Backyard BBQ Pit - Durham, North Carolina
Real Wood Smoked Barbecue
Excellent Barbecue in Durham - Off I 40
BBQ, Ribs, Fish, and Great Side Dishes
Barbecue and Two Sides Plate
Pork Shoulders in the Smoke House
Family Members at Backyard BBQ in Durham
My son and I took a road trip yesterday to try out some area barbecue joints. We’d heard that Backyard BBQ Pit in Durham, North Carolina (5204 Highway 55) was a good one, so we had that on the schedule for a lunch stop.
Backyard BBQ Pit is about a mile off I-40, so that was an easy stop on the way up to Raleigh.
Seeing Smoke – A Good Sign
The first thing I noticed when we pulled up was smoke coming out of the smokehouse. Most barbecue restaurants that still cook over wood finish that hot job up earlier in the day, so I was surprised to see and smell that wonderful smoke that makes North Carolina BBQ so yummy.
Later I found out that they smoke the chicken and ribs as well as pork shoulders (or pork butts – high part of the shoulder). That’s also out of the ordinary. It’s a lot of work to smoke the pork, and most places don’t try to do other meats as well. Que joints may offer other meats but more often cook them in the kitchen instead of in the smoke shed.
In the Front Door
When we walked in Backyard BBQ Pit, it had that Southern barbecue feel. There were plastic flowers, a big old-fashioned fan blowing some cool air across the tables, and the walls were covered with customer graffiti. Fancier décor generally indicates that you’re at a restaurant that serves kitchen cooked barbecue which is definitely not the old timey wood smoked barbecue that folks drive miles to eat. This barbeque restaurant looked like a good one.
At the back was a counter kind of like a school cafeteria. That was a little different, but I liked having a chance to see the side dishes which included greens, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and Brunswick stew. Other sides like the French fries and okra were made to order. Those deep fried foods don’t do well sitting around, and you just let them know if you want a fried side. They make those fast and bring them out to the table.
Our Barbecue Lunch
My son and I both got the barbecue sandwich plate special. For $4.99 we got a huge barbecue sandwich (very generous on the meat) and a choice of two sides.
I went with the greens and Brunswick stew while my kid got French fries and white potatoes. Then, we shared those, so we got to taste several.
All the side dishes were good, but I really loved the greens. They tasted like the ones that Grandma used to make but with just a little hot sauce. The home cooked greens were tender and just melted in my mouth. For anyone who does not like greens, I’d say to give these a try. You might just change your mind.
My son said the potatoes were the best he’d ever eaten. This is his Momma he’s telling. Hum. I tried them. Yep. Those were wonderful potatoes. They reminded me of Grandma’s soupy potatoes as she called them. My guess is that they were boiled and then maybe some bacon grease added. Maybe a little milk. They just called them white potatoes there, and they were chunks of potatoes with some sauce around them.
As for the barbecue, it was soft and moist and smoky. Excellent wood smoked barbecue. If we hadn’t had other stops to make, I would have bought some to take home. I’ll have to carry a cooler next time.
The ribs, pork chops, and fish all looked great, and now I wish I lived closer, so I could drop by more often and try out the other dishes. One kid eating told me the trout sandwich was his favorite. It did look really good. My youngest son especially loves fish, so I need to take him up to Backyard BBQ Pit and get him a fish sandwich.
Talking to the Pitmaster
After we ate, I went around back to the smoke house to see the pitmaster. I always enjoy talking to barbecue masters.
Marquis Egerton II looked really young, so I had to ask about his age. I was correct. He was really young – only 20 years old. Most pitmasters are older, so it was good to see a young guy working the pit. Hopefully that will mean that our North Carolina barbecue tradition will continue on. There really aren’t a whole lot of real wood cooked barbecue places still open.
They have a second pitmaster at Backyard BBQ Pit. That’s Melvin Simmons. He wasn’t there, but maybe I can meet him next time.
Marquis took me in the smoke house. It had two smoke ovens. He had pork going in one and whole chickens in the other. When they say smoke house, they do mean that. It was so smoky it was hard to get photos, but I managed a few. It’s hot in the smoke house too. It was a mild day, and I can only imagine how hot it gets during the summer.
While I was there, Marquis split a little wood. Yes. They actually do split that with an ax. Rest assured that’s labor intensive. Marquis just smiled and said that it keeps him in shape. If you don’t want to spring for a gym membership, volunteer to split some wood for a wood burning barbecue restaurant. You will get a work out.
Before I left I got to meet a bunch of the family. Marquis’ wife and cute little boy were there as well as other members of the family. They were telling me that they use family recipes, and I could tell. No fast food here. It is like home cooking but with smoked meats which most families don’t have the time or energy to make. It was nice to see a family working together and dedicated to North Carolina barbecue and down home side dishes. As long as it’s passed down like that, maybe we always be able to get real food and not just fast food or little gourmet dishes arranged artfully on plates.