Dead End BBQ – Knoxville, TN

Dead End BBQ
3621 Sutherland Ave
Knoxville, TN 37919


I’ve been to Dead End BBQ more times than I can remember. Is it the best in Knoxville you might wonder? No, but it is very good AND one of my favorites. Another bonus is that it stays open until 9PM; most of the others close at 7- o-r8PM. I typically arrive into Knoxville in the evening time and if I want good BBQ, then this is my option. Depending on where I stay there is another option that will come up in a future review.

Arriving at the hotel at 7:30 wasn’t going to leave me many options for eating. Since I want to get stuff up on the site for the various BBQ places, I thought about my options and Dead End was the logical choice because of time and location. I’ve had most of their meats, but I’ll just talk about what I had on this trip.

Also, arriving late I will cut them some slack on the meat. Ribs this late almost everywhere will not be their best.

Dead End BBQ, Knoxville, TN Ribs Pimento Mac and Cheese, Red White and Blue Slaw
Dead End BBQ, Knoxville, TN Ribs Pimento Mac and Cheese, Red White and Blue Slaw

The Sides

The Pimento Mac and Cheese – Do you like Mac and Cheese? Do you like Pimento Cheese? Just think how great it would be to combine the two. Well, they do it here. And man is it good! A side almost worthy of being a dessert. OK, I’m stretching it there. But it is a very nice offering. I like Mac and Cheese but I don’t often get it as a side item with Barbeque. However, this is one of the expectations.

Red, White and Blue Slaw – This is a bit different than what you’ll find in most barbeque places where you’ll get a white slaw, yellow slaw or a barbeque slaw. I think it’s hard to go over the top with slaw; Dead End BBQ may have done just that. If you aren’t into slaw because it’s so plain OR even if you like slaw, give this stuff a try. It’s a mixture of cabbage, blue cheese, Tomatoes and some bacon bits. Pretty creamy, and pretty tasty for slaw.

The Texas Toast – I will complain about this. Toast should be made when ordered. I passed on the other cornbread options for Toast. Maybe it was good I didn’t eat the toast considering my calorie counting I’m doing. but come on, this stuff was cold and even hard to chew.


Dead End BBQ Knoxville, TN Inside the rib
Dead End BBQ Knoxville, TN Inside the rib

The Ribs

I apologize for the picture; I was tired and hungry. On this trip to Dead End BBQ I decided to get ribs. I’ve been eating so much brisket lately that I wanted a break. I thought about burnt ends but then decided it was so late that I’d pass. Ribs would be a good option; I figured that if they were too dry I could hit them with some sauce.

When they came to the table I thought they looked great. It hit me to probably rip a bone apart and let you see the inside. They didn’t look like they were too dried out, and they weren’t. They were nice, with a good smoke hit to them. You can see a little of it in the picture. I promise to do better as I move forward. They were not falling off the bone which most times indicates over-cooked. But they also were not tough. I separated them by cutting at each bone; and could bite meat off. They would have passed most judges test for that part. They aren’t the best ribs I’ve had at Dead End, but they were still very good. I was pleased considering the time I arrived.


Dead End BBQ Knoxville, TN Banana Pudding
Dead End BBQ Knoxville, TN Banana Pudding

The Banana Pudding

Others should take note here. Dead End BBQ’s banana pudding isn’t “traditional banana pudding” in any sense. But I like it, a lot. They use a cookie, and it goes ok with the pudding. They make a great thicker pudding. I like that. They use whipped cream; most people use that or meringue.

But Dead BBQ does fail in one area. They almost always do not provide enough bananas. They put the bananas on top which is different. I was talking with other locals and their comment was that it doesn’t have enough bananas. On that I have to agree. Remember what this is, banana pudding.

That said, I’ll get their banana pudding every time I go. Because overall it’s still one of the better banana puddings around Knoxville.

City Barbeque Charlotte, NC (Ballantyne)

City Barbeque (Ballantyne)
11212 Providence Rd W
Charlotte, NC 28277

I’ve visited City many times, this location probably a dozen times; and another location in Garner, NC a few times which was my first experience. They’re a chain and yes, I know that you find better BBQ in the smaller places. But sometimes those smaller places are convenient, but you still want some BBQ. What I’ve found with City Barbeque is that it is a very good chain of restaurants. Management will matter if you go to a different location, and who is running the “pit”. Ok, it’s not a pit. But you know what I mean.

Because City has so many different offerings of meat, and I like them all. You’ll see additional reviews as I get around to eating there AND trying a different meat. I may also write if I attend a different location.

On this visit my wife was with me; we decided to share the City Sampler. I’m really trying hard to cut back on my quantity of input of calories; while maintain a certain level of quality input of taste! The Sampler comes with Brisket, Pulled Pork, Sausage and Turkey. The sides we selected was watermelon and Baked Beans with Brisket with Texas Toast as the side.

One of the reasons we made this visit, I wanted to give City’s Banana Pudding ONE more chance. After all Paula Deen cannot be wrong, can she? Read on for that answer.


City Barbque Ballantyne Charlotte, NC Brisket, Pulled Pork, Sausage, Turkey
City Barbque Ballantyne Charlotte, NC Brisket, Pulled Pork, Sausage, Turkey

The Sides

Watermellon – My wife wanted the watermelon. It was good, what are you going to say. This is probably as hit or miss as anything. All they do is buy the melons and cut them. They can try to select good melons obviously.

Baked Beans with Brisket – Look at them in that picture. Don’t they look good? Well they are, they are very good. My favorite side at City Barbeque. And it doesn’t hurt if you drop a little meat from your plate into it. I’ve tried other sides, this is my favorite by far. One of the better baked beans you’ll get anywhere. No not the best, but pretty darn good stuff right here.


The Meats

City Barbeque Ballantyne Charlotte, NC Brisket up close
City Barbeque Ballantyne Charlotte, NC Brisket up close

The Brisket – Let’s get this one out of the way first.  I’ve either ordered or had some of someone elses brisket from here almost every visit. There is variance in the final product you get. Sometimes it’s excellent, sometimes it’s just very good. This visit I’d say it was only very good; it was just a little drier than what I like to give top bill. Here we had good smoke hit and a decent bark on it. The cut was a little leaner than I’d ask for; give me a little of that fat in there.

I’ve had some excellent brisket over the past month, so it’s making it harder for others to step up to that level. But understand, I am only talking about a couple of places right now having better brisket, and none of them are in Charlotte. They do have the best brisket I’ve found in Charlotte.

Verdict: you Like brisket, you’ll really like theirs.

The Pulled Pork – Pulled Pork is one of my favorites. Growing up in North Carolina, we’ve had pork all our lives. Brisket is relatively new for our area.  I like City’s Pulled Pork. It’s moist, good smoke and they have a very nice North Carolina Piedmont/Lexington Style Sauce. It does a great job complementing the Barbeque. They also have a pretty good Eastern North Carolina style sauce as well. City may not be from North Carolina, but they’ve adapted nicely I’d say.

Verdict: This is excellent Pulled Pork

The Sausage: This is something that is hard to find. It’s something you’ll not find often in the “local” barbeque places that have one location. You’ll also find people try to offer it and they just don’t get it right. OK, City Barbeque does sausage right! No, not the best. I am hopeful to have a review next week of my absolute favorite. But this is one of the better that you’ll find in Charlotte people! If you’ve not had a good Texas Smoked Sausage, then you should give this a try. These are juicy, and have a very good flavor along with a hint of smoke.

A tip, I like putting that North Carolina Piedmont/Lexington Style Sauce on it after I cut them up into slices. You may prefer the other thicker sauces, they are good too with the sausage.

Verdict: This is actually my favorite meat at City Barbeque.


The Turkey: Oh man, this was the first time I’ve had their turkey. My picture may not properly represent the moisture that has been retained in the meat. It had a nice light smoke hit. I played around with different sauces trying to find the right one that paired with it. They were all good.

Verdict: City has something for everyone; if you don’t like beef or pork… well there you go. A very good turkey offering!

For Dessert

City Barbeque Charlotte, NC - Ballantyne - Banana Pudding.jpg
City Barbeque Charlotte, NC – Ballantyne – Banana Pudding

The Banana Pudding: I’ve tried their banana pudding several times and… During one of my last visits a sign was up about how Paula Deen had named this to a list of “10 to try”. I’ve tried to find this list but I cannot. I’m pretty good using search engines too by the way; so it must only be available to subscribers. Paula, if you think this is a must try banana pudding… I’m sitting here shaking my head. You had something different than what I’ve been getting.

I’ve got to say this, I don’t get it; and no, it’s not the caramel that throws me off. Yes, that is different and not traditional Banana Pudding. My problem doesn’t start there, it starts with the pudding itself. It’s not that special. It isn’t horrible, it’s an OK dessert. But there is nothing about this banana pudding that puts it over the top. And those that know me, know I’m a banana pudding freak. I’m also a banana pudding snob and I admit it. You can deviate from the norm, but your deviation best be spectacular.

They put the caramel on it, they also go for a caramelized crumbled, I guess nilla wafer maybe? But really, the pudding just doesn’t get it done for me. And how about putting bananas in this thing?

I really wish they had a banana pudding here that I could say that I like and I’ll get every time. But until I hear there has been a change to how this pudding is made, it’s not for me. You might like it so you should at least try it one time.

Verdict: No more for me until there is change. I’ll save the calories for something else!

Q2U BBQ Pit & Catering – Lake Wylie, SC

4502 Charlotte Hwy
Lake Wylie, SC 29710

They do not have a website, but do have a Facebook page

I’ve eaten here more times than I can count, but not so much lately. Q2U was for a long time a Friday thing where I’d have lunch with my granddaughters. They call this place the “banana pudding place”. Soon I’ll do a review on another barbecue place that they call the “sundae place”. But for the past year the girls have wanted iHOP and cracker barrel more than the banana pudding place.

Friday morning, I was sitting here doing some work and watching the girls while my wife closed on a house she had sold. I saw come across twitter some tweets about one of the workers being her last day; and then I saw a tweet about the ribs. One of the things I like the most at Q2U are the ribs. I’m not as big of a fan of their pulled pork because they remove – by choice – much of the fat, which removes some flavor.

Anyway… I got a craving for their ribs and so I told my oldest granddaughter that it would be nice to go to the banana pudding place. Since we hadn’t been in a long time, I asked her if he remembered it. “yeah grandpa, let’s go to the banana pudding place”. Ok got that taken care of.

I order a half-rack of ribs which I shared with my youngest daughter. As sides, I got baked beans and banana pudding. Yes, banana pudding is a side option.

All the pictures that I will use come from previous visits. I didn’t take any on this visit.


The Bake Beans

These are some very good baked beans. I really like them, a bit Smokey with a sweet taste to them. There was pulled pork at the table, so as usual I dropped some in there. If you like baked beans, then I believe that you’ll like these.

The Hushpuppies

I’ll mention the Hushpuppies because they are good, very good.

The Ribs

They are baby back ribs, and typically they have plenty of meat on them. These guys are competition cookers so you’ll not get any of the “meat falling off the bones” stuff here. The ribs are delivered to the table with a sweet sauce on them. I like we ribs, I like dry rub ribs… I like ribs. Like any where they will have their good and bad days cooking them. Their bad days still deliver a good product to you. At least that’s been my experience. This trip wasn’t the best, but they were still good. I enjoyed my quarter of a rack. I wish they’d offer a quarter of rack as an option. I’d probably eat there more often.


Q2U BBQ Pit Lake Wylie NC Banana Pudding
Q2U BBQ Pit Lake Wylie NC Banana Pudding

The Banana Pudding

Theirs is a pretty good banana pudding.  I’m not going to tell you it’s the best you’ll find, it’s not even the best in a 10-mile area. But it’s better than the Paula Deen Top-10 one you can find in Charlotte. So that must mean it’s pretty good? Bottom line is that I’ll get it each time I come here. There are places that I’ll not get their banana pudding again.

Randy’s Bar B Que – Troutman, NC

Randy’s Bar B Que Troutman, NC SauceRandy’ Bar B Que
103 N Main St
Troutman, N 28166


No website, they do have a Facebook page.


Last week I made a trip to Detroit for business. I had stop overs going up and back in Charleston, WV. I ate BBQ in Charleston, WV and Detroit. I was ready for good North Carolina Que. I wanted something on my drive AND something new. I had heard about Randy’s but never made the trip. So, I plugged it into the Maps and headed out of Charleston, destination late lunch in Troutman.

Randy’s is located at a street corner on Main Street. Parking for me was on the side street beside the restaurant. I arrived shortly after 2PM, so I didn’t have to fight any lunch crowds. There were however a few people sitting at the counter and two other people in a booth. This is a place that you could get a great breakfast I bet! I did note that they serve breakfast.

I sat at a booth and looked the menu over; I decided on a Bar-B-Que plate. I substituted the fries with fried okra. And, I noted they have banana pudding. My expectation of nothing less than good were set.


Randy's Bar B Que Troutman, NC pulled chopped Pork Baked Bean Okra Slaw
Randy’s Bar B Que Troutman, NC pulled chopped Pork Baked Bean Okra Slaw

The sides

The Slaw

I think I remember her asking me if I wanted a red or white slaw. I like to get white slaw and add the sauce they have at the table if it’s a vinegar based sauce – it was -. It’s rare a slaw is over the top and this slaw wasn’t, but it was a good solid white slaw. Slaw is typically either good or bad. I like more mayo in my white slaw, but I guess got to be healthy, right?

The Fried Okra

A friend on Facebook saw my picture of the meal and commented that she’d prefer the Okra to have been frozen. Yeah, you can tell that kind of stuff from the picture. All the pieces of Okra looked the same, with the same amount of heavy breading on them. Regardless, it was good stuff. Someone can correct me if it wasn’t frozen.

The Hushpuppies

They are good. I like hushpuppies and these are up there. They aren’t stuffed with anything, apparently some people think you need to put cheese or something else in a hushpuppy; based on a comment I saw on my twitter feed last week. Nice and crips on the outside, and not doughy on the inside. However, please note that I don’t eat the entire hushpuppy. I cut back by eating the outside. Sorry, but I love the outside and figure I cut a few calories. I did eat one whole one just to get the full impact.

The Baked Beans

These are very good! Yeah, I like baked beans. I also like to have some meat in mine! I took some of the pork and added it. This is good stuff. Yes I’ve had better, but not in Troutman.  When I return here I’ll get them again.

Randy's Bar B Que Troutman, NC Sauce

The Chopped Pork

Not only am I back in North Carolina, gee I could swear I’m in Eastern, NC. I noted a Piedmont Looking sauce, but the pork came out chopped and had some vinegar already in it. This is an Eastern, NC thing for sure. So, I tried some of the meat before adding the nice looking red vinegar sauce on the table. Yes, as it hit my mouth I enjoyed it. The meat was very tender, had a nice hit of smoke and it had a little tang from the vinegar. I put some of the red sauce on, which was red from pepper in it, I like it.

Verdict: If you live near Troutman, you need to check this place out. I’m certain I’ll be back again; I hate I’ve missed out on such a great place!


Randy's Bar B Que Troutman, NC Banana Pudding
Randy’s Bar B Que Troutman, NC Banana Pudding

The Banana Pudding

Alright now. The best way to finish up good smoked pork is with a nice banana pudding. What would I get? What I got was a darn good banana pudding. Much better than the one I had last night that Paula Deen named as one of the top-10. I seriously question her research. I’m not saying this is a top-10 in the South banana pudding. But it’s a solid better than most dessert. It could be top-10 or so in North Carolina, and I’ve had a lot of good banana pudding here in North Carolina


Brisket from The Smoke Pit – Concord, NC

The Smoke Pit
796 Concord Pkwy N
Concord, NC 28027

It is my intention to try every meat they have; which means that I must make many visits. So far, I’ve had pulled pork and the smoked sausage. This visit was made with the intention of trying the brisket.

On this trip, I decided to try the brisket. When I arrived, that decision was almost altered by a new item on the menu, smoked beef ribs. Since I’m also on a mission to find the best brisket in North Carolina, I needed to get this one out of the way.

As usual we had to stand in line that was out the door, but not outside the building at least.

My wife was with me again on this visit; she like the pulled pork so much last time that she decided to get it. Good thing because I like it too. A two-meat offering from The Smoke Pit is more meat than two people should eat. Sides this time were Hash Brown Casserole, White Slaw, Deviled Egg Potato Salad and their Smoked Pork BBQ Beans; we also ordered banana pudding as I’m trying to give them another opportunity on this dessert.

Let’s get right into it.


The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Pulled Pork, Brisket
The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Pulled Pork, Brisket

The Sides

The Hash Brown Casserole

Another winner of a side item from The Smoke Pit. I don’t recall ever having this anywhere; so, I cannot compare it to anything to tell you how good it was. I just know that it was good.

The Deviled Egg Potato Salad

Yes, this was over the top Potato Salad. Many times, I get potato salad it seems like it is the same ole thing served by many. This however was different, it was better. The potatoes were big chunks, not that I prefer not like that. I actually prefer them to be smaller chunks. This is good stuff.

The beans and slaw, I’ve covered before. My wife like slaw, I like the beans.

I’ve also covered the pulled pork in another review, although it wasn’t as good this time. Still a very good treat!

The Brisket

Ok, up to this point Big Tiny’s in Mooresville, NC was winning the best brisket in North Carolina with several close seconds. It’s hard for me to say if this is better than Big Tiny’s, but it is at least as good.

Very tender and moist meat, nice bark and nice hit of smoke. Everything you’d look for in a good brisket was here. You can complement it with a little sauce, or eat it as is.

So far, The Smoke Pit in Concord, NC has delivered top notch meats on each of the items I’ve tried so far.

Verdict: You like brisket then you’ll love this stuff.


Banana Pudding

Ordered it, received our food no banana pudding so I asked the server to make certain it was brought to us. The last time s similar thing happened and we didn’t get the pudding until late. it was never delivered to the table. Waited until we were the last there. A mad dash by some, was told they didn’t have it and was offered Chocolate Moose, got my money back.


First time I visited The Smoke Pit I tipped 20%, second time I tipped 20% had the issue with very late delivery of the banana pudding. This visit I tipped 15% because of the previous visit. They hustle your food out to the table and you never hear from them again. I get that it’s self-service; but when I ask the server to do something and they don’t. That’s not good service. I realize they’re busy and all, but I do wonder why I tip so much when they deliver so little service.



Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Plymouth, MI

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
44741 Five Mile Rd
Plymouth, MI 48170


It’s hard to find good barbecue in Michigan folks. It’s not like North Carolina where you can probably find a great barbecue place in every county, and many counties you can find many. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good or even great que up here, you just must hunt it out. Well, I didn’t have time to go seeking out barbecue. I had to work and was able squeeze in Dickey’s which was close by where I was working.

Dickey’s is a chain and there are several in North Carolina; including one in my area. What you tend to get with most chains is consistency, but not necessarily the best end product. i have friends that poke fun at me because I’ll eat at the chains. Up here in the Northville, Plymouth area there isn’t a lot of competition I gather.

We arrived just after 12:00PM, went in and looked the menu over. I hunted for banana pudding but couldn’t find it.  I knew the probability was higher now that this would not be an awesome experience. So, I lowered my expectation to good and hopefully nothing worse. Good and I’m happy.

My buddy asks me what he should get. I suggest trying brisket or since he likes sausage he try that. He goes ahead and gets both. He’s not a big guy so great, I’ll get some sausage. I’ll trade him some pulled pork for that. He gets baked beans and green beans; I get baked beans and potato salad.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit Plymouth, MI Brisket and Sausage
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Plymouth, MI Brisket and Sausage


The Barbecue Beans – I thought they were OK, nothing special. Threw the pork in and yes they were a bit better. Done right these can be as good as getting a dessert. These were just average. They were NOTHING like what you see on their website on the menu. Not sure why the difference.

The Potato Salad – Like the barbecue beans it was OK, a mustard based potato salad. Nothing over the top. Yes, you can get over the top potato salad. Read my other reviews.

The Green Beans – I didn’t taste them, Steve said they were alright. He didn’t seem to be excited about it.



The Brisket

My brisket was a bit drier than Steve’s was. He had more fat in his, and he had a little more of the bark. It had a hit of smoke but fell short here. While the meat wasn’t tough, it wasn’t the most tender brisket either. This is a hard meat to get right, overall, I’d say they did OK. They’ll get 3-stars on Yelp for the brisket. Is this normal, I cannot say. Even the places that I’ve found awesome brisket can have bad days where it is only good, not awesome.

The Pulled Pork

Again, nothing outstanding. Probably had a little more smoke hit to it. Sorry I cannot rave about it. Stacked up against all the pulled pork I’ve eaten, it falls into the good but no great category. Their sauce is similar, but not exactly like what we find in the Piedmont of North Carolina, maybe a little thicker with ketchup. I’ve read where this is a supposed to be a “Texas Style”.

The Sausage

I like sausage and was fortunate that Steve was willing to trade a little pork for a little sausage, a polish kielbasa. It is my opinion that this was the best of the meats. Not over the top, but a solid good. It would have been nice if it were a little juicier, but seems everything here today was a little drier than expected. Which of course either means higher heat or left in too long. Since we were at lunch time my guess is a higher heat.


Overall, I’d say it was worth the visit if you’re after barbecue. In this area, I don’t know what your other options for barbecue would be.

Kyle Fletchers BBQ & Catering – Lowell, NC

Kyle Fletchers BBQ & Catering
4507 Wilkinson Blvd
Gastonia, NC 28056

No website, but they do have a Facebook page!

One of my favorites in Lowell, NC. OK, it’s a favorite in Gaston County as well. If it’s lunch time and I’m nearby, then I’ll probably stop in here. My favorite here is their banana pudding. I like their pork and I’m a huge fan of their smoked turkey.

If you arrive here at or close to lunch time, you’ll find yourself standing in a line. It’s not a large restaurant, seating is limited. Also, you need to bring cash. Also, be prepared to be hit in the face with South Point High School stuff along with UNC!

This trip I had pork, baked beans, slaw, fries and hush puppies; the standard offering. I finished with banana pudding, you didn’t think I’d leave that off, did you?


Kyle Fletcher's Lowell, NC Chopped Pork
Kyle Fletcher’s Lowell, NC Chopped Pork

The Pulled and Chopped Pork

This is good stuff, is it the best I’ve had? No, but it’s good stuff. Their process leaves the meat a little drier than I prefer; but it comes to you without sauce. This allows you add sauce as you like. Their sauce helps compliment the meat, and it doesn’t kill the nice smoke hit the meat took in. They do have a nice vinegar sauce and there is a thicker Eastern NC style sweet sauce. My preference is to not put the thick stuff on pulled pork.

Kyle Fletcher's Lowell, NC Bake Beans, Slaw
Kyle Fletcher’s Lowell, NC Bake Beans, Slaw

The Sides

Bake Beans

I like their baked beans. However, I also like to take some of the pork and put it into the beans. I think it makes them better.

The Slaw

The slaw is nothing special. You’ll note from the picture that it’s swimming in BBQ Sauce, I like to do that with any white slaw. I prefer doing that to getting the Barbecue Slaw.

The French fries

Really nothing special. So un-special that I don’t waste the calories on them. They’re not bad or horrible, just not special

Hush Puppies

I like their hush puppies. But then I do like hush puppies.


Kyle Fletcher BBQ Banana Pudding Gastonia, NC
Kyle Fletcher BBQ Banana Pudding Gastonia, NC

The banana pudding

Piece de resistance … yeah that’s right, this is good stuff. One of the better banana pudding’s you’ll find. No good barbecue place should be without this dessert! And it’s great when I find a really good banana pudding. This here folks is a really good one.





Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill – Charleston, WV

Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill
423 Virginia Street West
Charleston, West Virginia 25302

I arrived about11:30AM, there was smoke everywhere. Smoking was taking place out behind the restaurant; I was told the process started about 7:30AM. It sure did smell good.


I made my way inside and was I wat taken to a table. I looked the menu over and decided on my order; Ribs, Pulled Pork, Baked Bean, Sweet Potato Casserole and Banana Pudding.


Dem 2 Brothers and A Grill Charleston, WV Pulled Pork, Ribs Bean Sweet Potato Casserole

The Ribs


Ribs had good hit of smoke, the sauce used on the ribs is outstanding – kind of like sweet baby rays – but the meat was a bit overcooked thus drier than I like my ribs. It’s a fine line, and a lot of BBQ houses do this. So, don’t be too alarmed. They were still tasty ribs.


The Pulled Pork


They put their sauce on the Pulled pork before serving – note that if like me, you would prefer to add sauce as needed -. In other words, give me Pull Pork without sauce and show me the sauce(s) available for me to try. The Pork had a good hit of smoke and flavor, but is was also a bit dry. The sauce is a thick paste sauce, which while it had a good flavor and great for the ribs, isn’t my style of sauce for pulled pork. But I try things the way the guy running show likes to serve them


Sweet potato casserole – was pretty good stuff. I liked it.


The baked beans – are good, but needed something in my opinion; I added some pulled pork to the beans and that made them better.

The banana pudding – was the best thing they had. Theirs is a thicker pudding, using possibly a heavy cream? It’s a bit sweet, but those that know me know I like banana pudding. I get a thick pudding like this by using heavy cream in the pudding. I’m not sure what they did here. It was a touch sweet, but that was OK.


Service by everyone was great.




Ray’s Country Smokehouse & Grill Gastonia, NC

Ray’s Country Smokehouse & Grill Gastonia, NC
219 S. Broad Street
Gastonia, NC

On Wednesday I was in Dallas, NC on business.  When it was time for Lunch I decided to try some BBQ that I’ve not had before. So, I did a quick search and found Ray’s with some good reviews; I decided to make the short trip to their location.

OK, not many people here, maybe it’s the location. I did see a smoker out front. At least that is a positive sign.

Once inside, the place reminded me more of a bar than a Barbecue house. No problem, I found a place to sit down and waited on the waitress. Looking over the menu, Barbecue didn’t pop out at me. OK they serve multiple things. Finally, I decided on a Barbecue Sandwich, I needed to get back to the job. One thing missing from the menu, banana pudding.

I got stuck on the slaw option for just a second and the waitress wanted to explain what Barbecue Slaw is. The positive, she gave me a little of both their white slaw and barbecue slaw on the side.

After a longer than expected wait, the food arrived.


Ray’s Country Smokehouse Grill Gastonia, NC Pulled Pork Sanwich Opened
Ray’s Country Smokehouse Grill Gastonia, NC Pulled Pork Sandwich Opened

The Pulled Pork sandwich

The highlight of my sandwich was the bun, I liked the bun and how it was toasted. The pork is pulled, not chopped; you can see that in the picture. However, it was a little on the dry side. Also, it didn’t have that hit of smoke that I like. The bark didn’t give me that extra ump that some can give.

I decided to experiment a bit with the sauce and the slaws. The sauce looked like a traditional Piedmont style sauce. I took a sip to see. First thing I thought was that I as sipping alcohol. I don’t know if this was intentional or not. I poured a little on the meat, really didn’t change things. Put some in the white slaw since I like to mix the vinegar sauce with White slaw; still wasn’t my thing. Finally but that slaw on part of the sandwich. Still didn’t find the right combination.

Their Barbecue slaw is as I stated a Mustard Barbecue Sauce so… I tried that slaw on the sandwich. That was a bit better.

Understand that I am looking for over the top experiences when it comes to BBQ. On this day, this was not over the top. It was good, but my guess is that it must be better based on all the good reviews.


The Smoke Pit Concord, NC – The Sausage, and some desserts

The Smoke Pit – Concord, NC
796 Concord Pkwy N
Concord, NC 28027

The Smoke Pit Concord, NC – The Sausage, and some desserts

Well, I convinced my wife that we should drive up to Concord to visit The Smoke Pit. That was a week ago, I hate there is such a delay in the review. I’ll just jump right in…

On this visit, I made the decision to get a two-meat deal and share with my wife; she wanted pulled pork and I wanted to try the sausage. I couldn’t load up on meats like I sometimes do; trying to control my weight and get it down more. But because they give you SO MUCH MEAT, I was able to get some pulled pork.


Sides included green bean casserole, white slaw and Smoked Pork BBQ Beans. Desert was peach cobbler and banana pudding.


Let’s get those sides out of the way first…


Green Bean Casserole

Good stuff right here if you like Green Bean casserole. We enjoyed and would order it again. I’m hoping you know what a Green Bean Casserole is. Green Beans, French fried onions, maybe some pepper, cream of mushroom soup, some people put cheese – No cheese here -. Thrown in the oven. I don’t one myself, but my wife does.

Verdict: This is one great side item here


White Slaw

Why white slaw? Because my wife likes it. I like to take white slaw and mix the BBQ sauce in, if it’s vinegar based. It’s a good white slaw.

Verdict: If you like white slaw, you’ll not be disappointed.


Smoked Pork BBQ Beans

I got them again this time because I liked them the last time. They are very good. I do add a little extra pulled pork to them though.

Verdict: Great, I may get them every time.


The meats are up next, the main reason we came… well sort of.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork

I’ve already review this. But I’ll add, my wife really like it too. Agreed it might be the best she’s had. This is right up there with the best in North Carolina Period. And I really like their Lexington Style sauce which makes the pork even better. As I said before, juicy meat; great hit of smoke – not too much -. Get a little bit of that outside bark as well. Love it.

Verdict: some of the best pulled pork you’ll get anywhere.


The Sausage

One of the reasons I wanted to come back so quickly. On my first my visit I saw some had gotten this and it looked great. Well, I’m here to say that it is great. Very juicy as you should be able to tell from the picture. I really like smoked sausage, one of my favorite meats. And this is a very good one. I’ve got to get back to City Barbecue and The Que Shack and compare theirs again.

They provide a mustard Sauce for you to dip the sausage in, which is good. But I also found their other sauces to be just as good with it. So… go with what you like here.

Verdict: If you like sausage, then come here and get some!


The desserts are up next, I always get Banana Pudding when I can. I was anxious to try theirs since I didn’t notice it was available before. But all good barbecue places have banana pudding. The wife again gets Peach Cobbler.


The banana pudding

The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Banana Pudding - Top
The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Banana Pudding – Top
The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Banana Pudding - Side
The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Banana Pudding – Side

So, they do have a banana pudding! It’s HUGE! Far too much for a single person to eat. And it looked good before digging in. The pudding was very runny. I was not pleased with the pudding at all. Nilla Waffers, where are the Nilla Waffers??? I had something crumbled up on top; so small of a quantity that it was hard to tell if they were Nilla Waffers or not, Nothing down in the pudding. The banana’s were also over-ripened. You can see that from the side view actually.

No I wasn’t happy with the banana pudding. No award winning stuff here.

Verdict: I’ll give the pudding one more try just in case I happen to get an out of the norm not so good pudding.


The Peach Cobbler

The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Peach Cobbler
The Smoke Pit Concord, NC Peach Cobbler

Good, nothing extra ordinary about it. Still not the style that my wife likes.  He likes that dough to be a bit crispier. One of the reasons I don’t get cobblers too often is because, the dough isn’t crispy very often like a pie can be. But it was good, had a decent amount of peach in it.

Verdict: Hard to say since I’m not a cobbler guy. It’s good and, if I were getting a desert here I’d get he cobbler over the banana pudding.