6 BBQ superlatives in Raleigh

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Barbecue being chopped at Sam Jones BBQ | Photo by @samjonesbbq + Baxter Miller

Talk about pride in place — Carolinians love their sweet tea, university rivalries + most importantly, their barbecue. NC means business when it comes to BBQ, so much so that it can be a justifiably sensitive topic. We’re putting our hands in the fire to highlight some of our favorites in the City of Oaks.

🍖 Best bang for your buck

Old Time Barbecue, 6309 Hillsborough St.

  • This spot is a real down-home eatery, serving vinegar-based Eastern Carolina choppedcue. After serving the community for 28+ years, Southern hospitality is included with your plate of BBQ.
  • Pro tip: Students get 10% off with a student ID every day + seniors get 10% off on Thursdays. And don’t forget — Old Time is open for breakfast.

🍖 Longest standing BBQ joint

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque, 327 S. Wilmington St.

  • Established in 1938, this oldest BBQ spot in Raleigh is serving up Eastern Carolina style ‘cue with a vinegar-based sauce + Cheerwine baked beans. The sides are just as tasty as the slow cooked pork shoulder.
  • Pro tip: Keep it classic with the chopped pork sammy tray, complete with slaw, hush puppies + fresh pork skins.

🍖 New to Raleigh, veteran background

Sam Jones BBQ, 502 W. Lenoir St.

  • This spot is rich in history and Eastern Carolina style BBQ. The flavor began in 1947 when Sam Jones’ grandfather, Pete, opened the Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC. Pitmaster Sam went on to expand the family’s slow cooked, whole-hog barbecue to Raleigh in 2021.
  • Our picks: Try the pork skins + pimento cheese. Yum.

🍖 Southern proper, with a twist

Smokestack Cafe, 701 E. Lane St.

  • A little slice of Carolina heaven. Tucked into the historic Oakwood neighborhood, this cafe offers bourbon BBQ flavors and southern classics with a twist (like the pulled grilled cheese). Everything is made in house and sourced as locally as possible.
  • Pro tip: The menu changes daily, so follow their Instagram to keep up + check out their market before you leave for homemade goodies.

🍖 Social butterfly

Backyard Bistro, 1235 Hurricane Alley Way

  • This BBQ spot is perfect for watching local games with its multiple TV’s + individual speakers at each table. The pulled pork shoulder is topped with a special “Jessie P” sauce, and trust us when we say that this is a must-try. Backyard Bistro + chef Joe Lumbrazo has been featured on the Food Network and the Discovery Channel multiple times for their “on-site cooking” and creative food innovations.
  • Pro tip: Stop by on the way to a Canes game or concert at PNC.

🍖 Branch out award

Lechon Latin BBQ, 5959 Triangle Town Blvd.

  • ‘Cue with a Latin flair. Eastern Carolina style is tried-and-true, however, Lechon breaks BBQ barriers with their slow roasted pork shoulder and Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken.
  • Pro tip: Try the tripleta platter (3 meats, 2 sides), pulled pork + carnita rice included. The grand opening party featuring multiple DJ’s + drink specials is Sat., Feb. 5 from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. — dancing is encouraged.

This list only scratches the surface of good barbecue in the Triangle — send us your recs here.

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