When it comes to barbecue, I’m a huge fan no matter how it’s spelled (C, Q or the shortened BBQ)! And in the NC Triangle area, I’d have to say my favorites so far are Redneck BBQ Lab along with Sam Jones BBQ in Raleigh. But I had heard about a new player in the game, Prime Barbecue out in Knightdale. I managed to find my way out east a couple of times and if you’re a fan of Texas barbeque, you need to put Prime on your short list of places to visit. From brisket to ribs, Prime is smoking up some great meats and pairing it with great sides. Read on to learn more about this smoked meats favorite!
Located in Knightdale Station (conveniently off of Business-64), Prime Barbecue sits across from the greens of a peaceful, community park. You can’t miss the restaurant, grey brick with orange logo out front along with a huge covered porch to the side. It’s obvious the building was purpose-built to be a great que joint! Inside you’ll find a large, cavernous dining hall with mod circular lighting overhead and plenty of windows to make for a sunny dining space. Follow the orange tiled floor to the order line and queuing area. Given its quick-casual, counter setup, you’ll usually find a line out front but it moves along, consistently. Note, Prime Barbecue is open from 11am to 4:30pm but they will often sell out. Plan accordingly!
As you wait in line, there’s a wall menu to help you decide what to order along with a bin full of crushed ice, soda bottles and beers to get you a head-start on a beverage. A wall of articles and accolades also shows off the pitmaster expertise of operator-owner Chris Prieto who has spent many years, smoking meats. Turn the corner and you’ll hit the prep area where your order will be taken and you may get a preview taste of their meats. I’ve been lucky enough to nab a juicy chunk of brisket at the counter while ordering! Thankfully the Prime Barbecue menu is short and focused on their smoked meats: beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, turkey and pulled pork. You can get your meats in plate or sandwich form along with 6 or so Southern sides to accompany your meal. Note that Prime Barbecue also has daily specials that you don’t want to miss, offering chicken fried steak, beef ribs, burnt ends, Frito Pie and more on specific days. Prime also offers a short list of desserts (cobbler, pie) but I can never make it that far from a calorie perspective.
As you move through the prep area, the friendly staff will put together your plate. I’m a fan of the baked beans and barbeque rice! And if you order mac n cheese, they’ll ask you if you want bacon on it (Seriously?! Just say yes!) The staff at Prime Barbecue is young but well-trained from a customer service perspective. And they seem to genuinely enjoy serving up the food here. Pay your food at the end of the counter and then scuttle on over to the self service area for soft drinks, additional condiments, utensils, and more. Now you’re ready to eat, grab a table (first come, first served) in the large dining room or under the covered patio.
Over the course of several visits for both dine-in and take-out, I’ve been super impressed! Meat highlights for me are the smoked beef brisket ( you can get it fat or lean) which is super tender and juicy. I’d probably vote it best in the Triangle! I’m also a huge fan of the plump sausage which snaps in the casing with a pungent, smoky flavor. For sides, the beans rock along with the standard mac n cheese but as mentioned before, the barbeque rice really shines as something special. Made with what I think is a shorter grain rice for some stickiness, it’s flecked with bits of meat for great texture and flavor. Note that they serve green beans not collards here which to me is a hint that they are going for Texas-style barbeque vs. NC-style barbeque.
One other item to consider is the Full Nelson sandwich which is a meaty monstrosity featuring some of my meat favorites: beef rib, smoked sausage and pulled pork! The smoked meats are stacked high on a potato bun and topped with crispy cole slaw and pickle onions. It’s highly unlikely your mouth can get around this beast so you can drop back to a fork as needed. Prime Barbecue also offers some loaded potatoes and salads if you’re vegetarian but there aren’t many non-meat options.
Once you’re done with your nap-inducing meal, head on out to the patio where you can check out the array of equipment and smokers they have onsite to make all this delicious meat. You can ask for a tour if they’re not too busy and it is impressive. The back smoking area is clean as a whistle, a good sign of a well-run restaurant and barbeque joint. Overall I am very happy with what Prime Barbecue is dishing out from decor, food, service and value. They are doing a lot of things right and I can say that they are well worth the trip out to Knightdale Station. Are they THE best in the area? I’ll need a little more time to decide and hey, maybe a barbeque face-off is in the works for this food blogger now! More to come…
403 Knightdale Station Run
Knightdale, NC 27545