I am a self proclaimed BBQ snob. I grew up in eastern North Carolina eating chopped BBQ from little no-name places every weekend. I went on a mission to find the best BBQ places in the Triangle that would satisfy my chopped BBQ obsession (You know, the vinegar based one), and my husband’s western NC bbq taste.
Picnic is such a cool BBQ joint in Durham. They specialize in whole-hog barbecue and their sides are seriously delicious. I love the outdoor picnic tables and the signage on the restaurant, too! It definitely has a cool, swanky vibe to be a BBQ place.
Order: The barbeque sandwich, pimento mac & cheese, & bacon braised collards
Clyde Cooper’s BBQ, Raleigh
Clyde Cooper’s in downtown Raleigh has such a fun atmosphere in its new location. I think what attracts me to the location the most is that it has an updated feel, but still kept its traditional touches. It’s definitely a favorite. I really love that they include pork rinds in their orders. Just don’t forget your cash!
Order: BBQ sandwich with slaw, fries & a sweet tea
Johnson Family BBQ, Durham
Our friends from Buffalo introduced us to Johnson Family BBQ, and I was a little skeptical given my expert BBQ opinion. But man, did they find a real gem! They have catering which is super convenient for parties. It’s a total hole in the wall, which in my experience, generally makes BBQ taste even better!
Order: Chopped bbq, hush puppies
Allen & Son BBQ, Pittsboro & Chapel Hill
Allen & Son offers both eastern & western style BBQ, and has two locations in the area. This is your quintessential Southern BBQ joint with the red, checkered table cloths. Bonus is that they bring you a pitcher of tea to your table when they bring you your hushpuppies (P.S. Don’t forget to check out my day trip guide for Pittsboro).
Order: BBQ sandwich with slaw and fried okra
The Original Q Shack, Durham
The Durham location of Q Shack is my favorite. I’m not sure if it’s the quaint interior or what. The Q Shack also has both eastern & western style BBQ and is a great location, right near DBAP.
Order: chopped BBQ plate with his sauce + hushpuppies, fries, fried okra, & a jalapeno deviled egg
Danny’s BBQ, Morrisville, Cary, & RTP
There are three locations of Danny’s in Morrisville, Cary, & RTP. They are always packed during lunch, so try to get there early so you don’t have to wait!
Order: chopped BBQ sandwich, onion rings
The Blistered Pig, Apex
This restaurant is a little bit different than some of the other restaurants I’ve listed that specialize in mainly traditional BBQ. This restaurant has an all around menu, but their pulled pork is delicious!
Order: pulled pork with fried okra and sweet potato fries
Aviator Smokehouse, Fuquay-Varina
Aviator Smokehouse does a great job with their BBQ (and beer). In recent years, they’ve started letting you decide how much sauce you want, but the flavors haven’t changed. They also have both eastern and western style BBQ.
Order: Chopped BBQ plate (or sandwich), macaroni & cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy
Fiction Kitchen, Raleigh
My first experience at Fiction Kitchen involved me trying eastern NC style chopped “pork” and despite it being faux pork, it was delicious! So, if you don’t eat meat, or just want to try something new, I definitely recommend this dish at Fiction Kitchen!
Order: Eastern NC Style BBQ Pulled “Pork” and the black beans
Do you have a favorite BBQ place? Locals, do you see your favorites on this list? Are there any places I should try?