food road trip: the original q shack...texas bbq done north carolina style
So yeah, one can't go back to NC without having some bbq. Though to be honest, this time around I really wanted someplace totally different from all the ones I'd been to before over the years. This is where the internet comes in handy so I can search and see what is around and see pictures to get a sense of what they may be serving. It was how I stumbled upon The Original Q Shack.
Perusing through the photos the place seemed to have the look and feel of some the bbq joints I have been to in Texas like this place and this one. And looking at their menu, they offer more than just the pulled pork and chicken you find at many spots. I took that as a good sign to check them out and see how they measure up the long time locals and the those others down SW way.
Walking in, the place is kind of jumping and the decor has the 50's roadside diner joint kind of vibe with a chalkboard menu above the counter, corrugated metal paneling, formica tables and sunshine colored vinyl chairs. (I took the photo below after the rush)
They also have two big covered outdoor patios with picnic tables since the South is one of those places where you can actually eat outside without getting blown around or chilled to the bone everyday of the year.
The menu is pretty hearty with five different meats and a host of side dishes to mix and match. Though I kicked things off with a Southern classic that seems to pop up on every menu in SF now, deviled eggs.
Jalapeno deviled eggs to be exact and you can get them at the very modest price of .35cents each. You read that right. Try to find that here! Four of them are probably gonna set you back $8 as an appetizer around the Bay Area.
While I wasn't the biggest fan of the pickled jalapeno on top, the rest offers up you standard down home made egg. I might have kicked up the filling with a little more black pepper and relish, but at that price, they are totes worth it.
For the main event, I wanted to try as much as possible and went all in with the three meat plate.
With that I got the ribs, pulled pork butt, brisket. For choice of sides I went with creamed spinach and fried okra. They also toss in some pickles and onions, thick slices of white bread and hush puppies, all for $16. And yes, it was a heaping lot of food served on wax paper in baskets much like they do at the joints in Texas.
Most all the meats had some kind of smoke to them but it was more essence as opposed to overpowering flavor, something I actually appreciated. The ribs just pulled right off the bone and were tender and succulent. The brisket was also a winner with thick juicy slices and a nice little char along the edges. The pork butt was their version of pulled pork and of that I was not a fan. It was a little too wet. Pretty sure there was some kind of variation of a vinegar bbq sauce seasoning on here but I was not a fan of it. I'll say I'm more of a purest and prefer the old school slightly smoked and light vinegar seasoned type pork from places such as Hog Heaven. Really, it comes down to personal choice but the ribs and brisket, super yum.
The fried okra was plentiful and fried up to order so it was hot, crispy and crunchy. I went with creamed spinach as I wanted a green with all the meat and fried stuff and I'd already had my fill of collards. I haven't seen it as a side before and for the most part I liked it. I might have liked it a little more creamier though. Normally you can see some of the white cream in the traditional versions of it but here it seemed to be missing. They were nicely cooked but I do feel they were missing a little something. The hush puppies were just spot on and better than any of those things they try to pass off in SF. They were great crunchy little logs of deep fried cornmeal that came even more alive with a touch of butter. Maybe one day someone in town will get it right, till then, I'll just keep the memory of these on my tongue.
Since it was also a hot day, it felt right to compliment it all with a light citrus white ale brewed in Colorado and up in Asheville, NC. It wasn't too hoppy with cool notes of tangerine. Served cold, it was a great beer-ade to chill and eat with.
You may also find this shocking, but I actually wasn't able to finish everything I got. I know, right! Even with my big appetite, as I got toward the end I had to choose between finishing my meat and the spinach and duh, the meat won out. That's how you know if was a lot of food.
What can I say, I thought The Original Q Shack was pretty great and outside of the pork butt, I really liked everything I had. They have smoked meats galore, a variety of down home sides done well and an assortment of local beers to wash it all down. Not to mention, for the price, they don't skimp on the portion so you won't leave this place hungry. While they are relatively recent in the bbq scene of the Triangle Area, I think they've hit the ground running and come up with a tasty alternative to some of the stalwarts in town. I think the constant flow of people through the place while I was there are a testament they have really caught on. Thus if you are in the area, you should check this spot out if you wanna eat like the locals and really get your meat on.