Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Charlotte = great barbecue? Who knew?

Michelle Obama may know a lot about haute coutre in Chicago, but she doesn't know hushpuppies about Charlotte's culinary scene. In announcing Charlotte will host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the First Lady says:

"Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an 'up by the bootstraps' mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South. Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue."

Huh?!?! We appreciate all the compliments, and they're all spot-on until that last one. We like Spoon's, Mac's and Bubba's just fine, but everybody knows to get the best stuff, you gotta drive north to Lexington.

Maybe this will be the publicity Lexington BBQ needs to open an outpost in Charlotte. Or how about a consortium of Lexington/Wilber Shirley/B's/Skylight Inn/Allen & Sons at the corner of Trade and Tryon?

-- Posted by the Observer editorial board

24 comments:

Aaron said...

No, this is EXACTLY the image problem that Charlotte has. I travel across the US regularly for work, and when you really look at it, Charlotte (city limits, at least) is NOT a southern-style town, doesn't operate at a slow pace, and of course, doesn't have "great barbeque."

Our lifestyle is no different than that in Denver, Tampa, Atlanta, and other mid-sized cities, and it always irks me to no end when I see articles that make Charlotte look like a retarded, slow cousin of said cities. "Quaint little Southern town"...those types of comments. Really? The third largest banking hub in the world is a "quaint, Southern town?" Don't think so. NC, sure...Charlotte, nope.

Charlotte has always suffered from an image problem, and it will only change when people separate "North Carolina" and "Charlotte" in their minds. They've done it with Atlanta and Georgia...

The World's Most Interesting Man said...

How could you forget about Old Hickory House? It has the best BBQ in Charlotte.

Jon Kimball said...

"Our lifestyle is no different than that in Denver, Tampa, Atlanta, and other mid-sized cities"

++++++++++++++

And THAT'S a good thing??

Face it, while it may not be exactly true that Charlotte is "quaint, little, and Southern" it's not a bad thing when journalists describe us as such.

Who wants to be like every other mid-sized city out there? Charlotte needs to distinguish itself, not try to be like everyone else.

Aaron said...

Jon:

Yes, that's an excellent thing. I'm not advocating we adopt the exact same hobbies and such, but the cities I listed have been successful because they've defined themselves outside of their geographical stereotypes/limitations. We haven't.

For example, Atlanta has done an exceptional job with this - they've developed a successful metropolitan hub in a deep Southern state. When people from other parts of the US/world view Atlanta, they view it as Atlanta - a major metro area that happens to be in Georgia.

Charlotte, on the other hand, is viewed as the largest city in North Carolina. Until Charlotte can distinguish itself as "Charlotte" or "Charlotte, USA" and not "Charlotte, North Carolina," our image and business prospects will suffer. Charlotte's city personality, vibe, and pace of life is DRAMATICALLY different from the rest of the state (to the point that I consider it a separate "state"), yet Charlotte is looped into the "quaint, Southern city" bit because we can't shake the "North Carolina" binds.

I'd like to see Charlotte get to the point that just because it's located in the Southeastern US, it's not a "Southern city."

nugeme said...

Great Bar B Q? Uh- hey Michelle - thought you were on the health food kick! Hypocrite...and WRONG at that. Lexington has the BBQ - Charlotte? Who knows. Used to be some good BBQ places here - they are mostly gone now since the Yanks have moved in.

jim said...

Born and raised in SC, lived the last 20 in NC, and I am passionate about BBQ. As much as it pains me to say it, the best I ever ate was in Kansas City.

E.Leaf said...

I think youre off a lil bit here. There is good barbeque in within a 25 mile range anywhere in this fine state.

Having lived in the Piedmont Triad area for 7 years, you're right about Lexington being on of the top spots, but there is good que here within 25 miles of Charlotte too.

See: BBQ King, Lancaster's, Old Hickory, Mallard Creek (I know one weekend).

As soon as Mr. Noble gets his place up and running you can be sure to add that to my list. It should be up and running by Convention time.

For anyone who loves to be swined and dined I recommend Jim Early's Book "The Best Tarheel Barbeque: From Manteo to Murphy". Its as crucial to my in state rd trips as my map.

Wilsurto said...

I was born in Eastern, NC, lived in Texas for 10 years, lived in Lexington the past 15 years. Without a doubt, Lexington is hands-down the absolute best!

KRON said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobby said...

I know it's fashionable to say "Charlotte has terrible barbecue", but that's untrue. No, it isn't Lexington, but it isn't awful either. Compare any city to Lexington and the barbecue is going to look like hot garbage.

Charlotte has lots of native Carolinians who know how to make barbecue, if you look for them, you'll find it. I often find most of the highly hyped food joints throughout the entire state overrated while some of the lesser known ones serve up some good stuff.

Billy said...

You don't have to drive all the way to Lexington for good BBQ. All you have to do is drive down towards Lancaster and you'll find 521 BBQ, probably the best in the Charlotte area. Yeah Charlotte might not have great BBQ but all you have to do is look at some of Meck's neighboring counties.

Andy said...

DUDE! A Lexington #1 BBQ in Charlotte would be AWESOME!!!

J said...

Bobby,

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!

To whichever of you CO folks who wrote the original post - don't be such a stick in the mud. The cue at Bubba's is super. Like Bobby said, everything is junk compared to Lexington. But we do have good 'cue here in Charlotte. Here's a hint on how to find it: WHEN YOU SEE SONNY'S, RUN FAR AWAY! Sonny's is putrid. That has probably influenced people's perception of BBQ in Charlotte.

Top said...

B's in Greenville, NC has tremendous
BBQ.

Brandon said...

Drive 20 mins south of Charlotte and stop at the closest Maurice's BBQ in Rock Hill (or the tons of others further south in Columbia). My coworker from Ohio called it the best bbq he's ever had, and he's had tomato-based and vinegar-based.

homeboysclassic said...

Mac's and 521 both have great Q...Memphis style and not the minced or chunk Lexington style which is still good Q...not the minced however, waste of pork.

Can't wait for the overwhelming question: "Where's the other light rail lines????" LOL

Delores said...

I am a Washington, DC resident, however, I have visited "The Queen City" and years ago almost moved there. Great city. I say that the editorial board is being waaaaay too sensitive about this. Obviously, the board is not politically savvy. Do you really want to start in on the First Lady over this. Chill out, after all I often acknowledge a liking to North Carolina style BBQ and at that point, not being astute to all of the bedroom communities in the state, might just think of the my favorite city in North Carolina - - Charlotte. If you native will - - give the rest of the world aad Mrs. Obama, a break on this one.

jim said...

Maurice's is indeed pretty good, but let's not stoop so low as to seeking BBQ input from Ohio yankees.

wiley coyote said...

All of you touting BBQ in SC should be reminded that the NAACP has a 10 year old boycott going on against SC.

That means no delegates or staff or media should be staying over the border in hotesl or spending any money there, even on BBQ.

Of course, let's not let hypocrisy get in the way.

Marsha said...

As a Native Charlottean, I LIKE the fact that we are associated with being "a quaint, Southern city." I have lived in a couple of those other mid-sized cities, and Charlotte IS different. Maybe not much different, but still different. In the last 30 years, there has been a great influx of people from other places, bringing different cultural and traditional values, food, arts and other things that add to our cultural diversity. These things have changed the face of the city, but not the feel, so much. When I was a kid growing up in this area, you could find out anything you wanted to know about anyone in town just by sitting in a beauty salon for a couple of hours. Charlotte has grown in so many ways since then. We are far from being a "retarded, slow cousin" of the other cities mentioned by Aaron, but we still maintain a Southern traditional feel that draws people here from all over the world. I don't see it as an image problem, I see it as a unique style that begs people to look at it twice. Yes, Charlotte is different from the other towns around that really are small, Southern towns, but it is not Denver or Tampa, thankfully. If you want a city with the feel and reputation of Atlanta, move to Atlanta. Charlotte is still evolving, and like every other city, it will continue to do so. In the meantime, there's nothing wrong with sitting on the front porch with a glass of sweet iced tea waving at the neighbors as they drive by - whether you know them or not.

Reggie said...

That's a brave editorial. Advising people that the barbecue in Charlotte isn't very good can't help them get advertisers. So I guess the barbeque in Charlotte must be pretty bad. Or maybe it's a dig at the barbecue places for failing to place ads. Or maybe its just sacrificing the reputation of the barbecue restaurants in Charlotte for the greater goal of taking a dig at a Democrat (why are they hosting their convention here?) But message received. If you want good barbecue, go to Lexington, not Charlotte. Especially if you come to town for the convention.

docjim505 said...

My sentiments exactly: great barbeque? CHARLOTTE???

Anybody who knows anything at all about NC barbeque* knows that "great" barbeque can be found in only one place in our state, and that place is Lexington. Yes, you can certainly get very good barbeque elsewhere (Clark's in Kernersville is superb), but the "great" stuff is in Davidson County.

As for "Southern charm"... Charlotte is a fine city with lots to do and much to be proud of, but there is nothing especially "Southern" at all about it: it's a modern city of glass, concrete, multilane highways and skyscrapers indistinguishable from dozens of others around the country (indeed, I recall walking in Milan, Italy and thinking that, but for the street signs, I might have been in Charlotte).

Perhaps the FLOTUS might want to bother to learn a bit more about the Queen City (and the Tarheel State in general) before she lavishes empty and frankly ignorant praise on it.

(*) With all due respect to our friends in Texas, Memphis, and Kansas City, NC barbeque is the greatest; all others are competing for second place.

Reggie said...

@ docjim505, your post really confused me. It's main point seems to be that Charlotte's barbecue isn't so great, and then you finish with:
"NC barbeque is the greatest; all others are competing for second place." I guess your point is that Charlotte isn't part of North Carolina? I still can't believe the editorial board would sacrifice the barbecue restaurants of North Carolina in their quest to take a dig at the President's wife. But I did get a note from Bubba's that said it's probably because they don't advertise in the Observer anyway.

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