Thursday, May 6, 2010

High on the Hog

We in the Shaw clan have long sought out the best BBQ restaurants across the Carolinas. We benefit from the wide diversity of our two states, from Green River BBQ in Saluda NC, BullHawgs in my hometown of Spartanburg SC, Mama Browns in Mt Pleasant SC, Thigs in Richlands NC, and countless others scattered across this particular swath of America. We also take some time out of our busy lives, now and then, to mourn those establishments that are no longer with us - Smokey Joes, in Spartanburg, and a little joint called Yum Youngs off of Hwy 17 near Georgetown SC (whose house sauces were classified as Hot, Beyond Hot, and Beyond Beyond - I never tried the third version)

With each road trip, new entries are added and old favorites moved around, and we have over time built a repertoire of trusted 'cue joints across the southeast. So I was excited last weekend to discover, just off Highway 43 in Greenville NC, a new Top-Tenner: B's Barbecue and Grill. This place reaffirms the long-hallowed tenet of BBQ enthusiasts everywhere - the shabbier the building, the better the 'cue. Inside there's no A/c, no flat-screen TVs, not even a phone - when we were leaving (the last folks there) at 12:45pm, we noticed the sole method of communication with the outside world, a handwritten sign taped to the door that read "Closed - Sold Out of Food." You can tell B's is open when you see a crowd of people standing around waiting for food, starting around 10a.m. And if you show up after 1p.m., good luck, because they sell out every day. The North Carolina BBQ Society has this entry on their NC Historic BBQ Trail:

“William and Peggy McLawhorn started B’s Barbecue in the late 1970’s. Initially William, Peggy, their youngest daughter Tammy and their middle daughter Judy worked in the business. Donna, the oldest daughter was away at school. Now William has retired, Peggy works part-time and their three daughters run the business.

Dexter Sherrod, who has worked with the family cooking the pigs and chopping the barbecue since the business opened, ably assists the girls. Dallas Moore cooks the chicken. Dexter says he cooks about 40 whole pigs per week.
Every time I have visited B’s Barbecue, the McLawhorn girls have been crankin’ it at a 110 mph serving B’s good food to a hungry luncheon crowd. I generally eat the barbecue plate. The barbecue is lightly seasoned and has a hint of wood smoke from the cooking method (open pit with charcoal). The sauce is on the table in whiskey decanters. You don’t need much. The sauce is a vinegar and peppers Eastern North Carolina sauce and it has good flavor. The chicken was very, very good. It’s not overdone and comes lightly sauced.
When B’s runs out of food each day they close the place. Since B’s does not have a telephone, your only notice of this would be a sign on the door and an absence of cars on the lot.”

I think B's will stay on my list for some time to come, if only for the unadulterated character of original Eastern NC Carolina BBQ that it preserves every day from 10 to 1. While I may not make it down east very often, when I do I'm gonna stop at B's.

The Southern BBQ Trail has an excellent oral history site that interviews Judy Drach (co-owner) and Dexter Sherrod (pitmaster).

Photo of Judy by Todd Cook (some rights reserved)

Quoted excerpts above from
The Best Tar Heel Barbecue Manteo to Murphy pages 292-294 (c)

Update: Thanks to Anna for her recall of Yum Youngs in Georgetown - "Yum Youngs BBQ had the "beyond beyond." I just had a bite and it took my mouth a full hour, a bottle of water, and a pack of m'nm's to recover. no lie." I didn't know M&M's had a cooling effect, but whatever it takes, right?


Anna said...

"Yum Youngs" BBQ had the "beyond beyond." I just had a bite and it took my mouth a full hour, a bottle of water, and a pack of m'nm's to recover. no lie.

Mr. K5 said...

Nice to know the history on B's. If you miss the window of opportunity there you can always stop by Parker's which is a big favorite in the area. Personally, I think Parker's is ok and would send you to Boss Hog's Backyard Barbeque‎ down the road at 1534 East 14th Street Greenville, NC, though I've only been to their other location at 840 West 15th Street Washington, NC.