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Flip's

5818 Oleander Dr., Wilmington, NC - (910) 799-6350
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/19/2012 6:22:00 AM
Opened in 1950 by Leonard "Flip" Watts and taken over in 1986 by Bob Church, who remains its chief cook, host, and welcoming ringmaster, this roadside smoke house is one big, airy room with booths and a counter. Barbecue aficionados will feel a warm glow the moment they enter, inhale, and take a seat. Flip's room tone is the deferential hush that is unique to so many great Tarheel barbecue parlors.

The Q comes on a plate or in a bun. Cole slaw -- a sprite, mustardy condiment -- is optional on the sandwich; a plate includes crunchy, tubular hush puppies and two side dishes from a list that includes baked beans, green beans, French fries, Brunswick stew, deep-fried corn nuggets, fried okra, fried squash, boiled potatoes, and slaw. At Mr. Church's insistence, we sampled fried macaroni and cheese. "I originally made it for kids," Church told us. "But they want their macaroni and cheese just plain. It's the adults who like this." It is wonderful indeed, far better than the state-fair food one might expect, arriving in crunchy little triangles that give no hint of their noodly interior until your teeth sink through the crust and find the creamy, salty orange essence and itty-bitty Kraft elbow macaroni.

Regarding sauce: Flip's is fantastic, in the Eastern North Carolina phylum, meaning vinegar is its prominent note and it is much more hot than sweet. It is thicker than minimal sauces that are only vinegar and pepper; and it pairs perfectly with the hacked-up pork. Still, the meat is so good as-is, it is a delicious dilemma to decide whether to sauce or not to sauce.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Barbecue Plate
Fried Mac & Cheese
Barbecue Sandwich
Corn Nuggets
Banana Pudding
Brunswick Stew
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A definitive eastern North Carolina barbecue sandwich: While cole slaw is optional, its mustard-tinged crunch pairs perfectly with the smooth, smoky pork hash.
"A definitive eastern North Carolina barbecue sandwich: While cole slaw is optional, its mustard-tinged crunch pairs perfectly with the smooth, smoky pork hash."
Michael Stern





To eaters accustomed to sauce-smothered 'que with pyrotechnical flavor antics, this style is a shock. It is an unsauced duet of smoke and swine, a good example of the Bauhaus maxim that less is more.
"To eaters accustomed to sauce-smothered 'que with pyrotechnical flavor antics, this style is a shock. It is an unsauced duet of smoke and swine, a good example of the Bauhaus maxim that less is more."
Michael Stern


Flip's sauce is tart, peppery and a magnificent complement for smoky pork. It is sold by the jarful, and proprietor Bob Church said he soon will be set up for mail-order.
"Flip's sauce is tart, peppery and a magnificent complement for smoky pork. It is sold by the jarful, and proprietor Bob Church said he soon will be set up for mail-order."
Michael Stern


The fried bologna sandwich is known here as the Flip burger. Add chili and cole slaw and that makes it ''all the way.''
"The fried bologna sandwich is known here as the Flip burger. Add chili and cole slaw and that makes it ''all the way.''"
Cliff Strutz


Nuggets of fried creamed sweet corn are a wanton indulgence.
"Nuggets of fried creamed sweet corn are a wanton indulgence."
Michael Stern


Here is how the mac & cheese arrives. Each piece is easy to pick up and makes an exciting alternative to hush puppies.
"Here is how the mac & cheese arrives. Each piece is easy to pick up and makes an exciting alternative to hush puppies."
Michael Stern


Deep-fried macaroni & cheese
"Deep-fried macaroni & cheese"
Michael Stern


Cool, soothing, sweet, and creamy banana pudding is an ideal dessert after a good hot barbecue meal.
"Cool, soothing, sweet, and creamy banana pudding is an ideal dessert after a good hot barbecue meal."
Michael Stern


Beau, the house mascot, spends his day snoozing on a couch near Flip's front door.
"Beau, the house mascot, spends his day snoozing on a couch near Flip's front door."
Michael Stern


Flip's has been a destination barbecue parlor since Harry Truman was president. Its motto: Best BBQ West of the Atlantic Ocean.
"Flip's has been a destination barbecue parlor since Harry Truman was president. Its motto: Best BBQ West of the Atlantic Ocean."
Michael Stern


I've yet to try the chicken or ribs, but based on pork alone, I sure intend to return to this friendly eatery.
"I've yet to try the chicken or ribs, but based on pork alone, I sure intend to return to this friendly eatery."
Michael Stern


The original Flip's, 1957. The Flipburger -- a fried boloney sandwich -- still is on the menu.
"The original Flip's, 1957. The Flipburger -- a fried boloney sandwich -- still is on the menu."
Michael Stern



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