So we slept in on New Year’s Day (no surprise), and didn’t really hit the road until about 11:30 am. Our intention was to head up I-85 out of Athens towards Charlotte, and eventually finish the day in the Raleigh/Durham area to visit Amy’s brother and his family. On the way, we planned to stop at the world famous Lexington BBQ in Lexington, NC. This little joint is the sort of small hole in the wall kind of place that simply serves up awesome, unpretentious BBQ, and it is supposed to be a standard bearer for North Carolina BBQ.
Unfortunately, we chose to try to visit them on New Year’s Day, and they were closed, which kinda sucked, because I was really looking forward to it. On the other hand, given our late start and large breakfast, we weren’t really hungry when we got there, so maybe it turned out for the best. So instead, we just kept driving, and found ourselves in the Raleigh area around 7:30 pm, after visiting Amy’s brother nearby.
So we chose to visit The Pit Authentic BBQ for dinner. This upscale BBQ joint appears to cater to a combination of your typical urban/gentrification crowd of hipsters and moneyed millenials, and it was absolutely packed even at 7:45 pm. Then again, it was New Year’s Day, it was a Friday night on a holiday weekend, and the Rose Bowl was on the large TVs in the bar, so maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised. We ended up sitting at the huge bar instead of waiting 30 minutes for a table (we were starving at this point), and ordered some fried mac and cheese and some pumpkin skillet cornbread as appetizers. The fried mac and cheese tasted exactly as you might expect, and came with a spicy ranch dipping sauce. While I enjoyed it and it was perfect bar food, it also tasted like something you might be able to get at Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s. The pumpkin skillet cornbread was really good, though, with a nice sweet maple butter melted on top.
We decided to share the “Big boy meat combo” (all five of their meats – pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and two types of ribs), with sides of Brunswick stew and black eyed peas (Yay, Amy got her New Year’s black eyed peas!).
I have to say the BBQ was OK, but not great. The ribs were really tender and fall off the bone (again, I like them that way, but they are considered over cooked by competition judging standards), and while the pulled pork was pretty tender and juicy, the brisket was undercooked and a little tough. The chicken, while quite tender, also was just OK, without much flavor or smokiness. The black eyed peas were, well, they were black eyed peas (honestly, I’ve never understood that Southern tradition), and the brunswick stew was pretty disappointing, looking more like chicken soup than any brunswick stew I’ve ever had. Typically, brunswick stew looks a lot like chili, with a hearty broth, lots of BBQ meat, and assorted vegetables, but this was more like vegetable stew with a light broth and tiny amounts of meat.
All in all, I think this had to be our most disappointing BBQ Crawl stop of the whole trip. It just seemed like this was the kind of BBQ you could get at almost any national casual dining chain, and it was over priced at that. For the two of us (and keep in mind, we shared an entree), it was more than fifty bucks after tip. Not my kind of BBQ joint, but then again, I’m not a hipster millennial. Oh well, we were bound to try at least one clunker, and The Pit was it.