Bart's Old North State

Yankees seemingly apply the term "Carolina BBQ" to any pork slathered with a vinegar based sauce. Those living within the Tarheel state will tell you that there are actually two very distinct styles of NC "Q". Fans of both types vehemently defend their style of "Q" and declare it the truest form of North Carolina BBQ.

"Eastern" style BBQ typically features whole hogs smoked over hickory and seasoned simply with salt, pepper and vinegar. "Western" or "Lexington" style BBQ uses only the pork shoulder. Their sauce is also vinegar based, but is typically accented with ketchup or Worcestershire sauce. East meets west in the state's Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill).

Being located in the middle of the debate, Bart's Old North State (Chapel Hill) is a North Carolina BBQ company blending the best of both worlds. Bart's is a restaurant, caterer and competition team that started in 2002. Their restaurant and catering company have garnered rave reviews on social networks like Yelp and Foursquare  while the competition team has won numerous contests including the last two North Carolina BBQ Sauce Championships.

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I never got the opportunity to enjoy their "Q" while living in North Carolina, but Bart's did send me a bottle of their award winning sauce to review. I've had my eye on their sauce for quite some time so I was really looking forward to testing it out. They market their sauce as the "Perfect Blend of Eastern and Western N.C. Sauces".

Bart's Old North State is, of course, a vinegar based sauce. What sets this sauce apart are accent ingredients used to enhance the sauce's flavor. Ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, molasses and assorted spices make Bart's a much more complex blend. The thin sauce is sweeter than most Carolina sauces. For me, that's a welcome change. It also in no way diminishes the requisite vinegar tang that traditionalists expect from NC "Q".

Any good Carolina sauce needs to be paired with smoked pork. I poured half the bottle over a pile of smokey pulled pork shoulder. The flavors couldn't have complimented the meat any better. I loved the balance of vinegar tang and sweet brown sugar. Their was even a slight spicy element. I later tossed shredded roast beef in the sauce with similar success. In fact, I found that I liked Bart's as a dip for just about everything.

Bart's take on Carolina "Q" is a pleasant addition to the genre. Though I have a feeling traditionalists may scream about the inclusion of some the ingredients, I think they've created an delicious, innovative flavor that still pays homage to their Carolina roots.

Learn more about Bart's and purchase their Carolina sauce for yourself at .  You can also check them out on Facebook.

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