Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants cook over hardwood embers.
Sam Jones BBQ (opening this fall)
715 W. Firetower Rd., Winterville
(currently no phone)
Old-school goes uptown, from Skylight Inn’s Sam Jones. Whole hog. Also, pork spare ribs, chicken and standard sides (mac and cheese, baked beans, etc.)
566 Third St., Ayden
Cafeteria-style diner. Get the mild-flavored chopped whole-hog sandwich and banana pudding.
Skylight Inn BBQ
4618 S. Lee St., Ayden
A James Beard American Classic. Get the tray: cabbage-only coleslaw, dense corn bread and lightly dressed, finely chopped whole hog with crispy skin mixed in; also get a slaw-topped sandwich on a hamburger bun.
4172 Hwy. 70 E., Goldsboro
Visited by presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Get the plate: moist, coarsely chopped whole hog, coleslaw, hush puppies, Brunswick stew.
3096 Arrington Bridge Rd., Dudley
Tiny legend in the eastern countryside. Get the zesty, skin-studded, chopped whole hog, fried chicken, house-made collards, butter beans and sweet potato pie.
Picnic (opening later this year)
1647 Cole Mill Rd., Durham
Heritage modernized. Menu is a work in progress. Pasture-raised whole hog is definite. Regional-based sides, such as sweet potato and pear soup and smoked trout dip.
The Pit Authentic Barbecue
321 W. Geer St., Durham
328 W. Davie St., Raleigh
Modern. Whole hog, sauce-glazed baby back ribs, beef brisket. Crispy chicken livers, kale salad and more. Get the pit-smoked wings and chopped pork.
Allen & Son Barbeque
6201 Millhouse Rd., Chapel Hill
East meets West. Get the coarsely chopped, mocha-colored Piedmont-style shoulder doused with a spirited version of eastern-style vinegar-pepper sauce; and the house-made ice cream.
630 Weaver Dairy Rd., Chapel Hill 919-942-1133. thepigrestaurant.com
Post-modern. Country-fried tofu, barbecued tempeh, shiitake po’ boy; and pan-regional: beef brisket (Texas) and gumbo (New Orleans). The barbecue? Whole hog.
Hillsborough BBQ Company
236 S. Nash St., Hillsborough
Ecumenical. Three slaws — eastern (creamy), Lexington (red) and mustard-based (yellow) — along with catfish, pork ribs and beef brisket. Get the chopped pork shoulder, smoky from smoldering hardwood.
2206 W. Gate City Blvd.,
2812 Battleground Ave.
Piedmont institution going back to 1930. Get the sliced shoulder, a flavorful mound of crispy-skinned slabs of juicy meat. Don’t pass up the blackberry cobbler.
100 Smokehouse Lane, Lexington
Classic Piedmont style. Get the coarse and sliced pork shoulder (yes, both) and the top-notch hush puppies.
Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge
2000 E. Dixon Blvd., Shelby
Three generations of family operation. Get the piled-high chopped pork sandwich (with slaw, of course), and don’t miss the pimento cheese sandwich.
12 Bones Smokehouse
5 Riverside Dr., Asheville
3678 Sweeten Creek Rd., Arden
Anything goes. Get an Obama fave, the don’t-knock-it-till-you’ve-tried-it blueberry-chipotle-sauced pork ribs. Also, the jalapeño cheese grits, corn pudding and smoked potato salad. Uses a wood-enhanced oven.
32 Banks Ave., Asheville
Neo-traditional. Pasture-raised whole hog. Sides from the chef’s South Carolina childhood: hash and rice, chicken bog.