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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.