The sandwich: Chopped pork sandwich from Allen & Sons Barbecue, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The construction: Chopped pork and cole slaw on a hamburger bun. Served with an East Carolina-style vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Came with a side of hush puppies, which were amazing.
Important background information: As I mentioned, I spent most of last weekend on the road. Before I went, I researched the best barbecue places that were on my general route — as I pretty much always do. Since I was going to be in Eastern North Carolina, I was looking for the type of barbecue typical of that region. Presumably you know all about regional barbecue styles by now, and how Eastern North Carolina is one of them.
How it tastes: Pretty delicious, because pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw are pretty delicious. I wished the pork itself had a little more smoke flavor and some more diverse texture — those qualities, in reviews of Allen & Sons, were what drew me to the place. But maybe mine was not the best example of their barbecue, the last scraps from a butt or something, which would speak pretty well of their barbecue because it was still porky and tasty. With the vinegar sauce, especially, it sang. It added a great peppery tang to the sandwich, and the only thing stopping me from drenching the thing in the sauce was the fear I’d soak the bun.
The cole slaw was cole slaw. It added creaminess, texture and sweetness to complement the saltiness of the pork.
What’s worth noting, I suppose, is that as fine a sandwich as this was, I’ve had better East Carolina-style barbecue pork sandwiches in New York City. Multiple times, really. And that makes some sense: It’s a widely heralded cuisine, and there’s nothing about North Carolina that should make it the only place able to produce its own styles of barbecue. I mean… right? It’s not like it’s in the water or in the pigs. You want to reproduce any one of this nation’s barbecue cultures elsewhere, there really shouldn’t be anything holding you back (save maybe some ordinances about where you can cook with woodsmoke). And so people do. These last 10 years have been great ones for barbecue.
And that’s not to big-time Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I use New York as the example because it’s where I live and where I’ve tried the most pork sandwiches. I guess I’m wondering if my now 15-year-old habit of driving places to eat local stuff is growing increasingly silly as communication and lines of distribution improve — even if I’ll still always eat local stuff when I drive places.
But then if that’s the case, why am I not regularly eating hush puppies this good?
What it’s worth: I believe it cost about $9 with the hush puppies.
The rating: 72 out of 100.