their chicken (seriously consider their wings!), the meat is locally sourced and delivered daily!
Hursey’s Barbeque – Burlington
Another Eastern North Carolina staple. Hursey’s has been a family business throughout multiple generations, spanning over 60 decades! Their barbeque is the perfect combination of sweet and spice, with a subtle Eastern North Carolina fire aftertaste.
Stamey’s Barbecue – Greensboro
The perfect Barbeque when checking out a game! Stamey’s is located directly across from the Coliseum in Greensboro and once you try their sliced, lightly sauced, barbeque, you’ll know exactly why it has become a staple for all of the local fans.
Fuzzy’s – Madison
While it might be slightly off the beaten path, Fuzzy’s is another staple that has long been synonymous with the northwestern part of the state. They prepare their meat to be lean and generously sauced, with a Lexington-style blend that is flavorful without being overwhelming. A perfect choice when in the area!
Real Q – Winston-Salem
It’s no wonder the secret sauce used at Real Q is something many have tried to replicate over the years, given the owner, Richard, has been in the barbeque business since he was just 13! Without the sauce, the meat is moist with a slight outside crisp but made even more undeniably scrumptious with any amount of sauce.
Smiley’s Lexington BBQ – Lexington
The barbeque at Smiley’s is still cooked in the same pits that were built when it originally opened in the 1950s. Cooking only pork shoulders, they take their time and spend 10-12 hours smoking each batch. Smiley’s is a time-honored Lexington staple and it’s guaranteed that you’ll find yourself coming for the barbeque and stay for the equally unforgettable sides!
The Barbecue Center, Inc. – Lexington
When you think about a Lexington treasure, you’ll think about The Barbecue Center. It’s the oldest pit cooking restaurant downtown and has been featured in national outlets from Southern Living to “Good Morning America”. What truly makes this gem stand out is the fact that everything is made custom ordered!
Richard’s Bar-B-Q – Salisbury
Serving as one of the oldest pits on the list, Richard’s Bar-B-Q has been bringing quality, hand-chopped, barbeque to Salisbury since 1935. It is a true Eastern North Carolina-style sauce that perfectly complements their large chops.
M&K Barbecue & Country Cooking – Granite Quarry
Known for their ability to produce a lean yet delectably tasteful chop, they just might have the best-sliced barbeque in the area. What really makes M&K stand out is how the rest of their southern country menu perfectly complements the focal point of their restaurant.
Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton
The delectably tender sliced pork lives up to its reputation, which is proven by the consistent line out the door every evening at Bar-B-Q King. The experts swear by mixing their Jalapeño and Eastern North Carolina sauces!
Switzerland Cafe – Little Switzerland
Not your average façade for a barbeque pit, Switzerland Café presents itself as more of a charming mountaintop shack. But don’t let the charm and breathtaking views fool you! They have undeniably perfected their ribs, which are slowly cooked over hickory wood.
Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby
You can get your barbeque minced, chopped, or sliced at Bridges. All come with different amounts of sauce but, rest assured, they provide ample amounts of their mouth-watering recipe at each table. If you aren’t sure which to order, go with their specialty, the outside brown barbeque pork!
Hubba Hubba Smokehouse – Flat Rock
The pits at Hubba Hubba are quite literally never out until they close their doors for the winter. Open from March until Christmas, you will delight in their chicken, ribs, pork butts, and brisket, made fresh by a worldly-experienced chef, who luckily decided to call Flat Rock home.
Herb’s Pit BBQ – Murphy
Last but certainly not least is another classic family-owned gem. Herb’s has found a balance between cut-with-a-fork tender and a perfect outside crisp. While enjoying their perfected barbeque, you’ll appreciate the best hospitality that the state has to offer!
Stay tuned next week for the 3rd part in our series…the North Carolina CHEESE trail!