If you think you’ve been hearing fiddles and banjos lately as you’re walking around downtown Raleigh, relax. It’s not in your head. It’s all those musicians tuning up for Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, with performances this week at various downtown venues.
As we all know, nothing goes better with bluegrass than barbecue. Whether it’s Texas brisket you’re craving, or Memphis ribs, or the hometown favorite North Carolina pulled pork, these Triangle area barbecue joints and food trucks have got your back, baby.
Allen & Son
6203 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill
Torn between Eastern and Western NC barbecue? Check out Allen & Son, where the ‘cue is a hybrid of the two styles, and the pork is cooked the old-fashioned way, over seasoned hickory and oak. It’s a winning formula that has kept fans coming back to the little shack tucked in off a country highway a few miles north of Chapel Hill since 1970. Note that the restaurant has scaled back hours, serving only lunch Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The phone number also no longer works.
Pro tip: Don’t fill up on hushpuppies, or you won’t have room for homemade cobbler.
Don’t let food truck owner Rob Henson’s South Georgia accent fool you. The man can flat-out cook some North Carolina-style pork. He calls it “Raleigh style,” an apt reference to the city’s location on the boundary between traditional Eastern and Western styles. On the plate (or on the bun), that translates to Boston butts smoked over hickory, then fine-chopped and tossed with a twangy vinegar-based sauce with a touch of ketchup — a hybrid of the two styles that only a pigheaded purist would turn up his nose at.
Pro tip: For dessert, treat yourself to a dish of banana pudding. It’s made using Henson’s mom’s recipe.
The Humble Pig
So you’re not a diehard purist? Your ecumenical taste embraces all kinds of smoky fare, even newfangled twists on the classics? This food truck’s freewheeling ride across the barbecue landscape is just what the doctor ordered with a menu that runs the gamut from smoked wings to pulled pork sandwich to brisket taco — all featuring locally raised meats cooked low and slow over hardwood. That’s a mix of mostly fruitwoods, to be precise, which imparts a gentler smoky note than the hickory that’s common in these parts.
Pro tip: The Pow Chow taco is a best-seller, and rightly so: coarsely chopped pork tossed in Alabama white sauce, topped with freshly made cucumber-onion relish and a garnishing squiggle of Sriracha, served on a rustically thick soft corn tortilla.