Since we’ve moved to North Carolina, I have been touting the superiority of North Carolina to Tony. He’s a northernor who didn’t grow up with the sweet, tangy vinegary taste of NC BBQ. We’ve been trying to find the best North Carolina barbecue in the Triangle area. Lexington is of course the barbecue mecca in North Carolina, but the Triangle has had a lot to offer too. Three places stand out in particular, the ritzy The Pit, Allan and Sons in Chapel Hill (that will be a future adventure), and Backyard Barbecue in Durham. Backyard Barbecue has two locations, one of which was featured on “Man vs. Food,” so we had to see if it was worth the hype.
The Backyard Barbecue we went to ( 5122 NC HWY 55, Durham NC 27713) is at a “blink and you’ll miss it” strip of Highway near RTP. This place definitely had a down-home local feel; the kitchen is small, the sides are kept in heating trays and served cafeteria style, and the walls are covered in signatures and grafitti from previous customers. If it wasn’t for the two state troopers on the other side of the room, I would have gotten a little artistic myself.
Once we got our eyes off the walls, it was time to check out the food. The lunch special is the BBQ pork sandwich and two sides. The sandwich was definitely worth coming out on a chilly Saturday morning for; the pork was tender and the sauce was a surprising mix of sweetness and heat. The pork lacked the vinegary bite I usally love, but the spiciness of the pork was something I hadn’t seen a lot of in typical North Carolina Barbecue. What I loved was that the meat was tender, but didn’t threaten to turn my bun into a soggy, wet mess. Tony had his sandwich topped off with the traditional layer of cole slaw, which he said was tart and crunchy and looked pretty fresh,
As far as the sides, well, let’s just say you’re there for the barbecue. The french fries were obviously made fresh, and tasted okay, but were a little soggy. My macaroni and cheese was an oily mess, the cheese on top had coagulated and the noodles were literally in a pool of grease that spilled over into my french fries, which made me a sad panda indeed.
Like Cooper’s, Backyard Barbecue focuses on providing good barbecue, not fancy surroundings. Judging from the years of writing on its walls, Backyard has provided that. But what keeps this place from being one of the best Barbecue places in the Triangle is the sides. If you make your way there, just plan on grabbing two sandwiches for a full meal.