Thursday, October 04, 2007

Barbecue Pilgrimage: Bullock's

Last night, in honor of Bullock's Barbecue's winning the hushpuppy poll on Eat at Joe's, I decided it was time to pay them a visit. Actually, what really happened is that as I was passing through the library, I got a whiff of some food that must have been completely unrelated to barbecue that somehow reminded me of it and it set off pangs of withdrawal. The hushpuppies were wonderful, as always.

I still maintain that Bullock's barbecue is the best that I've eaten in the Triangle. It's not too sour, too spicy or too smokey. The meat may not be as lean as it was twenty or thirty years ago, but I like it. The coleslaw is the best that I've ever eaten in any situation. I love their barbecue sandwiches with coleslaw on them. I really do.

My dad ordered the combo plate with barbecue, slaw and a fried chicken breast. That's what he's ordered for as long as I can remember and I mean that literally. He took about half of it home, which could have easily been used to make two sandwiches. We didn't have dessert, because it wouldn't fit. The meal for the two of us cost $12 and change.

We talked to our waitress and one of the owners about whether organizations could hold meetings in one of their rooms. We were startled and excited to find out that yes, absolutely, they could. The reason we were startled is that even though we didn't have to wait in line for a table, it still hadn't sunk in that it was daylight and there wasn't a line waiting to get in the door. Bullock's opened in 1952 and long before I was born, the restaurant became a Durham institution. When I was little, you expected to wait in line for a table every single night of the week they were open, because you knew it would be worth the wait. You mourned their closing on Sunday, Monday and the long week or two that they were closed during the summer. That was part of growing up in Durham. The need to gobble up their chocolate pie was in your blood.

What's happened? Is it competition from places like Q-Shack and Hog Heaven? Is it just that there are so many more restaurants in Durham? Are people trying to eat healthier? Surely not. Over the last ten years or so, I've been overjoyed to see that the clientele has finally begun to reflect the demographics of the Durham population. Wouldn't that actually increase the number of customers? Or have some quit going because it's no longer exclusive?


  1. It does seem like there are more options these days. Also, I suspect that a large portion of their clientele has died off or moved into assisted living.

    Next time I'm in town, it'll be on the agenda, though.

  2. The past two times I've been to Bullock's, I've thought that the quality of the food was lower than it used to be.

    Bullock's is still a good restaurant, I just don't think it is as good as it used to be.

    By comparison, my favorite NC BBQ is from Little Richard's in Winston-Salem

  3. Anonymous4:05 PM

    my husband is from durham and he really misses bullocks is there any way a ga girl can suprise her husband with some good bbq??? can i buy it online???

  4. I don't think they even have a website anymore, but you could always give them a call at (919) 383-3211 and ask if they could ship you some. It's worth a try. Good luck!