You know you are in the land of 'cue when USA Today's 10 Best Southern Barbecue spots include four in the Carolinas. Yep....three of the top 10 are in North Carolina (natch!) and one is in South Carolina. Here's the rundown:
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q - Monroe, NC
Customers come from all over the South to pay their respects to the Alabama barbecue legend Big Bob Gibson, whose descendants now operate a handful of locations. The assortment of dry-rubbed meats come with sauce on the side, the better to showcase why the restaurant has won more than 10 World BBQ Championship titles
Lexington Barbecue - Lexington, NC
Founded by Wayne Monk in 1962, some locals refer to one of North Carolina's most decorated barbecue spots as "The Monk." The staff continues Monk's technique of cooking only pork shoulders for roughly 10 hours over oak or hickory coals. For a true local experience, be sure to order the state's most famous drink, the cherry soda Cheerwine and a chopped BBQ sandwich.
Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC
Founded by Pete Jones in 1947, this decorated BBQ shack is now run by Jones's grandson, Sam. The menu consists of two items: pulled pork sandwiches topped with coleslaw and a dish of pulled pork with cornbread and coleslaw. The pork comes from whole pigs that are split in half, then slow-roasted over oak fires in open-air pits. Jones can usually be seen hand-chopping the meat daily, with crowds lining up out the door.
Scott's Bar-B-Que - Hemingway, SC
The ever-smiling Rodney Scott has earned his place on the present-day Mt. Rushmore of barbecue. Scott cuts down the hickory, oak, and pecan trees used to power the concrete pits he uses to produce some of the nation's most decorated whole-hog 'cue. Scott keeps busy mopping his meat with his special secret vinegar-pepper sauce. Few patrons seems to mind his eatery's lack of amenities.