Two years ago, the last time I spent any time in Greenville (note: I should spend more time in Greenville), Marie and our son and I went by Mike & Jeff’s, but they close after lunch on Saturday, and we arrived after they’d shut their doors. Fortunately, they do stay open for supper on Friday, and so my daughter and I stopped by on our way back from Winston-Salem. Good thing we did, too, because it was my daughter’s favorite meal of the trip. She really liked this place a lot. Everything except the television.
Getting there meant navigating the opening salvos of the awful Friday rush hour traffic on I-85 between Greenville and Spartanburg. Okay, so it probably wasn’t all that much worse than most Friday evening rush hours, and a whole lot better than Atlanta’s, but it was still very frustrating. We got to Mike & Jeff’s not long before the sun went down, and were happy to be out of the car for a while.
My daughter was unfamiliar with North Carolina barbecue, and she never really warmed to it on the trip. She never said that she disliked any that she tried, and she picked Lexington’s as her favorite of the eight stops there, but this was more her measure, and consequently the meal she enjoyed most over the two days. The meat at Mike & Jeff’s, which is smoked over hickory and oak and served dry, with sweet and mustard sauces on the side, is a little more like what you might find in Memphis. The pork is pulled, and not chopped too finely. It’s quite smoky, and dry enough to require a little sauce to give it the right flavor. The kid prefers a thick, sweet sauce like this to the vinegar-based ones we’d seen at the previous eight stops.
Even more pleasing to my daughter was the white slaw. Every place we had visited on this trip served either yellow or red slaw and she wouldn’t touch the stuff. If it’s not made with mayo, she doesn’t even consider it to be slaw. Fortunately, she wasn’t with us when, a couple of weeks later, Marie and I found some slaw of an entirely unexpected color which would have made her recoil. More about that another time, so stay tuned. The beans – if you are ordering Memphis-style barbecue, then I suggest that beans and slaw are the appropriate sides – were completely delicious. I liked those even better than the pork.
We arrived about an hour before closing, and all the last guests to come in were all placing carry-out orders. The girlchild and I soon had the place to ourselves, with only the television to keep us company as the staff and servers retired to the kitchen. This was the evening before South Carolina’s Republican primary and the TV was tuned to one of the local news broadcasts.
Since we never watch local TV news, my daughter, who’s still not quite old enough to cast a ballot, had never been exposed to political attack ads before. There would be five minutes of news, followed by five minutes of Trump attacking Rubio, Bush “attacking” Trump, Cruz attacking Christie, Christie attacking Rubio, and the Club for Growth attacking Trump since Bush wasn’t quite able to do it himself. She soon concluded that politics and barbecue make for awful partners at the dinner table, and asked for a box so that we could leave and not have to watch any of that anymore. Politicians: take heed.
Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 360 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!