Gone but not forgotten

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Smokey Pig, Ashland, Virginia (Closed)

212 S Washington Hwy
Ashland, VA 23005

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As the Virginia BBQ trail heads north out of Richmond along the Jefferson Davis Highway or U.S. 1, the next stop is the Smokey Pig in Ashland. @ The Pig, the Boston Butts are hickory smoked. I had a sliced pork plate (half plate) with baked beans and slaw. My half pork plate had three prime thick slices of already sauced pork. Technically, they were three pork chops. The sweet homemade sauce had a base of tomato and various spices. The first-rate sweet slaw, with a vinegar and mayo based sauce, consisted of green and white cabbage with a few carrot shards thrown in the mix. And my sweet baked beans were equally super. The sweet tea however was not sweet enough for my taste. The Smokey Pig has been a fixture in Ashland since 1978. 

Harold's BBQ, Atlanta, Georgia (Closed)

171 Mcdonough Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30315

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In February of 2007 I brought along my Georgia nieces and nephews with me to Harold’s Barbecue in Atlanta. I was first taken to Harold’s about thirty years ago, Unfortunately, its been about thirty plus years since I have been back. This would be their first visit to a real Q house. Inside I noticed the walls were paneled with stained knotty pine. They noticed the ice machine making tiny pellets of ice. We all sat down at a table covered with a red and white checkered tablecloth. I ordered a pitcher of sweet tea and they got a pitcher of Sprite. Our drinks were served in old red plastic Coca-Cola cups. The kids ended up getting mostly hotdogs and fries, but a few of them did try the Q and I think most of them did get at least a spoonful of the Brunswick stew. Their palates may not be quite ready for Q, but they did like the Brunswick stew. My pork plate had generous pieces of sliced pork and coleslaw that was mostly white slaw with carrots and some green specks and a large bowl of Brunswick stew. My sliced pork was incredible! It was tender and juicy and you could cut it with a fork. The sauce was an excellent sweet and spicy tomato based one. This sauce complemented the pork nicely. The coleslaw was incredible, nice and sweet and was topped with two pickles. And the Brunswick stew was the best I have ever had. I have been to Memphis, all over North Carolina, Kansas City, Texas, Alabama, and of course Georgia and nothing comes close to the original Harold’s Brunswick stew. Before we left Harold’s I ordered about a gallon of the stew to take home with us. Harold’s is one of the best Q and Brunswick stew houses on the planet. Harold’s is just south of Turner Field if you are on Capitol Ave SE. Capitol Ave SE runs into McDonough Blvd SE if you are heading South. Enjoy!

The Old Hickory House, Atlanta, Georgia (Closed)

5490 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd
Atlanta, GA 30338

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Before it was demolished, the Pharr Road Old Hickory House was our family favorite. At its peak, The Old Hickory House had 23 locations, with most of them in and around Atlanta. Augusta, Athens, Chattanooga and Tallahassee also had single locations. Today, only two remain (Dunwoody and Tucker). Opened in the early 1950's The Old Hickory House is still owned by the Black Family. The Old Hickory House pit-cooks/smokes their Boston Butts only with hickory wood. My tender and juicy sliced pork sandwich topped with sauce and pickles was superb! Their house Q sauce is quite excellent! My baked beans were outstanding, the Brunswick stew was solidly peachy and the sweet tea was wonderful. "Put some South in your mouth" and enjoy.

Penguin Drive-In, Charlotte, NC (Closed)

1921 Commonwealth Ave
Charlotte, NC 28205

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Locally known as the "Bird," this former ice cream parlor opened in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood in 1954. The Penguin regularly wins the city's awards for Best Onion Rings, Best Burger & Best Late Night restaurant. They do, however, stop serving food @ midnight. The Penguin still has its original 1954-pine paneling and now it also has a complete bar. Lunchtime @ the Penguin draws a diverse and packed crowd. From businessmen to construction workers to members of our armed forces to healthcare workers to college kids and families with babies. Blue collar, white collar and no collar the Penguin feeds the city and its workers well. I had a RaceTrack Dog, a side of Brunswick stew, onion rings and a Winky-Dinky Dog. The RaceTrack Dog came with chili, mustard, onions and sweet slaw and it was excellent. The Winky-Dinky Dog came with chili and pimento cheese and it was very good. The thin sliced onion rings are very addictive and the Brunswick stew alone is worth a visit to the Penguin. On my next visit I'll try the burger and Elvis's favorite the peanut butter and banana sandwich. What a great place! They have a take-out menu and they do take Visa.

Old Hickory House, Charlotte, North Carolina (Closed)

6538 N Tryon St
Charlotte, NC 28213

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This city landmark (Since 1957) is one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in Charlotte. The Old Hickory House wasn't the first Q house in the city, but it is the last one in Charlotte that still cooks on an open-pit (Grandfathered-in). OHH smokes\cooks their Boston Butts with hickory. I had a small, already sauced chopped pork plate (excellent) with sweet tea (excellent), Brunswick stew (very good), baked beans (very good), grilled and buttered Texas Toast (excellent) and a slice of pecan pie (excellent). You can get the pork or beef chopped or sliced. The Old Hickory House is located near IKEA, UNC Charlotte and I-85. Enjoy

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Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, Monroe, NC Closed

1507 West Roosevelt Boulevard
Monroe, NC 28110-2751

If you're a fan of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ and a road-trip to Decatur, Alabama is just too far for lunch, then head to Monroe, North Carolina where you will find the only Big Bob Gibson BBQ location outside of Alabama. @ Big Bob Gibson's, the pork shoulders are pit-cooked over hickory coals. The pile of split hickory logs out in back of the place is exactly what you want and hope to see. I had the pork platter with slaw, baked beans and a superb sweet tea with lemon. The pulled pork was very tender and juicy and it had an excellent flavor without sauce. The Q is even better with the warmed sauce. I really liked their sauce, but I would have preferred it to be more on the sweeter side and less on the hot. Regardless, it's still very good sauce. The baked beans were excellent and the green and white vinegar sauced slaw was very good. They also have a mayo sauced slaw. I did not get to try their famous white sauce that they use on their chicken this time but, with this location so close to me, I'll be back again soon.

Short Sugar's Pit BBQ, Danville, VA Closed

2215 Riverside Dr.
Danville, VA 24540

*Onion Original

The original Short Sugar’s in Reidsville, North Carolina has been pit cooking BBQ since 1949. This, the Danville, Virginia location, isn’t as old, but it cooks its Q the same "Pit" way. Route 58 East runs right through Danville and continues on to South Boston. Short Sugar’s is off 58 East. Stay on 58 East as if you were going to South Boston, which you are NOT! and stay in the right lane. Don’t! Exit at the turn for Chapel Hill, NC (Route 86). Continue straight on Route 58 East towards South Boston, which is a town you are not going too, About a mile or so further and you will see Short Sugar’s off to your right. Stop here, eat and be happy. Now that you can find Short Sugar’s, you will soon be able to feast on the best North Carolina style Q in Virginia. Short Sugar’s slow cooks their BBQ in pits over hardwood coals. Then the Q is basted with the family’s secret sauce. I ordered the chopped Q sandwich topped with slaw. I had sweet tea to drink with hushpuppies and baked beans as my sides. The baked beans were very good and the sweet tea was outstanding. It had a rich brewed flavor with the perfect amount of sweetness and lemon. The hushpuppies were the perfect side for the Q sandwich, they were shaped like onion rings and had a nice sweet taste to them. My BBQ sandwich was excellent, it was tender and juicy and had the just the right amount of sauce. It was perfect. Enjoy!

Pitt Boss BBQ, Roanoke, Virginia Closed

*Onion Original Photos

Pitt Boss has finally given the City of Roanoke something it’s never had, a great barbeque house. They use the bone-in Boston Butt cut. The pork is first dry-rubbed with spices and it’s then cooked over hickory. The end result is outstanding pulled pork that is consistently tender, juicy and so full of excellent flavor, that it needs no added sauce. And, unlike most Q places whose chopped Q consists of leftover scraps, fat, gristle and otherwise bad cuts, the chopped Q at Pitt Boss is simply chopped pulled pork. The sides are baked beans, coleslaw, collard greens, mac & cheese, Hush puppies, corn on the cob and fries. All of the sides are excellent, but the collard greens are truly outstanding. The collard greens here are the best I have ever had. The desserts are homemade by James’s mom, so save room. James Tedesco graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC. His time spent in Charleston’s rich Southern culinary atmosphere has greatly influenced his cooking style. And you will taste that influence in the spices he uses for the dry-rub coating the pork, his recipe for the collard greens, his baked beans and his coleslaw. Enjoy!

Jan's Dutch Boys Drive-In, Collinsville,VA. Closed

4090 Virginia Avenue, Collinsville, VA

*Onion Original

Just off highway 220 in Collinsville Virginia is Jan’s Dutch Boy Drive-In. This relic of the 50’s is the sole survivor of a now long gone chain. As it did in the 50’s, the original sign still attracts hungry customers. Today, it attracts more locals than it does highway traffic. 220 highway traffic now gets caught by the more convenient chains. But, if you know about these places beforehand and you are willing to try the mom and pop places over the chains, you can be greatly rewarded. And many times these gems are just a mile or two or less off the beaten path. They do have curb service, but for some reason the indoor seating seems to get you faster service. Inside, they have booths that look like they were out of the 70’s, they were colored in the always popular, pea green and yellowish brown. I ordered two slaw-dogs with fries and a sweet tea. It was only $3.82 and this was January of 2007. The tea was good. The fries were very good, and the two slaw-dogs were excellent. The dogs were the usual nuclear red in color and they were topped with very good chili, nice sweet slaw, mustard and onions. Enjoy!