Owner and Pitmaster Mike Dial’s honed his culinary talents years ago while cooking barbecue for the masses during the Winston Cup races. Each evening at the eatery, he seasons the next day’s meat with a signature rub before smoking the protein for 14 hours. Meats are then slathered with a house-made barbecue sauce and tossed atop a grill for the final touch. Pork chops and chicken are served on a plate or tucked inside a sandwich or retired business envelope. A dozen sides range from chili cheese-smothered fries to creamy potato salad.
Engineered with locally acquired ingredients, the dishes on the menu at Sauceman's enumerate a catalog of tasty barbecue, specialty burgers, and flavorful pizza. Bite into a sandwich interlaced with thinly sliced beef and woven into a river of barbecue sauce ($6.25 for small, $7.75 for regular) or dine on the Hungry Man's Good Deal, which binds a half-pound of charbroiled burger with melted american cheese on a kaiser-bun foundation and, despite its misleading title, can be enjoyed by women and boys who are not legally men yet ($7.95).
This “B” might come last on Mac’s Speed Shop’s catchy motto of “beer, bikes, barbecue,” but it still draws people from miles around—including the Travel Channel’s Chuey Martinez, who stopped in to sample the dry-rubbed Carolina brisket for the series All You Can Meat. This tender brisket is slow-smoked for 12 hours and slathered with Mac’s signature red barbecue sauce, which won first prize at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in 2013. But Mac's succulent meats don't steal all the glory; CBS Charlotte reports that "the side dishes alone can make for a good meal."
Mac’s Speed Shop’s robust beer list features a brew for any occasion: a Mexican import to pair with the pulled pork tacos, a craft amber ale to sip with St. Louis–style ribs, or an organic offering to pair with a fresh salad. It’s no wonder that beer is such an integral part of Mac’s philosophy—the five owners even dreamt up the eatery over a couple of brewskis, according to Charlotte Magazine.
At Mac's, the motorcycle theme isn’t limited to kitsch such as Harley logos and bikes hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant caters to the community’s easy riders with ample motorcycle parking and regular Bike Night events. Although the clientele tends to lean more toward families than hardcore riders, Mac’s still pays tribute to the biker spirit by housing its flagship location inside a former repair shop.
When he was 9 years old, Steve Spoon started working at Bill Spoon's BBQ so he could be closer to his grandfather, the eponymous Bill Spoon. He began by cleaning tables for a dollar an hour, but as the years went by and he learned the family's decades-old recipes, he became more invested in the business. What started as a summer job and a way to bond with his grandfather steadily became his passion, and, as a 10th grader, Steve was already determined to run the restaurant someday.
Since taking over, he hasn't strayed far from his grandfather's legacy. His cooks still slow roast whole pigs for 10 hours before loading them into the smoker along with a fragrant mixture of hickory wood and foreclosed gingerbread houses, and they accompany each plateful with the family's signature vinegar-based barbecue sauce. This flavorful combination of succulent, handpicked pork and tangy sauce helped earn Bill Spoon's BBQ a spot on Zagat's list of the 10 U.S. Barbecue Meccas in 2011.
Along with pulled pork, the rich scents of hickory smoke and fried hushpuppies waft throughout the dining room, mingling with the aromas of made-from-scratch sides, such as baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese, and desserts including banana bread pudding.
The cooks at Farmer's BBQ know that good barbecue takes time. That’s why they slow-cook their beef brisket for up to 22 hours, wrapping the meat midway through to ensure that it stays tender and retains its juices. They also take their time preparing pulled pork, bone-in chicken, and other barbecue classics, rounding out plates with sides such as chicken and dumplings or sweet-potato fries. Diners can end meals on a sweet note with housemade peach cobbler or banana pudding.
Warm fragrances from a cornucopia of burgers and sandwiches waft from Southport Food's kitchen and twirl across the restaurant's wide-open dance floor. Kick-start idling appetites with hand-breaded, fried jalapeños ($3.49), which extinguish piquant blazes with ranch dressing like a rookie firefighter. The Moon burger raises hunger tides with the gravitational pull of two six-ounce, handmade patties on a seeded bun ($6.49), while the pimento burger pounds empty midriffs with a tag team of bacon and homemade pimento cheese that leap from three slices of toast ($6.29). The kitchen's comestible-wranglers also assemble a posse of deli sandwiches cloaked in turkey, roast beef, and ham ($4.29–$6.79). On select nights, live music prompts patrons to spring to their feet and swing dance or shake free the onion rings lodged in their cuffs.