Ok this is one of my favorites for BBQ in Knoxville, TN. It doesn’t look like much…
– heck I’ve got to start taking pictures of the buildings etc –
I notice a great location across the road and up just a short piece.
This is not an easy place to spot and it is part of what might have been an old Motel? Anyway… location has nothing to do with what they offer up as barbecue.
I’ve eaten at Archers BBQ many times. many times, and I’ve had almost all of their meats on one visit or another. But on this visit, was just pulled pork. What I didn’t get this time was banana pudding. Most times I’m too late. As I was entering the place a family was leaving with the last of the banana pudding.
The Collard Greens – I f you haven’t noticed by now, I like greens. Well I like them when they are done right. As a kid I couldn’t stand them, but now I really like them. Archers has some pretty good greens.
I was in Knoxville teaching a Programmable Logic Controller – PLC – software class. One of the students had gone in to the same Archers a little earlier. I told everyone in the class where to go for barbecue and this was one of them. He too likes greens; but he was disappointed with them not having vinegar. I told him that what I do is use the moonshine vinegar sauce that Archers has. He frowned but said next time he’d give it a try.
Bottom line here is that if you like greens, I think you’ll like these.
Barron’s BBQ Beans – Yes, another favorite of mine is BBQ or Baked beans. And these are very good. However, like most places I add some of the pork to it. I typically always get this and vary my other side
The Pulled Pork – Yes it’s pulled and it is smoked! And very important to me, it comes less sauce served over Texas toast. Some people don’t want sauce; while others may want a different style sauce. Now they have multiple sauces but I used the Moonshine Vinegar sauce; I always get a vinegar sauce for pulled pork if it is available. I prefer that vinegar sauce to have a little more kick of pepper in it than this has, but it’s pretty good. It’s close to a Piedmont North Carolina Style sauce. I LIKE this sauce.
Folks if you liked pulled pork -I certainly do -, the you’ll like this stuff. Probably some of the best stuff in Knoxville.
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.
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 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!
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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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?
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.
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 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
I like their hush puppies. But then I do like hush puppies.
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.
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.
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.
Ray’s Country Smokehouse & Grill Gastonia, NC
219 S. Broad Street
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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