Bill Spoon’s Barbecue

One of the best

A sign on the front of Bill Spoon’s announces “We’ve cooked the whole pig since 1963.” Whole pig really is a big deal. As swell as butts may be when they are slow-smoke-cooked, they cannot match the rousing diversity of hacked-up whole hog, from creamy to crunchy, which you can here have on a partitioned plate with a couple of side dishes or packed into a bun and crowned with bright, pickly mustard slaw.

Spoon’s Brunswick stew is so dense with meat and vegetables that you can clean the bowl using only a fork; and tubular hushpuppies with vivid onion punch provide cornmeal counterpoint to the spice of barbecue or barbecue-laced beans. If there is a pork-frowner at your table, Spoon’s chicken, cooked moist and ultra-tender, encased in succulent skin, is a fine alternative.

To drink: sweet tea, refilled approximately every 90 seconds by a roving member of the waitstaff. For dessert: banana pudding loaded with slices of ripe banana and streaks of cookie that had me excavating for more with every spoonful.

It all adds up to an archetypal barbecue meal, just what you’d hope for in a place that’s built a grand reputation for more than half a century. Founder Bill Spoon learned the barbecue trade from John Skinner, who learned his craft at North Carolina’s first sit-down barbecue restaurant, opened by Bob Melton in Rocky Mount in 1924.

Note: Dinner is now served Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until 8pm.

Chris & Amy Ayers | January 31, 2008

We’ll never understand why Spoon’s isn’t included on the Historic North Carolina BBQ Trail, for this venerable smokehouse has been a South Boulevard tradition—proudly accepting only cash and checks—since 1963. Founder Bill Spoon passed away in 2007, but his family took over the business and extended the weekend hours to further accommodate the legions of Charlotte-area regulars.

This Eastern North Carolina BBQ is among the Queen City’s finest, and the requisite plate spotlights chopped pork, made perfect with liberal shakes of Spoon’s piquant vinegar sauce. The excellent BBQ baked beans are cooked with a little chopped pork for texture and smoky flavor. The mustard cole slaw is one of the best examples of such, as its tangy flavor never overpowers the crispiness of the minced cabbage. A basket of darkened hushpuppies provide the optimal starchy crunch.

Brunswick stew is an item that is always prepared differently in every restaurant, and Spoon’s version is thick and flavorful with chopped pork, corn, and tomatoes. The iced tea is deftly sweet, never sugary, and our only disappointment was the banana pudding—and only because we prefer the vanilla wafers to be pre-softened by the pudding, not crunchy as they are here.

Spoon’s Barbecue should be part of every Charlotte visit, but they’re only open for lunch until 3 p.m. Gone are the days when Bill Spoon himself manned the register and would chat with you as you paid your bill, but bottles of his fabulous vinegar sauce, cloudy with pepper dregs, are still available at the front counter to take home.

What to Eat
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, BBQ Plate
BBQ Plate
The $8 lunch special plate: two helpings of chopped pork, moistened with sauce; mustard slaw, and BBQ beans (or BBQ potatoes or fries). The same custom-printed plates are used for Spoon’s popular catering service.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
Ayersian has commented that the 'Nila Wafers in Spoon's banana pudding are a bit too crunchy for his taste: not softened enough. The batch I got on Christmas eve, 2009 had so many fresh, perfectly ripe banana slices in the smooth custard that it almost was hard to find streaks of cookie. Those that were there were, to my taste, perfectly softened enough to still be cookie-like, yet tender enough to blend. The search for just enough cookie made every spoonful a sweet little adventure.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Brunswick Stew
Brunswick Stew
Even a side-dish small bowl of Brunswick stew is immensely satisfying. It is so thick with meat and vegetables that it is edible with a fork.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Iced Tea
Iced Tea
Waitresses come around approximately every 90 seconds to top off your ice tea.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Hushpuppies
Hushpuppies come with all dinners and on the side of Brunswick stew. Bill Spoon's tubular 'pups are firm and crunchy -- ideal companions for just about anything else on the menu.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Barbecue Sandwich
Barbecue Sandwich
Bill Spoon's tangy-sweet mustard slaw perfectly draws forth the elegant and almost evanescent flavor of whole-hog pork.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Barbecue Chicken (1/4)
Barbecue Chicken (1/4)
Long, slow cooking yields chicken that is ridiculously tender. If there is a pork-frowner at your table, this is the way to go.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Barbecue Potatoes
Barbecue Potatoes
Soft and only gently flavored with sauce, these potatoes are one of several side dishes available on BBQ plates.
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Dry Rub Ribs
Dry Rub Ribs
Ribs at Bill Spoon's are of the dry-rub variety, with a huge, spicy flavor. A spritz of sauce provides nice harmony.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
BBQ plate
Onion Rings
Cole Slaw
Pecan Pie
Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese
Gentle-flavored mac 'n' cheese offers a nice texture spectrum, from creamy veins between the noodles to chewy little bits from the edge of the casserole.
Directions and Hours
Open Today
Monday10:30 am - 3 pm
Tuesday10:30 am - 3 pm
Wednesday10:30 am - 3 pm
Thursday10:30 am - 8 pm
Friday10:30 am - 8 pm
Saturday10:30 am - 8 pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
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Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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