I finally popped into the Pit today to see what the fuss was about. I had a chopped barbecue plate- it was explained to me that this is in fact traditional eastern NC whole hog. They also have a "pulled pork" option which is just shoulder meat. I ordered slaw, mac and cheese, and baked beans as sides, although they gave me two portions of slaw and left off the baked beans. I got this to go, and didn't feel like venturing back in to get the beans. Although I got take-out, it was eaten immediately- we just had a couple of tired, sleepy kids in the car which we didn't feel like bundling inside.
Anyway, the food. The barbecue itself was great, and on par with the best eastern NC places like Pete Jones, Blackbeard's, and Grady's. Lightly sauced and really didn't need anything added, which was good, because their vinegar sauce is a weird orange concoction that I didn't especially like, and the darker "sweet and sour" sauce doesn't pair well with chopped barbecue, in my opinion.
Now to the bad- the sides were utterly forgettable, for the most part. The mac and cheese was bland and seemed to be out of a box, and the slaw was just plain bad- much too coarsely chopped, and without any/enough sweetness to complement the barbecue. It seemed to be more of a northern influenced slaw. In any case, I didn't like it. The sweet tea was also very poor and not something that I'd order again.
I can't really see going back to The Pit- as great as the barbecue was, the poor sides and tea are a real problem for me. Maybe if I could drink and I limited myself to a barbecue sandwich. I thought the prices were fine- it's in downtown Raleigh and my meal didn't cost much more than I would have paid for a similar plate here in eastern NC. I suspect folks who are complaining about the prices don't really know how much a barbecue plate goes for in the more rural parts of the state.
I get the complaints about the atmosphere, though- as I was sitting at the bar waiting for my food, the bartender did a hell of a Basil Fawlty impersonation as he explained to another customer why he couldn't get a Budweiser.
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