Marty’s BBQ, Wilson, North Carolina

I mentioned in my last post that I checked in to a hotel in Wilson.  One reason was so that I could try Marty’s.

As regular readers know, I had a sample of Marty’s barbecue thanks to my good friend, the irrepressible Jim Oliver, who brought me some from one of his trips to North Carolina to see his mother.

There’s some history here.  I have cousins from Wilson  — the Griffins — and the Griffins were strong partisan’s of Bill’s barbecue in the Great Wilson Barbecue Rivalry.  The Tanners are Parker’s.  Bill’s is now defunct, and the Griffins seem to have switched their loyalty to Marty’s.   Cousin Sinclair and her husband Eric in particular are big  fans of Marty’s.  They urged me to give it a try and, obedient to their word, to Marty’s I went.

A lot of Wilsonians had the same idea.  There was a long line of cars, and Marty’s had two people working the line and taking orders on iPads from the waiting drivers.

marty's line

Here’s my barbecue plate.

marty's plate

The pork was fine — excellent by DC standards but not extraordinary by Eastern North Carolina standards.  To be sure, I might have thought it was better had I not been to Stephenson’s less than three hours before.   The sauce with which it had been tossed was more mellow, than, say, the sauce at Parker’s or Bum’s.  Marty’s cooks with natural gas and apple wood chips, so there is a nice hint of smoke.  As at Parker’s, the barbecue was good but not great.

Sinclair had suggested that I get the greens and the Brunswick stew as sides, so I did.  The greens were quite good, chopped very fine and flavorful.  All of the pot likker had been squeezed out, alas (I love pot likker), but that probably was just as well for the car’s upholstery.  The Brunswick stew was quite good, nice and peppery — better than the Brunswick stew at Parker’s.|The pork came with some slaw, and it was quite good.  It also came with three corn sticks.  The corn sticks were good, but they don’t reach the lofty heights of Parker’s corn sticks.

I also ordered some fried gizzards.

martys giz

I like gizzards, fried or grilled, but I ordered them on impulse mainly, if the truth be known, because a sack of gizzards only cost $3.15.  You can’t get anything for $3.15 in Washington.  And really, why not order them?   That $3.15 bought me about a half pound of gizzards and a whole bunch of hushpuppies.

Formidable as the serving was, the gizzards were a hit.  They were on the over-breaded side, but a lot of people like that.   It was easy to knock off the excess, and the gizzards were cooked just to doneness.  I ate one hushpuppy — well, two.  The hushpuppies were good, but really, there are limits, and for once, discretion got the better of valor.

(Marty’s also has chicken pastry, but after eating a few pounds of it earlier at Boss Hog’s, I passed.  I’ll bet it’s good)

Wilson no longer is blessed with a barbecue place that cooks exclusively with wood, and residents who don’t want to drive outside the county head to either Marty’s or Parker’s.  Both have a whole lot of strengths, including wonderful prices, and both do a great business.  The choice between the two has to do with minor differences in sauce and skill in frying, and with family tradition and loyalties.

I dearly love Sinclair and Eric, and I dearly love all of my Griffin cousins and their families. Each and every one truly is a wonderful person.  But the Tanners are still Parker’s people.


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3 thoughts on “Marty’s BBQ, Wilson, North Carolina

  1. Reading about Wilson BBQ brings back my memories of Cherry’s off
    N.C. 42E. It put Parker’s to shame and preceded Bill’s glory years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went there once with my Uncle Tom and Aunt Ann Griffin got a huge family style lunch. It was wonderful. I looked for it a while back but I guess it’s closed. A shame.


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