I often lament the lack of good quality BBQ joints here in the Charlotte, NC metro area. It really is a shame that in a city the size of Charlotte, the closest good BBQ joint is a 45-60 minute drive away. There were a couple of joints close to my previous employer that were okay, but they were nothing spectacular.
So I did another search for BBQ joints close to my current employer, and lo and behold I came across Mac’s Speed Shop. They have three locations in the Charlotte metro area, so I went to their South Blvd. location (since it was an approximately 10 minute drive from work).
As I am on my way inside, I immediately noted something that gave me a promise of hope: the smoky smell of meat cooking on a fire. I walked in and was seated less than 5 minutes after arriving, even with the large lunch crowd they had.
(WARNING: I forgot my digital camera’s memory card, so all pictures are courtesy of my LG Ally phone)
The Lunch Crowd at Mac's Speed Shop from My Seat
After browsing the menu for a few minutes, I decided to go with an appetizer and a main course. For the appetizer, I could not say no to the Tabasco fried pickles.
Tabasco fried pickles at Mac's Speed Shop
The texture of the pickles indicated that the batter was a cornmeal batter. Also, the pickles were probably soaked in Tabasco for some period of time prior to being battered and fried. There was not an overwhelming taste of Tabasco in these pickles. I enjoyed eating them, although they were not quite as good as the fried pickles at the Penguin.
I had trouble deciding on a main course, so I decided to go with their combo platter. The combo consists of four different meats to choose from (out of five) and two sides. Being the heart-healthy, health-conscious person that I am, I ordered the pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs, and chicken for my meats. For my two sides, I chose macaroni & cheese and baked beans. I was thinking that there would be a little bit of each on my plate… and then my plate arrived.
Combo Plate at Mac's Speed Shop
Before I get into the specifics of the plate, I had two initial thoughts.
- That’s a LOT of meat!
- Only one piece of brisket? Disappointing.
Immediately I dive in to the brisket. The brisket was smoked for about 12 hours and then finished off on a grill with their red BBQ sauce (KC-style). The texture of the brisket was outstanding, and I did enjoy seeing the grill marks on the meat. However, I was hoping for a little stronger smoke flavor. All in all, I was pleased.
Next came the ribs. The ribs were spare ribs trimmed down to a St. Louis cut, dry rubbed, and smoked. They were served with the red BBQ sauce glazed on top. I was pleased with the brisket, but I was AMAZED with the ribs! Finally — a BBQ joint in Charlotte where I can actually taste the smoke in ribs! The texture was just right: the ribs did not fall off the bone. The bite marks left in the ribs were just right. The ribs were a winner here!
And then comes that big hunk of chicken leg quarter. The chicken was served naked (no sauce), which was just fine in my opinion. The meat was very moist, tender, and juicy. The skin didn’t have as much flavor as I would have liked it to have. There was a faint smoke taste that complemented the meat very well. Again — another winner here.
Then I finally made it to the pulled pork. Out of the four meats on my plate, this was the one that impressed me the least. While there was good flavor with the pork, by itself the meat was a bit on the dry side. I had a few bites with both their vinegar-based sauce and their “Carolina style” sauce, and this greatly improved the dryness of the meat. The pork was pulled and not chopped.
Wow… all of that writing, and I didn’t even talk about the sides. The mac and cheese was very rich and creamy, and the baked beans had a very nice bold flavor. Mac’s Speed Shop makes its claim as the best BBQ in Charlotte. After dining there, I would find that claim hard to argue.