Eastern North Carolina barbecue is perfection. Is your mouth watering yet?
Let me begin by saying I love North Carolina barbecue. I mean, I really, really love it. I grew up on this pork perfection (don’t even get me started that some actually think beef) all the way from my small hometown near Tampa, Florida. Every summer when my family would travel to see grandparents, aunts and uncles to Goldsboro, Wilson and family reunions, I would overindulge on this delicacy of Eastern Carolina. Recently, I took a road trip down the street and up north in search of the best barbecue.
Cue Quest #1 – New Bern
We have a fantastic option right here in our hometown with Smithfield’s Chicken ‘n BBQ. Since the focus of this story is of swine origin, I passed on the chicken and went straight for the pork sandwich and fries. I was pleasantly surprised at just how good this sandwich was, and the coleslaw on top made for another reason for a return visit, soon and often. Perfection score: 7, however the convenience factor gives it a bonus half point to total 7.5.
Cue Quest #2 – Ayden
If you have yet to visit this charming town just 35 miles from West New Bern, add it to your to-do list. Ayden has been called the “Capital of ‘Cue,” and it is home to Skylight Inn Barbecue, run by founder Pete Jones’ grandson, Sam Jones. Once you arrive (you will know you are in the right place if you see the replica of the U.S. Capitol building on the roof), go ahead and order the large plate, as it is only a dollar more than the small serving. Perfection score: 7.5, plus an extra point for being a restaurant where five generations of the same family have worked; total of 8.5.
Cue Quest #3 – Greenville
I had to include Parker’s Barbecue on this list, as it is what I grew up on when visiting the original location in Wilson as a youngster. Greenville, just 40 miles up the road from West New Bern, is home to three stores, so you can enjoy a satisfying meal no matter what part of town you live in or coming from. Whether you decide on the small or large plate (seriously, get the large plate), hushpuppies and coleslaw are included, along with two more sides. Perfection score: 9.5, due to overall yumminess of the ‘cue and the hushpuppies.
All three establishments are worth the calories and the miles. However, I am not done yet. So many more barbecue restaurants to try!