One of the most renowned BBQ joints in North Carolina, Allen and Son serves traditional NC barbecue along with other southern fare. It’s the lone restaurant in the triangle that’s a member of the NC Historic BBQ Trail. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a number of notable spots in the area, but nothing with the reputation of Allen and Son. Featured in Southern Living, Thrillist, and Our State, this place has it’s fare share of accolades.Though, you wouldn’t know it when you pull up. It’s tucked back in a forest of trees, just off a back road in the country of Chapel Hill. There’s a small gravel parking lot, and piles of wood out back next to the potent-smelling pit, still cooking with wood; the old fashioned way.
It’s a shame that I’ve lived in Chapel Hill just about my whole life and never made it to this place. Heck, it’s about 2 miles from my elementary school. Well, I guess it’s better late than never, so I decided to pick up some lunch for my mama and I. This is my first of 23 stops on the BBQ trail, simply because it’s the closest. Only about a 20 minute drive from home, this will be the easiest to get to by far. The others will probably be conquered as pit stops on trips to the beach/mountains, or even dedicated BBQ trips.
Stupidly, I didn’t check whether they took credits cards before I arrived. They do take cards, but not mine. Luckily, I had some cash on me but not enough to include the banana pudding I had been looking forward to (And it’s only available on Fridays, Darn!). I ended up with the BBQ plate(chopped pork, slaw and hushpuppies) and the fried shrimp plate(shrimp, slaw, fries and hushpuppies) for my mama. The food did have to sit about 30 minutes before we dug in and let me tell you, it was like torture having to sit there smelling the fried goodness, but I can’t say the quality was hurt much.
My plate consisted of a good helping of chopped pork bbq, along with slaw and 6 round hushpuppies. The BBQ appeared to contain a good balance of dark crispy bits as well as tender meat. The slaw looked juicy and well seasoned with black pepper. The hushpuppies were large and extremely crispy looking. All great so far, this is shaping up to be a one of a kind meal. Could this be Seasoned Review’s first 10/10 rating?
The barbecue was extremely juicy and flavorful straight from the kitchen. I wasn’t able to try their sauce but that was fine with me because the meat didn’t need any help. There was a nice vinegar tang to it, signature of eastern NC barbecue and there was a good amount of spice, which I like in my chopped pork. Also the crispy, chewy chunks of pork added a nice texture contrast the more tender bites of meat. But none of it was mushy, It all had enough chew and not too much vinegar added. I kid you not, there was not a single bite that was not bursting with flavor. Some of the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted.
The slaw seemed vinegar based with with some creaminess to it. It was fresh and crispy with the perfect amount of black pepper seasoning. It complements the the BBQ quite nicely, a fork-full of half bbq half slaw makes for the perfect bite. The spice and tang of the bbq combines with the sweet creaminess of the slaw to create perfect harmony. It’s an ideal side for Allen and Son’s bbq plate.
I then tried a hushpuppy. I can assure you, this is the best hushpuppy I’ve ever had. The outside was very crispy, but the inside was soft and moist. Not to mention it had the perfect amount of sweetness and onion/corn flavor. I’ve had plenty of hushpuppies before at various fast food and seafood restaurants but they definitely pale in comparison. They’re often dry and/or only slightly browned on the outside; not crispy. This was the first hushpuppy that I prefered plain, without any type of dip. They were perfect… I can’t think of anything that would make it better.
I also tried a shrimp and fries from the shrimp plate. Though not traditional NC barbecue items, they were still quite good. My only complaint is that they weren’t very crispy but that can probably be attributed to the fact that the food had to sit for a while. I’m also not judging these items as harshly since my main objective is the barbecue and it’s traditional sides.
Overall, this was probably one of my favorite meals of all time. For me, it doesn’t get much better than NC barbecue and Allen and Son knows what they are doing; Certainly deserving of all the praise they’ve gotten. They food is definitely a 5/5 for me. The atmosphere was great, very country style with tons of bbq memorabilia. And you’ve got to give them credit for hand-chopped wood and still cooking with wood coals. It is a bit pricey for a bbq joint.. Around $11 for a bbq plate, our total for the 2 plates came to around $25 but it’s certainly worth it. I hope to go back soon and maybe try eating in and some of their homemade desserts. Only knocking them for price and the mediocre french fries, I’ll give Allen and Son Barbecue a 4.5/5.
Restaurant: Allen and Son Barbecue
Location: 6203 Millhouse Rd., Chapel Hill, NC
Overall Rating: 4.5/5