Feasting At 5 Tasty North Carolina BBQ Joints!

North Carolina BBQA few years back, the Michael W Travels family took a quick three day trip to North Carolina.

One reason we chose N.C. was due to the fact that the State Fair would be going on during our visit. The other main reason was to get to sample some North Carolina Barbecue!

Besides loving pizza and burgers, I’d probably consider barbecue another family favorite. We love how there are so many varieties and options when it comes to BBQ.

In 2014, we visited Kansas City. Check out my post, Feasting At 5 Tasty K.C. BBQ Joints.

North Carolina BBQ is primarily famous for its pulled pork which is referred to as barbecue. During our visit, we stopped at five spots, trying barbecue in each of them.

Here are the five North Carolina BBQ restaurants we tried during our short visit.

Skylight Inn BBQ: Ayden, NCa building with a dome on topWe arrived in Raleigh at a little after 9:00AM and headed straight for Ayden which is around an hour and a half away. This is probably the most famous and highly regarded place that we visited during our trip.
a man cooking meat in a restaurantAfter waiting on the line (which was to the door), we ordered a large Whole Hog BBQ Tray. The meal comes with pulled pork, slaw and corn bread.a food in a container on a tableWe were hungry from our flight and drive, so we couldn’t wait to dig in.

The pulled pork was really good with a noticeable vinegar taste. The meat wasn’t overly smokey and since this is whole hog, you’ll notice different textures of meat, including fat and crispy bits.

Bum’s Restaurant: Ayden, NCa car parked on the side of a streetOur next stop, Bum’s Restaurant was just a couple of minutes away.

The shop was very large and had a very local feel to it. The staff were extremely friendly and happy to serve us.

We ordered a BBQ Plate which came with a generous serving of pulled pork, two sides and corn bread.a tray with food on itThe pulled pork was very tasty and tangy. We also noticed that it seemed to be a bit smokier than the version served at Skylight Inn.

Another difference was that the cornbread was served in cut strips opposed to a larger chunk.

Sam Jones BBQ: Winterville, NCa building with a sign on itWe were stuffed but there was still one more stop we had to make and it was under 10 minutes away.

Sam Jones BBQ is basically a second location of Skylight Inn. It’s namesake is the grandson of the founder of Skylight and also the pitmaster there, too.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were surprised by how different it felt from Skylight Inn. It was massive outside and felt more or less like a Fridays’s style restaurant inside. Regardless of the vibe, the most important thing  was the food.a plate of food on a tableI’ll start off with saying that it was hard to really judge the food considering just how full we were. Regardless, the pulled pork was very good. It was also different than Skylight Inn.

The food is served with each item set out rather than stacked up like at Skylight. The pulled pork was more salty and peppery than vinegary. I wish I wasn’t so full so I could’ve enjoyed it more!

Picnic: Durham, NCa parking lot with cars parked in front of a buildingThe next day, we made one barbecue stop and it was a great one. After visiting the Duke Lemur Center and their basketball museum, we had lunch at Picnic.

The menu at Picnic was pretty extensive so we decided to order a bunch of things. a plate of food on a tableThe most important item to try was the pulled pork. Their version was really great with lots of flavor, it was smoky and very moist and juicy. It also had a touch of heat along with a subtle vinegar taste.

A big difference with this plate was that it came with hush puppies instead of cornbread.  Yum!a bowl of food on a plateYou can’t  go wrong with pimento cheese as a starter!devil deviled eggs on a plateKim and I love deviled eggs, these did not disappoint!a plate of fried chicken and sauceWhile looking over the menu, the server recommended that we try the fried chicken. We ordered a side to get a taste. The chicken was flavorful, juicy and even a little sweet. This was a great recommendation.a slice of pie with ice cream on topWe don’t come across Chess Pie at home frequently so this was a sweet way to end the meal.

Clyde Cooper’s BBQ– Raleigh, NCa building with a flag on the frontOn the third and final day of our trip we stopped in for a late lunch at the historic Clyde Cooper BBQ.

We were close to BBQ’d out but we had to give this shop a try.a plate of food on a tableWe ordered a Chopped BBQ Tray which came with chopped pork, coleslaw and hush puppies and a pulled pork sandwich. a sandwich on a paperThe chopped pork was nice and juicy with a mild flavor. The meat was tasty but I’d definitely suggest adding sauce to it to make it even better.a boy eating a bowl of foodI can’t say that I like pork rinds but Lucas gave them a try when the friendly server brought some over!

Final Thoughts:

Pulled pork isn’t our favorite kind of barbecue but it’s a must-try when visiting North Carolina. We enjoyed our little BBQ Tour and enjoyed all of the places that we dined at.

If we had to pick a winner, it would probably go to Picnic. Regardless, you can’t go wrong stopping at any of these North Carolina BBQ shops!

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2 thoughts on “Feasting At 5 Tasty North Carolina BBQ Joints!

  1. Please stop saying “pulled pork”. Unless you specifically requested “pulled” you got chopped – and if you ate “whole hog” you definitely got chopped as that’s the only way we serve it eastern NC. You got “chopped whole hog” at Skylight. To my knowledge pulled isn’t even an option.

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