You can’t think about food in North Carolina without thinking about barbeque! And when you think of North Carolina barbeque, some classic names come to mind: Lexington Barbeque, B’s Barbecue and Skylight Inn Barbeque. But you might want to add Sam Jones BBQ to the list! Born into NC barbeque royalty as the grandson of the founder of Skylight Inn BBQ, Sam pretty much has barbeque running through his veins and I’ve had a chance to try out his food at a couple of Raleigh events. And given his plans to open up a Raleigh location, I took a trip out to Winterville (90 minutes away) to taste what will coming soon to the Triangle. And it was GOOD!
From the outside, Sam Jones BBQ is all about a rustic A-frame ranch with a nice patio out front and smokehouse to the right. The building looks rustic and modern at the same time, I head on in to see what it’s about but the parking lot is already pretty full at 11:45am. Inside Sam Jones, they’ve got a typical counter order set up with two registers running. There’s also a bar in back which I believe is first come, first served. If you dine here, you can skip the longer line for the main dining room. The menu at Sam Jones BBQ is pretty standard: barbeque, smoked chicken and turkey along with ribs along with some special sandwiches. Ten sides ranging from cole slaw, baked beans, potato salad, fresh fruit, collard greens, chips and fries. With all the offerings between $7 and $15, everything is really affordable at Sam Jones BBQ. They also offer a handful of beers by the can or by tap, you can’t beat a good beer with these hearty eats.
Service at the counter is super polite and attentive, the staff here is very well-trained. I grab a seat at the marble-top bar and catch the latest sports news on the TV overhead. The diners here are pretty laid-back and local, lots of plaid and Carhartt in the dining area! The action in the open kitchen is pretty lively, they’re probably well used to handling large crowds.
My food arrives, served on an aluminum tray and butcher wrap paper, nestled in cardboard containers. It all looks great! From the meaty ribs, pile of barbeque and large portions of baked beans and collards. I start off with the sides and the collards are perfectly cooked with a bit of sour tang, near perfect for my palate. The greens are tender but still have good texture. And the baked beans are loaded with ground meat and cooked in a savory sauce, dee-licious!
The Eastern NC barbeque here is wonderfully tender and luscious, there are bits of fat in there that makes a chubby like me appreciate it even more. And the ribs are perfectly smoked with the meat pulling easily off the bone. Love the lighter, barbeque rub used on the ribs which is different from the typical heavier cumin-pepper-salt type rubs that are typically used. Sam Jones BBQ also provides a couple of sauces to use on their meat but when it’s done this well, you probably don’t need it. Overall, it’s a GREAT plate of barbeque and probably better then anything we can get in the Triangle except for maybe, Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson. I’m asked several times about my meal and I can only nod an affirmative as I’m stuffing my face with this meaty deliciousness.
I pop off my bar stool, totally stuffed with good eats and the line is only getting longer. As I head out, I stop and peek into the Sam Jones Barbeque smoke house and check out the pitmaster team putting out this wonderful meat. Split oak, fire and patience is crucial to making barbeque and smoked meat this good. So I am REALLY looking forward to their upcoming Raleigh location which looks like it may open in the summer of 2020 on Lenoir Street. We can definitely use a barbeque upgrade here in the Triangle and Sam Jones Barbeque does it right. There’s no denying that Sam Jones Barbeque makes the pig the star of your meal here and it doesn’t get much better then that when it’s done this well!