The 7 Greatest BBQ Locations in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

The 7 Greatest BBQ Locations in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Ten years in the past, in case you requested a North Carolinian the place to go for some good barbecue, they would not have advised you Raleigh.

The city of Lexington, house to greater than a dozen old-school joints that cooked pork shoulders over hickory-fired pits, was (and nonetheless is) the undisputed premier venue for Piedmont model. On the opposite aspect of the state, Goldsboro, Wilson, Greenville, and Ayden can all declare to be the epitome of the Jap model—entire hogs completed with a vinegar-and-chili sauce. Raleigh might have been the political capital of North Carolina, nevertheless it wasn’t a barbecue heart.

However issues look very totally different as we speak. Engaging new eating places have opened their doorways in close by Raleigh and Durham, remodeling the realm right into a thriving oasis of slow-smoked meats.

In some methods, this prosperity displays an embrace of the previous. Not way back, it appeared that cooking entire pigs over actual wooden charcoal was a dying artwork, as many pit makers turned to gas-powered instruments and extra handy cuts, resembling Boston butts and ribs. However these new eating places are going again to the roots of the delicacies.

On the similar time, the present era of cooks is wanting past state borders and adopting kinds and methods from far and vast. These embrace imported choices from Texas (resembling brisket, sausage, and spare ribs) in addition to the daring flavors of South America and the Caribbean. Put all of it collectively, and also you get a vibrant mixture of outdated and new. Listed below are seven nice eating places main the way in which.

the pit

Go to Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh

The pit opened in 2007, lengthy earlier than the final native growth, nevertheless it was a harbinger of the developments that have been to come back. Movie star chef Ed Mitchell has teamed up with Raleigh developer Greg Hatem to open this upscale spot in a renovated downtown warehouse. Sure, they serve a basic entire hog from japanese North Carolina that is been roasted over a charcoal pit, however in addition they have Texas-style brisket, appetizers like fried inexperienced tomatoes with goat cheese, and what actually shocked barbecue purists—a wine record and full bar with signature cocktails. Mitchell left in 2011, however The Pit continues to be going sturdy with its upscale tackle the anticipated choices, a merger that set the sample for a lot of eating places that adopted.; 328 West Davie Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601; 919-890-4500

Grill head

Ruby Caponetto


About 10 miles east of Raleigh in Knightdale, self-proclaimed barbecue aficionado Christopher Prieto has created a implausible smoked meat store. Meticulous consideration to element is clear within the brilliant white tiles with orange accents and carries over to the high-quality meals that comes out of the massive J&R Oyler people who smoke within the lined pit room.

Brito grew up in Texas, and his menu reveals it. Tender brisket with completely seasoned bark is accompanied by scorching hyperlinks, black pepper-sprayed ribs, and a candy glaze. There are some nods to Brito’s Puerto Rican roots, too, together with a beautiful “barbecue rice” that is browned in bacon fats and onions and cooked in beef broth with bits of sausage. Better of all, he pays tribute to his new house state on Saturdays with a complete pulled pork and smoked over hardwood charcoal – however with a distinctly Caribbean twist. As an alternative of getting a sauce with the same old components, the pork is completed with citrus mojo and garlic for a completely scrumptious mixture.; 403 Knightdale Station Run, Knightdale, NC 27545; 919-373-8067

Lawrence Barbecue

Ruby Caponetto

necessary function

Since opening Lawrence Barbecue in June 2021, Jake Wooden has steadily created a one-of-a-kind vacation spot. It’s situated throughout the Boxyard RTP advanced, a mixed-use challenge in Analysis Triangle Park constructed from repurposed transport containers. Wooden put in three Lange offset people who smoke and started churning out brisket, sticky ribs, and grilled oysters with candy barbecue butter (for a bit of twist). 4 months later, he added the Lagoon Leisure Bar, which serves wealthy, tropical cocktails. After his brisket and birria tacos went viral on social media, he opened a 3rd stand, Leroy’s Taco Store, to provide the long-lasting spot its personal.

Wooden explains that the unique pairing of barbecue and oysters was one thing he grew up with in close by Apex. “There was all the time selecting of entire pigs and oysters at household reunions,” he says. “I believed that was the strangest mixture on the earth, however I nonetheless liked it.” Lately, Wooden’s oysters are complemented by a rotating array of artistic dishes that vary from burgers and cheesesteaks to smoked ham and thick slabs of pork smothered in inexperienced chimichurri sauce — a feast of flavors that modifications from week to week., 900 Park Places of work Drive, Suite 120, Durham, NC; 919-593-6923


Ruby Caponetto

necessary function

Eight years in the past, Wyatt Dixon opened Picnic in a small, renovated store on the northwest fringe of Durham. The intent was to get again to the fundamentals of North Carolina barbecue, which meant not solely cooking over all wooden but additionally utilizing heritage-breed pigs raised on close by household farms.

Whereas initially serving solely pork, Dixon quickly gave in to widespread demand and added brisket and spare ribs to the menu. Stylistically, Picnic straddles the state’s two major areas, the place mayonnaise-laced Jap coleslaw pairs properly with Piedmont’s tomato sauce and golden-brown hush puppies. You will additionally be capable to discover loads of different Carolina-inspired dishes as nicely, from Brunswick stew and fried eggs to creamy banana pudding and chocolate chess pie.

In the summertime of 2023, Dixon handed the reins over to new proprietor and former worker Chris Holloway, however you’ll be able to relaxation assured that these aged meats, reduce into tender items and tinged pink with smoke, are nearly as good as ever. “I’ve some enjoyable concepts, issues I wish to do that are not the norm, however I do not contact custom,” Holloway says. “There’ll all the time be a complete wood-fired pig out there so long as I am right here.”;1647 Coal Mill Street, Durham, NC 27705; 919-908-9128

Longleaf pigs

Ruby Caponetto

Downtown Raleigh

It has been an extended journey for Mark Russell and Adam Cunningham from meals truck to their brick-and-mortar operation. They initially deliberate to arrange store at Raleigh’s Switch Co. Meals Corridor in 2020, however the pandemic put the kibosh on that. Then they discovered a promising web site in an outdated gasoline station on the nook of a downtown avenue, however the building course of dragged on for a yr, then two.

Longleaf Swine lastly opened in November 2022, and it is a fantastic place. You order inside on the counter after which head to one of many lengthy picnic tables beneath the sloping venetian blinds. Paper-lined trays honor the previous whereas providing one thing new. Lengthy strands of pulled pork are immersed within the vinegar combination, and hooked up to thick brisket steaks and primarily trimmed spare ribs. Candy yellow corn kernels in creamy inexperienced chile sauce aren’t a standard Southern dish, however they certain are scrumptious. All of this was discovered simply two blocks from the columns of the state Capitol.; 300 East Edenton Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601; 984-200-9649

BBQ Sam Jones

Ruby Caponetto

Downtown Raleigh

Sam Jones is the grandson of Pete Jones, founding father of the world-famous Skylight Inn in Aiden, and has grow to be a form of evangelist for the normal North Carolina “braid.” This enthusiasm led him to broaden in 2015 and create a full-scale restaurant in close by Winterfell beneath the identify Sam Jones BBQ. Then in 2021, he moved west and opened a second location in downtown Raleigh.

Jones did not should compromise his grandfather’s wood-cooked heritage to make it to the large metropolis, as the enormous pile of break up logs behind the constructing attests. You may preserve it basic with the Jones Household Authentic BBQ Tray, which holds a sq. of easy, skinny cornbread between two paper boats — one crammed with candy salad and the opposite crammed with finely chopped pork in a French dressing and pepper sauce with bits of smokey pores and skin blended proper in.

There are issues you’ll be able to eat in Raleigh that you simply will not discover in Aiden, like hen wings and ribs. Within the East, the strongest drink you will get is Cheerwine (which each North Carolinian is aware of would not comprise a drop of alcohol). There is a full bar right here with native craft beers and an inventory of “high-octane cocktails” that features a peach-tinged Sam Jones Previous Customary. Heck, they even take bank cards.; 502 West Lenoir Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601; 984-206-2555

Lechon Latin BBQ & Bar

Ruby Caponetto


Maybe the area’s most cutting-edge culinary expertise crept onto the scene in early 2022, and in one in all its most stunning places: the Triangle City Middle mall simply north of Raleigh. Lechón Latin BBQ & Bar is a far cry from conventional Carolina-style delicacies. The signature merchandise is lechón con cuero – roasted pig with a crispy exterior – and it’s cooked not in a pit however in stainless-steel pans in a transformed pizza oven. The pork is then reduce into tender peppery strands and topped with a wonderfully cooked piece of pores and skin that shatters whenever you chew into it.

There’s lots to discover on proprietor Jorge Thorne’s menu, with dishes that mix cuisines from a number of locations, together with Cuba, Puerto Rico and Argentina in addition to his native Peru. The roasted hen arrives on the desk, its pores and skin seared and reddish-brown from the flames of the oven. Jerk hen and Argentinian-style beef are positioned inside empanada shells. Tender pink beans get taste from diced onions and cilantro, and fried yuca will get an additional dose of taste when dipped in a cup of fragrant inexperienced or yellow aji sauce.; 5959 Triangletown Blvd., Suite 2121, Raleigh, NC 27616; 919-793-9913

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