I flew into Raleigh-Durham today for 3 nites in the Chapel Hill area. Had lunch at Allen & Son Barbeque and got to thinking that now is a great time for the second installment of Battle BBQ. The first one was Texas v. Memphis, and now it's time for Texas v. North Carolina.
North Carolina has a rich BBQ tradition and, like Texas, has its own brand of BBQ (with two distinct styles). But how does its stack up against Texas? Are there really any places in NC that can compete with the likes of Lockhart, Luling, Taylor, Driftwood, Lexington, and all of the other Texas BBQ meccas?
Like Memphis, NC BBQ is all about the pork, while beef takes center stage in Texas. So, is it even fair to compare? Or is saying "Well, it's hard to compare, since we're talking about pork v. beef" just a way to avoid picking a side or justifying your choice?
Enough, already. Man up on the question! Whose BBQ is better: Texas or North Carolina?
Weigh in, folks. The floor is yours.
In case you're wondering, my meal at Allen & Son was very good, and my Red Sox sweatshirt soaked up every smell, which I enjoyed on the ride home. I knew I was back in pork-BBQ country when I ordered an unsweet tea and was told sweet tea was all they had. Service left a little to be desired, but the food did not.
I had a smoked half chicken (served covered in sauce) and a side of "stew" (which turned out to be a Brunswick stew with just a little kick). The chicken was tender, moist, and flavorful; the sauce was very good; and the stew was fantastic. We got a quart of it to go, and it was gone before the end of the day.
It's hard to compare my meal to my Man-Up meals, since I didn't have brisket, ribs, sausage, beans, pickles, and all the other Texas-BBQ staples. But as Brunswick stew and smoked chicken in BBQ sauce go, Allen & Son was good. I didn't have any pork, but HollyEats.com is a fan: There are too many variations on "barbeque" to claim that Allen & Son serves the best there is. I'll just leave it at that if my last meal were barbecue it would come from Allen and Son. Moist, great flavor just the right amount of "browns", it is a must try for anyone who covets great barbecue. Now, I have no idea who this girl is, but anyone who rates a restaurant with "Grease Stains," as opposed to stars or points, is bound to be trustworthy.
12-7-08 updates: (1) Had dinner last night at Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom in Durham. Turns out one of their "seasonal" specials was sliced brisket. Didn't know brisket has a season, but I was glad it was on the menu. Not a BBQ place at all, but I ordered it. Pretty dry, but I was hungry. With some slaw and beans on the fork, it wasn't bad. (2) Had lunch today at Mama Dip's. Had the pulled pork-Brunswick stew combo with black-eyed peas, baby limas, collard greens, cornbread, and iced tea. Took me back to my roots. The pulled pork was served in what I presume was Eastern Carolina-style sauce. I found it a little sweet. No doubt, I prefer the meat and sauce separate. The Brunswick stew was more soupy than stewy. Not bad but nowhere near as good as Allen & Son's stew. Vegetables, cornbread, and tea: great.