The Quest for Durham’s Best Barbecue
If you’re new to North Carolina, we need to make something very clear. We value only two things more than our barbecue: family and college basketball. You can’t eat either of those, so we tend to make pork a frequent thing.
Our barbecue is distinctive. There are two types: eastern and western. The eastern stuff uses a vinegar based sauce, reflective of the hot, flat land as you inch closer to our coast. The westerners use tomato-based sauce that’s a little more familiar to out of towners, earthy and sweet and delicious.
Whichever style you go with, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re out and about in Durham and craving some smoked hog, let us point you in the right direction. Here are some of the choicest barbecue joints in the Bull City.
Backyard BBQ Pit
Let’s just start with the name of this place. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of authenticity. It’s a magical spell that conjures up the smell of smoke and the glow of fireflies befitting a proper summer pig pickin’. Backyard BBQ Pit is the real deal, a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint that’s been recognized by Yahoo!, Our State, and Man vs. Food.
The menu is simple: pick your smoked meat, pick your side. The barbecue is obviously the star, smoked over hickory coals with Eastern-style seasoning. But should you prefer turkey or chicken, you can get them smoked up with the same spicy sauce. Both pair well with sweet tea or the restaurant’s signature pineapple lemonade.
The Original Q Shack
Brisket isn’t really a Carolina thing. We love it, for sure, but it’s not a regional specialty like our pork. That’s why the Original Q Shack is so welcomed here. Sure, you can get pork, but you can also get Texas-style, chile-rubbed beef brisket…something that can be hard to come by, at least done right.
That kind of diversity is what gives the Q its place in the Triangle barbecue pantheon. Its regional offerings extend to the Midwest, with sweet and tangy St. Louis ribs also on the menu. Even better, you can mix and match meats on the same plate and give your mouth a little vacation. But no matter what you order, everything comes with hush puppies. You wouldn’t want to stray too far from home, after all.
Look, we love our greasy, down-home, hole-in-the-wall discoveries as much as the next hungry soul. But sometimes we have family to sit down and catch up with, or a date, or just a hankering for something special. The Pit, with its full-service, upscale setting and large menu, fits that niche nicely.
The Pit gets the basics right, with traditional eastern-style whole hog barbecue as its centerpiece. But it dresses the surroundings up: jowl bacon bruschetta, fried pimento cheese with pepper jelly, pumpkin corn bread, even barbecue soy nuggets for your animal-conscious friends. A killer whiskey and beer list means you can make a night of things.