Sure, many will argue that the best, most authentic North Carolina barbecue can be found about an hour north, in Lexington (aka the Barbecue Capital of the World). But that doesn’t mean Charlotte can’t hold its own in terms of delicious, mouth-watering pig plates. From chopped whole-hog to pulled pork shoulder, ribs to brisket, we don’t discriminate here in the Queen City. Here are 10 establishments in and around Charlotte that offer up the tastiest options -- both Western and Eastern style -- so you can satisfy all of your barbecue desires.
Midwood Smokehouse has easily been a top choice in Charlotte since its opening in 2011. Using an all-wood smoker, this place burns its hickory logs 24 hours a day to produce incredible Texas-style, slow-smoked barbecue. (Get your hands on the brisket; it’s considered one of the best this side of the Mississippi by The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America.)
Part barbecue joint, part biker bar, Mac’s Speed Shop is famous around town for making one mean BBQ plate. The pork here is smoked, pulled, and then tossed in the restaurant’s own Carolina BBQ sauce. Just make sure to pair it with a cold draft: the place has an extensive array of beers that will help chase down that massive amount of meat you’re about to inhale.
Sauceman’s Lexington-style barbecue is slow-smoked for more than 12 hours over a mix of local hickory and white oak, just to give it the ultimate flavor. Order yours plain, or packed between two thick slices of Texas toast, for a specialty sandwich like the Dixie Cuban, which is topped with pimento cheese and fried pickles.
This joint has served Charlotte’s whole-hog lovers for more than half a century. Today, founder Bill Spoon’s grandson runs the restaurant, but you can be sure to find the same Eastern-style, award-winning barbecue that made this a Southern staple in the first place -- and of course, its original house-made hot sauce.
Bubba’s serves up some of the greatest Eastern-style swine in the area by using a 33-hour process to cook the whole hog. Snag a sample for yourself and you’ll understand why it’s earned the title of third-best BBQ in the state by Southern Living.
This historic hole in the wall has been serving BBQ sandwiches curbside since 1959. In fact, it’s one of Charlotte’s few remaining drive-ins, and not much has changed since its early days. The place is still just as authentic as ever, offering up some house-made BBQ sauce that’s truly one of a kind. The old-school experience (plus those famous onion rings) make the trip back in time well worth the cruise down Wilkinson.
West Sugar Creek
Come hungry to this family-owned favorite; you’ll be met with a generous helping of barbecue to accompany a long list of classic sides like mac and cheese, collard greens, and cabbage. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices. But as the slogan notes, “it’s all in da’ sauce,” according to owner Bob Roberts, who has spent years perfecting his own ideal blend.
Jim and Nick opened their first location during the ‘80s in Alabama, a state known for its high barbecue standards, so you know you can expect some quality meat at this institution. It offers up all the regional specialties you could possibly be after, from Carolina pulled pork to Memphis-style ribs. (Plus, the cheese biscuits are enough to make you never want to leave.)
Queen City Q’s menu is full of smoked masterpieces, including pork, brisket, ribs, and sausage. Can’t decide between the options in front of you? Give in to the gluttonous glory and order a Q platter full of all your yearnings. Then, concoct your own finish depending on your personal preference by using the house-made sauces arranged on your tabletop, ranging from vinegar- to mustard-based mixes.
The Smoke Pit not only delivers some insanely tasty barbecue, but it has even been voted the best restaurant in Concord overall. The flavorful meats and large portions bring in roughly 700 people daily. We strongly recommend you try to be one of them.
1. Midwood Smokehouse1401 Central Ave, Charlotte
2. Mac's Speed Shop2511 South Blvd, Charlotte
3. Sauceman's228 West Blvd, Charlotte
4. Bill Spoon's Barbecue5524 South Blvd, Charlotte
5. Bubba's Barbeque4400 Sunset Rd, Charlotte
6. Bar-B-Q King2900 Wilkinson Blvd, Charlotte
7. Bobbee O's9401 Statesville Rd, Charlotte
8. Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q13840 Steele Creek Rd, Charlotte
9. Queen City Q225 E. 6th Street, Charlotte
10. The Smoke Pit796-10 Concord Pkwy N, Concord
With pit masters working 24 hours a day, an impressive selection of house-made BBQ sauces, and plenty of moonshine, Midwood Smokehouse is certainly worth the hype. The all-wood smoker is hand crafted with hickory logs, leaving the restaurant's hunks of fresh, local meat with a perfect, smoky finish. The slow-smoked barbecue favorites range from smoked wings to brisket and salmon steaks, all drenched in the famous house sauce, and all of which can be served atop salads or slices of thick-cut Texas toast. When you've mostly removed the rib-residue from your face, following your sizable carnivorous entrée, try a pickle-back shot of moonshine to perk you back up.
Beers, bikes and BBQ... that's the M.O. of North Carolina based mini chain Mac's Speed Shop. Hop on your hog and chow down on hearty eats like the filling pulled pork BBQ platter with the restaurant's own Carolina BBQ sauce. When all the meat has been eaten, be sure to wash it all down with a cold pint from an extensive list of beers.
If you’re living in the South, one thing you must take advantage of is hickory slow-smoked pork. Get your fix at Sauceman’s, where high-quality pork is cooked to perfection and served either chopped or coarse cut. Each piled-high plate comes with slaw, hushpuppies, and a side of deep fried corn, fried green tomatoes, or any of the other savory dozen options.
Eastern Carolina barbeque is alive and well at Bill Spoon’s. For over 45 years, Bill Spoon’s has served hickory-smoked whole hog barbeque laced with vinegar and red pepper, along with a punchy mustard slaw. Though you can’t meet the restaurant’s namesake anymore, Spoon’s son, Stephen, can be found carrying the torch and a friendly smile at the cash register.
This modest, Eastern-NC style barbecue joint uses a 33-hour process to cook their meat, which is likely what earned it the title of Third Best BBQ in the state by Soutern Living Magazine. You're getting 100% lean meat without ketchup, sugar or soy fillers. Pair your high-quality eats with hush puppies, sweet tea and other Southern staples.
Around since 1959, this hole-in-the-wall institution is one of Charlotte's few remaining drive-ins. Their homemade barbecue sauce is truly one of a kind, as are their famous onion rings. Not in the mood for BBQ? Not to worry. The old school spot serves up everything from hot dogs to po'boys.
The family owned Charlotte institution Bobbee O's serves up classic, "that hit the spot" ribs and sides like mac and cheese and collard greens. Their logo, "It's all in da' sauce," is more than appropriate, for owner Bob Roberts has spent years perfecting his own blend. If you're tired of the classics, there are plenty of interesting BBQ takes like pork nachos or fries.
You can definitely count on quality meat from this chain, which opened their first location in the 80s in Alabama, a state with some seriously high BBQ standards. They feature multiple regions in their BBQ offerings, from Memphis-style ribs to Carolina pulled pork. And don't forget about the cheese biscuits, whatever you do.
Smoking is the name of the game at Queen City Q, from pork and brisket to ribs and sausage. If you can't make a call on your own, go ham and order the Q Platter with all the meat you could dream of, built for customizing with a table full of different sauces.
This place not only serves great BBQ but has also been voted the best restaurant in Concord overall. Around 700 people visit The Smoke Pit daily, likely due to the flavorful meats and big plate portions. Be sure to pair your meat with one (or six) of their sides, from deviled egg potato salad to broccoli casserole.