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CHOW Tour: North America: Follow along with Chowhound cofounder Jim Leff as he crisscrosses North America on a monumental road trip in search of hyperdeliciousness. You never know where he might turn up...

Follow along with Chowhound cofounder Jim Leff as he crisscrosses North America on a monumental road trip in search of hyperdeliciousness. You never know where he might turn up...

North America Dispatch #16: The Best Sticky Buns Ever (and 'Cue in a Citgo)

Boone, North Carolina

This northwest corner isn’t the chowiest part of N.C., but two terrific places are quite near Maverick Farms.

Citgo Market, a.k.a. Foscoe Country Corner (8937 Highway 105 South, Boone, North Carolina; 828-963-6409), makes the best barbecue (hickory-smoked!) in this part of the state (the mountains are not known for good barbecue). The meat itself is very well smoked, but most North Carolinians would quibble with the sauce, which is too sweet.

This joint makes pretty good cheeseburgers too.

MoonPies and RC Cola are a classic combination, sort of sweetness squared.

Johnson’s Bakery, a.k.a Kersh’s Old World Bakery (106-1 Clubhouse Drive, Highway 105, Foscoe, North Carolina; 828-963-5668), makes these:

... the best sticky buns I’ve ever eaten

Excellent scone and brownie

Real good muffins (here we see their wistful side, headin’ down that lonesome highway …)

I made my way down to Charlotte, where I ate some fairly pedestrian fried chicken in a few places but went ga-ga over the lardy-crusted coconut custard pie at United House of Prayer for All People (2321 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, North Carolina; 704-394-3884). The measure of its quality can be gauged by my failure to shoot the photo before having scarfed most of it.

As at all United House of Prayer cafeterias, quality is quite variable, according to which church ladies cook on a given day.

Shelby, near Charlotte, is a mecca for barbecue, and Bridge’s Barbecue Lodge (2000 E. Dixon Boulevard/Highway 74, Shelby, North Carolina; 704-482-8567) is a local legend. I found their ‘cue dismayingly blah. Perhaps I arrived at the wrong time of day. Pretty good hush puppies, though.

Tomorrow I head east into prime barbecue territory, and I’m really hoping for some ‘cue that blows my doors off.


Before you get too far away, please don't miss Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, TN. I make it a point in my travels to find local barbecue joints, but I've never found one better than this. It is my benchmark for all other cue. Instead of using pork shoulder, like many others do, Ridgewood uses only ham, and the difference is noticable. Don't miss the cole slaw and beans (another benchmark) no one comes close to them, either!

For a great review with all the pertinent details, please check this out -

Happy eating!!

Take exception to the "dismayingly blah" comment re Bridges Barbecue in Shelby. I grew up on this! I guess that means more barbecue for the rest of us.

Tip: iced tea at Alston Bridges (no relation to the other Bridges) on Grover St. in Shelby is fantastic. While the barbecue is great here also, folks come in just to order tea.

I hated to say it, too NC BBQ Gal. I'm aware of this place's reputation. I was very very glad to be there, and went quite far out of my way. I wanted to like it so badly, but......it just didn't sing for me.

Sigh, I love great tea. Sorry I missed Alston Bridges (is everyone called "Bridges" in Shelby??), but I'll try next time.

Jodiee, I'll try Ridgewood one day! Thanks!

But please, guys...put tips on the Chowhound.com message boards, so more people can enjoy (and opine back!). We have a message board discussing the south at http://www.chowhound.com/boards/show/11

hey jim: planning any trips to the pacific northwest? seattle & vancouver & vancouver island are not to be missed!

Have to agree with Jim about Bridges Barbecue in Shelby. Heard so much about it I couldn't wait to try it, but the 'cue tasted like roast pork.

I find that to be the case with way too much N.C. 'cue, although there is some that is might good, too.