I recently had to be in Durham, North Carolina on business. I had never been to North Carolina before. Not to mention, in BBQ USA, Steven noted many famous BBQ joints in NC. So, I gave myself some extra time and sampled 3 spots and took my copy of BBQ USA with me for the trip.
First, I stopped at Scott's in Goldsboro. I order their sauce all the time so I was interested in stopping by their store. It is now run by Adam Scott's grandkids, Martell, Jr. and Sybill Scott Seward. I had the barbecue tray. It is traditional eastern-NC whole hog barbecue served with hushpuppies and slaw. Their hospitatlity was great! I had exchanged e-mails with Sybil before I went, so they were expecting me. They gave me very interesting accounts of their history, etc., and even showed me around their kitchen very briefly. They switched to gas a number of years ago, so the barbecue did not have much of a smokey flavor. The slaw and hushpuppies were great. They had the best sauce of all my stops. Both Martell and Sybill are starting to get a little up there in age. Sadly, they said that in all likellihood the restaurant part of the business will likely end when they retire. For now, they are only open on Thursday and Friday for lunch. Martell's son is not interested in the restaurant side, but they are likely to keep the mail-order sauce business open. At least we will still have that!
Next, I stopped by Wilber's in Goldsboro. I had the same barbecue tray. I met Wilber and he graciously gave me about 30 minutes of his time. However, I did not get to see his famous smokehouse. He didn't offer, so I didn't ask. Anyway, the barbecue was very good. The slaw and hushpuppies were good. The only sauce available at the table was vinegar, which was a good compliment to the barbecue but nothing special.
Finally, I stopped at Allen and Son in Chapel Hill. This was, by far, the best flavored barbecue of the three. Smokey, spicey and yummy. It also came with hushpuppies and cole slaw that were better than Wilber's, but not as good as Scott's. He also had a spicey vinegar-based sauce at the table that was very good, nearly as good as Scott's (but not quite).
Martell and Sybill Scott, and Wilber signed my BBQ USA book. Unfortunately, Mr. Allen had to attend a funeral the day I visited and was unable to be there. I wish I could have told him personally how good his food and staff were.
All of it was good and an excellent experience. The next time I get to NC, I will spend time doing western-NC style barbecue, around Lexington, where they use ketchup in their sauce and slaw. The vinegar based stuff is more appealing to me, that is why I started with eastern-style.
Anyway, I know this was long, but if anyone gets the chance to sample some eastern-NC BBQ, I hope this was helpful.