Looking for a new barbecue spot in the Charlotte area? Skip the grill and head to one (or all) of these barbecue restaurants. Make sure to pile that plate high with brisket, ribs, burnt ends and lots of barbecue sauce.
Every summer, I try to go to at least one barbecue place. I have a deep love of pulled pork and brisket and need to find a new barbecue spot to try.
Luckily, the Carolinas are known for having some of the best barbecue, although there’s a big difference between the states, of course.
NORTH CAROLINA BARBECUE: Eastern-style, which uses the whole hog, has a vinegar/peppery or lemon seasoning. Western-style (Lexington style) is typically made of pork shoulder and includes a sauce made of ketchup and vinegar.
SOUTH CAROLINA BARBECUE: This whole-hog barbecue is typically sauced one of four ways: mustard, heavy tomato, light tomato or vinegar and pepper.
No matter which style you prefer, here’s a list of restaurants in the Charlotte area with mouthwatering barbecue menus. (Did we miss any? Let us know in our poll at CharlotteFive.com.)
Neighborhood: Indian Land
Location: 123 S Main St, Lancaster, SC 29720
Neighborhood: Tega Cay
521 BBQ & Grill has locations in Indian Land, Tega Cay and Lancaster, each serving a twist on the restaurant’s menu. The barbecue is made fresh the night before and is hickory smoked for 14 hours in its special 521 seasonings. Make sure to try the 521 specialty ribs, signature barbecue and beef brisket.
Location: 9401 Statesville Rd, Charlotte, NC 28269
Neighborhood: North Charlotte
Bobbee O’s BBQ was started in 2008 by North Carolina native Bob Roberts. The restaurant attracts customers from all over the world. The restaurant’s recognition expanded after being mentioned in Parade Magazine and other publications in 2012 and 2013.
Roberts perfected his barbecue pulled pork and barbecue sauce recipes. Try the perfected recipes with the barbecue pulled pork platter or the barbecue pulled pork sandwich.
Location: 1514 Galleria Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28270
Location: 8948 J M Keynes Dr, Charlotte, NC 28262
Neighborhood: University City
Since 1999, City Barbeque has been smoking meat with hickory, careful seasoning and low and slow heat to create the perfect bark, the crust on the outside of smoked meat. It includes sauces from 5 different states: the original Kansas sauce; Texas’s brush fire sauce which is best on brisket; South Carolina’s Low Country mustard-based sauce; Kansas City’s tomato-based sauce and North Carolina’s vinegar Swine Wine sauce.
When you stop by, try what the restaurant has to offer with the “City Sampler,” a platter with beef brisket, pulled pork, sausage, turkey, two sides and Texas toast. Make sure to bring two handfuls of napkins and cover the plate in a bunch of sauce.
Neighborhood: Fort Mill
Neighborhood: Rea Farms
The Improper Pig serves classic North Carolina-style barbecue prepared on a hickory woodfire grill. It also offers flavors from all over the world such as Eastern barbecue, Teriyaki, Buffalo, Jeff’s Mustard and Spicy Hoisin. The barbecue joint has even been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
The Oinker food truck is travels through Charlotte and South Carolina. The truck was made to expand the barbecue horizons of local communities. The truck offers North Carolina-style barbecue with options for meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans. The truck can be booked for events.
Neighborhood: Steele Creek
Location: 7791 Gateway Ln. NW, Concord, NC 28027
Neighborhood: near Concord Mills
You know a barbecue restaurant is going to be good when barbecue is its heritage. That’s the case with Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, where recipes and traditions are passed on to local pitmasters, owners and cooks. The restaurant was started by father-son duo Jim and Nick Pihakia in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1985.
The restaurant emphasized the slow-cooked barbecue made daily. When visiting make sure to try the classic pulled pork and Carolina-style pork.
Location: 116 Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133
Jon G’s barbecue opened in June 2020 and serves world-class, Texas-inspired barbecue. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until it’s sold out, which is usually around 4 p.m. It is about a 40 minute drive from Charlotte, make sure to get there early to beat the line.
Try the Pork B. Taco made with the Porky Brewster made with brisket, pork, Fritos, slaw, onion and pickles; on a flour tortilla topped with queso and cilantro.
Location: Multiple locations
Mac’s Speed Shop was started in Charlotte in 2005 by Wynn Davis and Hall Johnson, who blended barbecue, beer and bikes. All food and sauces are made fresh daily including comfort foods such as mac and cheese and brisket chili. Down the barbecue with one of the drinks on the restaurant’s extensive liquor menu or one of its specialty drinks.
The restaurant will open its newest location soon at Concord Mills Mall. Make sure to try the beef brisket platter served with dry-rubbed, slow-smoked brisket that is sliced to order, caramelized onions and western barbecue.
Location: 811 Main St, Buffalo, SC 29321
Neighborhood: Union County, South Carolina
Founded around 1941, Midway BBQ has outlasted nearly 50 Union County hash houses. The restaurant is considered the hash capital of the world, and the restaurant is nicknamed “811 Hash Boulevard.” (Hash is a side dish typically made from pork and potatoes and served over rice.) The menu changes daily, allowing each guest to have a unique dining experience.
Location: Multiple locations
This joint is a must-visit spot — the Charlotte-based restaurant is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. It offers a variety of barbecue options, including Carolina Pork, Saint Louis Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket and Barbecue Chicken. Traditional sides include collard greens, mac and cheese, and baked beans.
Location: 2216 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208
Neighborhood: West Charlotte
Location: Optimist Hall, 1115 N Brevard St, Charlotte, NC 28206
Neighborhood: Optimist Park
Noble Smoke works with local farms, including Creekstone Farms, Joyce Farms and Cheshire Farms, each specializing in a different meat.
“Miss Mary’s Platter,” is served with a pound of pork, a pound of brisket, a pound of turkey, a pork short rib, Eastern or Western slaw and pickled veggies. The massive platter can be shared with loved ones or kept to yourself and drowned in sauce.
Location: 923 Belmont Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205
Neighborhood: Belmont Charlotte
Located in Charlotte’s Belmont neighborhood near Uptown, Sweet Lew’s BBQ uses a blend of hickory, peach and pecan wood to create award-winning dishes. Even though the restaurant is close to Uptown, it still has the feel of the back road countryside barbecue joints where you can get fresh-made, wood smoked barbecue.
For an authentic North Carolina barbecue experience, try the North Carolina smoked pork shoulder and the North Carolina chopped pork platters.