Review: Sam Jones BBQ restaurant in Winterville and The Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson

Redneck BBQ Lab’s pulled pork sandwich is served with slaw on a soft bun and pickled onions and okra on the side.Juli Leonard

On paper, Sam Jones BBQ and The Redneck BBQ Lab are as different as two North Carolina barbecue joints could be.

One is rooted in generations of family tradition. The other is a newcomer by barbecue joint standards, but has earned an impressive reputation on the national barbecue competition circuit.

One cooks whole hogs the traditional way, over seasoned oak embers in an open pit. The other smokes Boston butts on the same cookers it uses in competitions.

One has gone beyond the Eastern North Carolina-style pork that has been the foundation of the family reputation for more than six decades to offer a variety of other smoked meats, but still sticks with the time-tested method.

The other bills its approach as “BBQ with a scientific twist,” with experiments yielding everything from house-made pastrami to hog jowl bacon cornbread.

One serves beer. The other doesn’t.

You get the idea. Still, Sam Jones BBQ and The Redneck BBQ Lab do share a couple of noteworthy features. Both are counter service restaurants, for starters. And both merit inclusion in any list of North Carolina’s barbecue elite.

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Sam Jones BBQ

715 W. Fire Tower Road, Winterville

252-689-6449 or

The Redneck BBQ Lab

12101-B NC Hwy. 210, Benson

919-938-8334 or


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