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Barbecue Tours | "Show us your pits"

 Psychologists have shown that certain foods, among them barbecue, just plain make us happy. Who needs comfort food when we can have happy food?

— Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn

amazingribs.com

Smoke Daddy's Review of A and M Grill

Weighted Overall
7.1

<<Update: It looks like A&M Grill closed for good in the summer of 2011.>>

There's nothing like the smell of barbecue in the morning!  Unfortunately, I don't think our pork was cooked fresh today.  It was good, but outshined by the pups, slaw, and other fresh sides on the menu.

MAIN FARE:A&M Spread

  • Chopped - Finely chopped with a good mix of meat.  Nice flavors here, although the texture was a bit mushy.
  • Sliced - Chunks that pull into long strings of meat.  Pink smoke ring is evident.  Good flavor with a little chew.  The darker meat is rich, and almost velvety in texture.  Very good.
  • Baby Back Ribs - Meat is falling off the bones.  Not quite as smoky as the pork, and covered with a bold "Heinz 57-ish" sauce.

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of (The Original) Parkers Barbecue

Weighted Overall
6.85

Very good eastern NC history and tradition here.  My favorites were the brunswick stew and unique cole slaw.  Pork is good.  I hear the fried chicken is excellent, and might have to try that next time.

Parkers Spread

MAIN FARE:

  • Pork - Shredded fine (buffalo chopper), and feels a bit mushy after others we've tried today.  Good clean pork flavors here, with less smoke than others we've seen in eastern NC.

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Wilbers

Weighted Overall
8.55

Atmosphere is outstanding, and the pork is just behind.  This place is built solid, and serving up an honest plate of 'Q.

MAIN FARE:

  • Pork - This is good stuff.  Moist & flavorful.  A bit salty, but it Wilber's Spreadbrings out the flavors. Very Good.
  • Beef - Recommended by a fellow that we also saw at Skylight.  Good.
  • Meat is chopped and sauced/dipped in the kitchen.  Dip is brownish and has more substance than others seen today.  It also has a nice spice to it.  Table dip has red wine vinegar... similar to Skylight (and different than the dip coming from the kitchen).

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Gradys

Weighted Overall
7.45

Grady's Spread

Experience was a little rushed, because we arrive late.  But they stay open long enough to take our order, and we eat on the hood of Double-Boner's car.  Good joint with nice folks serving up solid Q.

MAIN FARE:

  • Pork - Very moist. Good flavors and textures, with lots 'o parts in here!

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Skylight Inn

Weighted Overall
6.9

The atmosphere here is an amazing, historically accurate rendition of traditional east NC barbecue.  Kudos to the Jones family for sticking to their guns and preserving the traditional methods and process.

MAIN FARE:Skylight Spread

  • Pork - Good, mixed meat (light & dark).  Moistened, but not "wet".  Flavorful.  Skin/cracklins are also mixed in with the pork, and we find three types:
  1. Good texture & flavor addition to the meat;
  2. Extremely chewy;  or
  3. Crunchy bits that might damage your dental work (watch out for these)!

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Stephensons Barbecue

Weighted Overall
7.3

Our first stop on the North Carolina Tour... and its Rib Day at Stephensons!  My favorites here were the brunswick stew and hush pups, with the pork not too far behind. 

MAIN FARE:Stephenson's Spread

  • Pork - Moist... almost 'wet'.  A little outside brown & fat mixed in - flavorful.
  • Brunswick Stew - Thick and tasty.  
  • Ribs - Steamed with a tangy sauce.  Tender and moist.

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Hard Eight Barbeque

Weighted Overall
7.55

The prime rib and banana pudding were my favorites here (although prime rib is cheating a bit in barbecue).  The rib and brisket were not far behind, and the atmosphere on the patio was terrific!

MAIN FARE:Hard Eight Spread

  • Brisket - Sliced with a bit of the high side.  Very little or no rub on the crust... needs a bit of salt to bring the flavors out.  Very good.
  • Rib - This is a good rib!  Again very light on the rub... almost absent. Bark is tough at the breast bone (knuckles).  
  • Sausage - Similar in style and grind to commercial... except its not.
  • Jalapeno Sausage - Not fresh jalapenos... similar to regular sausage with some heat.
  • Prime Rib - On the rare side... but that's OK for prime rib.  A little salt really brings the flavor out.  YUM!

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Texas Barb-B-Q and Catering

Weighted Overall
7

<<Update: this place was bought out by Tumbleweed BBQ in 2006.>>

My favorite items were the beans, followed by the ribs & brisket, with the jalapeno sausage not far behind.  This roadside barbecue stand is producing some solid product.

Texas BarBQ SpreadMAIN FARE:

  • Brisket - Moist & tender.  Good smoke ring and flavor.  Falls (or flakes) apart into large chunks.  Very good.
  • Rib - Rich & tender, with a good spice on the finish. I could easily overdo it here!  Texture is a bit mushy, since it has been held a while.  Very good.
  • Sausage - commercial product I'm calling "Eckrich-like".
  • Jalapeno Sausage - Good sausage!  Jalapeno + cayenne gives a good kick.
  • Pork Loin - Different spice profile than the brisket.  A little chewy.

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Smittys Bar-B-Q

Weighted Overall
6.55

Smittys BarBQ SpreadI would come back for the homeade sausage and potato salad.  Or I might just try a plate of their soul food: Pork chop; mustard greens; corn casserole; and cornbread.

MAIN FARE:

  • Brisket - Good Smoke. Fat trimmed off the slices.  This is a "stand-up" style brisket: firm & lean.  Slices turn out to be a little dry.  Good.
  • Rib - Mild smoke. Tender, but not quite done @ the breast bone
  • Homeade Sausage - Course-grind... very good!  Made with brisket???
  • Sausage - Commercial product... Hillshire Farms?
  • Cabrito - Yea!  Rich chunks of dark meat here; Has some 'funk' to the flavor... a bit gamey.

Note: all meats are dusted with "magic spice" (rub)

OTHER FARE:

Smoke Daddy's Review of Lemons Bar-B-Q

Weighted Overall
5.3

Lemons SpreadThis place had promise from outside appearances, but fell flat once inside.  If I were to visit again, I'd choose something other than bbq (maybe the fried fish).

MAIN FARE:

  • Brisket - They don't separate the point from the flat, so you get both fatty and lean in most slices.  Meat is ok, but there is noticable bitterness from the smoke.
  • Rib - Trimmed back, not too much meat on these.  Somewhat overcooked.
  • Sausage - Commercial; I'm guessing Eckrich.

OTHER FARE:

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