Cozy Corner Restaurant, Memphis TN

My plans for the day o’ barbecue in Memphis took a hit when the venerable, and extremely popular, Cozy Corner Restaurant was damaged by a fire in January and was forced to close. Happily, a few days before our trip, Southern Living writer Robert Moss tweeted out that they would reopen in temporary digs across the street. The owners of Encore Cafe had reached out to them, giving Cozy Corner a stopover home with an abbreviated menu while their restaurant was repaired. Continue reading “Cozy Corner Restaurant, Memphis TN”

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”

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”

The Original Ridgewood Barbecue, Bluff City TN

Last month, the girlchild went to Knoxville for a week to spend her spring break with some of her other family up there. When it came time to retrieve her, I proposed a fun little two-day trip. We had originally planned to spend a long family weekend in Memphis when she returned, but some unplanned expenses killed that idea. We still needed to pick her up from her trip, but instead of a quick there-and-back day trip, I suggested that we take a little of the money that we didn’t spend and go visit northeastern Tennessee, come back to Knoxville in the evening and stay one night. We’d only driven through the northeastern region in a rush about five years before, on a long trip down I-81 from Baltimore to Asheville on our honeymoon. Continue reading “The Original Ridgewood Barbecue, Bluff City TN”

R.O.’s Bar-B-Q, Gastonia NC

The whole reason behind our sharing our love of food with you good readers is to celebrate differences and highlight places that just refuse to follow the directives of some corporation five states away from where you’re eating. We love to talk about regional specialties, and things that are important precisely because you can’t get them anywhere else. Continue reading “R.O.’s Bar-B-Q, Gastonia NC”

Short Sugar’s, Reidsville NC

So I started putting this trip together late last year. I planned and replanned and mapped and mapped again. I was totally happy with the itinerary and printed out all my directions. The morning before I was set to leave, I took one last look at Google Maps, zooming in with street view to give me a good idea at what was around each of the destinations. I noticed that my planned final stop, Stamey’s in Greensboro was across the street – literally – from some big coliseum or other. I figured that I should probably check whether there might be a concert that Friday evening. It would help to have some advance notice of a Widespread Panic show or somebody causing traffic backup. Continue reading “Short Sugar’s, Reidsville NC”

Lexington Barbecue, Lexington NC

As I drove toward Lexington, home of the legendary Lexington Barbecue, I had a feeling that, even with an early afternoon arrival, I’d find a pretty good crowd. Yet I was still quite surprised to find their lot much more than full. I parked along with ten or eleven other cars on the side of the road beneath the lot and began trudging up the hill. This place was more popular than I imagined! Or, well, you know, they may have let their regulars know that today would be a good day to be on TV:

Oh! No wonder there was such a mob! Continue reading “Lexington Barbecue, Lexington NC”