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29 BUCKET LIST BBQ JOINTS FOR EVERY SMOKED-MEAT CONNOISSEUR

A pro squad of authors, pitmasters, and master judges lead us to the country’s greatest ‘cue, from mutton in western Kentucky, to whole hog in North Carolina.

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  Karmel says: “Growing Up in North Carolina, every family had their barbecue spot. I grew up in Greensboro,        so Stamey’s was my local joint. Lexington #1 was where we went once a year to buy the barbecue that we served on Christmas Eve; and on the way to the beach, it was Wilbur’s in Goldsboro. Needless to say, I have been to each of these bastions of barbecue countless times. So, it was not unusual that I had never been to Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson, NC, until last summer. In North Carolina for a weekend, I met my barbecue buddy and ‘cue legend Ed Mitchell for lunch in his hometown of Wilson. Since his restaurant is no longer operating, he took us to his local favorite, Parker’s.

We sat down and Ed waved the menus away, ordering each of us the family platter. Now, as an ex-pat North Carolinian, I was worried—I wanted a big ole Carolina Cue sandwich, some hush puppies and a sweet tea! I wasn’t sure about a platter! Well, thank goodness for Ed a second time that day, because as the men in sharp oxford-cloth shirts and crisp paper-hats started filling our table with plates, I was treated to three southern standouts perfectly “paired” with individual pitchers of sweet tea—my beloved smoky sweet whole-hog barbecue, and much to my surprise, the best fried-chicken and sweet white-corn hushpuppies that I had ever eaten.” (Photo: Yelp/Diana C.)