TRUE 'CUE NC
North Carolina is one of the birthplaces of American barbecue (a tradition with more than one mother), and the Campaign for Real Barbecue was founded in the Tar Heel state. Thus, it is fitting that the True ‘Cue certification program originated in North Carolina. This page is your gateway to finding restaurants independently certified as serving real, old-school North Carolina barbecue.
To learn more about what defines North Carolina barbecue, and what distinguishes Eastern NC barbecue from Piedmont/Lexington-style, read this article and then go to NCBBQU, or read this book. You might also consider contacting the Carolina Barbecue League, which has the mission to "promote and protect the Tar Heel State’s time-honored tradition of low and slow barbeque“ and sponsors competitions focusing on “the Artistry of a Pitmaster’s ability to cook perfect meat using traditional methods of cooking and no mechanical or chemical cooking fuels.”
If you’d like some music to inspire you while you browse, listen to our True ‘Cue NC theme song, “Holy Smoke”, written and performed by Tommy Edwards of Chatham county (used with his generous permission).
To qualify for True ‘Cue NC certification, a restaurant must meet the following criteria:
- Be located in North Carolina.
- Cook the barbecue using wood coals or charcoal as the sole heat source.
- Avoid electricity, gas or any other non-wood heat source for the barbecue other than to ignite the wood, to keep the finished barbecue warm, or to re-heat the finished barbecue.
- Serve the barbecue on site at the location where it is cooked (exceptions may exist for food trucks and other mobile purveyors, but a restaurant that serves barbecue cooked by another business does not qualify).
- Offer regular business hours, with barbecue available on the menu regularly (at least monthly).
- Serve chopped or pulled pork shoulder, Boston butt, hams, or whole hog on the regular menu. Offering additional meats is acceptable -- and irrelevant.
- Provide a sauce or dip that is regionally appropriate.
Sadly, we believe there are no more than fifty or so restaurants in North Carolina that serve True ‘Cue (out of many hundreds of barbecue restaurants across the state's 100 counties). We need your help to change this. Please take THE PLEDGE, steer clear of faux ‘cue when possible, and patronize True ‘Cue NC-certified restaurants.
To the best of our knowledge, these restaurants serve barbecue that meets the True ‘Cue NC criteria (some serve barbecued meats or sauces in addition to those specified above but their menus include traditional NC-style barbecue):
- Allen & Son Barbeque, 6203 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. 919.942.7576
(note that there are other restaurants by the same name elsewhere in NC that are not certified wood-cooked)
- Apple City BBQ, 3940 NC Highway 16 S, Taylorsville, NC 28681. 828.471.5215.
- B’s Barbecue, 751 B’s Barbecue Road, Greenville, NC 27834. No phone.
- Backyard BBQ Pit, 5122 NC Highway 55, Durham, NC 27713. 919.544.9911
- The Barbecue Center, 900 N. Main Street, Lexington, NC 27292. 336.248.4633
- Bum’s Restaurant, 566 Third Street, Ayden, NC 28513. 252.746.6880
- Buxton Hall Barbecue, 32 Banks Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801. 828.232.7216
- Captain Bob's, 310 Ocean Highway South, Hertford, NC 27944. 252.426.1811
- Clark's Barbecue, 1331 Highway 66 South, Kernersville, NC 27284. 336.996.8644
- College Bar-B-Que, 117 Statesville Boulevard, Salisbury 28144. 704.633.9953
- Cook’s Barbecue, 366 Valiant Drive, Lexington, NC 27292. 336.798.1928
- Dickie-Do's BBQ, 20 Roxboro Street, Haw River, NC 27258. 336.578.1220
- Duke's Old South Barbecue, 318 Village Road NE, Leland, NC 28451. 910.833.8321
- Fuzzy’s Barbecue, 407 N. Highway Street, Madison, NC 27025. 336.427.4130
- Grady’s Barbecue, 3096 Arrington Bridge Road, Dudley, NC 28333. 919.735.7243
- Hillsborough BBQ Company, 236 S. Nash Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278. 919.732.4647
- Hursey’s Barbecue, 1834 South Church Street, Burlington, NC 27215. 336.226.1692 (Hursey’s has multiple locations but, as we understand it, all cooking takes place at this location.)
- Jack Cobb and Son Barbecue Place, 3883 South Main Street, Farmville, NC 27828. 252.753.5128
- Johnson Family Barbecue, 5201 Wake Forest Highway, Durham, NC 27703. 919.397.5693
- Kyle Fletcher’s Barbeque and Catering, 4507 Wilkinson Boulevard, Lowell, NC 28056. 704.824.1956
- Lexington Barbecue #1, 100 Smokehouse Lane, Lexington, NC 27295. 336.249.9814
- Log Cabin Bar-B-Que, 2322 US Highway 52, Albemarle, NC 28001. 704.982.5257
- M&K Barbecue & Country Cooking, 215 N. Salisbury Avenue, Granite Quarry, NC 28072. 704.279.8976
- Martelle's Feed House, 33301 US Highway 264, Engelhard, NC 27824. 252.925.1799
- Midwood Smokehouse, which has two locations:
- 1401 Central Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205. 704.295.4227
- 12410 Johnston Road, Charlotte, NC 28277. 980.430.1086
- Midwood Smokeshack, 3335 Siskey Parkway, Matthews, NC 28105. 704.708.4137
- Morristown BBQ Pit, 4390 Old Oxford Highway, Roxboro, NC 27574. 336.322.0930
- Mr. Barbecue, 1381 Peters Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, NC 27103. 336.725.7827
- Oakwood BBQ, 113 Westside Lane, Richlands, NC 28574. 910.324.4930
- Ocracoke Oyster Company, 875 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke, NC 27960. 252.928.020
- Okie Dokies Smokehouse, 2375 US Highway 70, Swannanoa, NC 28778. 828.686.0050
- Old Etowah Smokehouse, 6577 Brevard Road (Hwy 64), Etowah, NC 28729. 828.513.1680
- Picnic, 1647 Cole Mill Road, Durham, NC 27705. 919.908.9128
- Pik 'n' Pig, 194 Gilliam McConnell Road, Carthage, NC 28327. 910.947.7591
- The Pit Authentic Barbecue, which has two locations:
- 328 W. Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. 919.890.4500
- 321 W. Geer Street, Durham, NC 27701. 919.282.3748
- Real Q, which has two locations, and the latter used to be the Original Little Richard's:
- 5353 Gumtree Road, Winston-Salem, NC 336.769.4227
- 4885 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104. 336.760.3457
- Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, 2000 E. Dixon Boulevard, Shelby, NC 28152. 704.482.8567
- Red Pig Bar-B-Q House, 7136 NC Highway 801, Mocksville, NC 27028. 336.284.4650
- Richard’s Bar-B-Q, 522 N. Main Street, Salisbury, NC 28144. 704.636.9561
- Sam Jones BBQ, 772 W. Fire Tower Road, Winterville, NC 28590. 252.689.6449
- Sid's Catering, 455 S. Railroad Avenue, Beulaville, NC 28518. 910.298.3549
- Skylight Inn, 4618 Lee Street, Ayden, NC 28513. 252.746.4113
- Smiley’s Lexington BBQ, 917 Winston Road, Lexington, NC 27295. 336.248.4528
- Smokey Joe's Barbecue, 1101 S. Main Street, Lexington, NC 27292. 336.249.0315
- Snook's Old Fashion Barbecue, 109 Junie Beauchamp Road, Advance, NC 27006. 336.998.4305
- Southern Smoke BBQ, 29 Warren Street, Garland, NC 28441. 910.549.7484
- Southport Smoke House, 1102 N. Howe Street, Southport, NC 28461. 910.363.5035
- Speedy Lohr's BBQ of Arcadia, 8000 N. Highway 150/Enterprise Road, Lexington, NC 27295. 336.764.5509
- Speedy Lohr's Barbecue, 3664 NC Highway 8, Lexington, NC 27292. 336.242.9195
- Stamey’s Barbecue, 2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, NC 27403. 336.299.9888 (Stamey’s has two locations in Greensboro and the pig cooking for both restaurants takes place at this one.)
- Stamey's Barbecue of Tyro, 4524 NC Highway 150, Lexington, NC 27295. 336.853.6426
- Stephenson’s Barbecue, 11964 NC Highway 50 North, Willow Springs, NC 27592. 919.894.4530
- Stratford Bar-B-Que, 630 S. Main Street, King, NC 27021. 336.983.0623
- Sweet Lew's BBQ, 923 Belmont Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205. 865.591.8178 (Opening Fall 2018)
- Switzerland Cafe & General Store, 9440 NC Highway 226A, Little Switzerland, NC 28749. 828.765.5289
- Tarheel Q, 6835 W US-64, Lexington, NC 27295. 336.787.4550
- Troutman’s Barbecue, 1388 Warren Coleman Boulevard, Concord, NC 28027. 704.786.9714
(This Troutman’s, no relation to the Denton-based restaurant listed below, has two locations in Concord but the pig cooking takes place here on Warren Coleman Blvd.)
- Troutman's Barbecue, 18466 NC Highway 109, Denton, NC 27239. 336.859.2206
- Whispering Pines BBQ, 1421 US Highway 52, Albemarle, NC 28001. 704.982.6184
- Wilber’s Barbecue, 4172 US Highway 70 East, Goldsboro, NC 27534. 919.778.5218
- Wink’s Bar-B-Que, 509 Faith Road, Salisbury, NC 28146. 704.637.2410
Certifications are performed by our volunteer team of True ‘Cue Inspectors. Restaurants may choose to display the True ‘Cue NC Real Barbecue certification on their premises, but it is not required. If you think you know a restaurant that meets the True 'Cue NC criteria, let us know. If you think a place on the list now cooks with gas or electricity, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll check it out (we don’t want to start a flame war, so to speak).
We believe that these restaurants also serve barbecue that satisfies the True ‘Cue NC criteria, and are working to verify it with a site visit:
- Adam's Roadside BBQ, US Highway 70 West, Goldsboro, NC 27534. 919.739.3859
- B.J.'s Grill, 7823 US Highway 70, La Grange, NC 28551. 252.566.4702
- Hubba Hubba Smokehouse, 2727 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock, NC 28731. 828.694.3551
- Hunter Hill Cafe, 501 Old Mill Road, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. 252.443.1311
- Smoky Mountain Barbecue, 1008 S. Jefferson Avenue, West Jefferson, NC 28694. 336.246.6818
- Stratford Bar-B-Que, 630 South Main Street, King, NC 27021. 336.983.0623
We conduct inspections and re-inspections as time, money and cholesterol levels allow.