Best BBQ Pork Sandwich in North Carolina (2016)


The term "barbecue" in North Carolina is nearly synonymous with pork, and it's a big part of the state's history. There are two distinct types of barbecue that have developed over hundreds of years in North Carolina: Eastern and Western. The styles differ in the cut of pork, how that pork is prepared and the type of sauce poured on top. The Lexington or Piedmont style uses only the pork shoulder, slow-cooked and pulled, and a barbecue sauce that includes ketchup, vinegar, pepper and a variety of spices.  The Eastern style uses a whole hog cooked low and slow, chopped and topped with a vinegar and pepper based sauce with no ketchup to be found.  Both are typically served with slaw on a soft bun. If you're from North Carolina you might have to pick your favorite but visitors are free to enjoy both styles.

  • Stamey's Barbecue

    Stamey's Barbecue

    Stamey's cooks their pork shoulders "Lexington-style" over all hardwood coals for eight to 10 hours. Besides mouth-watering barbecue and a secret recipe sauce, or "dip," Stamey's is also famous for introducing the hush puppy to the North Carolina barbecue scene. Sandwiches come piled with chopped or sliced pork and a dollop of Stamey's barbecue slaw.
    Photo courtesy of Stamey's Barbecue / Facebook

  • B's Barbecue

    B's Barbecue

    B's Barbecue in Greenville opened in the late 1970s and has remained a popular family business ever since. Whole hogs are cooked with charcoal in an open pit, and the sauce available at each table is made with vinegar and peppers. There's usually a line of folks out the door, and if there isn't, B's is probably sold out for the day.
    Photo courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance / Flickr

  • Skylight Inn BBQ

    Skylight Inn BBQ

    Perhaps the most famous temple of Carolina “Whole Hog” smoking, the Skylight Inn enjoys a legendary spot in the upper pantheon of barbecue. Ever since 1947 they have been doing it the old traditional way, slow smoking whole butterflied hogs with wood fire, chopping it to include crispy bits of delicious skin, aka “pig candy,” and dousing the results with thin vinegar based sauce. Skyline remains a regional standout for both the local sauce and the state’s disappearing whole hog tradition.
    Photo courtesy of Skylight Inn BBQ / Facebook

  • Hursey's Bar-B-Q

    Hursey's Bar-B-Q

    In 1945 Sylvester and Daisy Hursey added their own secret sauce to Sylvester's father's hickory-smoked pork, and Hursey's Bar-B-Q was born. Today, Hursey's slow-cooks more than 1,200 pork shoulders each week, much of it served chopped or sliced in sandwich form.
    Photo courtesy of Hursey's Bar-B-Q

  • Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

    Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

    Red and Lyttle Bridges opened a barbecue restaurant called Dedmond's Barbecue in 1946, and when they moved the business to Shelby three years later, it was renamed Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge. The pork here gets slow cooked over hickory all night long, just like it was six decades ago.
    Photo courtesy of Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge / Facebook

  • Southern Smoke BBQ

    Southern Smoke BBQ

    Founded in 2010 by husband and wife duo Matthew and Jessica Register, Southern Smoke BBQ has quickly gained a following for its pork cooked low and slow over oak wood coals. Diners can choose from two different sauces to dress their pulled pork sandwiches.
    Photo courtesy of Southern Smoke BBQ

  • Lexington Barbecue

    Lexington Barbecue

    Lexington Barbecue, known locally as The Monk, cooks pork shoulders low and slow over hickory coals. You won't find any mustard or mayo in the barbecue sauce or slaw; both are seasoned with ketchup to impart a sweet flavor. Sandwiches come with chopped or sliced pork and a side of slaw.
    Photo courtesy of Krista / Flickr

  • Grady's Barbeque

    Grady's Barbeque

    Since 1986 Grady's has been slow-smoking pork in wood-burning pits, imparting a rich, smoky flavor to the meat, which comes chopped and piled on a bun. The sauce is a slightly spicy variety typical of the region, but you only need a little – the 'cue is that good on its own.
    Photo courtesy of Tim Dillon, USA TODAY Staff

  • Richard's Bar-B-Q

    Richard's Bar-B-Q

    The Eastern Carolina-style 'cue at Richard's is loaded with slow-smoked flavor and comes chopped in larger bits that most places, but not so big as to be considered coarse. The vinegar-based sauce gets seasoned with red pepper and spices, giving it a fiery kick to complement the moist, smoky meat.
    Photo courtesy of Richard's Bar-B-Q

  • Kings Restaurant

    Kings Restaurant

    Now operated by the third generation of the King family, Kings Restaurant has become famous for its hand-chopped pork, served with a mild vinegar-based sauce alongside Southern sides, like locally grown collards, brunswick stew, black-eyed peas and slaw.
    Photo courtesy of Kings Restaurant / Facebook


For the past four weeks, 10Best, Sandwich America and USA TODAY readers have been voting daily for their favorites. The results are in!

The top 10 winners in the category Best BBQ Pork Sandwich in North Carolina are as follows:

  1. Stamey's Barbecue - Greensboro
  2. B’s Barbecue - Greenville
  3. Skylight Inn BBQ - Ayden
  4. Hursey's Bar-B-Q - Burlington
  5. Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge - Shelby
  6. Southern Smoke BBQ - Garland
  7. Lexington Barbecue - Lexington
  8. Grady's Barbeque - Dudley
  9. Richard’s Bar-B-Q - Salisbury
  10. Kings Restaurant - Kinston

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Mackensy Lunsford (Asheville Citizen-Times), The Barbecue Bros and John Shelton Reed ( were chosen based on their familiarity with North Carolina-style barbecue.

Additional nominees for Best BBQ Pork Sandwich in North Carolina included 12 Bones Smokehouse in Asheville, Allen & Son BBQ in Chapel Hill, Backyard BBQ Pit in Durham, Barbecue Center in Lexington, Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, Cook's Barbecue in Lexington, Smiley’s Lexington BBQ in Lexington, Stephenson’s Barbecue in Willow Springs, Troutman's Barbecue in Concord and Wilber's Barbecue in Goldsboro.

Congratulations to all our Carolina 'cue winners!

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Barbecue Bros

Barbecue Bros

Barbecue Bros

Mackensy Lunsford

Mackensy Lunsford

Mackensy Lunsford

John Shelton Reed

John Shelton Reed

John Shelton Reed

Jennifer Daskevich

Jennifer Daskevich

Jennifer Daskevich

Terry French

Terry French

Terry French