There is so much to love about Grady’s. It may be the most isolated barbecue place on earth, and driving there through fields of cotton and peanuts is a joy. The building itself is unadorned.
The Gradys themselves are lovely people, sweet and charming. And they cook barbecue the way God wants us to cook it: whole hog over wood coals, with the fat dripping down onto the low, slow coals. Long time readers will recall my castigation of the Museum of African American History for its neglect of the important role of black persons in barbecue, and my suggestion that they should have included Grady’s, lock stock and owners, in the museum. Regular readers are probably getting tired of me repeating that Grady’s should be a UNESCO world heritage site, but it really should. So I headed to Grady’s following my heroic breakfast at Flo’s Kitchen and a modest lunch at Carol’s Home Cooking.
I love the atmosphere at Grady’s. I had a nice chat with three NC State grads from different cities who picked Grady’s to meet before their 50th graduation reunion, and also a couple of farmers. The place generates friendliness.
Despite my earlier meals I was ready to eat at Grady’s, though, and ordered a combination pork and chicken plate with butter beans and collards. The hushpuppies came as dependably as the sunrise.
Let’s start on the periphery. Two places with butter beans in one day. What have I done to deserve such fortune? Ah, and what butter beans! Delicious. The collards also were very good, and the hushpuppies were excellent, hot and fresh and with a great crust.
Just as even Homer nods, however, the chicken was just okay. It was only a smidgen better than the unfortunate chicken at the Skylight Inn, and that perhaps only because Grady’s was a thigh rather than a breast. I had higher hopes than expectations for the chicken, but even with that the chicken was a disappointment. And the pork, while very good, did not reflect Grady’s at its best. Almost a touch dry, it perked up with some additional vinegar-pepper sauce.
Still, it was a fine meal, and I won’t hesitate to drive well out of my way back to Grady’s. The food was great, except for the easily avoided chicken, and it’s just a wonderful place to be. If you haven’t been, you should go. If you go to Grady’s once, you’ll go again.
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7 thoughts on “Grady’s, Southern Wayne County, North Carolina”
You really are good at finding the classics.
It helps to have relatives who love to eat.
Next time get the fried chicken. At it’s best, meaning most of the 14 or so times I’ve had it, it’s life-changing.
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I shall. It’s a great area for fried chicken. This time I just said “chicken” and wound up with the grilled. Maybe they thought I should watch my weight
Your Comment about the contribution of Black people in history was spot on! I frequent Charleston often and the Gullah influence on food there is huge. We would not have BBQ as we know it today if it were not for the Slaves back then. That tradition continues to this day. Rodney Scott in Hemingway, SC, is an example of the great tradition of BBQ. Jestine’s in Charleston, may it RIP, Bertha’s, and Hannibal’s Kitchen. Rodney Scott has opened locations in Charleston and Atlanta, and B’s Cracklin BBQ in Atlanta. You won’t find better Southern Food than these, and there are others.
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Thanks for your comment! There are so many great black-owned barbecue places. Archibald’s in Northport, AL has the best ribs on earth, and Dreamland in Tuscaloosa may have the 2d best. What was that place in Greenwood, MS — Leotha’s? Rollin’ Ribs Part II in Upper Marlboro, Paynes in Memphis, Helen’s in Brownsville, Pinkie’s in MD, Big T’s in Columbia, Sweatman’s all are places (like the wonderful original Scott’s, Rodney Scott’s, and the original B”s) you can read about on this blog And there are others that don’t leap to mind immediately I’ll be posting soon on the Smoking’ Jarhead in VA — and on others.
And I need to get back to Brenda’s n Montgomery and Lannie’s in Selma. I ate at both places a lot during my voting rights days.