First Lady Michelle Obama said in her email about Charlotte winning the Democratic National Convention that barbecue played a role in the decision. Now, we know that Mrs. Obama is trying to get the nation fit and when you think health food, you don’t think barbecue.
But some of Charlotte’s barbecue restaurants told me what they would put on a plate for Mrs. Obama so that she could get a great taste of what the Queen City has to offer.
Ro’s Bar-B-Cue, 1318 Gaston Ave. Gastonia: Ricky McNeely, the night manager at Ro’s, said the slaw at the fifty year old restaurant is the signature dish because it is a tangy and spicy dip.
“It goes very well with the pork that we serve,” McNeely said. “We sell a lot of sandwiches, but we do have plate that has a half of pound of meat, comes with our signature slaw, baked beans, French fries, hush puppies, onion rings and two buns.”
And what would McNeely prepare for the First Lady?
“Our sliced barbecue, an order of fries and a cherry lemon SunDrop,” he said. “That’s our most popular drink. We mix it ourselves.”
McKoy’s Smokehouse and Saloon, 4630 Old Pineville Road, Charlotte: With meat smoked by pecan wood for a sweeter taste than other barbeque and a vinegar based sauce, McKoy’s is a restaurant that also focuses on using locally grown veggies only, making sure customers get a true taste of Charlotte.
“Our signature dish is our smoked wings. We dry rub them, smoke them for three and a half hours, bring them out, sauce them, grill them and sauce them again,” said general manager John Ashley.
And what would Ashley prepare for the First Lady?
“We have a smoked chicken salad, which is awesome. It’s low in fat. The whole chicken is smoked and then we pull it to make the chicken salad out of it,” he said. And though that may be good and healthy, Ashley would also recommend the LTD platter for a true taste of barbeque.
“It’s our smoked chicken, our pit pot roast, it’s our pulled pork barbeque and our ribs. We have won an award for our ribs, they’re smoked as well,” he said.
Old Hickory House BBQ Restaurant, 6538 N. Tryon St., Charlotte: A staple on the Charlotte community since 1957, Old Hickory House BBQ Restaurant serves a Western N.C. style of barbeque, with its red sauce – the kind that means you need a lot of napkins—the sweet tomato based one.
“Most people like our pulled pork and the Brunswick stew is pretty popular,” said Kevin Carter, one of the owners with his cousin David.
And what would Carter prepare for the First Lady?
“I’d give her, we have a platter that has everything on there, it come with barbecue pork, barbecue beef and barbecue chicken and our pork ribs. I’d serve her a mixture of that with some stew and barbecue beans. That way she could sample a bit of everything.”
Bill Spoon's Barbecue, 5524 South Blvd, Charlotte: Take a whole pig, cook it, season it with the eastern style of barbecue sauce and price it reasonably. Then you have a Charlotte icon.
“Our most popular dish would most definitely be our pork barbecue plate and all of sides go real well with it. But I would say it’s a mixture between our cole slaw and baked beans,” said owner Steve Spoon. “We are strictly eastern style and that’s the whole pig roasting, seasoned with salt, crushed red peppers and vinegar and smoked with hickory smoke.”
And what would Spoon prepare for the First Lady?
“For her, I would want her to try some good wholesome pork barbecue, some cole slaw. And since she likes to promote health and people think you can’t be healthy and eat barbecue, I’d love for her to have a side of the Brunswick stew. That thing has seven vegetables and three meats in it. You can taste each separate thing in there and it tastes amazing. That’s what I would give her. And of course some fresh, hot hush puppies that we make from scratch.”
Now, for those of you who think you can’t eat healthy at a barbecue restaurant (like you Rush Limbaugh, who took Michelle Obama to task for eating ribs), chicken from a barbecue restaurant is grilled, not fried and that actually cuts the fat.