Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

BBQ battle: east versus west

Posted August 4, 2008

As we continue to take your nominations for Best of Carolina Barbecue let’s talk a little bit about the difference between East and West. Both products are seasoned with salty vinegar and pepper. Western or Lexington barbecue recipes also contain ketchup which is conspicuously shunned down east. Both pork products are slow cooked for 9 or 10 hours and sometimes longer. However, the meat itself is different. They cook the whole hog down east while the Lexington chefs only use the pork shoulder. The western or Lexington meat is dark. It has more fat and moisture.

Some barbecue aficionados will only dine at restaurants that cook their meat in a pit over coals of hickory and oak. Hursey’s in Burlington still cooks its BBQ the old fashioned way over hickory coals. It’s mighty good. I had some on my way to the mountains a few weeks back. Another one of my favorite restaurants is Wilber’s in Goldsboro. What about you? Keep the nominations coming and we’ll start the official vote with a poll on Wednesday.

Also, please share your humorous stories about North Carolina barbecue. Do you prefer East over West and why?  Yes, barbecue is a noun in North Carolina.  It is not an adjective. 

Some of the best barbecue can be found at family gatherings.  Would any of the better cooks out there be willing to share their recipes?  What does it take to make a good product?  How much does it cost?  What all do you need to buy? 



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  • Reg1 Aug 12, 2008

    Smoky Mountain Barbecue in West Jefferson: essentially eastern style made from the choicest cuts, consistently great quality & taste.

  • jrichuso Aug 5, 2008

    I love them both, but if I was forced to choose only one, I'd go Eastern.

  • gvpirate Aug 5, 2008

    In terms of taste and preparation...they are ranked in this order.
    1) B's-Greenville, NC
    2) Skylight Inn/Pete Jones-Ayden, NC
    3) Bums Barbecue-Ayden, NC
    4) Boss Hog's-Greenville/Washington

    Everything else would be considered the equivalent of McDonalds.

  • EdTeach Aug 5, 2008

    The West is The Best, 'cue lovers, and The Woodlands in beatiful Blowing Rock, NC is positively where it's at its finest.

  • GetOutandGolf Aug 5, 2008

    Allen and Sons (Pittsboro and Hillsborough) Outstanding!

  • Brian Shrader Aug 5, 2008

    This morning, I told Bill that I don't think it's possible to find the "best" BBQ in North Carolina.

    I've read elsewhere that cooking NC BBQ correctly is very difficult to do, and even the best restaurants can't always do it well. When you read reviews of some of the widely accepted legendary restaurants (Parker's, Wilber's, Bill Ellis, Skylight Inn, etc.), you'll find people who love it and people who hate it.

    So many factors play into the BBQ experience. If you go on an off-day, you'll be disappointed and wonder why everyone makes over it.

    Maybe we can determine which places are more likely to give you good BBQ and leave it at that? I want to do a blog about the WORST BBQ places, but that wouldn't be very nice.

  • vol80 Aug 4, 2008

    I've had eastern style, western style, texas style and memphis style, and I must say that nothing holds a candle to my favorite eastern style recipes. I must say the best pig I have ever had is always cooked by me and my friends and family. Can't give the recipe out cause that's always going to have to be a closely guarded secret. But I also have to add that I haven't found any BBQ that I didn't really like unless you try and get it from some of these national chains. Thats usually always a no-no.

  • 5GDad Aug 4, 2008

    all of the following are good.
    Bee's in Greenville
    Holden's in Youngsville
    Parker's in Wilson
    Wilber's in Goldsboro

    I probably should not have mentioned Holden's because that my favorite Friday lunch place and you can still get a seat.

  • PikeMom4real Aug 4, 2008

    Pete Jones BBQ,Ayden,NC (RIP Uncle Pete)

  • ltjcc602 Aug 4, 2008

    Parker's in Wilson without a doubt.




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