B’s Barbecue, Greenville NC

So, onto day two of the road trip. I call these “circumnavigations,” although, geographically, that wasn’t really accurate this time. Another big change on this go-round was that I stayed in a decent hotel for once. The last two trips that I took (around the Tennessee River Valley and around central North Carolina) saw me staying in two of the absolute worst motels I’d ever visited, and this time, I resolved to stay somewhere decent. So as I relaxed in the quite nice Best Western in Goldsboro, I looked over the next day’s driving and reread a few reviews of the next day’s eating and realized I’d made a mistake in my itinerary. Continue reading “B’s Barbecue, Greenville NC”

Wilber’s Barbecue, Goldsboro NC

My final stop on the first day of this road trip was at Wilber’s Barbecue, an incredibly popular place on US-70 in Goldsboro that has been packing in locals and tourists for more than fifty years. In the 1950s, this building had been the home of a popular joint called Hill’s Barbecue, but Wilber Shirley bought it in 1962. It was briefly called Highway 70 BBQ, catching all of the crowds of tourists heading east for the beaches (70 appears to be one of four principal routes from the center of the state to North Carolina’s gigantic coast), but when Wilber’s partner sold his share, the name was changed and it has been packing them in like only a handful of other barbecue places in my experience. Even on a chilly November Friday night at half past seven, there were only about five spaces left in the lot and the table I got appeared to be the only free one in the restaurant. Continue reading “Wilber’s Barbecue, Goldsboro NC”

Bum’s Restaurant, Ayden NC

One thing set this circumnavigation apart from the previous four that I’ve undertaken, and turned the event into more of a zig-zag than a proper loop: some of these restaurants close very early. After I read a short review of Bum’s in Ayden NC from a contributor at roadfood.com, I really wanted to visit, but it closes at the disagreeable hour of seven on Friday evenings. So I left Farmville after my really memorable meal at Jack Cobb & Son and went southeast to Ayden to catch a meal there before taking the long drive back southwest to Goldsboro, which is where both my hotel, and a restaurant that stays open to the more sensible hour of nine, would be waiting for me. Continue reading “Bum’s Restaurant, Ayden NC”

Jack Cobb & Son Bar-B-Q, Farmville NC

There’s a story that Lexington NC might have the most barbecue restaurants, per capita, of any place in the nation. It’s possible that Farmville NC might have the most barber shops. I saw at least three on one stretch of road in this tiny little town of 4600. One is across the street from Jack Cobb & Son, a simply spectacular barbecue joint that doesn’t have any indoor seating. I ate my barbecue in my car and I’m not sure what I feared more: slipping up and getting any barbecue sauce on my beautiful, beautiful car’s seats, or slipping up and wasting a drop of this beautiful, beautiful sauce. There used to be a screened porch for outdoor seating here, but it’s been gone for a couple of years. Continue reading “Jack Cobb & Son Bar-B-Q, Farmville NC”

Parker’s Barbecue, Wilson NC

I left my house before six in the morning, and finally arrived at Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson a little before 3:30. This is a long, long drive, but I was finally ready to dig into the celebrated eastern North Carolina style of barbecue. There is a long tradition of whole hog cooking east of I-95 and north of Fayetteville. Parker’s is one of several very old restaurants in this part of the country. It was opened in 1946 by brothers Graham and Ralph Parker, and their cousin Henry Parker Brewer. It is no longer in family hands, but it’s in good hands all the same. Donald Williams started working here in 1963; he bought the business from Graham and Ralph upon their retirement in 1987, cousin Henry having already passed. Donald brought on two partners, Kevin Lamm and Eric Lippard, in the late 1990s. Continue reading “Parker’s Barbecue, Wilson NC”

Tony’s Ice Cream, Gastonia NC

Is this the oldest business that we’ve visited for our blog? Tony’s Ice Cream in Gastonia has had a line out the door for ninety-nine years. They’re planning to celebrate the big centennial next year. How awesome is that? Congratulations to this old place for such a long time open to the public. They’ve even been in their current home longer than most restaurants have been around. They moved to this ugly yellow brick building in 1947. I’m not taken with its outside, and you’ll have to take my word that the inside is a lot better looking, because when I was there in the early evening, it was completely packed, and every lovely inch of old, formica table was taken, so I couldn’t photograph anything well. Continue reading “Tony’s Ice Cream, Gastonia NC”

Shrimp Boat, Gastonia NC

There are seven surviving Shrimp Boat / Boats restaurants from that chain that have continued since it folded into the present day. Previously, this blog has focused pretty exclusively on the two remaining from the 1969 period, as those are in the buildings that appealed to my sense of old restaurant architecture. But the other five shouldn’t be dismissed. They’re all part of one large and fascinating story. Continue reading “Shrimp Boat, Gastonia NC”