Barbecue in North Carolina really means one thing – pork.
Elizabeth City and the surrounding area have their share of fine barbecue establishments, with popular restaurants such as Barbecue Barn, Bob-B-Q and Famous Franks Hot Dogs & Grille. There is also Captain Bob’s, a well-known eatery that has catered to customers in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia for 25 years. North Carolina barbecue is generally chopped, although there are many people who prefer it pulled.
Pit-Cook All the Meats
Currituck BBQ Company spokeswoman Crissy Daneker says the restaurant has a style like no other.
“Usually North Carolina barbecue has kind of a vinegar taste to it, but ours doesn’t at all,” she says. “We have been around since 2006 and have perfected our cooking technique, which involves pit-cooking all the meats and using hickory chips as well as a slow-cooking method. Our chefs also produce perfectly seasoned meats.”
Daneker says that besides barbecued pork, Currituck BBQ has also made a name for itself with its beef brisket.
“By the way, we have also become famous in northeastern North Carolina and beyond for our macaroni and cheese, along with our sweet potato casserole,” she says. “But it is certainly our barbecue that gets most people in the door.”
Dry Rub of Spices
At Jackie’s Diner, on East Main Street in the heart of Elizabeth City, owner and chef John Herlihy says he uses a non-traditional way of preparing barbecue dishes.
“Every cook does things differently, and I personally don’t use any barbecue sauces whatsoever on the meats we serve,” he says. “I use strictly a dry rub of herbs and spices when I cook, then the sauce is up to each customer’s individual taste when the lunch or dinner is served. We make six of our own table sauces here at Jackie’s Diner.”
Besides pulled pork, Herlihy says his restaurant’s menu also includes barbecued chicken, beef brisket and ribs.
“Actually, one additional specialty dish I make that nobody else prepares – and I’ve been cooking it for years – is a smoked meat loaf,” he says. “The smoking makes a nice flavor in the meat, and it doesn't come out greasy like meat loaf in a pan that sits in an oven for hours. Plus I add the seasonings that makes it an incredible meal.”
Herlihy, who owns Jackie’s Diner with his wife Betsy, adds that he cooks all meats in a smoker but doesn’t use any flavored wood.
“My meats cook just as well with plain old oak – I don’t taste any difference in the flavoring,” he says. “The bottom line is that pulled pork sandwiches go very quickly here with customers, with so much good flavor in all the meats thanks to the dry rub.”
Read about more great food in Elizabeth City, NC.