Looking for the best BBQ in the state? We’ve got you covered. From historical spots to new and up and coming BBQ joints, all recommended by Charlotteans and North Carolinans. We’ve tried to include BBQ joints that are just a short drive from Charlotte, but with some of the state’s most popular spots a bit farther away, we had to include those too in case you’re interested in an epic road trip. Without further ado, here’s where to get smoked NC-style BBQ.
1. Smoke Pit
Just 30 minutes up from Charlotte in Concord is the Smoke Pit, a congregation of smoke and fire that you can smell as soon as you walk in. Their menu has a little bit of everything from sandwiches (brisket, pork, burnt ends, chicken) to platters filled to the brim with smoked juicy cuts of meat like Texas Brisket and Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork and even Sausage. For sides, try Baked Mac & Cheese, White Slaw, or Fried Okra.
Where: 796 Concord Pkwy N
Looking for some real North Carolina BBQ? Look no further than Sweet Lew’s, who prides themselves as being the real deal right here in Uptown. Their meats are limited and can sell out, so we’d recommend ordering their Smoked Beef Brisket early if you’re dying to try it (which you will be after one taste). They’ve also got North Carolina Chopped Pork, Dry Rubbed Pork Spare Ribs, and wings to indulge in. A BBQ spot is only as good as its sides, and Sweet Lew’s got some good ones. Perfectly stewed collard greens, baked mac and cheese, hush puppies, and their Dre’s Potato Salad are all must tries as well.
Where: 923 Belmont Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205
40 minutes up is Mt. Pleasant Smokehouse, a BBQ joint that does traditionally smoked meats paired with cold beers from local breweries. Their smoked meats come in a variety of different ways–try them on nachos piled high with beans, veggies, jalapeño cheese sauce, and your choice of meat, tucked into a quesadilla, or on top of crinkle cut pimento cheese fries. We’d recommend getting it with fried pickles for a tangy side. There’s also traditional platters with sides, hushpuppies, rolls, or Texas toast, so any BBQ fan can easily order what they’d want.
Where: 8335 W Franklin St, Mt Pleasant, NC 28124
Get some great BBQ right in the heart of Charlotte at Midwood Smokehouse. Skillet Cornbread, Cropped Brisket Sandwiches, Carolina Pork, and Saint Louis Style Pork Ribs are all on the menu for your dining pleasure. Their Combo Platters are huge, with a choice of 4 proteins, two sides like bacon wrapped jalapeños or mac and cheese, hush puppies and pickles.
Where: 1401 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205
30 minutes down from Charlotte at Rea Farms (or they have a Fort Mill location) is The Improper Pig. Featured on an episode of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives for their Improper Charcuterie Board, Improper Nachos, and Chow Bao Tacos, this spot includes unique vessels for enjoying NC barbecue as well as traditional platters that don’t skimp on smoke.
Where: 9855 Sandy Rock Pl A, Charlotte, NC 28277
We’ve featured all of the BBQ joints near Charlotte, but we couldn’t round out this list without listing some of the really popular, traditional, worth-the-drive spots in NC, even if they’re a bit out of the way. The Skylight Inn is as Eastern NC as you can get, with an award from the accredited James Beard “American Classics” award. A part of NC’s BBQ history, Skylight Inn is absolutely worth the 3 hours and 45 minute drive (once those gas prices settle).
Where: 4618 Lee St, Ayden, NC 28513
We had to include Sam Jones BBQ for its amazing reputation. A 2 and a half hour drive from Charlotte in Raleigh, so a little closer than The Skylight Inn, which has been named as some of the best BBQ in National Geographic and the Food Network. A “spin off” of the original but just as tasty, Sam Jones is a can’t-miss destination.
Where: 502 W Lenoir St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Walk up to the window and order some delicious smoke pork then sit down in the courtyard garden for a cozy lunch or dinner. All their meats are smoked low and slow over wood for hours so you know you’re getting the real thing.
Where: 2724 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC 28731