Our Five Faves

Best BBQ: Your picks

Posted July 9, 2012

Last October, we ranked our Five Fave barbecue joints in the Triangle. As expected, you had some great suggestions for us to check out the next time we revisited this topic. We sifted through the nearly 100 comments you made and took some of your advice! 

Check our our latest picks for the best barbecue in the Triangle area: 

hog heaven

Hog Heaven (Durham) - Heaven is right. The barbecue here is seasoned with an eastern NC sauce - some of the best sauce we've had! Located inside a strip mall, Hog Heaven is the picture of laid back charm. Just walk in, place your order at the window and take a seat. The side items aren't too shabby either. Try the potato salad!

Hog Heaven in Durham

Bill's Barbecue & Chicken (Wilson) - You know it's a great place when the Tar Heel Traveler pays a visit. This place is known for making some of the best pork barbecue and chicken around. Bill Ellis started the business in 1963 as a tiny hot dog stand on the then outskirts of Wilson. It grew and Ellis started his own hog farm. We almost lost this gem after Hurricane Floyd flooded it in 1999, but Bill's stayed strong and rebuilt. 

Smokey's BBQ in Morrisville

Smokey's BBQ (Morrisville) - Blink and you could miss this shack on the side of Chapel Hill Road. Several viewers raved about Smokey's, so we had to give it a try. We weren't disappointed. The pulled pork got even better when we poured some of their barbecue sauce over it. The sauce tasted like a blend between east and west. Slightly sweet with a blend of vinegar and just a little kick to it. Bonus reason to visit: They sometimes offer sweet potato tots, in addition to their tasty other side items. 

Bullock's BBQ (Durham)This family owned and operated restaurant has been serving up barbecue in Durham since 1952. It has changed locations a few times but is one of the longest continuous running restaurants in Durham. It was one of your favorites and now it is one of ours! The price isn't too bad either, with many meals coming in under $9 and containing three sides.(Did we say that deviled eggs are one of the side items?) Just remember to bring cash because Bullock's doesn't take credit cards. 

big al's

Big Al's BBQ (Raleigh) - From succulent ribs to savory pulled pork, Big Al knows barbecue. He also knows sauces. One of the treats about going to Big Al's is trying some of the North Carolina made sauces on hand to top your food. We checked out Ole Ray's Red Delicious Apple Bourbon on our pulled pork. AMAZING! If Big Al is there, he will personally tell you all about the sauces and their intensity. As far as side items go, their homemade mac and cheese and hushpuppies are some of the best around.  

Honorable mention: Carolina Smokehouse Grill (Wake Forest) - Their chopped barbecue is seasoned with Eastern-style sauce - a perfect homemade blend with just enough vinegar and spices to light up your palate! The ribs, which come soaked in Western-style sauce, aren't too shabby either. 


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  • ADN4now Jul 17, 2012

    Johnny's BBQ, Louisburg, Parker's in Wilson, and Greenville, Beaman's in Snow Hill. That's 5.

  • NothingBetterToDo Jul 16, 2012

    B's in Greenville, Wilbur's in Goldsboro & Parker's in Wilson!!! Bill's hasn't been so good since Hurricane Floyd but they used to be awesome. Heard they're improving though!

  • gromeiser Jul 12, 2012

    Thanks for the info, Kathy. It's my understanding that "Red Hot & Blue" here in Raleigh is independently operated and has been here since 1995. That's about as local as you can get!

  • Khanrahan Jul 11, 2012

    Hey Gromeiser, we try not to include national chains on our Five Faves lists. That's the reason why Red Hot & Blue isn't on it. We want to highlight as many local businesses as we can.

  • gromeiser Jul 11, 2012

    Again, you guys missed "Red Hot & Blue" on this list! They've got the best Memphis BBQ in the Triangle and always get left off these lists! Even if you don't like Memphis style, they've got NC-style plus all the ribs, salads, and catfish you could ask for!

    RH&B outshines all these restaurants!

  • The Hammer Jul 11, 2012

    By the way, comparing Lexington BBQ, Kansas City, Memphis etc. is a bit silly. They're all BBQ and they're all pretty darn good, but it's apples and oranges. I was raised on Eastern North Carolina pit cooked BBQ, but I love all the others as well.

  • The Hammer Jul 11, 2012

    I'm sorry to say but Down East BBQ from just about anywhere will be head and shoulders better than Raleigh/Durham BBQ...from just about anywhere.

  • unc70 Jul 10, 2012

    Irie44, I have eaten what they call barbecue in the places you mention. Some of it good in its own way, but where did you find them cooking pork better than in NC?

    By the way, barbecue means "in the earth, to be cooked" or "pit cooked".

  • genegeneandnancy Jul 10, 2012

    All of these places have good barbecue: 1) Parker's in Wilson 2)The Pit (downtown), and 3)Holt Lake in Smithfield.

  • Garnerwolf1 Jul 10, 2012

    B's! Parker's is not close. And I agree with the Door comment - except its ok if you let it hit you.