On my way driving to and from Florida last week, I managed to hit four temples of 'cue: Allen & Sons in Chapel Hill, Lexington Barbecue, Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, and Sweatman's in Holly Hill, SC. I feel so lucky to have eaten at these four places in the span of a couple days!
The meat was yummy at our first stop, Allen & Sons (but in retrospect, not quite AS great as Lexington and Sweatman's.) The sauce was a bit on the mild side. The peach cobbler was warm and fresh, with the famed homemade vanilla ice cream. Loved the hushpuppies here, too. Good oniony flavor.
The Lexington sandwich was absolutely perfect. The meat had a wonderful sweetness, complemented by the tangy slaw on top. I asked for some "outside brown" meat as recommended by chowhounders, and it added nice smokiness and chewiness. Contrary to popular opinion, I liked the hushpuppies Allen & Son's better.
Bridges Barbecue Lodge is a trip. Love the atmosphere, with the cool 60's lighting fixures and turquoise booths. I had a chopped pork sandwich, and really liked the sauce, which was very vinegary, but with a touch of tomato. I bought some jars to take home. The only weird thing about this place was that you have to order hush puppies separately, and one order includes enough for about 5 people. And they weren't great.
I think my favorite of all was Sweatman's. I was thinking I wouldn't like the mustard-based sauce, but I was wrong. It was terrific. The meat was absolutely incredible. They have a separate tray for inside and outside meat, and I mixed them. It was pure heaven. This place is a trip, an old farmhouse with lots of different rooms to sit in and eat. The buffet included fried pork skins, which were...interesting. Didn't care for the corn stick things.
My only regret is that I didn't eat even more!!