The Southern Agenda

Going Whole Hog

NC Barbecue Revival organizer Wyatt Dickson shares three standout Eastern North Carolina barbecue joints

Some of the best pit masters in the Tar Heel State will be on hand at the inaugural NC Barbecue Revival, a three-day-long barbecue fantasy camp held on Green Button Farm in Bahama, to help you brush up on wood selection, whole-hog breakdown, sauce preferences, or any other ’cue concerns. Splurge for a ticket package or reserve space at individual events—many of which are capped at only fifteen or thirty attendees. “More than anything, we want to create a sense of intimacy,” says Wyatt Dickson, one of the organizers as well as the head barbecue man at Picnic in Durham. The events’ smaller size means you’ll have a wealth of opportunities to spend time with the pros. Up first is the opening-night dinner, a sort of pit-master mixer, where you’re welcome to pull up a chair next to the likes of Sam Jones, from the Skylight Inn in Ayden. You can also spend a few late-night hours helping Elliott Moss of Asheville’s Buxton Hall Barbecue tend the pits. Or join Phoebe Lawless of Scratch, in Durham, for a class on baking with lard. And Green Button farmer Ryan Butler will oversee a hands-on whole-hog-butchery seminar. “Where I grew up, in Fayetteville, we didn’t have a big, famous barbecue joint,” Dickson says. “We went to pig pickings in people’s backyards. I want to get us back to that kind of barbecue.” If he keeps this up, he just might teach himself out of a job.

NC Barbecue Revival organizer Wyatt Dickson shares three standout Eastern North Carolina barbecue joints:

  • B’s Barbecue


    “It isn’t much to look at, but that’s the way you want an Eastern North Carolina barbecue joint to feel. Get there early, because the barbecue regularly sells out before noon. And order the corn sticks, an awesome changeup from the usual hush puppies.”

  • Grady’s BBQ


    “A hidden gem, a family barbecue shack in the purest sense. Everything is scratch-made, but it’s as unassuming as its owners for thirty years, Steve and Gerri Grady. After the lunch rush, it’s not uncommon to see Steve sitting down with a solo diner.”

  • Skylight Inn BBQ


    “Skylight Inn is legendary. Turning out mountains of whole-hog ’cue with bits of skin chopped in, this third-generation restaurant is steadfast in its commitment to tradition and often held up as one of North Carolina’s gold-standard barbecue joints.”