The Triangle's Top 9 BBQ Joints +227 fire icon
By Meghan Grant
Monday, May 22 2017

I am a self-proclaimed BBQ snob. I grew up in eastern North Carolina eating chopped BBQ from little no-name places every weekend—so I decided to go on a mission to find the best BBQ places in the Triangle that would satisfy both my chopped BBQ obsession (you know, the vinegar-based one) and my husband’s western NC BBQ taste!

Photo by @imfixintoblog
SWANKIEST: Picnic (Durham)

Picnic is such a cool BBQ joint in Durham. They specialize in whole-hog barbecue and their sides are seriously delicious. I love the outdoor picnic tables and the signage on the restaurant, too! It definitely has a cool, swanky vibe to be a BBQ place.

Order: The barbeque sandwich, pimento mac n cheese and bacon-braised collards.

Plunge into Picnic's Take on BBQ
$$   .  Picnic   .  Durham
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Photo by @imfixintoblog
CASH ONLY: Clyde Cooper's (Raleigh)

Clyde Cooper’s has a fun atmosphere in its new location in downtown Raleigh. I think what attracts me to it the most is that it has a modern feel, but still kept its traditional touches. It’s definitely a favorite. I really love that they include pork rinds in their orders. Just don’t forget your cash!

Order: BBQ sandwich with slaw, fries and a sweet tea.

Find Cash-Only Carolina BBQ in DTR
$   .  Clyde Cooper's Barbeque   .  Raleigh
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Photo by @sergeramos
HOLE IN THE WALL: Johnson Family BBQ (Durham)

Our friends from Buffalo introduced us to Johnson Family BBQ, and I was a little skeptical given my expert BBQ opinion. But man, did they find a real gem! It’s a self-proclaimed hole in the wall, which is one of my favorite types of BBQ joints. It definitely reminds me of the places where I ate growing up in eastern North Carolina! Johnson Family BBQ also has catering, which is super convenient for parties.

Order: Chopped BBQ, hush puppies.

Discover Delicious, Hidden BBQ at Johnson Family Barbecue
$   .  Johnson Family Barbecue   .  Durham
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Photo by @imfixintoblog
LOCAL CHAIN: Allen & Son (Pittsboro, Chapel Hill)

Allen & Son offers both eastern and western-style BBQ, and has two locations in the area. This is your quintessential Southern BBQ joint with checkered table cloths. Bonus, they bring you a pitcher of tea along with your hushpuppies!

Order: BBQ sandwich with slaw and fried okra.

Taste Traditional BBQ at Allen & Son
$   .  Allen & Son Bar-B-Que   .  Pittsboro
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Photo by @jedstrano12
QUAINT: The Original Q Shack (Durham)

The Q Shack has locations in Durham and North Hills, but the Original Q Shack in the Bull City is my favorite, probably for its quaint interior! The Q Shack also has both eastern and western-style BBQ and is in a great spot that’s not too far from DBAP if you're trying to catch a Bulls game!

Order: Chopped BBQ plate with specialty sauce and hushpuppies, fries, fried okra and a jalapeño deviled egg.

Binge on Blissful BBQ at the Q Shack
$   .  The Original Q Shack   .  Durham
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ECLECTIC: The Blistered Pig (Apex)

This restaurant is a little bit different than the ones that specialize in traditional BBQ. The Blistered Pig offers an all-around menu with a little bit of everything, but their pulled pork is delicious!

Order: Pulled pork with fried okra and sweet potato fries.

Opt for the BBQ at Blistered Pig
$$   .  The Blistered Pig Smokehouse   .  Apex
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BREWERY INCLUDED: Aviator SmokeHouse (Fuquay-Varina)

Aviator Smokehouse does a great job with its BBQ (and beer). In recent years, they’ve started letting you decide how much sauce to add, but the flavors haven’t changed. They also offer both eastern and western-style BBQ.

Order: Chopped BBQ plate (or sandwich), macaroni n cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy.

Fly Into Aviator Brewing Tap House
$   .  Aviator Brewing Tap House   .  Fuquay Varina
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Photo by @brycecarey
THE RTP CHAIN: Grub Out at Danny's BBQ (Cary, Morrisville, Durham)

There are three locations of Danny’s in Morrisville, Cary and RTP. They are always packed during lunch, so try to get there early! I never expected to see really authentic BBQ in the Cary and RTP area, but they definitely do a great job. Danny's is located conveniently near the airport too—we take my in-laws here when we pick them up from RDU to get their NC BBQ fix!

Order: Chopped BBQ sandwich, onion rings.

Grub Out at Danny's BBQ
$   .  Danny's Bar-B-Que   .  Cary
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Photo by @imfixintoblog
VEGGIE: Fiction Kitchen (Raleigh)

My first experience at Fiction Kitchen involved trying eastern NC-style chopped “pork,” and despite being faux meat, it was delicious! So, if you don’t eat meat, or just want to try something new, I definitely recommend this dish at Fiction Kitchen!

Order: Eastern NC-Style BBQ Pulled “Pork” with black beans.

Get Your Veggie Fix at the Fiction Kitchen
$$   .  The Fiction Kitchen   .  Raleigh
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is the author of the blog I'm Fixin' To, where she writes about fashion, DIY home decor, recipes and adventures around North Carolina.