When you say the word “BBQ” in North Carolina, this refers to a specific way of smoking pork, as opposed to other parts of the country where a BBQ is a party where food is served, but can be anything from hot dogs to steaks. In Raleigh, eastern-style barbecue rules supreme over Lexington-style, with the major difference being that eastern-style does not include any tomato-based products, while Lexington-style mixes the vinegar base with ketchup. So if you are new to the area, travelling to Raleigh, or just simply looking for some new joints to try, here are some of the best places in the Triangle for some native BBQ.
Located in the warehouse district of Raleigh, The Pit is a staple of the downtown dining scene, serving authentic whole hog, pit-cooked barbecue. All of the pigs are sourced from North Carolina. The menu also offers a twist on traditional North Carolina cuisine, including a wide variety of barbecue proteins (including tofu), fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, and cornbread.
Sam Jones has just joined the Raleigh restaurant scene, however the Jones family is famous in the Greenville area for their generations of pitmasters, starting with Sam’s grandfather. The menu is simple and focused on the delicious, tangy flavors of eastern-style barbecue, as perfected by the Jones family over the years.
Looking for old-fashioned, no-frills, flavorful BBQ? Look no further than Clyde Cooper’s BBQ. They have been serving eastern-style barbecue to downtown Raleigh diners since 1938. This award-winning restaurant has amazing, classic eastern-style barbecue and a side of nostalgia throughout the building.
Situated in the heart of Knightdale, Prime BBQ, founded by champion pitmaster Christopher Prieto, has been open at Knightdale Station only a year but has become a popular choice for some BBQ with a twist. Prieto mixes traditional eastern-style and Puerto Rican flavors to create a savory mix of meats for patrons to enjoy.
Smokey’s pays tribute to both eastern and Lexington-style barbecue in their cute little joint near the airport in Morrisville. This small, family run shack focuses on cooking high quality meats with traditional southern fixins, like fried okra, for a tasty meal that will no doubt prompt you to loosen your belt a few notches.
One of the staple foods of a native North Carolinians diet is no doubt barbecue. While the debate rages on as to which sauce reigns supreme, Raleigh’s central location gives our residents the opportunity to taste the best of both in our own backyard. While the list above includes the best of our city’s bbq scene, there are tons of other little BBQ shacks all over the Triangle making a whole pig for diners to enjoy.