Our research is editorially independent but we
may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Southern states know how to do barbecue. Whatever the style, they’ve mastered it. Whether it be slow-smoked ribs or whole hogs cooked over a real wood fire. Sides include sweet, finely chopped slaw, collard greens and sometimes options like creamy macaroni and cheese. In North Carolina, a common pairing is delicious sweet corn hush puppies that dip well in mustard-based or spicy sauce. From the modern artesian to the old standing classics, these are the best barbecue establishments in North Carolina.
Lexington Barbecue is appropriately located in Lexington, North Carolina. The old white building has been churning out delicious meats for decades and is now a staple within the state. Chopped barbecue is made of pork shoulders that are slow-cooked over wood, not gas. This gives a moist and smoky flavor that is out of this world, and the final product honestly doesn’t need sauce. But the vinegar sauce is the perfect complement. Fish plates are a secondary and almost equally beloved option.
Buxton Hall Barbecue is located in Asheville, so you’d assume correctly if thinking that there will definitely be some artesian flair. Alongside traditionally and perfectly smoked barbecue are menu items such as a sought-after spaghetti sandwich, southern slaw, hush puppies and cocktails. Most dishes have kind of a unique twist while managing to exude traditional North Carolina flavor. Don’t forget an order of crispy fried waffle fries, which definitely give a certain famed chicken establishment a run for its money.
Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro has been around for a long time like many of our favorite barbecue joints. For the most part, the menu has remained the same, with classic pork and chicken entrées being front and center on the menu. We also love that this place also serves up perfectly simmered collard greens, which are a nice, clean complement to the rest of the menu items. Make sure to finish things off with cherry cobbler, which has the perfect balance of warm fruit filling and comforting sweet crust!
Little Richard’s BBQ in Clemmons is the place to come for more than just pulled pork. A wealth of smokehouse favorites are on the menu, and their ribs are thought to be a stand-out above others in North Carolina. Guests will also have their choice of fried goodies, like corn fritters and hush puppies! The cornbread is amazing too.
Sam Jones offers quite a bit of variety when it comes to plates and sides. Whole hogs are slow-cooked over a wood fire to master that smoky flavor. Then you have a choice of cornbread or sweet potato muffins (muffins are typically preferred), traditional sweet southern slaw, beautifully loaded baked potatoes, french fries and some darn good collard greens.
v in Dillsboro, North Carolina nails it when it comes to melt-in-your-mouth brisket and fall-off-the-bone ribs. The pulled pork and chicken are solid contenders as well. Macaroni and cheese, sweet baked beans and mustard-based sauces round out the experience at this rustic, cozy eatery.
Sometimes, a plain old barbecue sandwich with fresh-cut fries does the trick! That is what you’ll find at the Pik-n-Pig, for the most part. However, they do have authentic North Carolina hush puppies, some really good barbecue nachos, and a super fun atmosphere. The joint is connected to a small airport, so while dining you can watch planes take off and land.
Hillsborough BBQ Company in Hillsborough is a wonderful place to get traditional barbecue and some other unexpected eats. The setting is slightly less rustic than other barbecue joints, and you can also get things like fried catfish. Expect extra southern favorites like creamy coleslaw and perfectly stewed collard greens.
Skylight Inn Barbecue is likely one of the most iconic places to get the whole hog, hardwood smoked goodness in North Carolina. Guests line up to get a paper boat full of flawlessly prepared meat with a touch of vinegar sauce, topped with slaw than a piece of southern cornbread! The sandwiches are on point too. Foodies particularly appreciate the crunchy bits of crackling that are sprinkled throughout the pork. It’s simple, it’s southern, it’s perfection.