I have been sampling traditional Carolina BBQ since I landed in North Carolina in 1979 via the U.S. Army and Fort Bragg/Fayetteville, NC. I must admit that it took me a while to develop a taste for what I call shredded meat. I can remember getting very excited about a BBQ that I was invited to while employed at Duke Power Company. I could smell the memorable aroma of BBQ being cooked a few blocks away from the park where the company event took place. This event had all of the makings of what I consider much fun; sports, good people, and of course free food. I could not wait until people started lining up to be fed as I am not one to jump in line first. My taste buds were preparing themselves for another delightful treat of what they called good ole Carolina BBQ. Man was I extremely disappointed when I was served a plate of that shredded pork covered in a tangy sauce, along with baked beans, slaw, and sweet tea. What heck is this, I thought to myself. Where’s the beef?
My idea of BBQ stems from my growing up in south Florida where having a BBQ meant you would be served mouth-watering beef ribs, baked beans, corn-on-the cob, homemade potato salad, water melon, and Kool-Aid or punch; and not this shredded crap. Well, fast forward over thirty years later and I have now acquired a taste for traditional Carolina BBQ which typically will be eastern or western style. The eastern style has more of a tangy vinegar taste while the western style is sweeter and tomato based. I can deal with either style but prefer the western tomato based over the tangier eastern style. Neither one of course can come close to my childhood fantasy of beef ribs, corn-on-the-cob; etc…
I discovered Burk’s BBQ from a billboard on Interstate 77 south while living across the border from Charlotte, NC, near Rock Hill, SC. The sign said that it was the best BBQ around – like they all say. I decided to stop in one day and give it a try while driving down the famous Cherry Road in Rock Hill. They offered both a rib and pork plate. They both feature pork as opposed to beef -- like I am used to – the difference is the label pork means its shredded and the traditional Carolina BBQ. I ordered my usual take out and decided on the small pork plate which is $7.20 and comes with French fries, slaw, and hushpuppies (Fried cornbread). To wash it down I also ordered the sweet tea ($1.60) making it a nearly traditional meal minus the fries in place of baked beans. When asked what type of sauce I preferred, I was surprised to have three types to choose from; eastern, western, or mustard sauce. Mustard sauce? Hmmmmmmmmmmm, I gotta try that!
While waiting for my order I was thoroughly entertained by the photos that plastered their walls from beginning to end. These folks had a very unique collection of mostly black and white photos from nearly every sitcom from the 1950’s through the 1980’s to include the Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, The Jeffersons, and Gomer Pyle USMC. It was quite challenging to see if I could name each and every one of them and I indeed could recognize most of the cast members. I am dating myself. The interior of this establishment as well as the restroom were very clean and tidy. My take out order was up in less than ten minutes and I was off to sample it while driving home; and while stopped at the traffic signals. The BBQ, fries, slaw, hushpuppies, and tea were all basically good but it was that mustard sauce that stole the show. It provided a very unique blend of both sweet and tangy palatable pleasures that left me licking the plate. Sometimes it’s nice to stray away from the norm; you just might stumble upon a new delight.
Burk’s BBQ Restaurant is located at 2012 Cherry Road in Love’s Plaza, Rock Hill, SC, 29730. Their phone number is 803-980-4444. Tell them that Trend Magazine Online sent you!