The 15 Best North Carolina Barbecue Restaurants You Must Try (2024)

Do you have a craving for a big plate of North Carolinabarbecue? Well, you have come to the right place because here you are going to be able to pick between 15 of the best places to get your fix. Whether it is your first time trying this staple of the south or you grew up eating NC BBQ it is one of those dishes that never get old. You will find that this dish pairs perfectly with all types of sides and you can bring it to any kind of event.

North Carolina Style BBQ is a very popular way to make pulled pork. Once you have tried it you will be able to recognize it anywhere. Some of these restaurants have been open for multiple generations that still cook the same way. Do not be surprised if you pull up and it looks like it is a little hole-in-the-wall place, most of the time that is when you know it is the real deal. Now, let’s learn a little bit more about what makes North Caroline the Best BBQ inBarbecue.

The 15 Best North Carolina Barbecue Restaurants You Must Try (1)

What is North Carolina Style BBQ?

North Carolina BBQ is a type of pork-based BBQ that is cooked with spices and most importantly vinegar. What is special about NC BBQ is that is made with a mixture of vinegar, pepper, and tomato sauce. It is always made with a “pork butt” or pork shoulders and cooked with a low and slow technique.

Many people add their own techniques and cooking styles, but you must have those three ingredients to make it a North Carolina Style BBQ. And of course, it is a tradition to add coleslaw, or just ‘slaw to your sandwich. If this is a new concept for you, just ask for it all on the side. Adding ‘slaw to your BBQ adds a crunchy and fresh element to your meal.

Which City is Famous for itsBarbecue in North Carolina?

Lexington is a famous city in NC for its bbq. Many people think that is where the style of NC BBQ started way back in the 1930s. They have a festival every year and Lexington is widely known as the barbecue capital of the world. If you are in town or want to make a trip to Lexington, NC you will not be disappointed and will leave with a full belly.

The 15 Best North Carolina Barbecue Restaurants You Must Try (2)

Is there a Difference BetweenSouth Carolina and North Carolina BBQ?

Yes! There is a big difference between South Carolina and North Carolina BBQ. As mentioned before NC BBQ has a vinegar and pepper base, while SC BBQ is made with a mustard base. The reasoning behind the SC mustard sauce is that there is a German background in South Carolina cooking.

Best North CarolinaBarbecue Restaurants

Parkers BBQ Greenville

Parkers BBQ in Greenville and been around for over 50 years. They are famous for their eastern North Carolina barbecue with a tangy vinegar sauce. You can find them all over Greenville, NC because they have expanded to three stores. They have plenty to choose from on the menu including large family deals and they even have catering if you are thinking of having a party.

At Parkers, you can also find homemade desserts and plenty of sides. If you fall in love with their special sauce they have a mail ordering list that you can join so you can make sure to never run out. You will not regret stopping in at one of the best places to eat North Carolina BBQ.

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CityBBQ

If you are looking for where to eat North Carolina BBQ then City BBQ is just the place. They have eleven restaurants all over the state. They are all serving up delicious and mouth-watering southern food. One of the more popular choices is the pulled pork sandwich that they pull straight off the pork shoulder when you order.

If you are looking for a mix of a bunch of different BBQs order the sample city platter order and share it with your friends and family. They have plenty of options for sides and desserts making it a perfect one-stop-shop for North CarolinaBarbecue.

Rib Country Murphy

Rib Country is one of the best places to grab yourself some NC BBQ in Murphy. If you are not close to Murphy, NC you still might be able to visit because they have three other locations around the state Cleveland, Hayesville, and Blairsville. They are open 7 days a week and have a nice and simple country menu.

You will feel right at home here when you are ordering the Bar-B-Que pulled pork sandwich or platters. If you go early for lunch they have plenty of specials and one of the most popular appetizers is the fried green tomatoes. Be sure to find a Rib Country near you it is one of the best places to eat North Carolina BBQ.

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The Pedalin’ Pig

The Pedalin’ Pig is one of the best Barbecue restaurants in Boone NC. Along with some of the best NC BBQ, they also are serving up all of your favorite southern sides like mac and cheese, lima beans, hashbrowns, potato salad and so much more.

They are open every day from 11 am to 9 pm and have lunch specials every day. If you are bringing the whole family you can order yourself a big platter to share or grab what they call a picnic special with all of your favorites included.

Pigman’s Bar-B-Que

At Pigman’s Bar-B-Que you will find the bestbarbecue in Outer Banks. They are located in the heart of the OBX in Kitty Hawk. They have been serving up all of your favorites since 1985 and using the same techniques today to create authentic North CarolinaBBQ.

Order yourself a platter, sandwich, or ribs or you may even want to mix it up a bit and order what they call a tuna-que. You are in the outer banks after all. If you are planning a party while on your trip to the OBX they have packages of takeaways that would be perfect for big groups. You will love visiting Pigman’s they are one of the BBQ restaurants in North Carolina.

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Backyard BBQ Pit in Durham

Backyard BBQ was recently named one of the south’s most legendary BBQ in North Carolina restaurants by Southern Living. With such a big honor you know their food has to be delicious. Here you will find home-style cooking that won’t break the bank.

They have plenty of sides to choose from including sweet potatoes, seasonal Brunswick stew, and of course cole slaw. They also have family-style catering and their sweet tea is legendary. If you are close by you are definitely going to want to stop by and have the best BBQ in Durham.

Stamey’s Barbecue

Stamey’s Barbecue is where to find the best BBQ in Greensboro. They have two locations and have been a staple in the city for over 92 years. Using the Lexington technique by cooking over hardwood coals and smothering on their famous “secret sauce” the results are mouth-watering North Carolina Style BBQ.

Stamey’s BBQ is open Monday-Saturday and they even have convenient drive-thru options if you are in rush. They also roast their own coffee beans and classic sides like coleslaw, freshly cut french fries, and hush puppies.

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Buddy’s BBQ

At Buddy’s, you will find the best CarolinaBarbecue in Rocky Mount with what they call a “Franklin County Moonshine Twist”. Here they smoke their NC BBQ fresh daily and drench it in their homemade sauce. All of their sides are homemade and the most popular ones are the banging baked beans and the mac and cheese.

Grab yourself a seat inside or out on the patio. They are open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm on the weekdays and stay open until 10 pm on the weekends. You can order off the regular menu, and order catering and they even have a value menu if you are looking to save a few bucks.

Mac’s Speed Shop

Mac’s Speed Shop has the bestBarbecue in Wilmington. Here you will find one of the best North CarolinaBarbecue restaurants with a mix of beers, BBQ, and bikes. With over 17 years of experience, they have recently grown to 7 locations around NC.

They are open every single day from 11 am to 9 pm and have live music on the patio during the weekends. You are welcome to bring your pup and relax with the whole family. Mac’s Speed Shop also has a gluten-free and kids’ menu so everyone can find something that they love.

Don’t forget to check out the best restaurants in Wilmington while you are nearby!

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Country Barbecue

If you are looking for the bestBarbecue in Greensboro then you need to make your way to Country Barbecue. Here they have daily specials where you can order freshly made dishes at a discount. Order yourself a big platter of NC BBQ or sandwich any day of the week.

Stop by Country Barbecue early and grab yourself a homemade biscuit or a breakfast platter. They also have BBQ chicken, ribs, burgers, and plenty of sandwiches. You can order homemade desserts, plenty of sides, and seasonal soups making it one of the best BBQ restaurants in North Carolina.

Buxton Hall BBQ

Buxton Hall BBQ is where to find the best barbecue in Asheville, NC. Here they have been making North Carolina-style BBQ with a fun modern twist. You can order a traditional sandwich pilled high with NC BBQ, a platter with sides, or even a combo platter to get your fix.

Buxton Hall BBQ is located in downtown Asheville inside of a restored historic building. The vibe of the place is just as good as the food. They have plenty of appetizers like pimento cheese, hushpuppies, and even mussels. If you are looking for where to eat North Carolina BBQ you will not find a better place than Buxton’s Hall BBQ in Asheville.

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Hursey’s Bar-B-Q

Hursey’s Bar-B-Q took top prize in the North and South Carolina Cook-Offin Washington D.C. and is home to some of the best North CarolinaBarbecue. Since 1960 they have been family-run and smoking BBQ. You would be happy to know that they are still using the same recipe today.

They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week. You can order North Carolina BBQ, trays and platters, plenty of different family-style options, and they even have big salads to order. If you are looking to enjoy authentic homestyle cooking then Hursey’s Bar-B-Q would be the best place for you to stop.

Lexington Barbecue

Lexington, NC is where North Carolina BBQ started so you know you have to be good to compete here. This classic barbecue place has been happily serving the community since 1962. They keep it simple and delicious here with simple plates, sandwiches, sides, and desserts.

They are open Monday- Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm and everything is cooked fresh daily. If you are in or around Lexington you are going to want to stop at this nationally known North Carolina Barbecue restaurant.

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Short Sugar’s

Short Sugar’s is a retro-style drive-up cafe where you find all your favorite southern comfort foods. They specialize in NC BBQ, burgers, and fries. When you dine at Short Sugar’s you will be transported to simpler times when everything was made fresh and daily.

They have been family owned and operated since 1949 and still use the same recipes today. Stop by Monday to Saturday to enjoy their hand-pulled North Carolina barbecue. They do sell and ship their secret sauce all over so you can make your own Short Sugar BBQ at home.

The Original Carolina Barbecue of Garner, Inc.

The Original Carolina Barbecue of Garner, Inc. is one of the best places to eat North Carolina BBQ, fried chicken, and so much more. Be sure to check out the daily specials they are always served with hushpuppies, cornsticks, or a homemade roll.

They are open every day of the week from 11 am to 9 pm. Here you will find that they have a laid-back and classic type of atmosphere. Order yourself a platter of different meats, and pulled pork sandwiches, or grab a family-style dish to share. They have very reasonable prices that will not break the bank.

The 15 Best North Carolina Barbecue Restaurants You Must Try (10)
The 15 Best North Carolina Barbecue Restaurants You Must Try (2024)

FAQs

The 15 Best North Carolina Barbecue Restaurants You Must Try? ›

North Carolina: Home to the “Original” BBQ Recipe

The meat must be pork (whole hog, shoulder, or occasionally ham). The meat is always served with a thin vinegar-based sauce.

What city in North Carolina has the best BBQ? ›

Best BBQ In North Carolina, How do these rankings work?
  • 8th. ...
  • 7th. Old Hampton Store & Barbecue – Linville. ...
  • 6th. B's BBQ – Greenville. ...
  • 5th. Clyde Cooper's BBQ – Raleigh. ...
  • 4th. Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville. ...
  • 3rd. Grady's BBQ – Dudley. ...
  • 2nd. Red Bridges BBQ Lodge – Shelby. ...
  • 1st. Skylight Inn BBQ – Ayden.

What BBQ is North Carolina famous for? ›

North Carolina: Home to the “Original” BBQ Recipe

The meat must be pork (whole hog, shoulder, or occasionally ham). The meat is always served with a thin vinegar-based sauce.

Where is the best BBQ restaurant in SC for 2023 according to Southern Living? ›

In addition to the honor for Charleston, Rodney Scott's BBQ was named South's Best BBQ Joint in South Carolina. The magazine notes that Scott has built a “multi-state whole hog empire” with locations in Alabama, Atlanta, and another on the way in Nashville.

What is the barbeque capital of North Carolina? ›

The Lexington Barbecue Festival is a one-day food festival held each October in Lexington, North Carolina, the "Barbecue Capital of the World." Each year it attracts as many as 200,000 visitors to the uptown Lexington area to sample the different foods from up to 20 different area restaurants, dozens of visiting food ...

What is the BBQ capital of NC? ›

World-Famous Barbecue, Award-Winning Wines, NASCAR Legends, Fine Art & Historic Uptown. Experience the charm of Lexington, NC – “The Barbeque Capital of the World”.

What state is number 1 for BBQ? ›

Texas is the best state for BBQ. It's home to three of the top 12 best BBQ cities in America: San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas.

What city has the best barbecue in the United States? ›

Last year Food & Wine magazine crowned “Austin and the surrounding hill country” as America's best barbeque. In fact, Food & Wine's top three destinations were in Texas, with Dallas at #2 and Brownsville #3. Two Missouri cities, Kansas City and St. Louis round out Food & Wine's top five.

How is South Carolina BBQ different from North Carolina BBQ? ›

The Carolinas BBQ

In North Carolina, the pork is typically brushed with a spice-and-vinegar mop as it's cooking. It's then portioned out and served with a ketchup-based sauce on the side. South Carolina, however, tends to use the whole hog, as opposed to the pork shoulder preferred by North Carolina.

What are the 4 styles of BBQ? ›

Some places are known for their stunning skylines or their distinctive accents. But these four regions are known for their incredible recipes that define United States BBQ Styles. Take a tour of the defining traits of Kansas City, Texas, Memphis, and Carolina-style barbecue!

What meat is North Carolina known for? ›

Traditionally, North Carolina's most popular barbecue dish is whole hog barbecue, though many believe pulled pork is more popular. In North Carolina, people frequently debate the difference between authentic hog barbecue and pulled pork.

What base is North Carolina barbecue? ›

The base of the sauce is both vinegar and ketchup, and it's that flavor that really separates Eastern and Western North Carolina. Western pork is sweeter with a sauce that's redder in color, but the flavor is still tangy due to the vinegar component.

What's the oldest restaurant in North Carolina? ›

Tar Heel Treasures: N.C.'s oldest original restaurant marks 100th anniversary
  • Carolina Coffee Shop in Chapel Hill is the oldest original restaurant in North Carolina.
  • The spot opened in 1922 and marked its 100th anniversary this year.
Nov 27, 2022

What is North Carolina restaurant of the Year? ›

North Carolina Restaurant of the Year: Cheeni Indian Food Emporium. At least once a week, a potential customer turns on their heels after reading the overhead menu at Cheeni Indian Food Emporium (1141 Falls River Avenue, Raleigh) and walks out.

What city in NC has the best food? ›

Asheville was the sole North Carolina city to earn a top 10 spot in the food rankings. Tripadvisor recognized the travel hot spot for having standout dining options close to mountain scenery.

Is Raleigh known for BBQ? ›

North Carolina is known for its barbecue, and these six Raleigh-area restaurants are some of the best. The origins of barbecue date back to the 1700s in North Carolina.

What is the difference between Carolina BBQ and Kansas City BBQ? ›

For example, Kansas City BBQ typically features a sweet tomato-based sauce with a tangy taste. There are many different barbecue styles, but two of the most popular are Kansas City and Carolina. Carolina BBQ typically is spicier and uses vinegar as a base for their sauces.

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