Raleigh is experiencing a BBQ Renaissance and I am here.for.it. As a self-proclaimed BBQ connoisseur, I am thrilled to have some new go-to spots in the city that take their BBQ seriously. Now, let’s talk about what this means. I was born and raised in northeastern North Carolina, so I am only here for vinegar-based chopped BBQ. That being said, I like my BBQ the same way–a BBQ sammie with slaw on it, a side (or two) and the option to add more vinegar sauce. I also like for my BBQ places to serve sweet tea, Cheerwine, and bonus points if there is a dry white wine available. Here are the 4 BBQ restaurants, in alphabetical order, that I am constantly recommending in Raleigh, NC.
Photo by GloryRoze Photography
The BBQ Renaissance in Raleigh, NC
Clyde Cooper’s BBQ
Clyde Cooper’s is *not* new. In fact, it has been around in downtown Raleigh since 1938 and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00-3:30. They just recently started accepting credit cards AND serving beer & wine! My go-to order here is a chopped BBQ sammie with slaw, a side of fried okra, and a Cheerwine. The sammie does come with a side of fresh pork skins. I cannot recommend this Raleigh staple enough! It reminds me of the places I grew up visiting and I love the nostalgia of being there. Plus the BBQ is damn good!
Photos by GloryRoze Photography
Longleaf Swine opened with an incredible outdoor space in Oakwood and it is a vibe. They have an incredible beer and wine list, plus great cocktails. In terms of food, the PSA here is that they have Frito pie and you have to order it! It is SO good. Their pimento cheese is served with deep fried saltines and their mac & cheese is served with crumbled deep fried saltines. The side of roasted sweet potatoes with goat cheese and walnuts is also a great option! So, obviously, I get the BBQ sammie with slaw–and let me tell you, the slaw is the best in the Triangle. I said what I said. It’s made with Duke’s mayo so it was really not up for a competition.
Midwood Smokehouse recently opened in Raleigh’s Smoky Hollow neighborhood and it is a great space. There is outdoor seating at the window for warmer days, bar seating, and plenty of space in the dining room (I’m not about people sitting on top of me in a restaurant). That being said, this restaurant has an interesting Tex-Mex vibe coupled with the most flavorful eastern NC BBQ I’ve ever had, and let me tell you, that is saying a lot. We started with the chips & queso followed by, you guessed it, a BBQ sammie with slaw and a side of mac & cheese. And don’t skip their desserts! The pecan cobbler with vanilla ice cream was the perfect ending to the night! Bonus: You can make reservations online here!
Sam Jones BBQ
Photos by GloryRoze Photography
I first tried Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, NC when David and I were heading home from a night in Kinston. It quickly became a place I wanted to stop when visiting Greenville, so I was over the moon that they were opening a location in Raleigh. Their Bourbon selection is outstanding and their BBQ is some of the best in the state. We like to sit at the bar, grab a drink, and take our time ordering the entrees. They also have a great outdoor space, too! My order is the same–a BBQ sammie with slaw and mac & cheese. Call it bias, but this is my favorite because it is consistently good both with the sides and the BBQ, and I am partial to the ENC roots.