After an overnight stop in Charlotte, I was back on the road to Charlottesville . Knowing I would be travelling through prime bbq country, I had consulted a few of my bbq books before I left Jackson, namely “Peace, Love and Barbecue” by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe. A must for any barbecue aficionado, PLB not only shares the secrets of some of the winning bbq teams in the country, it also contains a state by state list of restaurants that the Mills consider purveyors of true bbq. I had already used PLB once to discover Ubon’s, a bbq gem close to home, so I was depending on their guidance to find bbq salvation on the east coast.
Before pulling off the major interstates and onto the state highways, I decided I should get some gas in Greensboro. Looking through my phone, I realized that PLB had a recommendation for Greensboro, Stamey’s Old Fashioned Barbecue. So, I pulled off the interstate and drove down Battleground Ave until I encountered the old familiar smell of hickory smoke.
Minutes later, I had parked, found a seat, my order for bbq pork had been taken and I was left with time to take in the sights and smells of Stamey’s. From the wood paneling to the waitresses, it feels like things haven’t changed much at Stamey's since the late 60s, but when it comes to bbq, atmosphere is the least of my concerns.
Soon enough my plate of regular chopped pork barbecue was brought to the table.
Hush puppies, chopped pork, and cole slaw, a plate completely devoid of greenery, it was a true lunch of champions.
Since I'm accustomed to spherical hush puppies these finger shaped examples were something new. Well fried and tasting of corn meal and salt, their fluffy & tender texture went quite well with the vinegar sauce.
The slaw was another oddity to me. Instead of the creamy, mayonnaise based cole slaws I’ve found in Mississippi; this was sweet with a peppery bite. Seeing the puddle of red on the plate, I couldn’t help but wonder if this slaw was made with their vinegar sauce.
This tomato based stew was heavy on the vegetables including lima beans, corn, potatoes and peas. There were also a few stings of pork but nothing really substantial. With tender but not overcooked vegetables, a rich flavor and thick texture, this would be a great stew for a cold winter’s day though not that great for the low 90s in September.
Served hot, this pork was juicy for the most part, but I was surprised at the lack of smokiness.
There was a subtle hickory smoke flavor, but nothing too prominent or overwhelming.
It was with the liberal addition of vinegar sauce that this pork really began to shine. Smoked pork, pepper, and vinegar, it’s a sublime combination. This was the barbecue I was hoping for, something that I could enjoy on a regular basis.
Sadly, it wasn’t until later in the trip that I learned the trick to ordering half brown. For those unaware, half brown is an order of bbq that includes a larger portion of the outer cuts of pork. You get a bigger smoky punch and the drier, chewier texture as well. While I would have liked to try an order of Stamey’s chopped pork half brown, but for what I ordered that morning, I was extremely satisfied. I knew that while driving through the Carolinas, I’d kick myself if I didn’t find some quality barbecue. Thankfully, Stamey’s fit the bill.