Today I had lunch at Byrd’s Barbecue in Durham. Byrd’s is located on the north side of town, just outside the city limits. That said, it feels like you are closer to a farm than to downtown. I had not heard of Byrd’s before, but I was looking for a place relatively close to home and found it with a quick google search. I was completely unsure of what to expect.
Byrd’s has a paved parking lot (sometimes a bad sign), but I did notice a gravel overflow lot. The building itself looks rather old, which seems to be a pattern for barbecue joints. When I opened the front door, I was in a small room with about ten tables. The room appears to be an old closed-in porch, as one has to walk through another door to get to the order counter. The menu was simple and posted on the wall. I was hoping for ribs, but that is evidently a Wednesday specialty, and today was Thursday. I settled for the old standby: barbecue sandwich with slaw, a side of Brunswick stew, and sweet tea. I was a little early and fortunately beat the noon rush to the small restaurant, so they had my order out almost as soon as I had paid. I took my tray, retreated through the second door back onto the former porch, and took a seat at a table in the corner with a picnic-style checkered tablecloth (again, a good sign).
I started with the stew, and it was excellent. Perfect consistency. Not too soupy, and not too thick. Easily the best stew I have had in a while. The barbecue was almost as good. I would have prefered a little more slaw on the sandwich, but the meat was moist and had a nice charred taste. There are two styles of sauce available. One they call “Memphis Style”, and the other is the “Old Fashioned.” The Memphis Style is tomato-based and sweet, and I would prefer they left it in Memphis. However, the Old Fashioned is a traditional vinegar-based sauce, and I enjoyed it. It had a little bit of spice in it, but it was certainly not too hot for my tastes. And the sweet tea was just about perfect.
All-in-all, Byrd’s is one of the best I have had in the area. I would put it right up there with Allen & Son, although the latter might have it beat on atmosphere. I liked it so much that I went back to the counter and tried to buy a t-shirt. Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size (maybe I need to lay off of the ‘cue for a while so that I can go back and get a medium!).