Barbecue is a big deal in the Carolinas. Whether it's who serves the tastiest, what makes the best base for it -- mustard, tomato or vinegar -- or how it should be prepared (chopped or pulled), it seems like everybody has an opinion.
There are barbecue-themed festivals and dedicated "trails" that map out restaurants to visit, not to mention the crazy amount of ‘Best Of' lists you can find on the internet.
In fact, we just came across an interesting list recognizing barbecue chains that are worth a visit on the popular food and travel website Thrillist.
Since we're used to getting our ‘cue from local mom and pop shops, we had to check it out to see if any of these so-called legit chains were in our area. Lo and behold, three of the 11 featured chains have locations in the Carolinas.
Here are a few "legit BBQ chains you should get excited about," according to Thrillist:
City Barbecue – This chain started in Columbus, Ohio, and has grown to include more than 50 locations across seven states. Currently, there are eight locations in North Carolina; four in the Charlotte area and four in the Raleigh/Durham area. Along with pulled pork, you'll find brisket, turkey and chicken on the menu. citybbq.com
L&L Hawaiian BBQ – Born in the '70s in Hawaii, this chain expanded to the West Coast in 1999 and has been growing its reach ever since. Currently, you'll only find one location in the Carolinas -- in Concord, North Carolina. You won't find your typical southern barbecue here either, but their kalua pork is slow roasted and has a similar consistency to pulled pork. Barbecue chicken, beef and short ribs are on the menu, as well. hawaiianbarbecue.com
Mission BBQ – This chain began in Baltimore and has expanded to 80 locations, including three in North Carolina (Fayetteville, Jacksonville and Wilmington) and one in South Carolina (North Myrtle Beach). The Tar Heel State gets a nod on the menu here, where you'll find a pulled pork sandwich offered traditional or "NC Style." There's also brisket, turkey, chicken and ribs, along with homestyle sides such as mac-n-cheese, baked beans and green beans with bacon. mission-bbq.com
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