TRUE 'CUE NORTH CAROLINA
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):
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
Big Belly Que, 306 W. Franklin Street, Suite G, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. 202.956.9139
B.J.'s Grill, 7823 US Highway 70, La Grange, NC 28551. 252.566.4702
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.)
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
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 W. Gate City Boulevard, 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, Marion, 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
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
Bar-B-Q King, 2613 East Main Street, Lincolnton, NC 28092. 704.735.1112
Carol’s Home Cookin’, 5846 West Blount Street, Fountain, NC 27829. 252.227.3586
Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que, 15735 US Highway 64, Murphy, NC 28906. 828.494.5367
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
JD’s Smokehouse, 500 Malcolm Boulevard, Rutherford College, NC 28671. 828.522.1227
Morris Barbeque, 891 Morris Barbeque Road, Hookerton, NC 28538. 252.747.2254
Noble Smoke Barbecue, 2216 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208. 704.703.5252
Old Hampton Store & Barbeque, 77 Ruffin Street, Linville, NC 28646. 828.733.5213
Sauceman’s, re-opening Fall 2019 in Charlotte.
The Smoke Pit, three locations: Concord, Salisbury, and Monroe.
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
Sweet Lew’s BBQ, 923 Belmont Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205. 980.224.7584
We conduct inspections and re-inspections as time, money and cholesterol levels allow.