BBQ Review: Grady’s BBQ

This weekend we’re featuring a guest author, Porky LeSwine.  Mr. LeSwine is my favorite barbecue critic.  You can sample his fine reviews and barbecue insights on his blog, The BBQ Jew.

The blog’s theme is “What happens when the ‘Chosen People’ choose pork.  North Carolina pork barbecue to be specific.”  It is definitely the go-to reference for all things related to North Carolina ‘cue.

And when my favorite barbecue critic reviews my favorite ‘cue joint, I felt it was the right time to include him on our blog.

While working on a customer project in Goldsboro, NC the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of dining at Grady’s BBQ in Dudley, NC on many occasions.  After the first trip, I was hooked.

During my last visit, I met Steve Grady and was invited into the cathedral of Grady:  the smoke pit.  The sights and smells were incredible.  The room was filled with sweet oak wood smoke and slowly rendering pork fat.  At the time, he was cooking two 150-lb whole hogs.  The skin golden brown and crisp.  In the corner were cases of vinegar and boxes of crushed red pepper.  I could’ve stayed in there forever!

I went with the ‘cue plate but my friend opted for the combination fried chicken and ‘cue.  He described the fried chicken as some of the best he’s had.  And that’s saying something considering he grew up in Wayne County and is accustomed to eating his Mom’s chicken and greens.

Enough of my review, let’s get back to the expert.  Here is Mr. LeSwine’s review of Grady’s:

I thought about leaving my review at this:  go to Grady’s.  That would have been enough said, but the folks at Grady’s deserve a little more good (albeit virtual) ink.  As far as I am concerned, Grady’s is among an elite few of the best barbecue joints in the state.  Unfortunately, their off the beaten path location has kept them in relative obscurity, even though they’ve dished out terrific barbecue for more than 20 years and many well known joints can’t hold a pig’s wax candle to Grady’s pork.

To say Grady’s is unassuming at first glance is an understatement.  Let’s start with the location.  Grady’s is in the tiny town of Dudley, about 15 minutes south of downtown Goldsboro – a town featuring the well-known joints Wilber’s, Scott’s and McCall’s – and just a few hundred yards north of a road call Squirrel Ridge Drive.  The building itself (pictured above) could easily be missed were it not standing all by itself on a quite stretch of windy road, and were it not for the prominent woodpile and barbecue pit out back.  The hand-written menu features chicken and barbecue, with only a few other main courses available for those confused enough to not be contended with ‘cue.  And then there’s the name itself:  Grady is actually pronounced “Graddy” (rhymes with “daddy”). which is the last name of owners Steve and Gerri.  Oh, and Grady’s is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, and only open until 3 p.m. Wednesday thru Friday (they’re open till 6 p.m. on Saturdays).  But all of these traits only add to Grady’s charm.  The joint of the real deal and its focus is where it should be:  on making outstanding barbecue.

Grady’s Eastern-style, whole hog barbecue is moist, rich, oh-so-smokey, flecked with outside brown and bits of skin, and hand chopped to perfection.  Divine swine for sure.  Jim Early of the NC BBQ Society sums it up by writing, “This ‘cue is so good you don’t want to swallow it.  It is only of the best eastern style ‘cues one will ever taste – pure ‘cue heaven on earth.”  I couldn’t agree more.  And the sauce, which one could do without given the quality of the port, is among the best I’ve ever tasted.  It’s a fiery hot vinegar and pepper concoction that has a surprising depth of flavor.

The sides I sampled were great too.  The slaw is a fairly sweet, moderately mayonaissed and coarsely chopped mixture that is flecked with sweet pickle and complements the ‘cue well.  The hush puppies were fluffy and fried just right.  The blackeyed peas I ordered to round out my barbecue plate were delicious (cabbage, rice, boiled potatoes and potato salad were the other vegetable options on the day I visited, so it was a tough choice).  My only regret about my lunchtime trip to Grady’s is that I was unable to return later that day for dinner.  Like I said at the beginning, go to Grady’s.

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