The first lesson I learned with going to this restaurant is you need to call ahead of time to see if they are open. If they are open be sure to jump straight into your car with the GPS, because this place is in the middle of NO WHERE, and hurry on over for some great BBQ.
If you happen to be driving between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough you will pass Allen & Son Barbeque (you might not realize it though). They always have a full house of people ordering up their famous barbeque sandwiches and plates. Don't judge this restaurant until you step inside and try it yourself!
I have previously praised Allen and Sons as the best in NC. No more. Recent trips and conversations with other BBQ lovers have convinced me that they are off their game. Too often, I have seen large chunks of gristle, an unpleasant moment. If you can get around this --and I cannot -- the BBQ is good.
Pros: Good quality meat outside of the gristle
Cons: Large chunks of gristle
After reading the reviews on Citysearch I was conflicted by the wide range of opinions about Allen and Son BBQ so I decided to give it a try myself. Without reservation or hesistation I can say that Allen and Sons is the genuine article. Their bbq is "exactly" what is meant by the term "North Carolina Barbeque" Simply stated if you don't like Allen and Son's barbeque you don't like "North Carolina" barbeque. In an age of convenience where gas cookers and machine shredders are all the rage, Allen and Son has held true to tradition bronzing their shoulders over live hickory coals and chopping it all by hand. Yes the texture is varied, and yes you may find one big ole' hunk of fat...but you will also find smoky meat so tender it melts in your mouth. The sauce compliments the meat as opposed to overpowering it. The slaw is of the creamy variety and wonderful. The homemade desserts are just like your grandma made, my personal favorites are the peanut butter pie and the peach cobbler with homemade ice cream...My one knock is the ribs. Because the ribs are also cooked over live coals the outermost layer gets a little tough and it is off putting to some. However once beyond the outer layer the ribs are quite tender and the sauce is wonderful...I have seen many mention the price and while I will admit it's higher than the famous bbq chain store in town it is obvious why...pit cooking over wood certainly requires more time and expense. My bet is you are happy to pay the bill once you've experienced the true art of pit cooked barbeque...I know I was....
Pros: The barbeque and homemade desserts!
Cons: Ribs are good, just not great
For me, pork barbecue sandwiches are the real test for Eastern Carolina Barbecue. I grew up on it, and my standards are high. Allen and sons simply has the best available. I get it with slaw on top and add some Texas Pete's for that extra zing. The sandwiches are large and are a problem to deal with for the first 60 seconds or so - then it gets easier. Wait staff is very pleasant and the sweet tea is very sweet. Seating is a bit uncomfortable, but I already know that going in.
Pros: The BBQ Sandwiches
Cons: Somewhat hard to find, furniture falling apart
First time there is the last time there. Painful hostess, server who ignored us after delivering the dinner, and burned fish were only part of what made the experience something that made me want to stop by Harris Teeter and get their BBQ ribs on the way home.
Not only was the meal not good, but when we ordered, the server snapped (yes, snapped) that they were out of two of the items we had come in to get. Okay, I'm flexible. I got the fish. It was dry, burned and lousy.
My recommendation: Find BBQ somewhere else.
Pros: None that come to mind
Cons: Service, food, value
We've lived all over the country and our last two stops Norfolk, VA and Kansas City, MO had dives that were incredibly good. Expectations were high with Allen & Son. I first saw it getting lost trying to take a short cut and soon there after read the reviews. I've been excited to eat there for a month or more. What an incredible letdown. The rub which I think is the most important part of bbq before you cook the meat is terrible and quite frankly I've never had such dried out ribs (yet the sause was dripping with oil) and pulled pork that was so fatty. Maybe it was an off night, but $30 for a small serving of ribs, some pulled pork and some slaws--I'll find another dive.
Pros: none come to mind
Cons: tough greasy ribs and fatty pulled pork
My nephew came up for a visit from his native Florida, and "loves good barbeque". After a visit to the local, award-winning Hog Heaven (Roxboro), which we all rated as great, I wanted to take him to the famous Pit in Raleigh - I've never been, either. My husband substituted Allen & Son instead. After checking the reviews, we went, highly expectant --
We could barely pull out our chairs to sit down. My nephew couldn't get his legs under the table, it was so low. The waitress appeared harried, even though the restaurant was far from full when we got there. Apparently "unsweet tea" doesn't exist. Then the meals arrived --
The top piece of meat on my serving was pure cartilage. The first bites of meat were okay, the sauce was okay, the sides (my nephew ordered French fries) were overcooked and totally soaked in oil. That includes the hush puppies. The more pork I ate, the saltier it became. The slaw was pale, runny, and too peppery to be a "cool" accompaniament to BBQ. My nephew's review is one word, which is apparently inappropriate for this site, although comparatively mild - think parc, backwards. Mine is just - total disappointment, don't have a clue why this restaurant is so highly rated by so many. We won't waste our money again.
Cons: crowded seating, food average or below
Best BBQ in the Triangle
My first review had been triggered by a sad example for hospitality. Coming from the Waldorf school I tried to pick up a nice picnic for my folks. Nothing on the outside of the building served as an indicator for a special culinary experience. Unfortunately, the whole experience turned out to be rather dreadful. The only glimpse of light was the cole slaw that was dripping on my car seat since they only gave me a paper bag (but I blame myself, as well). You probably could have punctured body armor with the hushpuppies they served me as left-overs from last night - "triple-fried ashpuppies". The BBQ apparently had been pulled by a tree saw since all the limbs were still present. I am still flossing my teeth. And I am also confident that Pete's Texas Sauce doesn't belong in a good BBQ. Do you want friendly customer service and great BBQ? Go to Bullock's in Durham. It's Day vs. Night at Allen and Son's.
Pros: Cole Slaw
Cons: BBQ - Service - Ambience - No Smile
Great palce to bring friends that want to eat NC BBQ. I am a fan of all BBQ styles, but Allen and Sons is my favorite.
Pros: Keeping it real
Cons: closed on Mondays
I thought the BBQ was some of the best I have ever had - tender, juicy, good flavor. The warm butter-vinegar-pepper sauce was really good. The sides were average at best. The peanut butter pie was very good. But the ribs??? Hands down the worst I have ever had. They were tough to the point of being uneatable. The sauce (different from the BBQ sauce) was disgusting. The prices are too high for the amount of food you get. There are so many tables jammed in the place it's hard to move. The sweet tea is below average - doesn't taste fresh brewed. Overall? Go for the Q and pie and nothing else!!!
Cons: Ribs, cramped
I've eaten at just about all the BBQ places in the triangle and this one takes the cake...easily. To the people that said it wasn't good...your taste buds must have left you long ago or you're just a complete moron who doesn't like good food.
Pros: Great price, great food, great people
Cons: In the middle of nowhere so it's a bit of a drive from Durham.
Pay no attention to the reviews that stated dissappointment or expecting a tomato based sauce. This is a cross between Eastern style and Lexington.
Wood smoked port shoulders with a vinegar based dip /sauce. Hush puppies and cole slaw are excellent sides to accompany your slow roasted shredded pork.
Leave a little room for the home made pies served warm. The service is a freindly as it can get. Our waitress
was genuinely concerned that we were pleased with our meal. You can't fake real hospitality ! This is a very good BBQ place that I highly recommend.
I live in the north and have taken to smoking my own pork shoulders and making my own dip and mustard based South Carolina style BBQ because I can't get the real thing in the north.
Allen & sons is the real deal !
Hope this is helpful,
Pros: Good smoked pork shoulder, great dip, fast service
Cons: I coldn't walk after eating
I'm sorry, but I really have to question the people who have claimed this was the BBQ they've ever had. At best, Allen&Son's BBQ was no better than something you can find prepackaged in any grocery store in the frozen section. Ok, maybe the BBQ was tender... but it seriously lacked favor and any originality. So, to the other reviewers, I beg you... please take time to explore the other local BBQ restaurants, before you try to give the "Crown" to this dive. And, as far as their ribs go... disgusting! I took two bites and the meat was so tough, I just left my plate sitting there. The owner's wife refused to accommodate me with either another plate of ribs or something else of my choosing. I was totally shocked, as I never had experienced this kind of poor customer service in any other restaurant, when I've been dissatisfied. Needless to say, I'll NEVER visit this place again. And I will recommended the same to all my friends and coworkers. DO NOT WASTE YOUR GAS GOING THERE!
Cons: Ribs, BBQ, customer service
My husband and I are visiting the area, and we found this place on Citysearch. It's definitely a local "hole in the wall" place but very clean in side, and very nice, friendly people. Don't be intimidated by the outside, the inside is very clean and nice. It's definitely a little country, but the BBQ is so good. The sauce is really good, and the meat wasn't obviously fatty like most BBQ. Baked beans taste homemade, the sweet potato pie is a really good dessert if they have it. I highly recommend this!
Pros: Easy parking, GREAT food, FAST service, friendly waiters/waitresses, feels very safe.
Cons: a little "country", building isn't exactly swank.
I'm a Yankee, I admit it. I've lived here in NC for 6 years and I've brought every guest ever to Allen+Sons and not one of them hasn't walked out with a grin on their faces. If they come back to NC, my guests ALWAYS request a second BBQ trip here. All the whiny reviews I've read make me mad, if you want European restaurant service or a 7 course meal, don't go eat BBQ. The folks at Allen+Sons are nice, the decor is unique and super kitsch (though they probably wouldn't call it that). I love the place and their cole-slaw made me believe in that dish. My mouth is honestly watering thinking about taking my current out of towner friend there for lunch today.
So go and don't whine about it not being a high class restaurant - it is the best barbequed pork you can find in the area with an unmatchable ambiance.
Pros: Best BBQ in Triangle; best cole-slaw I've ever had; fun(ny) atmosphere
Cons: Closed on Mondays. Not cheap. Sweet tea addictive...
I have traveled in 40 states and had what many places call Barbecue. One observation I have made on dining establishments of all types. If you show up at 7:30 P.M. weekday or weekend and the parking lot is empty, you sit wherever you want and the food comes up in less than 5 minutes, chances are, disappointment will raise it's ugly head.
My realtor highly recommended Allen & Son's. (She needs to stick to selling houses)! Even though the food came out promptly, the remainder of the service was poor. The staff was clearly hell bent on closing by 8:00 P.M. They were even vacuuming in the dining room while we were eating. In good restaurants, 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. is usually the busiest time of evening dining.
The pork was dry. The sauce was, well, just vinegar. Vinegar with a few spices thrown in is not barbecue Sauce. At best it's salad dressing, but not barbecue sauce. When I paid the bill, the cashier wanted to know if I wanted to buy a quart of their sauces. I told her that I very much disliked what they had put on my dinner and that I would not put their so-called sauce on anything on purpose.
I'm sorry, I don't mean to be insulting, but the entire experience was very disappointing. I grew up next to my dad and granddad grilling and barbecuing. We butchered our own beef, pork, chickens etc. So, good food was always around. I think I may have been weaned direct from the breast to my dads? barbecue.
Problem is places like Allen & Son's stay around because the locals support them. The food was cheap. The portions were sizeable. I guess they don't really know better. Cheap should be the last thing on your list of what makes a good barbecue stand. The place was a dive. No matter, some of the best barbecue comes from tiny little dives.
I think I'd rather go to fast food barbecue like Smokey Bones or Smithfield. At least you wouldn't have to lift your feet while your dining so they can vacuum the floor.
Cons: cheap does not make to be good food.
Decided to check it out after rave reviews -- they were all wrong! Half of my bbq sandwich was fat and the hushpuppies were cold (they could have even been frozen). To top it off, service was horrible - never got my straw that I asked for, wasn't given napkins, and our tea glasses never got refilled. As we were walking out the door, the waitress even made a snide remark about her bad tip - perhaps she is use to people just tipping for bad service. I will not be back. We love Old Time BBQ in Raleigh - food is 100 times better, its cheaper, and the wait staff is friendly and helpful. Check it out if you haven't already!
Pros: Fast seating
Cons: food and service (they even charge you extra to leave the slaw on the side!)
I watched a documentary on PBS about barbeque (one of the trickiest things I've ever tried to make) and several barbeque places from around the country were featured. Allen and Son's was one of them. I have had barbeque from many of the famous local places in town and was never really impressed. The best barbeque I've ever had was done by my ex-neighbor Rodney Jenkins, who cooked the pig all day, over real charcoal. It was simply delicious.
I just stumbled upon Allen and Son's today, so I decided to see if this was THE Allen and Son's from the documentary. The young lady at the counter said it was and showed me a picture of Keith (the guy in the Documentary) shoveling coals into the pit. I promptly ordered a pound of barbeque and asked if they cooked the barbeque out back. Again, a positive answer, so I asked if I could go around back to look around. She asked the kitchen crew if Keith was back there and they responded, "yes". As I when around the back of the building, I ran into Keith preparing the wood for the 3 am fire for the next days batch of pig. While talking to Keith, (he was teasingly modest about his barbeque) I had to try some out of my container that was in my hand. This was like Rodney's barbeque; it was juicy, tender, slightly smoky and not over spiced with sauce. This was the best barbeque that I ever tasted.
Taste is an opinion, everyone's is different. Some people said that the barbeque (and fixings) here at Allen's is just OK. Most people rave about it. The one's who said it was just OK are wrong. This is the real deal. This is not some over vinegared, electric made stuff that most others sell. This is slow cooked, hickory fired barbeque at it's best. Good to see there are some people who still do things the way they're supposed to be done- with pride and love.
I went to Allen and Son's restaurant craving some good ribs after having some EXCELLENT ribs at Rub's on Chapel Hill Blvd in Morrisville. Unfortunately, Rub's is closed on Saturdays, so after reading all of the great reviews, I decided to give Allen and Son's a try. The ribs were really awful. They tasted like they were boiled and some really vinegary sauce was thrown on. The rib plate included cole slaw and potato salad which were also really vinegary. The whole plate tasted like nasty vinegar. I haven't regretted a meal more in a long time.
I tasted my sister-in-law's barbecue plate and it was really good. Great smokey flavor. All-in-all, the ribs and sides (cole slaw, potato salad, french fries, and hush puppies) were pretty bad and the barbecue was really good. If I go back, I will just get a sandwhich and onion rings.
Pros: friendly service, good barbecue, cute restaurant
Cons: bad, vinegary ribs
I've been to over 120 different BBQ establishments in both east and west North Carolina in the last 4 years. I've seen them come and go. Of those 120 restaurants, Allen & Son is consistantly in my top 5 in the state. What people must understand about BBQ cooked over wood is that you're not going to get consistancy. That is what makes it GREAT! You want consistancy? Go to Smithfields, or the countless places that cook with gas or electric, believe me there are plenty of them out there. But when you cook with wood, it's hard if not impossible, to create consistant Que. You can get close, but not consistant day in and day out. You want proof? Try cooking a pig over wood. I've cooked 20 pigs myself over wood and coals and each one turned out different. That's why I admire places like Allen & Son and a few others. You can taste the SMOKE in the meat. It's slow cooked to the point that it nearly MELTS in your mouth. Allen and Son put more than just time in cooking their Que...they put LOVE into it. And you can taste that love. You don't need the sause to enhance or mask the Que at Allen & Son. It comes out ready to eat. Unless you like it spicy, adding sause to Allen & Son's BBQ is insulting! They have the best homemade fries I've tasted. Oh, and just to warn you, they're not consistant either, but when you make homemade fries, they're not supposed to be like McDonalds. Their deserts are fabulous too. Pick one....any one!
Pros: Excellent BBQ. Cooked over wood.
Cons: They're not open 7 days a week.
Decided to try this place out after hearing and reading so many good things about it. Man, was I disappointed. I stopped in just after the lunch hour and was met with multiple friendly greetings directing me at take any available seat. I was already full of anticipation.
I decided to go for the BBQ Platter with hush puppies, cole slaw and sweet tea.
As soon as the food came out I noticed right away that the hush puppies were overcooked. They had a dark brown, nearly crunchy texture and smelled like the frying grease needed changing. The BBQ pork was moist and hot in most places, but there was also intermixed with it some dried and hard strings of something that was totally indigestible. The cole slaw had way to much vinegar which voided any other flavor. The sweet tea was on the money.
I have no doubt that the other positive reviews here and the food quality they experienced was accurate. However, any restaurant that cannot consistently deliver quality food will not get my repeat business or recommendation to others.
Pros: Good Sweet Tea
Cons: Inconsistant food quality
recently went there for lunch at around 2 pm on a sunday. the place was still packed but we didn't wait more than 5 minutes to get seated. atmosphere: country road-side joint, which it actually is. i had the typical bbq pork platter that comes with potato salad and hush puppies. everything tasted good, thats for sure! but the pulled pork really does not look that appetizing. i would prefer to get a big chunck of meat or ribs, and do the work myself. i also had a side dish of fried onion rings, not bad but on the greasy side. all in all, reasonably priced home cooked country food, but somehow lacking the extra something to make it really special.
Allen & Sons is absolutely the best bbq in NC.....I guess that's why the place is always packed!! The pulled pork is tender, juicy with just the right amount of succulent sauce...just the way us eastern North Carolinians like it. The joint is a dive, but truly part of the ambience, the way the old southern cook shacks used to look like. Walking in the door actually takes me back 30 years. My husband and I love this place. Wish they would open up one in Cary.
Pros: Awesome food, great atmosphere, service with a smile
We went to Allen and Son last night after seeing a t.v. documentary about bbq that featured this restaurant. We were the only ones there at 5:00 on a Thursday night. As soon as we walked in with our toddler the waitress brought over crayons and toys. I was really pleased by that. The food came out fast and was good - the bbq was moist and tender, the sauce nice and spicy, and the slaw was great. The fries were a little undercooked. And the hushpuppies were not fresh. We'll probably go back - if only for the meat, slaw and great service.
Pros: Great service, good meat and slaw
Cons: cold hushpuppies
I've been in NC 1 year now, and have tried 4 bbqs (Allen and sons, Bullocks, Q shack, and one other). Allen and sons beats them all by a mile. The pig is awesome, tender, good flavor, and piled on. I usually order a sandwich, and though I was not used to cole slaw on it at first I loved it after the first taste. It complements the taste perfectly. The vinegar based sauce was new to me too, but it was great. The hush puppies are great too, and if you leave room desserts are awesome. This place is highly recommended, they are one of the few places that still uses a wood stove, and you can taste the difference.
Pros: bbq, food
One visit to Allen & Son converted me into a barbeque fanatic. I have yet to find that same depth of flavor anywhere else. It is consistently outstanding, along with the homemade desserts you can only find in down-home, country restaurants. I hope the techniques and tradition live on forever!
Pros: Irresistable!, Best desserts, Down-home friendly
Cons: too far away
I've eaten here for 15+yrs and can attest that Allen's is, sauce-dripping hands down, simply the best 'que in the Triangle.
A key reason for the great taste is the pork is still cooked the traditional way--slow-roasted over hardwood coals. This remains standard practice in Lexington, where NC 'que was born, but has nearly vanished in the Triangle, where most restaurants (e.g., veterans like Bullock's) long ago switched to electric/gas. Using hardwood is more time-consuming and costly than the shortcuts other restaurants take, but the result is well worth the effort.
Allen's reputation has spread in recent years, dinnertime crowds have surged, and it has raised its prices considerably. Simply put, the last few years have brought about barbecue gentrification, with wealthier barbecue newcomers from Chapel Hill descending on Allen's. Great for business but not for regulars who face increased prices. Still, with 'que this good, it's a small complaint.
Pros: Succulent swine, Friendly Service, Hardwood-cooked
Cons: Increasing prices
This is easily the best in the Triangle. Pork is cooked over hickory coals, great slaw, great potato salad, and made-from-scatch pies. The only thing that could stand improvement is the tea.
But really, nothing else comes close to this pork in the Triangle.
Pros: Pork, slaw, pups
Cons: tea, price
Allen & Son Barbecue may not be pretty, but it suuuure is good. Though a transplanted Yankee, I have lived in the South almost 25 years and I've eaten a ton of barbecue. Allen & Son's is the real deal; tasty, consistent, and always accompanied by the appropriate "sides", slaw, hush puppies, baked beans, etc. It's made by people born and raised here and they haven't lost that family-oriented, one location at a time feel. The dining room surroundings aren't that great, but the people are and the food is more than worth it.
Pros: Great food, Authentic, Consistent
Cons: Dining atmosphere
I like Bullocks, don't get me wrong, but for the finest barbecue in this part of NC, nothing comes close to the hickory-smoked cue from Allen & Son. It's the real deal.
I've lived in NC, GA, AR, and NE: Allen and Son is what smoked pig is all about. A little pricey for cue, but the home-made fries are worth it.
Pros: Quality, Service
Cons: Pricey, Drink refills - extra, No substitutions
BBQ sandwiches are the best -- stacked high with meat & slaw. Absolutely mouth watering. Add Alan & Sons special BBQ sauce to add a touch of heat.
Pros: Great value, easy access
Allen & Son is top notch. The north Chapel Hill location is wood-fired, essential for true flavor. Nothing better for 50 miles around.
Using the old Washington Post rating scale of "crummy but good," I'd give Allen & Son 3 out of 4 C's and 4+ G's.
Pros: Awesome food, Prompt service
Great barbecue! This restaurant is just what it's name says, Barbecue. The best in this area. If you are looking for a waitstaff in tuxcedos, crystal and china .This not your place, If you are looking for the best barbecue in this area you can't go wwrong.
Pros: great bar-b-q, great bar-b-q, great bar-b-q
Cons: no pasta dishes, just the best barbecu
We go there often. Great barbecue, fast service and good value.
Pros: good, quick service, great value
i've been to allen & son a few times and i believe it is the best in durham, but it is NOT the best anywhere. there are a half dozen restaurant in lexington, nc that beat this hands down. the 1st time i ate here was the best and has yet to get better. the 2nd time i had dinner here, the meat was oversauced to cover-up the dryness. this tells me that the meat was not fresh and could have been left over from the previous day. but i can't fault them for not wanting to throw away good meat. i do the same with the bbq i cook at home, so i know what left over bbq tastes like as compared to fresh. i will continue to eat here from time to time, but you must realize that there is better 'q out there. now go find it!!
Pros: prompt service, easy parking, reasonable prices
Allen and Son Barbeque is simply the best barbeque place I have ever eaten. It is so tender and moist, the service is always fast, and the price is very cheap. The other food items they have, are equally delicious. I highly recommend this place to everyone. It's mmm mmm goood.
Pros: temperature of food, speediness of service, polite servers
Barbecue is moist and lean and piled high on the bun. Coconut chess pie is out of this world ! Clearly worth a drive from Raleigh.
Pros: lean, moist meat, great pies
Cons: dirt parking lot
You can't beat the service or the food. the prices are good too. Best BBQ in N.C. next to SPEEDY'S in lexington.
Allen and Son is as down and dirty and good as it gets. The barbecue along with the Southern sides are unmatched. Not a date place but if you are looking for a greasy ultimate tasting southern barbecue meal, this is it.
Pros: food, price
Cons: ambience, service, options
This BBQ the way it should be. No frills, no ambience, not even tablecloths. Just great-tasting eastern-NC style BBQ and a lot of it. The homemade ice cream and pecan pie for dessert was the perfect topper.
The BEST barbecue EVER made... tender, juicy, flavorful... and excellent cole slaw and hush puppies to accompany. Desserts are HEAVENLY.
Pros: Barbecue Heaven
The BBQ is great. Not too vinegary so my Yankee friends like it too. The homemade ice cream and desserts are awesome! The decor is quite nostalgic with old prints on the walls that my grandparents once had, old wash boards, etc. My favorite place in the triangle for BBQ.
I've heard great things about Allen and Son. Well, my husband and I finally went (Hwy 86). I was so disappointed. The food was average (although the homecut french fries were terrific). The service was horrible. It took us 10 minutes to even get someone to take our drink order. No one ever came to offer us refills and when we tried to flag someone down, we were ignored. Then when we went to pay we had to way for more than 10 minutes while the only person in front of us told the staff (kitchen and cashier) his sad story. If I ever try it again it will only be for take-out.
Pros: casual, moderate price
Cons: poor service, dusty parking lot
I have eaten at other places, such as Bullock's. And I don't consider Goldsboro or Smithfield as being part of the Triangle. Allen & Son has the best pork around, however, and the hush puppies are to die for. They've had the same waitresses there for the last 11 years, at least, and the service is prompt and friendly. They don't even bother giving me and my colleagues menus anymore :).
Pros: Great food, Fast service, Great setting