Nelson's Barbecue. Lumberton NC -- off I-95
I drove 2 hours to check this place out because it's not every day a new wood-cooking barbecue place opens (although it seems as if almost every day one closes, or switches to gas). I wasn't disapponted. First things first: The barbecue is whole-hog, cooked over coals in the old-fashioned way, and seasoned with a classic eastern North Carolina pepper and vinegar sauce, with a touch of sweetness. The cole slaw and Brunswick stew and barbecue boiled potatoes are worthy side-dishes. (They also offer green beans, baked beans, and french fries, although I didn't try them.) The hushpuppies are light, crisp, and sweet, and cornsticks are an option. Banana pudding for dessert, of course, and smooth and tasty it is.
Lumberton is lucky to have such a fine, traditional North Carolina barbecue place. There's not another one for miles around. (Other places in town that advertise barbecue have stopped cooking with wood, or never started.) Passers-by on I-95 should drop by for a taste of North Carolina tradition, and that Lumbertonians should realize what a treasure they have.
By the way, although my taste is mostly in my mouth, I should add that the decor is perfect. Old ads and implements and photos and all, but it stops well short of Cracker Barrel, and they're all interesting. You know you've got folks who know what they're doing when the big sign out from says "Air Conditioned" at the bottom.