I really have been lucky to get incredible collaborators for each week’s ‘My Favorite Joints’. This week was no exception. Drew Robinson, Executive Chef for Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q was kind enough to give me some of his ‘must stop BBQ joints’ when he travels around the country. Here it is:
I eat Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q everyday and don’t ever get tired of it but I don’t ever get tired of eating other folks ‘que either. The thing that I love most about it is the friendships I’ve developed through the years. There is no favorite joint for me. Instead I typically go where my friends are and for that particular moment in time, their barbecue becomes the favorite of the moment.
Scott’s Variety Store – Hemingway, SC
Rodney Scott introduced me to the concept of pork and grits. I kind of see it as him playing on the South Carolina tradition of shrimp and grits but using his whole hog barbecue as the star. Rodney only does whole hog. And he only cooks it over the charcoal he makes with the trees he cuts down himself. In addition to being a testament to tradition he’s one of the best guys in the barbecue universe and we welcome him into the Jim ‘N Nick’s kitchen every opportunity we get.
Photo of Scott’s Variety Store courtesy of James Boo – Serious Eats
Skylight Inn – Ayden, NC
Sam Jones is another guy committed to the tradition of whole hog barbecue. And he’s committed to the fact that it doesn’t need sauce if you cook it right which he does. You can get it on a sandwich with slaw or on a tray with cornbread. You can’t go wrong either way. Sam is actually coming to cook with us soon at Jim ‘N Nick’s for a very special dinner in Charleston. We can’t wait.
Photo of Skylight Inn courtesy of Michael Stern – Roadfood
17th Street Bar and Grill – Murphysboro, IL
When you are deemed “The Legend” you have a real opportunity to put yourself in an elite category. Mike Mills does just the opposite. He crafts some of the best barbecue anywhere and does it in the most humble way. Embarrassingly, I’ve never darkened the door of 17th Street but I’ve had the privilege of cooking with Mike and being in his company enough to tell you his food is flat out fantastic.
Photo of 17th Street Bar & Grill
Blue Smoke – New York, NY
I get to New York about once a year and the first stop has got to be Blue Smoke. Before I ate there I wondered about an Irish guy in NYC cooking barbecue. One visit and I knew Ken Callaghan was doing it right with an urban eye for protecting the value of barbecue.
Photo of Blue Smoke courtesy of Pigtrip.net
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint – Nolensville, TN
Pat Martin is another good friend that will barbecue anything but prefers whole hog. He’ll typically throw a hog on once or twice a week at the Joint. Word gets out and Nashville folks flock over. His sandwiches are great but the Redneck Taco can’t be missed. It is as gregarious of a dish as Pat is a pitmaster.
Photo of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
The Pit – Raleigh, NC
Ed Mitchell tends the fires at The Pit. Ask him why Carolina whole hog barbecue is important and he’ll tell you the whole history of it came to be and why it is just part of the people of North Carolina. They serve all kinds of great food at The Pit but really, one of Ed’s whole hog sandwiches will take you where you want to be. What’s his secret? Ask him and he’ll tell you, he serves everything but the squeal.
Photo of The Pit courtesy of Spoonfed (Raleigh)
Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Que can be found in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. You can see their story here.