As many of you may know, North Carolina is extremely rich in BBQ tradition — so much so that there is a supposed schism between east and west as to what BBQ really is. Whether it’s whole hog or just the shoulder, it’s all pig and magically delicious. I decided to make the trek to a BBQ joint that is lesser-known than its Lexington counterparts yet is not lacking for tradition — Whispering Pines B-B-Q.
Located about 45 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC in the town of Albemarle, Whispering Pines B-B-Q has been cooking up Lexington-style BBQ since the early 1940s. They still use traditional cooking methods — burning down a mix of oak and hickory to coals and shoveling them into a direct heat cooker.
And for more proof of the BBQ joint’s authenticity, I offer up the required wood pile picture:
When you walk in to Whispering Pines, you feel like you’re stepping back in time. The wood paneling on the walls, the booths, the diner-style bar… it all is a blast from the past! This is the type of place that locals frequent and keep guarded close.
Whispering Pines offers up a variety of sandwiches and non-BBQ plates. But I’m here for the BBQ. So I order the chopped BBQ plate with slaw and onion rings for my sides. The plate also came with a few hush puppies. My drink of choice? Sweet tea, of course!
As you can see, the pork is finely chopped. There are little bits and pieces of bark throughout, but not too much. That is no big deal, however, because this was some mighty tasty pork! It was flavorful and moist without being too mushy. Whispering Pines does have BBQ dip at each table. It added another level of flavor when added to the chopped pork. But it’s potent stuff, so it doesn’t take much.
And now for the sides… starting with the slaw. When I was reading reviews of Whispering Pines on Yelp, a major point of contention was the quality of the slaw. A lot of people mentioned that it was spicy and not very good. I found it to be the opposite — the slaw was a coarse-chopped slaw lightly tossed in what I believe to be a diluted version of the BBQ dip. It had good texture, a nice tang, and a bit of the peppery notes found in the dip. The hush puppies were decent enough. As for the onion rings… I really wasn’t impressed with them. They were sort of bland and flavorless.
If you’re looking for authentic Lexington-style BBQ but can’t get to Lexington, Whispering Pines B-B-Q is a very acceptable substitute! Before I forget… the restaurant is cash-only, so make sure to stop at an ATM.