Fuzzy’s Bar-B-Q, Madison NC

Just as I will never get used to how wide Tennessee and North Carolina are, I will also never get used to how quickly you can get from the south part of each state to its northern border. We left Lexington and it seemed like we were in Madison, twenty miles from the Virginia line, in the time it took for the awesome flavor of Smiley’s to pass on. Was it worth traveling so far north? Absolutely. As much as I enjoyed Smiley’s, I liked Fuzzy’s even better. Continue reading “Fuzzy’s Bar-B-Q, Madison NC”

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Smiley’s Lexington BBQ, Lexington NC

So my daughter and I were visiting North Carolina together, and the third stop on our barbecue tour was at one of the ninety-something places in the city of Lexington that specialize in smoked pork. That is only a mild exaggeration. The city of 20,000 people is the home of about twenty different barbecue joints – about one for every thousand residents. This was only my second stop in the city, and I’m aware of a simple walking tour that takes in five of them. Just have cash handy if you try it; many of these places do not take plastic. Smiley’s also stands apart from most in town because it’s open on Sunday; very few of the others are. Continue reading “Smiley’s Lexington BBQ, Lexington NC”

M & K Bar-B-Q, Granite Quarry NC

People frequently ask us where we hear about the restaurants that we visit, and the honest answer is “lots of places,” but we have a great resource when it comes to this state. The North Carolina Barbecue Society features a famous Trail Map with, at present, 23 restaurants on it. At the conclusion of this trip, we’ve now visited 20 of them. I scheduled six new-to-us stops on this drive from their trail, but, and this is no exaggeration, my daughter and I also drove past at least nine other barbecue joints that we could easily have tried. Plus, Our State magazine has a BBQ NC app that will help anybody in the Old North State find something good to eat. Continue reading “M & K Bar-B-Q, Granite Quarry NC”

Grady’s BBQ, Dudley NC

I love running into other barbecue roadtrippers when I’m out eating, and Grady’s BBQ, which is loosely located somewhere close to Dudley and more accurately in the middle of nowhere, is a good drive from any population center and probably requires a road trip to visit. Steve and Gerri Grady opened their barbecue joint in 1986, doing small amounts of business, as you might expect from a middle of nowhere restaurant, but in time, the word got out that these good people were still cooking with wood, they got mentioned in a few books and websites, and now hungry eaters plan their barbecue drives to incorporate a trip here. Continue reading “Grady’s BBQ, Dudley NC”

Chapter 1100: Skylight Inn BBQ, Ayden NC

“Good morning, East Carolina University admissions office. How may I help you?”

“Oh, I sure hope you can. My name’s Grant, from the blog Marie, Let’s Eat! and I’ve got a fifteen year-old daughter and I need for her to attend East Carolina.”

“Well, I’d be happy to send you a catalog–”

“A catalog won’t be good enough. She’s already fallen in love with the University of North Alabama. I need you to send boys.”

“Excuse me?”

“Boys in school colors, yes. Cute boys. And money and clothes. This is urgent. I had lunch at Skylight Inn. It’s about eight hours from my house. I can’t justify going back unless I have business in the area. Best I can figure is that my daughter needs to go to ECU.” Continue reading “Chapter 1100: Skylight Inn BBQ, Ayden NC”

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”