Memorable | One of the Best
R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue | North Carolina BBQ & Best Slaw
Review by: Michael Stern
Barbecue slaw, which adds sauce to the familiar chopped-cabbage salad, matters greatly in this part of North Carolina. Nowhere do people hold it in such high esteem as at R.O.’s, which just may serve the best slaw anywhere. Billed as “sauce, slaw & dip,” the soupy emulsion draws some customers who come for nothing but a slaw sandwich. That’s a thick layer of sauce in a well-toasted bun, no meat whatever. R.O. sauce is a shade darker than coral pink. It makes me think of 1000 Islands dressing (but only vaguely). Its flavor notes include pickly sweetness and enough cayenne pepper zest to rouse taste buds to attention. Might there be there a hint of pimiento cheese in it?
Of course, R.O.’s customers buy the slaw to accompany barbecue. They also take it home to use as an ingredient in meat loaf and a sauce for cocktail shrimp. It serves as a hamburger condiment and a dip for chips or crudités. The recipe dates back to 1946 when Robert Osy Black opened his barbecue restaurant and made his wife Pearl’s specialty condiment part of the menu.
If you are coming to R.O.’s, I do not recommend ordering a slaw sandwich. You will like it, for sure. But you’d regret not having the slaw in concert with R.O.’s barbecued pork. The pork ranks as some of North Carolina’s best. They cook it the old fashioned way, with hickory smoke. The pale meat emerges from the pit so creamy and rich and moist that no sauce is necessary. But, oh, what great companions the pork and slaw make! You can get the pork sliced or chopped. The latter sports texture that is more fun. Slices define tenderness.
Ice tea and soda come in 16, 24, and 32 ounce tumblers. But if you really want to go local, have the R.O.’s specialty, Cherry-Lemon Sun Drop. Imagine a cross between Mountain Dew and Hawaiian Punch.
A Place to Contemplate Great BBQ
Aside from the best slaw and superb BBQ, R.O.’s earns Roadfood respect because it exudes grand, well-weathered character. Casual manners rule. That means that you order at the counter and fetch your own tray when your number is called. The dining room to which you take the tray (after stocking up on napkins at a service bar) might remind you of an old-fashioned tea room. Décor includes potted plants and wallpaper of which a Victorian grandmother would approve, complete with fancy border all around the top. A hushed reverence prevails in the dining room. So many great BBQ parlors offer a place not only to enjoy their food, but to peacefully contemplate it.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|