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Durham's Smokin' Hot Barbecue Restaurants

Feast on flavorful brisket, tender pulled pork, saucy smoked ribs, and more at some of the best local barbecue spots in Durham.

Depending on where you grew up, you may think that any slab of meat smothered in A.1. Sauce is barbecue. However, real barbecue is slow-cooked in a combination of marinade, fat, and spices over indirect heat (sometimes up to 18 hours). One thing is certain – when a North Carolina pitmaster puts their heart and soul into barbecuing, it shows.

As we highlight some of the best barbecue spots in the Bull City, we also pay respect to the very existence of barbecue, which can be attributed to America’s Indigenous people and enslaved Africans.

When traveling through North Carolina to find the best, stop by Durham for this smokin' list of restaurants serving flavorful brisket, tender pulled pork, saucy smoked ribs, and all the slow-cooked meat you can dream of. We know your mouth is already watering.

Backyard BBQ Pit

5122 NC-55

Named one of the "South's most legendary barbecue joints" by Southern Living, Backyard BBQ Pit is a classic barbecue joint serving chicken, turkey, ribs, brisket, and pork cooked over oak and hickory. Apparently, the writing is actually on the wall here, because the walls are covered with signatures and messages from hundreds of satisfied customers.

The Blue Note Grill

709 Washington Street

Do yourself a favor and visit this family-owned "best place to hear blues music" Indy Week winner, offering hickory-smoked barbecue, daily drink specials, and nightly sets of American roots music. With plenty of outdoor seating, you can sit outside and enjoy your slow-smoked, pit-cooked ribs while listening to live music. Make sure you grab a slice or two of their chocolate lava cake.

Bullock's Bar-B-Cue

3330 Quebec Drive

In the 1940s, Glen Bullock started selling his barbecue door-to-door. Years later, he would join forces with his wife Lillian, a skilled cook and baker, to open the original Bullock's Bar-B-Cue. Their restaurant is a well-loved, family-owned and operated fixture in Durham serving family-style all-you-can-eat barbecue pork and fried chicken. Pair your barbecue with coleslaw, string beans, fries, or hushpuppies. (Also, they are cash only, so make sure to bring those bills!)

Byrd's BBQ

2816 Cheek Road

Don't let the building fool you. Behind their doors, you'll find perfectly seasoned and tender barbecue cooked to perfection. Food writer Greg Cox describes the pork as, “tasty stuff, laced with just the right amount of fat and well-browned crust.” Combine the chipotle peach ribs or some of that well-browned pork with sides of potato salad, collards, beans, and Brunswick stew, and you will leave full and happy. (Also, they are open for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!)

Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q

2419 Guess Road

With a name like Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q, you know it's good. They feature succulent main dishes prepared with traditional recipes and offer ribs, barbecue chicken, fried chicken, seafood, and other home-style cooking favorites. Make sure to top off your meal with a giant glass of iced tea!

Home Plate Restaurant

3327 Holloway Street

Established in 1995, Home Plate Restaurant specializes in Southern cooking served cafeteria-style. Stop by Sunday-Monday for a hearty lunch or dinner of barbecued chicken, meatloaf, boneless ribs, fried apples, blackeye peas, and more. With numerous entrees and sides daily, they are sure to have something for everyone to enjoy!

Lawrence Barbecue

Boxyard RTP

Boxyard RTP is one of Durham's new hidden gems. And one of the original vendors was Lawrence Barbecue. They offer "BBQ, oysters, bevs, and vibes." You'll find Texas style brisket, pulled pork, deviled egg potato salad, and a lot more.

The Original Q Shack

2510 University Drive

No one leaves The Original Q Shack hungry. With Western Carolina and Texas-style barbecue dishes, this Indy Week Best BBQ winner is serving up a variety of smokin' flavors. Stop by for some chili-rubbed beef brisket, St. Louis cut pork ribs, smoked chicken wings, and more. All their meats are smoked in-house with their special blend of hickory and mesquite woods.

Picnic

1647 Cole Mill Road

Catching national attention for their whole hog approach, Picnic has been featured in numerous publications. When you visit, sit outside on one of their picnic tables and sample some of that famous whole hog barbecue. Pair your meal with a craft beer or cocktail, and top it off with a bowl of banana pudding.

The Pit

321 W. Geer Street

Located in downtown Durham, The Pit, a Durham Magazine Best Barbecue winner, is proudly preserving the tradition of whole-hog, pit-cooked barbecue. Their dedicated pitmasters cook the pigs around the clock over charcoal and wood, and North Carolina barbecue is their signature dish. Stop by for Eastern-style and Lexington-style barbecue, and it doesn't hurt to sample some fried pimento cheese and barbecue fries while you're there.

Know of another barbecue restaurant worthy of being included in this roundup of the best? Please send an email to blog@discoverdurham.com.