Queen City ‘Cue
When it comes to barbecue, everyone knows that the best is found in small towns where locals line up at the counter and it's served with sweet tea. But there are plenty of places around Charlotte where you can find the 'cue you've been craving without the drive.
5524 South Blvd., 704-525-8865
Bill Spoon, who founded the restaurant in 1963, passed away last year, but his namesake eatery still serves his famed chopped, eastern North Carolina-style barbecue. Hush puppies, cole slaw, baked beans, and banana pudding complete the experience.
4400 Sunset Rd., 704-393-2000
This Charlotte eatery serves up eastern North Carolina-style slow-cooked pork and homemade vinegar and red sauces. You can stock up on your own supply of the sauces and buy bottles to take home ($3.25 for a pint of vinegar sauce and $3.99 for red).
620 Hwy. 29 North, China Grove, 704-857-8314
Featuring an old-fashioned Coca-Cola sign out front and walls covered in similar decor, it's no surprise this spot has been a local favorite since it opened in 1971. Check out the barbecue, as well as staple 'cue sides including baked beans, red slaw, and banana pudding.
3746 Mount Pleasant Dr., Sherrills Ford, 704-996-0192
With "Horsefeathers" in huge letters across the front roof, this Lake Norman spot is easy to find. It offers much more than barbecue, but HF's wood-smoked pork, beef, and chicken served on kaiser rolls with sauce and slaw, and its hearty rib plates are what draw the crowds.
Mac's Speed Shop
2511 South Blvd., 704-522-6227
This South Boulevard biker and businessman favorite is always packed. The menu is chock-full of non-'cue options, but owner J. D. Duncan's selection of pulled pork, ribs, hush puppies, slaw, and Brunswick stew are some of the top sellers at Mac's — next to cold beer, of course.
4630 Old Pineville Rd., 704-523-6330
Expect motorcycles parked outside this spot, which stays open until 2 a.m. and often features live bands. You'll have to pick through nonbarbecue options like quesadillas, but its barbecue sandwich features pulled pork doused with a tomato-based sauce and topped with slaw.
Old Hickory House
6538 N. Tryon St., 704-596-8014
One of the few places in Charlotte serving a more western North Carolina, tomato-based sauce, Old Hickory, which has been run by the Carter family for more than forty years, offers Brunswick stew, hush puppies, and, of course, sweet tea.
The Rock Store
3116 Old Monroe Road, Stallings, 704-821-0668
This historic restaurant off Old Monroe Road serves up all things 'cue. The barbecue, sides (try the mac 'n' cheese), and the bottles of the Stalling's Secret Sauce are all available there. And, unlike most barbecue joints, this one offers both white and red cole slaw.