Tips for the Barbecue Trail

For anyone who is considering driving the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail, here are a few things you might want to consider:

  1. The biggest piece of advise I can give is to take your time.  There are no small portions and cramming seven sandwiches down your gut in one day can be uncomfortable. If you want to stop at all 23 pits, maybe aim for three to four per day.  North Carolina is beautiful and there is lots to look at when you’re not stuffing your face.
  2. There are books dedicated to the barbecue trail.  I wish I had gotten one before heading down so I could have each signed.
  3. Be open to the other barbecue places.  I went down solely for the historic pits but I learned that North Carolina has literally hundreds of pits.  They even have an app!  Yes there’s an app for barbecue too.
  4. Some of the restaurants aren’t pretty.  Deal with it because they can have some of the best food you will eat.  As long as you see a steady stream of people going in and out and a large pile of wood near billowing smoke, it’s going to be good.
  5. Talk to the locals.  They know the area better than you do and they know the food better than you do.  And being an outsider, I find it easier to start chatting with people I will never see again.  I also learned that a lot of people are proud of their town and enjoy sharing information with someone new.
  6. Somewhat related: talk to the police.  As long as they’re not busy of course.  They can give you ideas of where to stay away from and places you have to visit.  Given that they also tend to be fairly mobile and work at all hours, they would be exposed to a wide variety of places for food and lodging.  Paramedics would be a good resource too.
  7. If you’re not into freestyle road trips like me, plan your route in advance.  There are plenty of dead zones which can make navigation and booking hotels difficult.
  8. Wear comfy clothing.  You’ve got a lot of amazing food ahead of you so be ready to enjoy every teeny tiny morsel.  And here are a few shots of just some of the food we dove into…Hmmmm Piper got her little boxer nose into a few of those.
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