2020 NC Pork Summer of 'Cue Road Trip | Nik Snacks

This post is sponsored by NC Pork Council I received compensation in exchange for sharing my BBQ road trip. Although this post is sponsored, all words, opinions and photos are mine.

Everyone has a barbecue bucket list, right? From now until Labor Day, the NC Pork Council has a promotion to help you check some of those barbecue joints off your list! Details of the contest and promotion are at the bottom of the post. Your participation could net you a FREE t-shirt.

From the Toast of the Triad to the Crystal Coast of NC, I picked FIVE barbecue joints and a BONUS pit stop for your NC BBQ Summer of 'Cue roap trip inspiration. When the promotion started in early July, I just happened to have booked a trip to Atlantic Beach for my boyfriend's 45th birthday celebration, so the timing could not have been better. Road trips and traveling down east (where a majority of NC barbecue restaurants reside) isn't new for me and neither is planning a trip around food. And eating barbecue and its fixins is practically a prerequisite for residence in the Old North State.

For a brief rundown of what NC barbecue is (and isn't) click here to read this article I wrote in early 2020 about the state of 'cue in Winston-Salem (which is where I live).

Check out the map below to see where we ate and the driving directions. You can use this map as a guide for your own trip across the state.


Honkytonk Smokehouse in Winston-Salem

This is currently my favorite barbecue spot in the city. It's around the corner from my house, the owners are a lovely husband and wife team and I can't get enough of their Split Decision Platter (two smoked meats, two sides, Texas toast). I always get the pulled pork and the brisket. My boyfriend really likes the smoked sausage. I switch up the sides, but the jalapeno baked beans are out of this world and I get them every time.

Other than the barbecue, the best part is the selection of six sauces they offer (pictured below). My favorites are: brown sugar glaze, Eastern dip, Alabama white. I also gotta have ketchup for the hushpuppies and french fries, ranch for dipping the Texas toast and mustard for the brisket.

Clark's Barbecue in Kernersville

One of the few common denominators is that North Carolina barbecue is pork. In Pork We Trust. In pork shoulder, Lexington style trusts. I think Lexington style is the best barbecue. It’s been said that the first barbecue style you try is the kind you think is best. I agree. 

I wrote a review about Clark's in 2017. You can click here to read it, or you can roll through Kernersville and taste it for yourself.

The Original Carolina Barbecue of Garner

If you're traveling from the Triad, once you get past Raleigh, you're probably ready to stretch your legs and fill up on something good to eat before continuing to ramble on down to the beach.

Classic Eastern style barbecue is king and queen here at this family style restaurant. Get a platter or two of the good stuff and pair it with fried chicken and all of the fixins. Every platter comes with 2 sides (I got potato salad and collard greens) unlimited hushpuppies, slaw and your choice of bread (rolls or cornsticks). The sweet tea is good and is served with that good ice.

Wilber's Barbecue in Goldsboro

Wilber's is an iconic Eastern North Carolina barbecue destination in Goldsboro, NC – which opened in 1962, escaped from the throes of bankruptcy late last year only to emerge and close in March 2019 due to the pandemic–is now offering barbecue curbside. The interior is completely renovated, but the public isn't allowed inside yet (not even to use the facilities, as we quickly found out while waiting in the car line)

Honestly, I'd never heard of this place until 1 day before it's not-so-grand reopening on July 15. As luck would have it, you have to drive through Goldsboro on HWY 70 to get to the beach and Wilber's instantly went on my must-eat list. Currently, the menu is limited and rightfully so: they've been selling out of their legendary pork well. before closing time each day. 

 *BONUS* Nahunta Pork Center in Pikeville

Home of the largest pork display in the world, the Nahunta Pork Center is literally in the middle of nowhere. Along HWY 70 there are nearly a dozen billboards alerting you to the pork retailer's presence. Part curiosity and part road trip adventure, we decided to stop here on our way back from the beach.

Holy moly, they have EVERYTHING from the root to the toot for sale here. Not only do they sell every part of the pig, they process them on site. Everything is incredibly clean and organized. I've never seen such a well-oiled operation. They are open Monday through Saturday and are waiting for you to stop by and pick up some pork to make your own barbecue sandwiches at home.

(left to right: country style pork ribs, St. Louis style ribs, hickory smoked bacon, pre-cooked smoked sausage, hot sausage patties, side meat, peppered and smoked side meat, pork cracklings)

Big Oak Drive-In And BBQ in Salter Path

Known for their shrimpburgers, Big Oak is the little drive-in restaurant that could. The barbecue is Eastern style and served on soft hamburger buns or in a platter with french fries, slaw, hush puppies and tea.

Have a car picnic in the parking lot or take it back to your lodgings, it's worth the drive to eat at this popular, iconic beach spot. I know this post is all about the barbecue, but DON'T SLEEP on their crabcake sandwich. Served on a soft bun with creamy coleslaw, it was probably the best surprise of our time here.

Since summer isn't over, I'll probably sneak in one more 'cue road trip before Labor Day. 
Where do YOU want to go first?

Want to create your own Summer of 'Cue road trip AND get a t-shirt for your efforts?
Listed below are the official rules and details.
• FOLLOW NC Pork Council and Whole Hog Barbecue on social media (@ncpork and @wholehogbarbecue on Instagram)
• EAT barbecue from any North Carolina barbecue joint (restaurant, food truck, mobile vendor, etc.) between NOW and September 7th
• POST a photo of you and/or your barbecue at five different North Carolina barbecue restaurants throughout the summer. *Social media posts MUST be made public to qualify. Private posts will not be seen.
• TAG NC Pork Council in all of your posts, tell everybody where you’re eating and use the HASHTAG #summerofcue. Don’t forget to tag the restaurant and give them some love, too!
• VISIT ncpork.org/summerofcue and fill out the online form after you’ve visited 5 restaurants and posted 5 photos. They will verify your posts and send you a FREE special edition T-shirt in September!
Promotion ends Monday, September 7th. Must be 18 years of age or older. NC residents only. For details and barbecue bucket list inspiration, visit: ncpork.org/summerofcue
• PRIZES FOR PARTICIPANTS. Participants who complete their road trip and properly share their experience on social media will receive a special edition T-shirt. One shirt awarded per social media account. Maximum of 2 shirts per address. Shirts will be mailed at the end of the promotion. The online form will be used to gather your T-shirt size and mailing address.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. I haven't tried any of these yet, but I've had a hankering to go to the Honkytonk Smokehouse for a while. I've heard nothing but great things. Thank you for the info!


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