(WGHP) — Whether it’s eastern-style, Lexington-style or South Carolina-style, barbecue can help you make friends—or enemies!—very quickly.

Folks in the Carolinas take no quarter when it comes to ranking their favorite barbecue joints.

That’s why we went to Trip Advisor to see which BBQ restaurants were the best of the best in North Carolina’s 10 biggest cities.


Midwood Smokehouse

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ranked: #3 of 1,740 restaurants in Charlotte

It’s the top choice in North Carolina’s biggest city, so that has to hold some weight! While Charlotte may be only about an hour away from Lexington, Midwood Smokehouse goes the Eastern NC route. The restaurant’s classic barbecue plates feature hickory-smoked chopped pork lightly dressed in their own Eastern-style vinegar sauce. You can pick up a small plate for $11 or a large plate for $14.

If you want to try it for yourself, you don’t necessarily have to drive all the way to Charlotte. In addition to its three locations in the Queen City, Midwood can also be found at Birkdale Village in Huntersville and Cross Hill Market in Columbia, South Carolina.


The Pit Authentic Barbecue

Rating: 4 stars

Ranked: #32 out of 973 restaurants in Raleigh

You’ve got your pick over at The Pit. One reviewer wrote, “Great for what it is – classic North Carolina barbecue. Both eastern and western sauces are available (ie: vinegar and tomato), and the pork is excellent. For newbies, I recommend the Pit Sampler.” A plate of chopped BBQ will run you $13.99. The Pit Sampler, a tour of their most popular appetizers, sells for $14.99 and includes pit-smoked wings, BBQ soul rolls, deviled eggs and pimento cheese balls.

To put The Pit to the test, visit the one and only restaurant at 328 W. Davie St.


Mac’s Speed Shop

Rating: 4 stars

Ranked: #34 of 607 restaurants in Greensboro

If you weren’t hungry yet, the description of Mac’s Speed Shop’s barbecue plate will change that. The restaurant says its hickory-smoked pulled pork is “dry-rubbed, slow-smoked for 12 hours and lightly tossed with Carolina BBQ sauce.” A small goes for $12, and a large goes for $14. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can get it on a taco. And if you’re feeling really adventurous you can try the “Fatboy Challenge” which is a massive 5-pound sandwich with pork, brisket, burger, apple-wood-smoked bacon, queso blanco, slaw, fried pickles and Mac’s Burn Out Sauce, plus it comes with a half-pound of mac and cheese. If you finish, it’s free, and if you don’t, it’ll set you back $70.

Mac’s boasts eight locations across North and South Carolina. If you can’t make it to Greensboro, pay them a visit in Fayetteville, Lake Norman, Matthews, Charlotte (2 locations), Wilmington or Greenville, South Carolina.


The Original Q Shack

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ranked: #1 of 102 Quick Bites in Durham

The Original Q Shack doesn’t need to woo you with fancy words. They’re serving up a pork plate with two sides and hushpuppies for $10.95, and it pretty much sells itself. The shop, founded by chef Dan Ferguson and his wife Amanda, says they’ve perfected their recipes over more than 20 years. One reviewer said, “One of the first requirements of good BBQ is tender, moist meat and Original Q knocks it out of the park on this.”

When they say they’re the “original,” they mean it. There’s only one, and you can find it at 2510 University Drive.


Camel City BBQ Factory

Rating: 4 stars

Ranked: #21 of 421 restaurants in Winston-Salem

Classic fare with industrial flare, the Camel City BBQ Factory may sound heavy-duty, but they take their time when it comes to pulled pork. The restaurant serves up “Factory low-n-slow hand-pulled pork smoked and slow-cooked for ten hours.” A plate costs $9.85. One reviewer said, “We stopped because it sounded interesting and offered outdoor dining. I was charmed by the bright decor and friendly staff. The food was amazing: large portions of succulent bbq, my salad was fresh & crisp and topped with a generous serving of brisket.”

Drop by the “Factory” at 701 Liberty St.


Mission BBQ

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ranked: #1 of 52 Quick Bites in Fayetteville

Now this one’s interesting because it’s the only name that appears twice on this list, and that’s because they’re really spreading the love. With 109 locations across several states as of 2021 and counting, Mission is the most widespread brand we’ve got on this top 10, and they don’t specialize in any particular regional style. Mission launched on Sept. 11, 2011, ten years after the attack at the World Trade Center—and that’s no coincidence. The patriotic brand is known for supporting the military, namely by hiring local veterans and offering veterans free food on certain occasions. Their pulled pork is “slow-smoked” and “hand-pulled” and a plate sells for $8.19. Under its sandwich listing, they say you can get your barbecue “Traditional or NC Style.”

You can check them out at 1932 Skibo Road, but they’ve also got locations in Jacksonville and Wilmington with plans to open in Greenville.


City Barbecue

Rating: 4.5

Ranked: #3 of 58 Quick Bites in Cary

You may be skeptical when you hear that City Barbecue is based in Ohio, but they’re not trying to beat Carolinas at their own game. They’re paying homage. “We don’t limit ourselves to any particular region or style, but instead try to showcase the breadth and depth of barbeque found across the country,” the company says on their website. They specialize in “American barbeque—all of it,” from Texas-style brisket or Carolina pulled pork. And so far, folks are loving it. City Barbecue has grown to 46 locations across six states. But we’re here to talk about real BBQ: City offers a pulled pork sandwich for $7.29 or Lolo’s pulled pork sandwich for $7.49.

There are more than a few City Barbecue locations in NC. In Cary, you can find them at 1305 Kildaire Farm Road, but you can also find them in Raleigh, Durham, Garner, Greensboro and the Charlotte area.


Mission BBQ

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ranked: #5 of 81 Quick Bites in Wilmington

Mission BBQ is the only barbecue joint to land on this list twice! Check out the details above under Fayetteville—or skip the overview and visit them at 351 S. College Road in Wilmington.

High Point

BBQ Joes

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ranked: #3 of 176 restaurants in High Point

You can get some killer BBQ at the big chains, but can anything top a family-owned restaurant? Not in High Point! The idea for BBQ Joe’s was birthed during a New Year’s Eve church service in 2004. The rest is history. Slide on over to Joe’s to get a pork plate with “slow cooked and smoked chopped or pulled” for $9.25. One reviewer said, “Everything we had here was delicious, starting with (of course) the hushpuppies, which are as good as everyone here says they are. The barbecue was better than what we’d had a couple days earlier from a better-known establishment.”

The original spot can be found at 2822 S. Main Street. in High Point, but you can also find them in Trinity.


The Smoke Pit

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ranked: #1 of 209 restaurants in Concord

You know it’s going to be good when it’s cooked slow and slow and smoked for up to 18 hours. The Smoke Pit serves up hickory-smoked pulled pork as a regular plate for $12.95 or a large for $15.95. But they didn’t stop there. You can actually get your BBQ on what they call a “super spud,” which includes pulled pork, southern sweet sauce, cheddar, smoked bacon bits, sour cream and scallions, for $12.95. One reviewer said, “I’ve been to smoke pit a bunch of times and it never fails to be so delicious!!!” Side note: This reviewer and several others also gave a shout-out to one particular server who appears to have become something of a local celebrity: AC. They say he’s “best waiter hands down.”

Check ’em out at 796 Concord Parkway North or in Salisbury, Monroe and Gastonia.