‘Cue Review: Byrd’s Barbecue, Durham, NC (2816 Cheek Road)

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!).



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