June 19, 2009

along the Coastal Hwy

This BBQ place never really got going.
and then the Interstate came through, and then people started eating salads instead of BBQ and then they quit going to the beach, "what with the price of gas these days" . . .


Earlier we've stated some (made-up) rule about how a tin roof and smoking pit guarantees good BBQ eating.
This is an exception to that rule, even the tin roof couldn't save this BBQ joint. Maybe the food wasn't good or the cooks were surly & glum?

Today the parking lot has a tree growing up through the pavement. Couldn't photograph from my part of the parking lot because some rapscallion ne'er-do-wells were conducting some sort of business on that very spot by the tree - whoops! - we didn't see anything, don't know nothing 'bout nothing. Sure wasn't going to point a camera at 'em.

All I know is I don't know.

We documented the failed BBQ stand and departed before they could come over.
As we shifted into 2nd gear we heard the crime boss yell
"You best Ge-et out this lot!".
Right. Some threat, lame bravado crowing from the rural poor.
But here's another made-up rule:
"Don't get in a fight with someone that has nothing to loose".

3rd gear, 4th gear, and we're laughing and I'm checking the rear view mirror - as if!

February 28, 2009

BTS means Better than Sex sauce

The original bigbonton barbecue tours of the South started on a lark, became a bit of a vice, morphed into a hobby, then here it is 2009 and this photo blog has a life of its own.

You gotta eat, right? So while in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia why not dine on what the National Barbecue News calls the "Best of the Best" at Savannah’s Wiley’s Championship BBQ restaurant and catering. Their subtle nuances include their BTS “Better Than Sex” sauce, which a layman may describe as "tangy" but the creators call "tingly". And oh how it does tingle on the palette. It's not hot, it's just tingly...


We dined with two vegetarians, yes, I brought two vegetarians to a BBQ joint, (people will follow me anywhere) and they both loved it all. Well, I mean they loved the potato salad, cole slaw, (my benchmarks for comparison) and bread pudding. The texture of the bread pudding was the opposite of tingly, whatever that word is.

Wiley’s Championship BBQ
Whitemarsh Island (at Highway 80 & Islands Expressway)
6 easy miles from Savannah’s downtown Historic District
4700 U.S. Highway 80 East, Suite N
Savannah, Georgia 31410-2942. (912) 201-3259;
click to email for catering or what not: bbqgeneral@gmail.com; fax 912-201-3262

click for their website: Wileys Championship bbq .com

Tell 'em bigbonton sent you and see how far that gets you...

September 16, 2008

Yard Bird Livers. Jesus Saves.

Driving through Jackson, Georgia on a two-lane blacktop, a random Tuesday, 7:00PM.
We drove past the sign and pile of wood and the BBQ potential didn't register right away. When it hit us we hit the brakes, turned around in the driveway of a trucker - his big rig was parked beside his house and it was one of the easiest turn-arounds ever.

We got there, parked and went in... or tried to go in. Here's a first: we had trouble finding the entrance. The place had more than one door and none of them looked like they'd stay on the hinges if pulled. Some doors had windows that were painted over. Inside the windows on one door was stuff piled up to the ceiling, I wasn't about to try opening that one and topple the stack of empty jars, plastic bottles, newspapers, and general whatnots. When you visit, use the screen door on the far right, the one at an angle facing the woodpile. Go through the storage porch and wind you way in.


Enter Frix's Bar-B-Cue. Chicken Livers. Jesus Saves.
We heard a woman's voice singing for distraction in the kitchen. On and off, not really keeping time, she was going along with the radio, Santana's "Black Magic Woman.
"shes a black magic woman
tryin to make a devil out of me
Got your spell on me baby
Got your spell on me baby
Yes you got your spell on me baby
Turning my heart into stone"

I had the place to myself and sat in a booth with my back to the wall facing the music and the exit.
She walked out from around the corner.
The first thing I noticed was her towering size, well over 6 feet tall with very long gray hair in twin pigtails, big ropey pigtails down each side of her head. When she turned around we saw the braids were joined down her back into a single braid. The result was a big ropey wishbone of hair over her threadbare apron.
The second thing we noticed was her unusual speech pattern, a bit lispy and a bit tongue-tied. "I'm the only-esth waithress. I'll be right widthja."
I looked around, was alone in the place, except for the woman. When I ordered unsweetened tea she didn't bat an eye. Good sign. I said I needed to wash up, she told me to come on back. She pointed me to the deep industrial mop sink beside the pit. They can smoke the meat indoors because they have custom exhaust fans. She said it was her husband's idea and he built the place for them a few years back "with hith own two hanth, he'th full of ideasth."

She kept refilling my tea, even when I only needed an inch at the top. She'd put her knee on the bench, rest sideways, pour me a sip of tea and ask if everything was alright. Yep, OK.
She'd walk off, sometimes she'd swing her arms and move along with the radio like a teenager. She especially liked the Motown, "Bay-Bay, Every-thing's all-right, Uptight, out of sight!" She even went in a circle on that tune. She didn't exactly a spin in a circle, but still, she made a girlish 360.

Generally her attention and floor show might have been annoying but she clearly wanted some companionship and was nice about it, didn't ask uncomfortable questions, just liked to chat and hear someone talking to create some diversion. She carried her part of the interaction and didn't push it - even when I bit my lip while chewing and I winced, she noticed from across the room and said, "Oh, ah'm sthorry." I felt touched by that. Normally my reaction would have been more like,"Cut it out, I don't need a Mommy," but she really seemed so kind I wasn't uncomfortable about so much focus.

When the oldies song "This Diamond Ring" came on she really belted out a tune.
"This diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore
And this diamond ring doesn't mean what it meant before
So if you've got someone whose love is tru-u-ue
Let it shine for yo-ou-ou"

"Where you from?" Uh-Oh. She got personal. "Athens." (I lied but was driving from Athens.) She looked like she knew better. "and Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston..." I started the litany of some "wheres" where I typically claim to live.
"Oh, Savannar," she said, "My firth huthsband got buried there in 1978. Ah go every year to histh grave. It getsth overgrown and ah weed it. Ah take him hith pecan pie. A whole pie and ah usually have one thslice myself before I leave."

WTF? "Oh," I replied, "Oh, I'm sorry." (Standard reply about a death). I wasn't liking where this was going.
"Yesth, but that wasth a long time ago and now ah got a new huthband. Ah get to see him every thingle Wednesthday and Thursthday now. Ah'll go to Atlanta tomorrow and thstay until Friday, then hurry back to open the resthaurant by 11."

... I'm thinking the current husband is in prison... She read my mind, "He'sth in the VA hosthpital. (long pause) He has good daysth and bad daysth."

"This Diamond Ring" was still playing.
"This diamond ring can mean something beautiful
And this diamond ring can mean dreams that are coming true"
She might have heard those lyrics, "Till death do uth part," she said with a shrug. She smiled at me and she connected.

My original inkling about her was that she was kind of fun, maybe even a bright spirited person. That hunch matured into a loving trust for her. This was a good woman, working a BBQ joint alone on a Georgia two lane backroad, keeping it together, keeping it going so for two days a week she could get a motel room near the VA hospital and sit with her husband. Until she buried him like her first husband. Then she'd have two graves to visit and clean annually.

Oh, and the food was good too, especially the hush puppies. Crunchy on the outside and corn-mealy on the inside, not at all greasy. She makes a homemade peanut butter pie, it was a bit heavy and too sugary but I told her she's a great cook. She smiled like it was the best compliment she'd heard in a long long time. . . I was so glad we met.


Frix's Bar-B-Que and Catfish Restaurant
2545 Hwy 36 east
Jackson, GA 30233
We are not a fast food restaurant your patience will be appreciated
Method of Payment (Cash Only)

September 17, 2007

"this is not" BBQ, Statesboro, GA

We've deleted the name of the joint because we got scared about reprisals. But it’s in the ‘boro Georgia.

This place had promise in so many ways. The municipality is named in a blues standard (best known cover is by The Allman Brothers Band). The concrete block building has a sign sponsored by Sunbeam Bread – the gummy white bread of choice for any BBQ plate.
They even have a smokehouse out back.
Perfect. Mouth-wateringly perfectly set scene for a good Q’ing session. Heck, someone else was even PAYING!


And then . . . our food came.
Look at the photo, the RGB color scheme is not off. It really is a bland shade of orange-grey-blahness. So-so food and luke warm colors.
Busted! We saw the AmeriGas butane tank out back by the smokehouse. Even photo’d it for evidence, but have it filed away in an undisclosed secret location (along with our Vice-President).


This Q is not Q'd, it is crock-potted pork or some such lameness. Based on the amount of fat left in the meat the crock-pot wasn’t even on the proper settings. Geez Looweez, man, ya gotta have white bread standards when you hang that Sunbeam sign.

What they serve as BBQ is raw material for carnitas.
Order some of their fatty under-cooked pseudo-Q, take it home, cook it in a pot, medium heat, stirring often. The pork will render in its own fat and produce a browned and well-textured pork that’s perfect for a sandwich or as a garnish over a salad.

As for the sides, neither the potato salad nor the Brunswick stew brings back any fond memories. A street survey in the vicinity uncovered such opinions as “this is the best Brunswick stew I’ve ever had.” The follow up probe clarified that “I’ve never had any Brunswick stew from anywhere else,” thus explaining how a forgettable humdrum stew could get such acclaim.
Nothing to see here folks, move along.

All is not lost. The day produced several bigbonton bonuses:
1/ Someone else picked the spot and paid for the excursion (a first).
2/ We actually had a live Female Unit accompaniment (a first).
3/ Check out those legs. Dag, Yo, Daddy-O, we’re on a lucky streak, but not with BBQ! Yowzah, Lucille!
I wants to loves ya, it’s in me and gots to come out!

Selected lyrics from "Statesboro Blues" by Blind Willie McTell:

Continue reading ""this is not" BBQ, Statesboro, GA" »

June 5, 2007

Summer Pilgrimage season begins

The kick-start to the "Best Summer Ever" pilgrimage season
gets a strong reception according to this fan from bontondom:


The above user-generated contribution to our dot-org effort came to bigbonton via email attachment, without specifics on the town and without details of the BBQ.
Looks like the midwest or northeast because of the hills, but heck, could be Atlanta, Georgia.
Anyone know this place? Please email us at replies to bigbonton.org.

Thanks to the Little Pigs marquee for the kind welcome to their traveling bontons. We appreciate their loving attention to good Q.

The sign says "hickory smoked with LOVIN' CARE" and "genuine pit", so we'll bet that a Bar-B-Q sandwich from Little Pigs is going to be real-licious.

# # #
We have met Participatory Media and it is us!
bigbonton.org is becoming self-aware,
and so it continues in the "Best Summer Ever 2007".
Flowers in your hair, people in motion, people in motion
(summer of love + 40)

Jah willing, our pilgrimage will include:
wineries in unexpected locales,
cheese dairies that love their goats and sheep (maybe too much?),
the SOHO kitchen table operational HQ's of a boiled-peanut mogul,
any and every roadside produce vender (we make frequent stops),
transportation by watercraft (not for fun, by necessity),
ancient Chinese fried chicken bigwigs,
and all the other nitty-gritty of a full and meaningful life in Summer 2007. Hey baby, it’s June! Soon we’ll be singing,
“hey baby, it’s the fourth of July,
don’t give me the cheek, I want the lips!”

- paraphrased from 4th of July by the band "X".

For your user-generated contributions use the email responder replies to bigbonton.org.
Dude, please spell check out of respect for words and readers.
Thank you,

November 9, 2006

treated lumber smoked BBQ

Although we were hungry, very very hungry, we didn't eat here so there is no food review.
The reason we didn't eat here was that after parking in the hard packed gravel parking lot around back we observed the smoker guy stoking the fire with construction site scraps.


Yep, that is what he did.
He put a few 2 by 4s into the fire and felt like he was getting it right.

A truck with three big guys in coveralls pulled into the parking lot.
They were glad to get out of the pickup because they'd been sitting three across in the cab. You know, thigh to thigh. Never comfortable. Not physically uncomfortable, just too, shall we say intimate.
After a stretching ceremony to get the blood flowing and re-establish their personal space, they hung out on the patio and ordered tea but no food.
We followed their lead, the tea was OK but as usual when someone asked for unsweetened tea it caused quite a halt in the flow.
We punted, got sweet tea and sat in wait for the first customer to order some Q smoked by pre-treated lumber scraps. No one did.

Is this place involved in money laundering or something? OK, that doesn't make sense but neither does using 2 by 4s as a wood source, does it?

October 29, 2006

BBQ aficionado secret

They always ask:
How does a person eat so much Q so often?
Both the quantity and frequency are hyper-human!


The answer is down-home country simple.
Eat your greens.
Eat your veggies while off duty and you'll be ready when the pig picking pops into gear.
Fresh produce and - come to think of it - get a bit of exercise.
A photo of running shoes or a speedo just doesn't capture that same essence.

October 10, 2006

cowboy diet: eat & move

News Flash:
"We ain't having no winter this year"

That news tidbit was overheard at an October picnic.
70 degrees, Mild sun, cool air, leaves, sports, just a wonderful day to get physical with badminton, Frisbee, and the "competitive pine cone target toss competition".


Munching away at fresh produce, late season tomatoes, cukes, watermelons, and good meat in the form of lovingly prepared sausages and ribs.

Oh, the meat! Oh, the meat! The sausage and the ribs that lost their lives that we may eat so well.
Hey, have a little respect for the fresh produce too!
These veggies were alive until a few hours before we steamed & olive-oiled them.
Nothing was wasted. Bounty was appreciated.


This photo is of the leftover racks of ribs.
The photographer didn't waste time with the camera at first, he got elbow deep into the rack and luckily there was this much left to photograph as evidence of a wonderful afternoon.

Continue reading "cowboy diet: eat & move" »

July 11, 2006

BBQ in Bizarro-land

Remember Bizarro-Land from Superman comics?
It’s a square planet instead of round like Earth. Their planet is named Htrae, which of course is Earth spelled backwards. This was all brought to life by an ingenious duplicator ray built by Lex Luthor using ancient advanced technology. Yes, I said ancient advanced technology.

Admit it if you know it! Superman comics are an item from standard American cultural literacy. Wiki is a good source of info on Bizarro, so if you’re lost on the topic it’s worth a quickie wiki look see. While you’re drinking from the wiki well look up “The Bizarro Jerry”, it's an episode of Seinfeld.

Bizarro-Land is a place where everything is opposite, something tasty is unpleasant, hot is cold, something pristine and functioning is not as highly esteemed as something broken.
You get it, it's Bizarro-Land.

Below is a photo from the vortex of Bizarro-Land BBQ.

Where "Just sit down!" means "Welcome."


“A Truly Unique Dining Experience” at Bizarro-Land BBQ

We walked in feeling fresh. We'd found the perfect afternoon locale.
We hoped for: a meal, a hang out, and a stroll.
We got: Slow down, Whoa there, not today, boy.

We opened the door, stepped inside and waited for our eyes to adjust from the bright sun to the dark interior. We couldn't tell who else was inside with us but we knew something was up when we heard a woman hollering "Uh Oh, ya'll Get Out! Get! Now! Go on, through the door, go!
GET in that back room!"

click for the rest of the story ->

Continue reading "BBQ in Bizarro-land" »

July 4, 2006

Carey Hilliards BBQ plate

Recently someone asked about good BBQ in Savannah GA. I mentioned a few places, including Carey Hilliards, which was met with groans.
Well, listen to the tale and you decide . . .


Carey Hilliard's Barbeque and Seafood.
The BBQ plate is a standard. A dark sauce that's a hybrid of the mustard / vinegar / and tomato sauces of the region.
The plate is round with 3 sections, one large and two small sections.
The toasted white bread is always cut diagonally. The Q is diced. Brunswick stew or hash is beside the meat, then crinkle cut fries, with one slice of onion and two pickles.
Some onion rings on the side are great.
The tea glass is large but always so filled with ice that it gets drained in one gulp. The waitresses are typically right there with a refill but sometimes they’re elsewhere doing something else. The tea is sweet – if you want unsweet they’ll bring one glass and then let you know that they’re making more. The refill will be sweet tea, if you really want unsweet you’ll have to repeat yourself. Their plastic glass tumbler has Coca Cola on one side and the Carey Hilliards logo (their fluorescent sign) on the other side.

read more, click here

Continue reading "Carey Hilliards BBQ plate" »

May 21, 2006

The Pit, Brunswick, GA

This place has a lot going against it.
On the list of everything you would want from a BBQ joint, it only has 2 things: great Q and people that love good food.

Getting there is no adventure. It's too easy, right beside I-95.
The atmosphere is not at all BBQ-centric. It's open everyday and shares the space with a bowling alley - which means they also sell pizza and snacks like chicken nuggets for bowlers.

Sure didn't have much going for it and as a BBQ snob I admit I could have skipped it altogether. But we were on I-95 and wanted to stretch our legs, so in the name of scientific research (anthro-Q-logical) we went for it.
Parked in the large well lit paved lot - ugh said the snob in me, is this any way to run a BBQ joint?

Continue reading "The Pit, Brunswick, GA" »

April 17, 2006

even ribs fall short sometimes

The name of this joint has been changed to K & C protect the innocent.
This BBQ place was no good but we'll not bust them too badly, perhaps I was cranky and in a bad mood . . . but probably it was not us, it was them.


One Saturday we went to the K & C location on Abercorn looking to fill up ourselves with some BBQ. Located in a strip mall in the shopping area near the Bass Pro Shop, we figured we’d found a source of good ol’boy Q. The restaurant itself is typical, could be any family eating joint on any Saturday in Anywhere, Georgia. No sign of BBQ-ing smoke, plenty of tobacco in the air though. No matter, we weren’t feeling picky, we were hungry. The Q didn’t have to be smoked. Bring it on, we’re ready for some good Saturday afternoon BBQ!

We took our table and ordered iced tea.
The waitress: “sweet or unsweet?”.

Continue reading "even ribs fall short sometimes" »

March 6, 2006

tray full of food at Lester's BBQ

Write-up to follow, right now I'm too BBQ blissed out
to speak.

click photo to enlarge in new window

This is a 5 star establishment.

January 8, 2006

Myers BBQ for Elvis' B-day

"Looks like home, Tastes like home"
note the long shadows of a January afternoon

The 1st stop in the 3rd year of the Bonton Barbeque Tour of America!
That's right, 3rd year - 2004, 2005, 2006.
Q: . . . and what have You done with your life in the past 3 years?
A: Well, I went to as many BBQ places as I could and photoblogged them for the betterment of mankind. And for posterity, uh, for my legacy, you know . . . 9 states and 2 coasts so far".

We knew this place was good when we pulled into the parking lot behind a powerline truck, one of those big rigs with a bucket. They got to park anywhere they wanted.

There was a split wood pile on the side of the house so we inspected the premises before going inside. A smoke house is in the back with a big pile of wood waiting to be split after school by the son. This place really is a former residential dwelling, thus the slogan "looks like home, etc". Any Q joint you see with a tin roofed smoke house in back, well, just go in and hand over your money for a buffet.
Myers specializes in hickory and oak pit cooked BBQ & country cooking. My stomach is growling with fond memories.

The clientele was lunchtime landscaping crew, lineman, a table of "who knows what they do during the day", and one guy with his female better half. They were making plans, I think it was a honey-do list from her to him. He was going along with anything she said. Maybe she let him have some Q so she could get her way with him. Thank goodness for at least one female in the place, she classed up the joint with her ambition and all that.

Across the street is a large corporate building with a security gate. Whatever they do in there, I'm sure the cubicle dwellers daydream about opening a BBQ place like this one, right off the highway.
They have an all you can eat deal but not an actual buffet, you return to the front for a refill and they lay it on you with a smile. The Q was so good that I forgot about getting some Smoked Chicken! That's Smoked chicken, not BBQ chicken. Smoked chicken - imagine how tender and tasty that must be. Smoked Turkey is so good, wish I'd had some smoked chicken. . Right now, missing the smoked chicken feels like a greater loss than it did at the time, when I was full-up on 2 plates of Q. My stomach is growling (again).

When I realized I was too full to have the smoked chicken I began a sit down strike. The plan was to digest enough to try a sample of the smoked chicken. Just a mere morsel, a wafer thin slice. We hung out.
Their bulletin board includes many local celebrities, like some blues musicians that look like they've had a fairly easy life. After the lunch rush I was the only person in the place. The radio played Elvis singing "Kentucky Rain". Poor Elvis, he sings:
"I don't know why you've gone,
what you're running to, or from,
all I know is I want to take you home".

He rhymes "gone", "home", and "from" using an "uh" sound.
Everybody now give me an Elvis Uh-uh-Huh!

There wasn't much to talk about with the lady that was sweeping up and I think I made her self-conscious when I took a flash photo. She likes Elvis but didn't want to talk about The King just now, she was sweeping. When I mentioned that today, January 8th, is the Birthday of Elvis she seemed to have had enough, as if it weren't true.
Well it is true each and every year on January 8th!
So I got a gallon of tea ($4) to-go and left.

God as my witness, I shall return soon and I'll put a hurting on that smoked chicken, we're even planning on calling ahead to make sure they put a few yard birds on just for me.

Myers BBQ Restaurant and Catering
Gerald & Carolyn Myers, Owners
10324 Wilson Blvd. at I-77 & Hwy 21 N (Exit 24)
Blythewood, SC 29016
Hours Mon - Sat 11 - 9pm

August 4, 2005

Shut up sammich

This is what you get
when you do not time your lunch right.

click photo to enlarge in new window

Showing up for lunch at 3pm does not get you into the BBQ buffet (which was our reason for being there).
For now I'm not naming any names of this Q joint because I want to return during normal hours to review this establishment with a post-BBQ-buffet glow.
They are deserving of your business and my off-schedule experience may dampen your enthusiasm for patronizing the joint. It's a family biz and they're good folks.
Founder Big Pappy (BBQ pseudonym) made a leap of faith and tried to provide for his boys by starting a restaurant during the depression by selling the family cow and mule - their source of dairy and veggies.
One son, the proprietor of this place, might have eaten a lot of cabbage cole slaw while growing up.

For you soft handed urbanites:
cow = milk, butter, cheese;
mule = plow, thus = vegetable garden.
Email me for further clarification, including "what's a mule?".
Also welcome are reader comments on "40 acres & a mule", the allegory of dead mules in Southern literature, or covers of "Mule Skinner Blues".

back to the story.
The place has been around a while, they have good food. Seen above are:

mustard base BBQ sauce. Tangy with mustard and vinegar,
this sauce wants to be a symbol of SC BBQ
and it is a metaphor of the economic situation of South Carolina.
It's an isolated sauce, found only in regional enclaves.
While worthy and competitive it is not well known nor much sought after beyond its origin primarily due to unpolished presentation and being overshadowed by more effective communication delivered by the BBQ of neighboring NC, GA, VA.
As goes mustard BBQ sauce
so goes South Carolina's economic indicators.

The one huge onion ring has more batter than the law allows.
But since it looks like the Apple QuickTime logo I like it. I just didn't eat it without peeling off all that fried batter.

The sandwich was good but we came for their buffet with smoked meat, this is some sort of potroasted or oven cooked pork. While tasty and tender it's just a sandwich on a bad wonderbread burger roll, not that fire & smoke-based cooking we've been spoiled by.
Oh! I just realized what this sandwich is made of: Buffet leftovers.

I hung out a while and read the local free rag with the "shut up" hand on the cover. Lunch after 3pm did get me a good caffeine buzz - refills from the self-serve soda stand. Enough so that while awake at 12:45 AM I figured I'd had way too much diet coke 7 hours prior.

Stand by for their full review!

May 19, 2005


North Carolina BBQ is the next frontier for our excursion
And what a fitting place for it to begin.
This place has
- NASCAR memorabilia aplenty,
- Eastern NC style vinegar-based Q,
- pretty country-girl waitresses,

and getting there involves so many turns
on sporadically-marked country roads
I must advise you to have a full tank of gas and a bottle of water before you get underway.
No map can help you on these backroads,
enlist the services of a guide sympathetic to the mission.

No photo on this one,
it would have been like photographing something sacred or holy.

their card:
Eastern N.C. style
Cooked Fresh Daily
Rinehardt Rd.
Mooresville, NC
Fax 704-663-7407
VM 704-662-7455

It looks odd to me to see a fax # and VM # on a card,
but they didn't ask my advice on their info-flow.

May 18, 2005

Gary's Bar-B-Q

click photo to enlarge in new window

I love places that have their own postcards!
On his Gary states:

Gary's Bar-B-Q
China Grove, NC
Located on Hwy 29-601
We are famous for our good Bar-B-Q
Dining Room-Curb Service and catering
Decorated inside with hundreds of antique advertisements
Open Monday thru Saturday 10:00 A.M. 9:30 P.M.
Closed Sundays-Phone (704) 857-8314

BBQ Plate at Gary's

click photo to enlarge in new window

North Carolina Q is unique. Consistently the most tender with a taste that stays fresh. This was the chopped version (as opposed to pulled, AKA shredded).

Gary served his Bar-B-Q plate with a version of cole slaw I've never seen (top center of plate), a reddish hue from red pepper? Or tomatoes? Finely diced or minced, it had typically tasty but unknown ingredients. A well done mix of somethings.
Hush Puppies had that grainy corn meal goodness and were not oily.
A tomato slice topped with a dollop of mayonnaise for those that like it, I always shy away from eating anything that looks like mayo but I cleaned my plate like a good guest to China Grove, NC.

Note the visor. I've come a long way from that camouflage cap in Natchez, Mississippi:
"Eureka! Perfect BBQ is Found"

This visor was a gift from an American entrepreneur.
This exact visor is the beta "LKNative" product line, the "Lake Norman Native" parody of those LKN (Lake Norman) bumper stickers reported to be sported by area newcomers trying to be "Local-er-than-thou".
Available for those in the know, email us (hit "reply email " on top left of page)
to get a hookup with the insiders goods for all y'all Charlotte, Lake Norman, Davidson and Mooresville hipsters. The Summer 2005 must-have accessory!
Remember that Hilton Head T-shirt "I'm not a tourist, I live here"?
Hey if it worked for me then you too can hook up this summer with your LKNative gear!

Gary's waitress was a Melanie Griffith double & could pass for 16 years old but a more impartial eye said she's about 22. She has a 3 year old son, so again (see prior post below) they breed young around here and again I see why it's hard for 'em to resist. She provided mo'tea like a champ, I pretended it was because she thought I was special (she didn't). They have that great crunchy ice, I had to get one last hit for the road. Our driver was coveting a vintage VW microbus getting curb service and spilled his to-go tea all over the parking lot but I never considered sharing mine; it was one of the first hot muggy days.

This excursion marked the 1st time I rode shotgun on a BBQ tour.
After more than 8,000 miles I'm open for drivers interested in chauffeuring an excursion-mobile to the next pit stop. BBQ pit, that is.
If you apply for an excursion remember the 2 rules:
no fast food and no Interstate highways

March 24, 2005

Southern Pit Bar B Que

I wrote 3 things on a napkin
so I'd recall what mattered:
1/ Flat Top
2/ Buttermilk
3/ Dawn '99

1/ The proprietor wore a white apron and a flat top.
He was clearly the man in charge because he spoke and others listened. Seemed like a nice guy but anybody with a flat top sans irony, well, it is a question mark, isn't it?
What to expect from someone with a haircut mentioned in the first line from the Beatles Come Together?
At least with a mullet you know you're dealing with a wild card, but a flat top, White Hanes T-shirt (too small), and a white apron - what is this, a casting call?

2/ They had buttermilk on the menu.
When's the last time you saw that? Better yet, ever said:
"and I'd like a buttermilk with that." Never.

3/ Our waitress was named Dawn.
My fellow diners said she waited on us last time we were there, circa 1999. I took their word for it because I wanted it to be true, but I started to doubt their observation because they didn't catch her name tag strategy.
I saw the name tag promptly. "Dawn" was proudly displayed on a name tag pinned to a lovely strategic location.
My fellow diners were both 80-plus year old men so maybe their eyes didn't wander to the name tag region of Dawn's uniform.
If you know what I mean, and I think that you do.

Career Waitress Dawn led our table of Senior country boys through the "confusing" menu, knelt forward and practically shouted in their face "so you want the regular dinner plate and sweet tea?"
while nodding her head "yes".
Career Waitress Dawn knows how an exchange can be simple or can go off track and take forever. She led us by the hand. Good move!

Buttermilk Dawn upsold me on desert by a slight of hand technique:
Dawn pointed to the menu on the wall while directing my eyes towards that name tag region of her uniform.
Buttermilk Dawn offered peach cobbler, then added the ice cream suggestion while she had me hyp-mo-tized.
I said yes. If Dawn wants me to have "peach cobbler a la mode" then I say
Yes, thank You, I want that which you are directing me towards.
Dawn even threw in an experienced waitress clarification saying "That's with ice cream" regarding "a la mode".

Maybe she has been there since 1999, she's Good!

Oh, & the Q.
Good Stuff, smoked.
How can food not be good when the owners card has a Bible verse on it:
"In all thy ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct they paths"
Speaks to Faith and to trust in your creator to know your needs better than you know yourself, since He is the Creator. Understand?
Well, actually I have stayed in a few Motels that had the sign of the fish and the Cross everywhere but lacked much that good motels should have, like working light bulbs and a door knob that functions consistently, but at least they are forgiven.

Posted by Hello

Clockwise from Q:
1/ it is smoked which makes it a real A+.
So good that I got some to go, to take to the support team, it was wonderful even after frozen - still tender and smoky. I know why it's so tender but lack the room to explain right now about the Steam Table. Included a slightly sweet red sauce. Also very good, not too hot or sweet, just right.

2/ Brunswick Stew. If you cannot tell if it's stew or hash remember: stew has corn in it. It was tasty but I heard one of my 80+ year old dinner companions say it was too spicy. - sure Pops, spicy compared to oatmeal.

3/ Cole Slaw. Nice presentation with that circular dollop & a pickle slice on top. Like the way a ringing bell might taste.
You'll hear that joke again in another time, another place.

4/ Cornbread. Of course it is Yum!
Grainy goodness, cooked in a triangle to you get more crust, it's like a muffin that's all top. Get it?

Go on & get yourself some!

McGhin's Southern Pit Bar B Que
2964 North Expressway
Griffin, GA 30223

January 25, 2005

Hudson's Smoke House

Posted by Hello

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This place is primarily a catering business. The only truly indoor section is for the business side of the restaurant. Walk-ins can sit on the porch which is a tin roof shed with concrete floor & picnic tables. It was windy so we felt like we earned a good lunch just by hanging on to our napkins. That's about all the work we did that afternoon, kept our napkins from blowing away and walked by the river.

Smoked Q! They have a smoke house across from the main office. As a BBQ Spy operative I tried the door to the smoke house. It was unlocked but my partner in crime got cold feet. We tried the unlawful entry post-BBQ plate so we were already satiated anyway.

Cole Slaw, hash, rice, and and green beans. I don't remember the name of these green beans, they're flat (and green). Not snaps - anyone know what a snap bean is?
All was really good but if it's just about the food, consider getting a take out. Depending on the weather the porch can be more relaxing at some times than others.
Great BBQ with a great porch on which to hang out and drink.
Iced Tea, that is.
Hudson's Smoke House
SC Hwy 378 Lexington, SC.

December 9, 2004

Q in FLA

The building was more interesting than the food. Concrete block structure, I sat in the add-on wing that used to be the porch. The owner sure eyed me when I pulled into the parking lot, he was working on draining a mud puddle. (this is Florida)
He looked at me like I was selling something.
 Posted by Hello

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Two guys come in, it's about 3:30 PM.
First guy says: I'm not hungry, I'll have a salad.
Second guy goes: Wha? I thought you liked it here.
First guy orders: I'll have a pound of gizzards and a salad.

that's Gizzards, not livers, a pound of gizzards and a salad!

Oh and the food. I almost forgot to review it.
SO: forgettable. Good because I was hungry and the alternative was Burger King. The tea was good. Cole slaw was fine.
Basic fair for the unenlightened. No real problem, nothing was particularly good, just there.

Willards Smokestack
Hwy 301 Baldwin, GA
OK, I said FLA in the title but this is Cracker-Georgia, it's kinda a Georgia/Florida hybrid.

December 6, 2004

Eureka! Perfect BBQ is Found!

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Pig Out Inn
Natchez, Mississippi
601-442-8050 They Ship.
I knew it had potential when I walked by and smelled smoke.
After ordering I sat on the deck at a picnic table by some ladies that were camping along the "Trace", the Natchez Trace parkway. This place had the kind of overheard conversation that can keep you focused on the table behind you.
The plate arrived, styrofoam with plastic cutlery. In the past I have pooh-poohed the "to-go" disposable serviceware but not now, this BBQ smelled too good for such petty blabbering.
The 1st taste was so good I ran out to the car to unpack my camouflage cap so it could get in the photo too.
BTW: if you want to blend in east of the Mississippi River, wear camouflage. I don't mean in the woods, works in Wall-Mart or at the gas pumps too. In the west I called this cap my "psycho-cap" because only crazed unibombers care about camouflage unless actively on a hunt, but I'm no longer in the west. I blend in with my psycho-cap.

The Q:
Smoked, tender, hand cut and cleaned of anything but deliciousness.
Twin dollops of cole slaw and potato salad proved that the tastes of cabbage and of potatoes need not be drowned by vinegar or mayonnaise. Delicious!
Tea: sweet but not diabeties inducing.
Note: the white bread wrapped in sticky wrap. It comes in twos in a nod to Noahs Ark.

Best all around, 5 stars *****.
#1 Pig Out Inn Natchez, Mississippi
#2 Memphis Minnies, San Francisco, California.
#3 Corkys, Nashville, Tennessee
#4 TBD (to be determined)
Anyone have any advice on where to go from here, BBQ-wise??

November 24, 2004

Corkys BBQ in Nashville

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Corkys BBQ in Nashville Tennessee.
GO and savor! This place is very good.
[hint: my score says #2 in America, could be #1 in ribs.]

First let me get this out of the way: they have deep fried corn on the cob and she brought me mine on a stick! Food on a stick and I'm not walking around a state fair! This novelty food was tasty after peeling away the fried breading. Later I was informed that I would have liked it better if I had eaten it while it was hot, but I had to get to the Ribs and Q immediately when served.

The meat re-defined tender & tasty.
The ribs were so tender even the bones were tender! I ate the bones! Yep, mongreled my way past the outer inch or so of the rib-bone, done without shame.
In some cultures it's a complement to the cook to belch post-meal. I didn't belch, just gnawed away at the smoked bones.

Dry rub or wet? Both, yee-haw! Thinking of the dry rub ribs is making my mouth water right now!
French fries were crisp outside and tender inside.
Nice hot vinegar sauce and red sauce.

I saw a fellow diner order tamales. Please explain.

If you are ever blessed with a reason to be in Nashville, Tennessee you can grace your palate with this meal.
We thank thee for this good food.
Bless those who prepared it.

ps: comments tell us that Corkys is located in more places than just Nashville! Christmas came early for me!
Thank You Corky May I Have Another?

November 23, 2004

Smoky Pig, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Is it too much to ask for a place named "Smoky" to actually cook their BBQ over a fire? Fire - one of those stone-age elements like earth, wind, & FIRE.
This Q was pretty good crock pot pork but come on and rename your concrete block diner from Smoky Pig to "Crock Pot Pig" and you will have no beef from me (clever wording? or too clever for anyones own good?)

Potato salad - was it bought by the tub from a grocery store?
Cole Slaw - interesting, it was called vinegar cole slaw and that's all I could taste: vinegar.
To-Go plates - cheap. Never get any repeat customers? Figure everyone is stopping in from the big highway? How serious can a BBQ place be if they serve their BBQ with a plastic fork? Losers!
Another white bread hamburger bun serving as a sponge. I didn't order a sandwich!
And then the Hot sauce (in that little Styrofoam cup beside the sole potato chip provided by a fellow diner). The "sauce" was interesting and the proprietor sure was proud of how hot it was. I agreed and sweated around my eyes to prove it. Hey Dude - Hot does not equal flavor. Any gonad can make a dish spicy, remember the plethora of pseudo Cajun restaurants a while back? Blackened this and Cajun that meant it was hot hot hot but not not not good cooking. And certainly NOT true Cajun, but that's another subject.

I know how they make this prideful hot sauce because I've done something similar: Get out the crock pot (their only cooking device?) add a bit of vinegar with some dried hot peppers, crock for hours, strain, serve as hot sauce.
Also works well using olive oil for dipping bread, but don't expect to see any olive oil in these here parts, yah hear?

BTW: we got directions to this place from the National Corvette Museum, which is the bestest Corvette Museum I've ever seen.
Decision: This place was right on the mark if you aim low. Move on. No Q to savor here . . .

November 18, 2004

Ozark Q.

An example of that mid-west style BBQ. Much needed, I was very hungry and needed a place to chill out.
What I got was a to-go plate (ordered "for here") and a sample of the pulled pork. Was OK, but when is OK really okay?
The Q was fine, sauce was kinda sweet and they had a bottle of store-bought on the table. Served on white bread hamburger bun that was soaked beyond use - maybe it was just a sponge anyway. Best treatment of customer was the wet-nap on the side.
Overall rating: move on, try again in Nashville.

The name of the place was "Sweetwater BBQ of the Ozarks".
I asked the proprietor for the best route to Nashville. The routes I planned were through National Forests, I wondered if there was a favorite of his and wanted any advice. His answer was "I ain't been to Nashville since I was a kid, my Deddy took us." He stooped forward a bit and made a palm-down horizontal motion with his hand, indicating he was a short, small, kid when he last went to Nashville. So I took this to mean he had no idea and could not be expected to know, since Deddy drove.
Looking at the map, St. Louis and Nashville are the closest cities. I guess he sticks near the BBQ place.
Beside the restaurant there was a camper trailer, a big truck, and a black metal cooking contraption. Looked like a retired Army guy living there, splitting wood and smoking the pig.

The best thing about Sweetwater BBQ of the Ozarks was the building, a stone structure that was small and tall. Seemed like a good roadhouse when Route 66 was important. - Oh yeah, it was on Route 66.

September 18, 2004

Saturday is for Q.


This is a very good West Coast Smoked Pork plate.

The thing is, the whole place has a southern Good Ol'Boy theme. Does this make it a West Coast Q joint or a solid knock-off of Dixie Q?
Imitation is sincere flattery. The lack of anything Californian tells us Minnie pleads nolo contest that good Q is a Southern Thing.

Located on Haight Street in San Fran, Memphis Minnie earns a big A-OK. Smoked pork with that halo / stripe of red; corn muffin; tart cole slaw; the greens were NOT like Mamas, but whatcha' goin' ta do . . . we hung around post-Q and drank so much sweet tea that I 'bout popped.

Even the T-shirts were tempting:
"best butt in California" & "happiness is a dead pig and a pile of wood".
Good Q in the Haight, who'd a thunk it? Seems healthy too, not overly heavy.
[Later we rated this as the #2 Best Overall - Meat Only Category BBQ in America! Congrats.]