A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

  As of January 2019, we have discontinued our BBQ NC app. We have compiled some of our favorites to help you continue to navigate North Carolina’s barbecue scene. Stay

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  As of January 2019, we have discontinued our BBQ NC app. We have compiled some of our favorites to help you continue to navigate North Carolina’s barbecue scene. Stay

25 North Carolina Barbecue Joints


As of January 2019, we have discontinued our BBQ NC app. We have compiled some of our favorites to help you continue to navigate North Carolina’s barbecue scene. Stay tuned for more barbecue content on ourstate.com.


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Western      Central      Eastern



Buxton Hall Barbecue

Chef Elliott Moss grew up watching his grandfather smoke whole hogs, and he brings that family tradition to Buxton Hall. photograph by Tim Robison

Buxton Hall Barbecue

The owners of Buxton Hall Barbecue bring fresh ideas to the table, yet they never lose sight of the whole-hog tradition at the heart of their restaurant.

Buxton Hall Barbecue
32 Banks Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 232-7216

Old Hampton Store & Barbeque

At Old Hampton Store, eat hickory-smoked barbecue served on sourdough rolls in a historic 1920 general store that was once the original train stop for Tweetsie Railroad.

Old Hampton Store & Barbeque
77 Ruffin Street
Linville, NC 28646
(828) 733-5213

Switzerland Café and General Store

Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Switzerland Café (open spring through fall) offers hickory-smoked barbecue with a signature sauce — a blend of Lexington- and eastern-style flavors.

Switzerland Café and General Store
9440 NC Highway 226A
Marion, NC 28752
(828) 765-5289

Herb’s Pit kitchen manager Mark Riddle knows every rack of ribs that leaves the grate carries 30 years of tradition. photograph by Emily Chaplin

Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que

Customers have come to Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que for more than 30 years for pit-smoked barbecue covered in a “sweet-and-sour” sauce, plus onion rings and four-layer chocolate pie.

Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que
15735 U.S. Highway 64
Murphy, NC 28906
(828) 494-5367

Nothing pairs better with barbecue than cold sweet tea by the pitcherful. photograph by Johnny Autry

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

Since 1946, customers have come from near and far for tender, hand-chopped pork, painstakingly pit-cooked over a bed of glowing hickory and oak, then slathered in red, Lexington-style sauce. Oh, and for the hush puppies and red slaw.

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge
2000 East Dixon Boulevard
Shelby, NC 28150
(704) 482-8567



Hursey’s barbecue is legendary — but the onion rings are pretty good, too. photograph by Travis Dove

Hursey’s Bar-B-Q

From its humble backyard beginnings in the mid-1940s, Hursey’s has become something of a pork powerhouse. The hickory-smoked pork shoulders are best topped with Hursey’s Old-Fashioned Barbecue Sauce, which is just a little east of western, and west of eastern.

Hursey’s Bar-B-Q
1834 South Church Street
Burlington, NC 27215
(336) 570-3838

Rows of shoulders line the pit at Lexington Barbecue. After cooking, that “outside brown,” as it’s called, will be lifted off the meat and saved for special orders. photograph by Travis Dove

Lexington Barbecue

The meat is the thing here, enhanced to perfection by a dark, thin sauce — or dip — that is neither too mild nor too fiery.

Lexington Barbecue
100 Smokehouse Lane
Lexington, NC 27295
(336) 249-9814

Owners Roy (left) and Boyd Dunn have seen Speedy’s through a half-century of service. photograph by Travis Dove

Speedy’s Barbecue, Inc.

In Lexington, the city’s namesake-style barbecue — pork shoulder meat dipped in a tomato-based sauce — draws devotees to this former drive-in.

Speedy’s Barbecue, Inc.
1317 Winston Road
Lexington, NC 27295
(336) 248-2092

Little Richard’s waitress Kasey Smith fills her workdays with lots of laughter. photograph by Travis Dove

Little Richard’s BBQ

Little Richard’s barbecue is pure Lexington-style. It’s pulled from pork shoulders, which are slow-roasted over wood coals for 12 to 14 hours. As for the Lexington-style dip, Little Richard’s blend is still strongly vinegar-based, with a bracing dose of pepper. 

Little Richard’s BBQ
6470 Stadium Drive
Clemmons, NC 27012
(336) 766-0401


This whole-hog barbecue joint tinkers with tradition, but it still shares time-honored cooking methods with its small-town brethren.

1647 Cole Mill Road
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 908-9128

A large fan helps ventilate Stamey’s pit building, which is, by all accounts, one of the largest and best equipped in the state. photograph by Travis Dove


Founded in 1930, Stamey’s is well known for its Lexington-style pit — they cook exclusively over hardwood hickory coals — and its tangy-sweet vinegar-and-tomato sauce.

2812 Battleground Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 288-9275

2206 West Gate City Boulevard
Greensboro, NC 27403
(336) 299-9888

Fuzzy’s Bar-B-Que

Fuzzy’s embodies the personality of an Eisenhower-era diner, looking much as it did in 1954, when T.H. “Fuzzy” Nelson opened it. The moist and zesty barbecue is served with long, curvy hush puppies and vinegar slaw.

Fuzzy’s Bar-B-Que
407 Highway Street
Madison, NC 27025
(336) 427-4130

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque

Clyde Cooper’s has been serving barbecue since it opened on New Year’s Day of 1938, making it one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in the state. Don’t forget to order plentiful sides — collard greens, potato salad, slaw — and make sure to save room for banana pudding.

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque
327 South Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 832-7614

At Short Sugar’s, David Wilson’s homemade sauce is legendary. photograph by Travis Dove

Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q

Much of Short Sugar’s reputation comes from its thin, dark sauce, which seems to have less ketchup or tomato paste than other Piedmont dips.

Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q
1328 South Scales Street
Reidsville, NC 27320
(336) 342-7487

Though Stephenson’s doesn’t cook the whole hog, the restaurant fancies itself an eastern-style establishment, with white coleslaw and a vinegar-based sauce. photograph by Travis Dove

Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q

Pulled pork shoulder — pit-smoked over hardwood charcoal — comes with a tangy sauce. The only day the pit isn’t fired up is Sunday, when the restaurant is closed.

Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q
11964 NC Highway 50 North
Willow Spring, NC 27592
(919) 894-4530

Calvin Brown chops hickory-smoked pork to fill customers’ plates, trays, and sandwiches. photograph by Joey and Jessica Seawell

Hill’s Lexington Barbecue, Inc.

A family-owned and -run restaurant that honors tradition, Hill’s embodies resilience. This joint has been satisfying Winston-Salem residents and drivers on U.S. Highway 52 with their Lexington-style barbecue for more than 60 years.

Hill’s Lexington Barbecue, Inc
4005 Patterson Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27105
(336) 767-2184


How do you spot a good barbecue restaurant? If you see an old-fashioned sign and a full parking lot, pull in. photograph by Peter Taylor

Richard’s Bar-B-Q

Richard’s opened in 1979 on Main Street, right between the courthouse and the railroad station, and that’s where it stands today. The eastern-style sauce has not been fiddled with in all that time, and slaw is the vegetable of choice. 

Richard’s Bar-B-Q
522 North Main Street
Salisbury, NC 28144
(704) 636-9561

Fuller’s Old Fashioned BAR-B-Q

Fuller’s is home to a huge all-you-can-eat buffet, which includes biscuits, barbecue, cornbread, and more. Need we say more?

Fuller’s Old Fashioned BAR-B-Q
113 North Eastern Boulevard
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 484-5109

At Pik-N-Pig, you’ll find tender, flavorful pork, cooked over hickory coals and pulled by hand. photograph by C2 Photography


This fly-in barbecue restaurant is located at an airfield. But you don’t have to be a pilot to pay a visit. Here, an order of pulled pork comes with a view of the runway.

194 Gilliam McConnell Road
Carthage, NC 28327
(910) 947-7591



Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden is a family business, with several relatives floating in on any given day. photograph by Travis Dove

Bum’s Restaurant

You won’t find a “best barbecue in the world” sign on the window, but after a bite of barbecue or a sniff of the woodsmoke wafting through downtown, you’ll see why Bum’s doesn’t need one.

Bum’s Restaurant
566 East Third Street
Ayden, NC 28513
(252) 746-6880

At Skylight Inn BBQ, you come for a barbecue sandwich on a bun, topped with yellow coleslaw. Or you come for a paper tray of chopped barbecue, a square slab of baked cornbread, and a little dish of slaw. photograph by Travis Dove

Skylight Inn BBQ

Skylight’s hickory-smoked, eastern-style barbecue is legendary in the eastern part of the state. The hog’s skin is blistered and mixed with the meat, and it’s served with a vinegar-based sauce, coleslaw, and a flat, heavy cornbread.

Skylight Inn BBQ
4618 South Lee Street
Ayden, NC 28513
(252) 746-4113

Steve and Gerri Grady don’t believe in doing anything the easy way, and the mouthwatering flavor of their slow-cooked barbecue confirms that. photograph by Geoff Wood

Grady’s BBQ

Sides of steamed cabbage, slaw, collards, and more are made from family recipes. The hush puppies are light and crispy. And the eastern-style barbecue is cooked over hickory and oak.

Grady’s BBQ
3096 Arrington Bridge Road
Dudley, NC 28333
(919) 735-7243

At B’s Barbecue, it’s what’s inside that counts. photograph by Johnny Autry

B’s Barbecue

Simple, yet legendary. This Greenville landmark has no phone, no frills, and no equal.

B’s Barbecue
751 State Road 1204
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 758-7126

Morris Barbeque

Morris is only open on Saturdays — a tradition that began in 1956 — but the eastern-style barbecue is worth any inconvenience. Don’t overlook the hush puppies and layer cake.

Morris Barbeque
891 Morris BBQ Road

Hookerton, NC 28538
(252) 747-2254

The barbecue is soaked in a vinegar-and-red-pepper sauce. photograph by Geoff Wood

Parker’s Barbecue

Each week, Parker’s smokes about 150 whole hogs — which are chopped and seasoned with a vinegar-and-red-pepper sauce — and fries about 8,000 chickens for 20,000 customers, who start coming early in the day. 

Parker’s Barbecue
2514 U.S. Highway 301 South
Wilson, NC 27893
(252) 237-0972

This story was published on Jan 01, 2015

Our State Staff

Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.