Road-tripping through North Carolina recently, we wanted to sample both Eastern and Western style barbecue.
Our first stop was Eastern style at Allen & Son Barbeque in Chapel Hill. We ordered a BBQ and stew plate. No chopped vs sliced options were listed. My research indicated that asking for "outside brown" was the way to go, but when I asked for it I was rebuffed with "it's all mixed together". Not sure if this is a consequence of whole-hog barbecue, or if it is just time-saving on their part.
My first impression of the meat wasn't great - the texture was soft and soggy. After a few bites, though, it began to grow on me. The smoke flavor started hitting me - especially when I got the odd crispy edge bit.
On the stew front, this was our first experience with Brunswick Stew. I didn't expect to like it, but it was actually sort of ok.
We also ordered a pork sandwich which was very good. The vinegar mixed in with the meat really accentuated the smoked pork flavor and helped it not get overpowered by the bun - something that I often find a problem with barbecue sandwiches.
The next day we headed west to Lexington and stopped in at Barbecue Center (we had planned to stop in at Lexington #1 as well, but ended up being too full). Unlike Allen & Son, here there were many options when ordering your barbecue. We settled on a small tray of coarsely chopped outside brown. The tray, as advertised, was small but it was *packed*. The meat was in nice-sized chunks, with lots of charred outside goodness. Very tasty.
We also had a sandwich, but this time tried it with sliced pork instead of pulled. It was good, but not as good as the sandwich from Allen & Son. I am definitely coming to believe that different styles are best suited to sandwiches vs straight barbecue.
Allen & Son