Allen and Sons – The Best BBQ in North Carolina

The last time I was in North Carolina, I was furious with myself for not going to Allen and Sons
After over a year of punishing myself, I finally can end the penance. 
I visited Allen and Sons this past weekend. 
 Allen and Sons is widely renowned for their pit smoked barbecue, Eastern North Carolina Style. That means that it is served with a spicy, tangy, vinegar based sauce, not the ketchup based red sauce to which I am accustomed. 
There is some debate as to which is the better/original Allen and Sons – the one in Chapel Hill or the one in Pittsboro, to which I went. When you go, remember that this is the south – there is a different speed of life than in NYC. Don’t go there if you can’t just relax and recognize the fact that almost every restaurant you frequent is going to have a rather lengthy wait time. Just use that time to drool over everyone else’s order and work up your hunger. 
 This is what you want when you walk in to a BBQ place – vinyl tablecloths, canisters of Texas Pete, and everyone around you chowing down on pork. You just walk in, order at the front desk (not a counter – really, it’s just a desk), and wait.
(and wait)
(…and wait)
 Large BBQ Platter with Chopped Pork, Coleslaw, Potato Salad, and Hush Puppies
This is the best pork I had the entire trip. Incredibly lean, but also juicy, it is tender without being mushy. It has a very deep smoky taste – for the first time in my life, I understand the big deal about Southern BBQ. The savory, almost bitter edge of smoke contrasts so well with the pork’s naturally sweet taste. Bathed in a clear sauce that is tangy and spicy, there is an acidic note that balances the pork, like the way that acid in Thai food counteracts sweet and meaty tastes.
Crispy bits of pork mixes in with other slick, juicy morsels of meat. This was mind blowing. The coleslaw is unremarkable to me, but the simple potato salad, vinegary and loaded with mayonnaise, is a decidedly lowbrow delight. 
 And these hush puppies, fried sticks of cornmeal dough batter, are like a hot dog-less corndog. Slightly sweet, crispy, with dense innards perfect for soaking up the spicy bbq sauce. Sound simple? Well, it is. Simply addictive. 
 BBQ Sandwich
Now, this is where the coleslaw works – on a potato bun layered with the pork and melting with the rich pork drippings. The bun practically dissolves into the pork, as it should – it is one glorious, mushy, meaty amalgamation of meat. The coleslaw adds a refreshing crunch and welcome peppery element.
Hot Dog All The Way
When you see an offer for a sausage topped with coleslaw, onions, and chili, you get it. You just do. This sausage was outstanding, with a great snap and savory spices like garlic and red pepper running through it. But topped with the coleslaw, mustard, hearty beef chili and coleslaw…it is a fantastic guilty pleasure.
And while visiting Allen and Sons might be a pleasure, nothing about it should make you feel guilty. It is family run, uses classic cooking techniques, and is very fairly priced. It also has the most revelatory Southern pork I have ever had. 
And I’m still mad at myself regarding Allen and Sons…I can’t believe I didn’t get a second sandwich.
Allen & Son on Urbanspoon


  1. Feisty Foodie says:

    … to bring to me, right? A SECOND SANDWICH TO BRING TO ME???

    I brought back Bullock's pulled pork when I went to NC, but now I think I need to go back and hit up Allen & Son's too… damn

  2. I've been going to the Chapel Hill, NC every year for the last 3-4 years. And Allen & Sons is the only place that's hard pressed in my mind for a second, third, or even fourth trip. I loved this place.

  3. That looks amazing. Exactly how I want my barbecue: vinegar sauce, simple slaw, potato salad. And as for the hot dog… just wow.

  4. Jacob Crim says:

    I am mad at myself for living less than three miles from the one in Chapel Hill, my entire life and I’ve never been. 😐