A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Find barbecue joints in your region. Western      Central      Eastern     Old Hampton Store & Barbeque At Old Hampton Store, eat hickory-smoked barbecue served on sourdough rolls

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Find barbecue joints in your region. Western      Central      Eastern     Old Hampton Store & Barbeque At Old Hampton Store, eat hickory-smoked barbecue served on sourdough rolls

Pit Stop: 22 Essential North Carolina Barbecue Joints

Find barbecue joints in your region.

Western      Central      Eastern



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


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.
408 Piedmont Drive
Lexington, NC 27295
(336) 248-2410

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 Geoff Wood

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



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

Second location:
7735 South Raeford Road

Fayetteville, NC 28304
(910) 867-3002

Edwin Portillo preps the chopped barbecue. photograph by Travis Dove

The Pit Authentic Barbecue

The Pit provides a rather upscale setting for Raleigh patrons to enjoy authentic, pit-cooked barbecue.

The Pit Authentic Barbecue
328 West Davie Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 890-4500



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

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2014. Latham “Bum” Dennis (pictured above) passed away in December 2022.

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

Wilber’s Barbecue

Wilber’s is one of only a handful of remaining restaurants anywhere in the eastern part of the state where barbecue is cooked entirely over hardwood coals. Unlike a few other famous places in the Coastal Plain, this is a restaurant where the name above the door still means exactly what it did when Wilber Shirley bought the former Hill’s Barbecue and opened it under his own name in 1962.

Wilber’s Barbecue
4172 US-70
Goldsboro, NC 27534
(919) 778-5218

This story was published on Feb 01, 2019

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.