Category Archives: Restaurants

Review: Dead End BBQ, Knoxville, TN

For our return trip from Lynchburg, Jay Prince and I ended up travelling through Knoxville, TN.  Naturally, I sent out a tweet asking if anyone had any recommendations for good BBQ in Knoxville.  Within 5 minutes or so, I got a response giving me a place to try out.  So we made a beeline for Dead End BBQ in Knoxville, TN.

At the end of a dead-end street, a group of neighbors gathered to hone and perfect the art of barbecue.  From this group the Dead End Society was formed.  Owners George Ewart and Robert Nutt continued to hone their craft in the dead end as well as on the competition BBQ circuit, and the end result was Dead End BBQ located on Sutherland Ave. in Knoxville, TN!

The restaurant was very neat and clean when we walked in.  The kitchen is partially open, but the area where the smoker is located and the meat prepared is completely transparent and behind a glass window.  The walls are decorated with memorabilia from the area, and some of the walls contain relevant quotes from famous people in the world of BBQ.

I decided to go with a combination plate of pork and brisket with pimento mac & cheese and beans & smoked sausage.  While waiting for my order, I found that Dead End BBQ offers three different sauces, each varying in levels of heat from a mild sauce to a hot sauce.

After about 5-10 minutes, my order arrived, and I have to admit that the food sure did look tasty!  I couldn’t wait to dig in!

Both the pork and beef brisket had an excellent flavor, and I could tell that this was some serious ‘que.  The only drawback was that it was slightly dry.  Saucing the pork definitely helped.  I tried all three of the sauces with pork (because I just can’t bring myself to voluntarily sauce brisket).  All three of the sauces were excellent.  The mild sauce was sweet and reminded me of a sauce made from beer or some other alcoholic beverage (maybe rum or whiskey).   The medium sauce, my personal favorite, added a touch of heat on the back end to let you know that it was there.  The hot sauce packed more heat and flavor into its punch.

The sides were excellent!  The mac & cheese was a very tasty and rich mac & cheese.  The beans and smoked sausage — wow!  I could have made an entire meal off of a large bowl of that!  It was a perfect blend of proteins that complemented each other very well.

The price point was right about where I expected for a combination platter, so it wasn’t insanely expensive.  I think the guys who run this place definitely have a good thing going on with Dead End BBQ.  I just happened to get some meat that was a little dry, but I won’t let that stop me from recommending this place.

Dead End BBQ is located at 3621 Sutherland Ave., Knoxville, TN 37919.  You can find their website at http://www.deadendbbq.com, and you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Review: Kyle Fletcher’s BBQ — Gastonia, NC

Last weekend after work, I hopped on I-85 heading towards the mountains of western North Carolina to judge in Franklin, NC.  I couldn’t for the life of me decide where I should stop for dinner.  One of my co-workers mentioned that I should try Kyle Fletcher’s BBQ in Gastonia, NC.  Sure, why not?

Obligatory Signage

Obligatory Signage

Kyle Fletcher's BBQ

Kyle Fletcher's BBQ

Kyle’s is the quintessential barbecue joint.  It’s literally a little hole-in-the-wall building.  Parking is very much at a premium.  Kyle’s only accepts cash (so make sure that you make an ATM visit before stopping here).  Seating is done based on the honor system where everyone seats themselves.  And finally, when you step inside, you will have no doubts whatsoever that you are in a North Carolina BBQ joint — the interior decor is covered in all things UNC and NASCAR.

Interior

Interior

After browsing the menu, I decided on a large BBQ plate with hush puppies, fries, baked beans, and slaw (which ran about $7).  Naturally, I had sweet tea to drink (and quite a lot of it that night — I was really thirsty).  About 5-10 minutes after ordering, my food came out.

Large pulled BBQ plate

Large pulled BBQ plate

The slaw was a finely chopped slaw.  It was a faint pink color, caused from (I believe) mixing BBQ sauce into a white slaw mixture.  It had a nice balance of sweet and tang to it while maintaining a good texture.  The beans were nice and bold, although I would’ve liked to have seen some green bell pepper or onion in the beans.  The fries were nothing special, quite frankly, and the hush puppies were above average.

And now… the pork…

Pork close-up

Pork close-up

The pork was very moist and flavorful.  The consistency of the meat was between a coarse pull and a chop, so there was some texture retained.  There was a definite smoke flavor to the meat.  I also tried the pork with their two sauces — a sweet tomato-based sauce and a vinegar-based sauce that was supposed to be hot.  The vinegar-based sauce was not as hot as I thought it would be and did not add much flavor to the meat.  The tomato-based sauce, however, was quite excellent and would work well on any sort of meat.

Oh, and I did snag a photo of their cookers.  Kyle Fletcher’s cooks their BBQ behind their restaurant using hickory wood.

One of the cookers

The cooking area

So is this joint worth a repeat visit?  I’d say so.  And judging by the crowd I experienced when I was there, others are probably thinking the same thing.

Kyle Fletcher’s BBQ is located at 4507 Wilkinson Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28056.  They accept cash only.  I could not readily find their hours of operation.  If someone happens to know, I would certainly appreciate knowing as well!

Kyle Fletcher's BBQ & Catering on Urbanspoon

Review: 521 BBQ & Grill — Indian Land, SC

I was out and about on a Saturday in the southern part of Charlotte, NC.  I realized that I was within striking distance of a BBQ joint that I had not tried yet.  So at the recommendation of my friend Steve Gibbs, I decided to stop in at 521 BBQ & Grill in Indian Land, SC.

521 BBQ & Grill

521 BBQ & Grill

This BBQ joint is located approximately 10-15 minutes from the Ballantyne area of Charlotte, just over the NC/SC state line.  The decor of the place is very down-home, with picnic tables nestled among standard restaurant tables.

Restaurant Interior

Restaurant Interior

The menu at 521 BBQ & Grill offers pulled pork and ribs as well as items off of the grill (pork chops, chicken, etc.).  After perusing the menu for a few minutes (and soliciting the advice of the super-cute waitress who took care of me), I decided on the BBQ tray which consists of pulled pork (which ended up looking closer to chopped than pulled), fries, and hush puppies.

BBQ Tray

BBQ Tray

The first bite of pork was just a little bit on the dry side.  After that, it was absolutely delicious!  The pork had a beautiful color, with bits and pieces of the outside bark mixed in.  It had a nice touch of smoke in the taste, thus allowing the pork to be the star.

Pork Close-up

Pork Close-up

I’ll visit the sides shortly, but I want to talk about the sauces.  There are 2 different sauces available — a thick sweet Kansas City style sauce and a vinegar based sauce.

Sauces -- KC style on the left, vinegar on the right

Sauces -- KC style on the left, vinegar on the right

The KC style sauce was very thick, very sweet, with a nice touch of smoke.  It went well with the pork.  The vinegar-based sauce, on the other hand…  it was fabulous!  The color of the sauce is a darker color than most traditional vinegar-based sauces (very similar to the homemade vinegar-based sauce that I make).  This sauce really gave the pork that extra zing.  Excellent sauce!

Now, back to the sides…  the fries were fried up perfectly.  They were very crispy and flavorful on the outside.  The hush puppies were tasty as well, although I would’ve liked to have seen just a touch more flavor in them.  Nevertheless, I ate them anyway.

A Happy BBQ Tray

A Happy BBQ Tray

So is it worth the trip from Charlotte to Indian Land to check out this joint?  Without a doubt!  I’m certainly glad I checked it out.

521 BBQ & Grill is located at 7580 Charlotte Highway, Suite 100, Indian Land, SC 29707.  Their website is http://www.521bbqandgrill.com, and they can also be found on Facebook.

521 BBQ on Urbanspoon

Review: Hubba Hubba Smokehouse — Flat Rock, NC

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Kevin’s BBQ Joints.  Earlier this year, I was reading a blog post talking about the favorite BBQ joints of Amy Mills Tunnicliffe.  When I saw Hubba Hubba Smokehouse in Flat Rock, NC mentioned, my first thought was, “Hey, that’s close to my in-laws!”  Well this past weekend, my father-in-law and I decided to give it a shot.

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse

If you’re not keeping your eye out as you drive, you may very well miss this joint!  It is set off the road behind a collection of shops and eateries in Flat Rock, NC.  There is no indoor seating — instead, there are multiple outdoor seats available ranging from picnic tables to covered seating areas.  Ordering is done at one window, and food is picked up from the other.  One thing that gave me encouragement was the big woodpile.  According to the website for the smokehouse, they are supposedly one of only 30 wood-fired smokehouses in the state of North Carolina.

The wood pile

The wood pile

Watch out for the chickens!

Watch out for the chickens!

Both my father-in-law and I decided to order the pork plate — I ordered mine with cole slaw and potato salad, while he ordered his with cole slaw and baked beans.

Pulled Pork with Cole Slaw and Potato Salad

Pulled Pork with Cole Slaw and Potato Salad

The pulled pork had good flavor.  It was not overly smoky, and I could actually taste the meat and not some sauce.  The one word to describe the slaw — fresh.  The slaw had very little liquid base and almost consisted entirely of veggie goodness.  The potato salad had a very interesting flavor — it was a blend of a white potato salad and a classic yellow potato salad.

While ordering, I saw a slew of sauces at the counter (try saying that 3 times fast…).  I decided to get a sample of each and give them a shot.

The Sauces

The Sauces (from L to R: original, mustard, vinegar, chipotle, tomatillo)

I was expecting the tomato sauce to be a little bit sweeter, but it tasted fine by itself.  It gave the pork a little more flavor as well.  The mustard-based sauce is your classic SC mustard sauce and would work well on a pulled pork sandwich.  The vinegar sauce holds true to the eastern Carolina style vinegar based sauce.  The chipotle had a nice smoky kick to it — not overpowering, but enough to balance out the flavors.  The tomatillo sauce was interesting — it reminded me of some grilling sauces I’ve had in the past in terms of its fresh taste.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip to Hubba Hubba Smokehouse and would not hesitate to return there again.

Hubba Hubba Smokehouse is located at 2724 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock, NC 28731.  Their website is http://www.hubbahubbasmokehouse.com/, and they can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Review: Jake’s Good Eats — Charlotte, NC

As far as restaurants go, this is a departure from the typical restaurant that I would review on here.  However, after seeing Jake’s Good Eats featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and  Dives”, I knew I would have to check it out (especially since it’s located within a 10 minute drive of my house).  After months of mentioning it to my wife, I finally convinced her to go to dinner there last night.

Jake's Good Eats -- Guy Ate There

Jake's Good Eats -- Guy Ate There

Jake’s Good Eats is located in a building that was originally built as a Gulf filling station in 1929.  The restaurant opened in 2008 and has quite a loyal following, especially among local residents.  Much of the original structure of the building is still in use, and the restaurant’s decor is perfectly accented to give diners the feeling of going back in time.

The menu is a blend of old Southern and new Southern cuisine, with such offerings as fried green tomatoes and crawfish/shrimp etouffee.  Their most well-known items are the venison quesadilla appetizer and maple-glazed pork chop entree.  Entrees are served after 5pm, while the lunch menu is available all day.  Entrees range from $8 for a vegetable plate to $23 for a New York strip steak, while lunch items are priced from $4 to $9.

Now… on to the food porn!  Heather and I decided to split the spinach and artichoke dip appetizer.

Spinach and artichoke dip

Spinach and artichoke dip

The dip itself was not too heavy or rich, and the spinach was very fresh!  The homemade tortilla chips were absolutely delicious, and both my wife and I concluded that we could have made an appetizer on just the chips alone.

We both decided to order from the lunch menu on this visit.  I went with the BBQ plate with white slaw and homemade chips, while Heather ordered the cheeseburger “all the way” with chili, mustard, and onions.  (Slaw is also available, but she requested no slaw).

BBQ pork plate with slaw and homemade chips

BBQ pork plate with slaw and homemade chips

Cheeseburger "all the way" with chips

Cheeseburger "all the way" with chips

My wife kept on saying “Mmmmm, that’s good!” with each bite of her cheeseburger, so I’m going to guess that she liked her meal.  The BBQ plate — -chopped pork with an Eastern Carolina style vinegar sauce — was excellent in flavor.  There was not very much smoke in it, but I did not expect there to be much smoke.  The slaw was very fresh and not overly heavy, a perfect complement with the pork.

We also splurged for dessert.  I ordered the banana pudding, and she ordered a slice of chocolate and almond butter mousse pie.

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

Chocolate and almond butter mousse pie

Chocolate and almond butter mousse pie

In one word: WOW!  Both desserts were very rich and delightful.  I started out with the banana pudding, and Heather had the pie.  About halfway through, we ended up switching desserts.  Either way, it was a winning proposition.  If I had one complaint to make about Jake’s Good Eats, it’s that there were several flies in the dining room that kept irritating us throughout our meal.

As we were walking out to the car, my wife turned to me and said, “You did a bad thing, Wayne, by showing me this place.”  That pretty much sums up our feelings on Jake’s Good Eats, as we will definitely be returning to dine here again.

Jake’s Good Eats is located at 12721 Albemarle Rd., Charlotte, NC 28227.  Their hours are from Tuesday thru Thursday from 11am until 9pm.  On Friday and Saturday, they are open from 11am until 2:30pm and from 5pm until 9pm.  Their website is http://www.jakesgoodeats.com.

Jake's Good Eats on Urbanspoon

LocalPages Fourth of July BBQ Joint Giveaway with Kevin’s BBQ Joints

Over the last several months, my good friend Kevin Kelly at Kevin’s BBQ Joints has hosted some really awesome giveaways.  I have to say that this one definitely takes the cake!  Kevin’s BBQ Joints is teaming up with LocalPages to give one lucky winner a gift certificate of up to $100 to any BBQ joint in the United States?  That’s not a typo.  You read correctly!

So you could be eating high on the hog at Sauceman’s or Midwood Smokehouse (both in Charlotte, NC) or chowing down on some succulent ‘que at Southern Soul Barbeque in St. Simon Island, GA.  Or perhaps you can make a decision as to who has the best BBQ in Austin, TX

The giveaway ends at 9:00am PST on July 1st, with the drawing to take place at 12:00pm EST that same day.  Enter today at  http://kevinsbbqjoints.com/blog/2011/06/17/localpages-fourth-of-july-bbq-joint-giveaway/ and tell him that Big Wayner sent ya.

Review: Sauceman’s BBQ, Pizza, and Grill — Charlotte, NC

I am always on the lookout for new places to try in and around Charlotte.  So when one of my employer’s clients suggested that I try Sauceman’s in Charlotte, I decided to give it a shot.

Sauceman's

Sauceman's

When I first pulled up the website, I saw that they also did pizza and grill-style foods in addition to BBQ.  I was a little concerned (unjustifiably so) in that the ‘que here was going to be sub-par.  Then I continued reading through their site to find out more about them.  Sauceman’s was founded in 2010 and specializes in North Carolina style BBQ (Lexington style, to be specific).  It is located in the South End district of Charlotte, NC  at the corner of Tryon St. and West Blvd.

At Sauceman’s, you place your order and pay for it, and then your order is brought out to you.  After browsing the menu for a bit, I decided to order the coarse chopped BBQ plate (which comes with hush puppies and slaw) with potato salad as my side of choice.  Less than five minutes after paying for my order, out comes my plate.

Coarse Chopped BBQ plate

Coarse Chopped BBQ plate

One bite into the pork, and my taste buds jumped for joy!  This was some of the most flavorful and moist pork that I have tasted.  There were nice big chunks of bark in the pork that were super tasty, and the meat itself was very moist!  The slaw (a red slaw — white slaw is also available) was very vinegary and peppery.  It may be a little too vinegary and peppery if you are not used to this style of slaw.  The potato salad was very delicious, with nice large pieces of potatoes that weren’t overly slathered.  The hush puppies were very large and very crispy!

I got to speak with Zach Goodyear, the pitmaster for Sauceman’s.  We had a very pleasant conversation and talked about some of the many good things in store for Sauceman’s.  After speaking with him, I decided to take a look at their sauces.  There are three different sauces available — a vinegar-based sauce, a sweet tomato-based sauce, and a mustard-based sauce.

Sauces from Sauceman's

Sauces from Sauceman's -- tomato-based on the left, mustard-based on the right

The vinegar-based sauce (not pictured) was a classic eastern-Carolina style vinegar sauce that was very tasty.  It  would work very well as a dipping sauce for the pork, if so desired.  The tomato-based sauce was very, very sweet with predominant flavors of brown sugar and molasses.  The mustard-based sauce was also sweet, although not as sweet as the tomato-based sauce.  It also had a little bit of kick to it in terms of spice and heat, though not enough to be overpowering and predominant.

I was getting ready to leave when I saw this beast of a sandwich show up at a neighboring table.  Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the Clark Griswald.

The "Clark Griswald"

The "Clark Griswald"

The “Clark Griswald” stands at a whopping 3 lbs of pork (although the guy working the register told me that it was 4 lbs) and is served with slaw, hush puppies, and choice of side.  And if you can finish this beast in 30 minutes or less, it’s on the house.  Otherwise, it’s $14.99.  That’s still a heckuva deal for that much pig!!

I can gladly say that I will be adding Sauceman’s to my list of places to visit over and over again for BBQ in Charlotte, and I suggest that you should too!

Sauceman’s is located at 228 West Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28202.  Their website is http://www.saucemans.com.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Sauceman's on Urbanspoon

Review: Midwood Smokehouse — Charlotte, NC

A couple of weeks ago, I heard rumor of a new BBQ joint opening up in Charlotte.  As I read more and more about it, I started getting excited and determined that I just had to check this new place out soon.  Well that new place is Midwood Smokehouse, and I took the opportunity today to check it out before having to head in to the office.

Midwood Smokehouse

Midwood Smokehouse

Nestled in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte, NC, Midwood Smokehouse is the newest restaurant opened by longtime Charlotte restauranteur Frank Scibelli.  Scibelli is the brain child behind several popular Charlotte restaurants such as Big Daddy’s Burger Bar and Paco’s Tacos and Tequila.  As noted in an interview with Charlotte Magazine, Scibelli’s restaurant fully intends to produce serious, authentic BBQ using a cooker fueled by nothing but wood (thank you for the correction regarding this).  To accomplish this goal, he traveled around North Carolina to research the state’s well-known pork barbecue joints, and he also collaborated with James Beard award winner Robb Walsh on the intricacies of Texas barbecue (read: brisket).  My task for today was to see how close he came to meeting this goal.

While the location of the restaurant may be in a trendy part of the city, the interior decor was inviting.  A mirror behind the bar stated the daily specials as well as some rather interesting one-liners:

The bar with its specials

The bar with its specials

Good Wood, Big Racks, Great Times

Good Wood, Big Racks, Great Times

Since Midwood Smokehouse has been open for less than two weeks, the menu was a little limited.  However, plenty of options were still available, ranging from Eastern Carolina style pork to brisket to sausage made on the premises.  After perusing the menu, I ordered a half-rack of ribs (St. Louis style) with a side of BBQ baked beans.  I requested that the ribs be sauced.  In addition, I ordered an additional side of bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cheese (which I lovingly refer to as ABTs, or atomic buffalo turds).  The server was very pleasant, taking her time to go through several of the menu options and offer her personal recommendations.  After about 10 minutes, my order arrived.

My order -- ribs

My order -- ribs

The first thing I notice is that the ribs were served with sauce on the side instead of being glazed on the ribs (as I expected).  The food certainly looked appetizing, and I will get to my thoughts on the food shortly.  As I was taking pictures of my food, the general manager came over to my table.  I introduced myself to him (as I emailed him a few days ago about arranging a time to see their smoker), and he immediately offered to bring me a sampling of their other menu items.  How could I possibly refuse?  As if I wasn’t already starting to feel full enough, out comes a sampling of pork, brisket, prime rib, sausage, and other goodies.

A sampling of meats

A sampling of meats

Smoked Prime Rib and Brisket

Smoked Prime Rib and Brisket

In addition, I also got to sample all of the sauces that Midwood Smokehouse offers as well as a small sample of collard greens.  Now on to the verdict…

The ribs had an excellent flavor. The meat was not too smoky, and I could actually taste the pork rather than an overabundance of rub to mask the flavor of the meat.  However, there were two things I immediately noticed:

  • The back membrane had been left on the rack when it was cooked.
  • The rib meat pulled right off the bone without any resistance, which signified that they were a bit overcooked.

The sausage was a very mild sausage.  It had a bit of a crumbly texture.  Since I’m not an expert on how authentic Texas-style sausage should taste, I won’t give an opinion on that.  The brisket was good, with a nice texture and taste.

The pork was, in short, PERFECT!  It had a perfect savory flavor, and the texture was on point (and not mushy like a lot of Eastern Carolina style pork can be).  Honestly, the pork did not need any sauce, but I decided to try it with the vinegar-based sauce.  The sauce added an extra dimension to the pork.

Finally, the prime rib…  why didn’t someone introduce me to smoked prime rib before?  Completely and totally droolworthy!  This one is definitely on my repeat list.

So would I recommend this BBQ joint?  Absolutely, with no reservations whatsoever!

The website for Midwood Smokehouse is http://www.midwoodsmokehouse.com.  You can also find them on Facebook here.  They are located at 1401 Central Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205.  

Midwood Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Review: Jim ‘n Nick’s Bar-B-Q — Charlotte, NC

My search for the best barbecue places in the Charlotte area continued recently with a visit to Jim ‘n Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Charlotte, NC.  Jim ‘n Nick’s has 28 locations in 7 different states and prides itself in cooking its ‘que low and slow and making everything from scratch.  I’ve heard good things regarding Jim ‘n Nick’s, so I decided to give it a shot.

Jim 'n Nick's Bar-B-Q -- Charlotte, NC

Jim 'n Nick's Bar-B-Q -- Charlotte, NC

I confess that I got excited when I parked and saw a nice sized wood pile on one side of the building and a pull-behind smoker on the other side.

Pull-behind cooker at Jim 'n Nicks

Pull-behind cooker at Jim 'n Nicks

Once inside, I place my order.  The server was a touch slow to come over and take my order, especially considering that the restaurant was not busy at all.  I decided on a combination platter with spare ribs, hot links, pulled pork, and chicken.  For my sides, I picked BBQ baked beans and onion rings.  I chose the hot links as one of the meats since they were featured by the restaurant at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party.

I was a little surprised when they brought out cheese biscuits instead of hush puppies to go along with the meal.  However, the biscuits were very tasty.

Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Biscuits

After a little while, my plate comes out of the kitchen.  Wow, that’s a lot of food!

The combo plate... it's huge!

The combo plate... it's huge!

The onion rings -- even bigger!

The onion rings -- even bigger!

Before digging in, I saw there were 2 different sauces available on the table.  Why yes, I do think I’ll try them out…

BBQ Sauces

BBQ Sauces

On the right is the original BBQ sauce.  It has a little lighter color than ketchup.  A naked taste tells me that it’s not overly sweet and a little bit bold.  The sauce on the left is the hot habanero sauce.  There is more molasses present in this sauce.  It is a bit sweeter than the original sauce, and it has a good amount of heat.

On to the food…  all of the meats came out pre-sauced.  I usually prefer that it not be sauced, but this is just a personal preference.  The pulled pork was very moist and flavorful.  The sauce worked well with the pork.  However, I could not detect any hints of the meat being smoked.  The chicken was also very tender and moist.  The cut I was given was a bit unusual — I was given a breast and wing rather than a leg quarter.  Not quite bite-thru skin, but that’s okay.  It was still flavorful.

Now on to the hot links…  I could instantly see why they were the featured item.  The sausage was extremely tasty.  Perfectly cooked and just the right amount of heat…  that made for a tasty treat!  The disappointment for me was the ribs.  I could see that they were smoked.  However, they were dry and overdone.

And now to the sides: the BBQ baked beans were adequate.  They contained bits and pieces of pork shoulder.  I would have liked for them to be a little bit more bold.  The onion rings, on the other hand…  WOW!  Those were some fine onion rings.  I could’ve made a meal on them, mainly because they were so many.  They were very crispy and very large.

Overall, I was a little bit disappointed with Jim ‘n Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Charlotte.  Maybe it’s one of those places where the food is much better for dinner than for lunch, and maybe other locations are just better.  Again, some items were excellent (the hot links, for example), but I guess I just had higher expectations.

Jim ‘n Nick’s Bar-B-Q is located at 13840 Steele Creek Rd., Charlotte, NC 28278.  The website is  http://www.jimnnicks.com.

Jim 'n Nick's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Review: Bill Spoon’s Barbecue — Charlotte, NC

For a city the size of Charlotte, there’s not much there in the way of outstanding barbecue. There are several adequate places, and there are even a couple that are good. But in the years that I’ve lived here, the only place that I have tried that I would call excellent is Mac’s Speed Shop.  However, I kept hearing about Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, so I decided to give it a shot one day for lunch.

Bill Spoon's Barbecue

Bill Spoon's Barbecue

Bill Spoon’s Barbecue is located on South Blvd. in Charlotte, NC.  They pride themselves on serving Eastern Carolina style barbecue by cooking the whole hog.  For those of you unfamiliar with the barbecue culture in North Carolina, Eastern Carolina style barbecue consists of cooking the entire hog, finely chopping the meat from the various parts of the pig, and serving it all together. The sauce is generally a very thin vinegar-based sauce.

I walk in and get seated and immediately feel at home.  The atmosphere was a very down-home comfortable atmosphere.  The tables all had yellow checkered tablecloths, and the wood paneling made me feel a bit nostalgic.

Covert shot of dining room

Covert shot of dining room

Bill Spoon’s prides itself on serving the whole hog, so I decided to order the small barbecue plate with beans as my side.  The waitress was extremely friendly.  Less than five minutes later, out comes my plate of food!

Small barbecue plate with beans

Small barbecue plate with beans

The star of this plate is the pork.  It was chopped very fine, but the texture was not mushy at all.  I could see that some sort of sauce was applied to it, but the pork was not drowned in the sauce.  It had a very nice flavor.  I added some of the Eastern Carolina style sauce to the pork, and it added a nice bite with some kick.

Pork closeup

Pork closeup -- sorry about the fuzzy picture

I forgot to mention the hush puppies…  with every barbecue dinner, they have bottomless hush puppies!  WOOHOO!!  The hush puppies were extremely fresh — nice and crunchy on the outside, and very moist on the inside.  The only drawback was that they were just a little bit on the salty side.

Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies

The slaw was something different that I had not experienced since starting my barbecue adventures — it was a mustard-based slaw.  I would normally not eat a mustard-based slaw, but it complemented the barbecue quite well.  Thus, it did exactly what it was supposed to do.  The beans, quite frankly, were bland and mostly forgettable.  But I was hungry, and I ate them anyway.

Happy barbecue plate

Happy barbecue plate

I also read somewhere that they had excellent banana pudding, so I just had to try it out when I saw it available on today’s menu.  When it came out, it was a little smaller portion than I had expected.  However, the taste of the banana pudding was very nice.  There were layers upon layers upon layers of wafers in the pudding, giving the pudding that nice crunch in addition to the pudding taste.  The pudding component was very fresh, although I kept wondering if I tasted just a faint hint of lemon in the pudding.

Banana pudding

Banana pudding

All in all, I enjoyed eating at Bill Spoon’s.  I’m not sure it quite surpasses Mac’s Speed Shop in the excellence factor, I have no qualms whatsoever in putting it in a solid 2nd place when it comes to the best barbecue in Charlotte.

Bill Spoon's Barbecue on Urbanspoon