FOOD & WINE

Ole Time Barbecue: Raleigh barbecue joint offers an Eastern-style feast

July 29, 2015
Sign outside Ole Time Barbecue
Sign outside Ole Time Barbecue

Sign outside Ole Time Barbecue

Ole Time Barbecue, a kitschy temple of Eastern-style pork barbecue

Ole Time Barbecue is a quirky, family-run roadside eatery about 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh, N.C. It has 10 booths and tables, some counter seats and an open diner-style kitchen. From the road, you can’t miss its bright yellow roof.

The kitschy interior decor includes over 300 pigs of different materials and sizes adorning every wall and surface. The windowsills beside tables overlooking the parking lot hold more pigs, plus no-frills rolls of brown paper towels along with hot sauces and condiments.

The term “barbecue” embraces a variety of “low and slow” cooking styles around the world. Even within the U.S., techniques and recipes vary by region. North Carolina has two distinct styles: Eastern and Lexington. Eastern style, made with vinegar and peppers, uses the whole hog. Lexington (also called Piedmont style) uses only pork shoulder and has a vinegary sauce made red with the addition of ketchup.

Kathy and Jerry Hart opened Old Time in 1993, using recipes handed down through the generations from Jerry’s grandpa, Quillie Gray. Here, Eastern-style pork is cooked in an electric cooker for at least eight hours, and the menu offers sandwiches, plates and combination dinners featuring pork and chicken.

The generously portioned hand-chopped BBQ Pork Plate includes two sides and a basket of warm hush puppies for $7.99. Eastern-style barbecue is somewhat of an acquired taste; it’s drier than most other styles, almost begging for the addition of hot sauce. Sides are exceptional: Tender collard greens are cooked to perfection. Sweet-potato fries and fried apple sticks are decadently delicious (although it wouldn’t be prudent to make a steady diet of them). The hush puppies (also fried) are made of a cornmeal and onion batter so tasty and addictive that I purchased a package to make at home.

Hand-chopped pork barbecue and collard green

Hand-chopped pork barbecue and collard greens

Hand-chopped pork barbecue, sweet potato fries and apple sticks

Hand-chopped pork barbecue, sweet potato fries and apple sticks

When we thought we couldn’t take one more bite, Kathy brought a small bowl of Brunswick stew (a savory Southern-style tomato-based stew) from the kitchen for us to taste. Then we had her homemade banana pudding, one of several desserts prepared daily, made with vanilla wafers and served in a foam cup.

Southern-style Brunswick Stew

Southern-style Brunswick Stew


IF YOU GO

Ole Time Barbecue
6309 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 919-859-2544

This article by Irene S. Levine was published in the Travel Section of the Chicago TribuneHartford Courant, Miami Sun-Sentinel, Tidewater Review, The Virginia Gazette and Orlando Sentinel.

  • Reply
    Paula McInerney
    August 3, 2015 at 3:16 am

    They sure are big plates of food. I like the low and slow cooking as it does release good flavours and makes the food so tender. I wouldn’t make it through one plate I don’t think, sizewise.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 3, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Yes, large and hearty! One plate certainly would have done for two but wouldn’t allow us to taste different dishes:-)

  • Reply
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    August 3, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I love the informality of family run restaurants with lots of kitsch to look at and Ole Time Barbecue sounds like a great place to roll up your sleeves and get to the serious business of eating! Love those sweet potato fries and fried apple sticks sound like a new dish that I could go for too – Mmmm!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 4, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Eating there feels like you’ve returned to a bygone error!

  • Reply
    Kay Dougherty
    August 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t like pork if it’s dry so would probably like the Eastern style better but what’s on your plates looks really good. I would have to read this when I’m already hungry for lunch! Love the name “Quillie Gray” – should be a character in a novel.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 4, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      The warm-hearted people were as interesting as the food!

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel)
    August 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    I agree with Kay that Quillie Gray should be the name of a character in a novel! I could totally eat that delicious looking plate of BBQ and am a firm believer that collard greens should be a side for every dish. I’ve never heard of deep fried apple sticks but did try fried pickles when I was in North Carolina and they were pretty good. Although I suspect far from low cal

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 4, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      You’re a girl of my heart. I’m crazy about collard greens! They are usually my favorite part of the meal~

  • Reply
    Nancie
    August 3, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I always forget how large the portions are in North America. I think that generally US portions are even larger than Canadian. That being said, all of this food looks over the top delicious, and I have never turned down a good feed of ribs. A plate like that here in Korea would set you back 30 bucks.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 4, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      And I think that portions are even larger in the South, especially at a BBQ joint!
      Prices are often less expensive but calorie counts can zoom! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lyn (aka) The Travelling Lindfields
    August 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Your photos make the food look absolutely mouth-watering.

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    August 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Sounds delicious! I’d love to see those 300 pigs must be a hoot in such a small restaurant. Fried apples sticks? That’s a new one on me. Would definitely swing by to try Ole Time BBQ if we were in the neighborhood.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 4, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      I would imagine that diners contributed many of the pigs on display. If I were to return, I would bring one with me!

  • Reply
    The GypsyNesters
    August 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Looks great! Guess I didn’t realize that North Carolina had two kinds of BBQ. I thought the Piedmont style was it. Learn something new everyday, thanks.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 4, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Traveling will do that to you—the learning thing:-)

  • Reply
    Suzanne Stavert
    August 5, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I love Raleigh! The restaurant scene is fabulous. I am not a big meat eater, but I know that my family loves BBQ and mass quantities as well. 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 6, 2015 at 10:10 am

      The South is really the epicenter of BBQ in the U.S.
      It was really great to sample this regional dish at a roadside stand even though we were passing through.

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    August 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Sounds like a person won’t go hungry at this BBQ joint :-). We’d have to share a dinner!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      August 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

      With each other or with me? Either way works! 🙂

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr
    August 5, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Ordinarily, I might sit here tsk tsking about how unhealthy the food you’ve described is. However, I have house guests visiting who are very health conscious. They graciously brought all the organic special foods they like to cook with and eat and have prepared every meal since they’ve been here. Tonight’s dinner was very lean ground pork meatballs on seaweed noodles. So, reading this is making me starving for some down home deep fried North Carolina cooking—which I’ve never had before.

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