April 23, 2016
Starting Mileage: 2185.5
Feeling surprisingly spry for the copious amounts of meat I had consumed, we were soon on the road for our first pit of the day: Richard’s Bar-B-Q in Salisbury. There was a patio outside and we were able to sit in the sun and enjoy our chop, red slaw, and hushpuppies. The trend for heavier smoke continued and the slaw had a heavier taste to it as well. The hushpuppies tasted like ONION RINGS! I took a bite and my mind was blown. Turns out Jack didn’t like these hushpuppies quite as much. With the onion, they got tiny little crumbs anyway, but the little eating machine turned his nose up at them. His loss.
Next pit was Wink’s Barbecue, also in Salisbury and another short drive between pits. Since it was such a short trip, I decided to stick with the chop sandwich. There was no where to really sit outside and out of the way, so another meal sitting in the trunk of my car. At least it was shady and cool. A walk around the block to settle full tummies and onward.
M & K Barbecue in Granite Quarry was another pit that seemed to spring upon us and in about 30 minutes I was sitting at the counter waiting for my chop sandwich. I noticed a picnic bench off to the side of the lot and sat there to enjoy. The smoke flavour was the heaviest that we had tasted up to this point with very light sauce flavour. The smoke may have been heavy but the meat was not and I didn’t have the overstuffed feeling I was expecting. Soon we were back on the road.
But it wasn’t long before we arrived at Carolina Bar-B-Q in Statesville. Now I had looked at the trail map and realized that this was the last of the cluster of pits so I could have slightly bigger meal. I was not going to pass that opportunity up. Chop pork, baked beans, and hushpuppies. The pork was good, with a strong smoke to it but the baked beans and hushpuppies stole this meal. Some of the best beans I have ever had and the hushpuppies had this incredible crispy exterior. I ate them all and gave the dogs chop instead.
Then we had some time on the road as we made our way to Switzerland Cafe in Little Switzerland. The drive through the mountains was beautiful even if I could only enjoy it in little glimpses because of the winding roads. The town seems to be geared toward tourists and the cafe was attached to a general store, coffee shop, and artist shop. We sat in a corner of the patio as we ate our sandwich with slaw, potato salad, and pickle. This was the closest we had had to a plated meal on the trip. It was nice but lacked some of the rustic charm that I had become accustomed to. It was good but so different from the other barbecue places we had visited. I toyed with the idea of trying to find a place to stay there but decided that we could at least get a bit closer to our next stop.
Our next stop being Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby. The lot was packed and I had a hard time finding a spot. And it was a squeeze to get through the crowd at the front door to place a takeout order. I had a chance to talk to the locals and most recommended the sandwich. And as I watched order after order being placed or handed out, it seemed to mostly be the plate or the sandwich. So they must be doing something right. It was a great sandwich with a good hit of smoke and a nice sweetness to the sauce.
I knew that I would not be able to make it to the last pit before it closed, so I decided to just start driving that way until I found a place to sleep. Fortunately I saw signs for camping and we got a site at Foothills Family Campground outside of Forest City. It is by far the nicest private campground I have ever stayed at. I was the only tenter again so I was able to pick my own site and choose one next to a little creek. It was almost dark by the time we crawled into the tent for the night.
Pits of the day:
M & K Barbecue
Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge