Wilber’s BBQ, Goldsboro, North Carolina

We all stopped at Wilber’s on our drive home from a week at the beach at Pine Knoll Shores. Nancy, Liza, and I are old hands at Wilber’s. We used to go there on every beach trip after a first lunch at Parker’s. But Wilber’s was new to Michael, Ella, and Lily. We veterans were eager to show it off.

Early in 2019 I learned to my horror that Wilber’s had closed. After a lot of red tape, new buyers worked with Wilber Shirley to reopen it, and I rushed up from the beach as soon they reopened. That was early in the COVID lockdowns, and everything was carry-out. You can see that review here. I picked it as a Top Place before and, indeed, as one of the Ten Best in Eastern North Carolina since then. This would be my first visit dining indoors.

It was great, just great to eat inside again. There are some changes. They’ve expanded the menu, but the essence is still there. The walls are the same pine panelling, and the same red check tablecloths cover the tables. And the food is outstanding.

We all sat down and hushpuppies appeared. These are the same great hushpuppies as before, hot and crisp. Now they come with a little bowl of chicken gravy. The Wilber’s folks noticed that everyone who ordered roasted chicken, which comes topped with gravy, was dipping the hushpuppies into the gravy. They should put out bowls of pot likker, but then that’s just me talkin’.

Our server, Tara, came by to take our orders, which is a project with a five and a three year old. Tara is a wonder, overflowing with great cheer and good will. She’s always going a hundred miles an hour serving,

but she completely won over Ella and Lily, first with hushpuppies, then with placemats and crayons for coloring.

And they were tickled to be called “Sweet Pea” and Pumpkin” and loved lots of that sweet Southern talk.

We did manage to order in the fullness of time. I opted for barbecue-fried chicken (dark) combination plate, with Brunswick stew and chicken pastry as my sides.

Liza ordered a barbecue plate with slaw and fried okra.

There the food photography ends. Michael ordered a sandwich with slaw and collards, while Nancy ordered the roasted chicken, and Ella went with a grilled cheese with more hushpuppies. It looked good and she ate quite a bit. Considering the lure of the hushpuppies, that’s high praise indeed.

Lily ordered chicken nuggets and unlike just about every other place on the face of the earth, Wilber’s chicken nuggets are made from real chicken. Not processed chicken, but hunks of real chicken, fried in batter just like their other chicken. Honest. Lily said that it was the “best chicken ever!”

I can see why. Wilber’s fried chicken was a revelation. It was right up there with the best, not as good as Dear’s, but really, really good. The skin’s as crispy as you could want and the meat was as good as only dark meat can be, succulent and full of flavor.

The Brunswick stew, like just about all Brunswick stew, wanted some barbecue sauce. I don’t know why they don’t follow this recipe but it was very good once I perked it up. The chicken pastry — chicken and dumplin’s with flat rather than puffy dumplin’s — was a joy. I don’t see it that often, but when I do, I order it, as here and here. It’s a great dish and the version at Wilber’s is first rate. Michael rated their collards “outstanding. Nancy liked her chicken, and commented, “This is really good slaw.” And Nancy is an expert on slaw.

Every aspect of the meal was a treat. The girls were well behaved and enthusiastic throughout (Bless you, Tara!). We all liked it so much that we got t-shirts.

Wilber’s is a gem. Eating there again raised it a couple of notches on my favorite list. Wilber’s has managed to remain the same while changing. It’s added some new things — brisket, ribs, beer — but it remains decidedly Old School at heart. Most of all, the food is great. Drop everything and go to Wilber’s.


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11 thoughts on “Wilber’s BBQ, Goldsboro, North Carolina

  1. Thank u so much. You have made my day. And really touched my heart.. i remember ur sweet family and those precious gitls.. can’t wait to see y’all again.
    Love Tara

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We were recently there in December. We bought a bunch of BBQ to take back to Florida. One taste of the Chicken and pastry and I was sold. My husband had grown up on Wilbur’s when visiting hi Grandfather. We drove the 25 miles off the highway just to find this nostalgia and it did not disappoint. Our waitress was the sweetest and let us taste a few things to help us decide. So nice. We will make it a destination every year when traveling from Florida to friends and family up North.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful article….. Wilber’s is an institution in Eastern NC. And so glad the legend continues with its delicious food and tradition

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really encouraging post, I need to get back to Goldsboro soon. I did have a question about your Facebook statement that Wilber’s is “better than ever” — how is that even possible when the old Wilber’s was perfect?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Although I’m not a regular blogger regarding barbecue around the country and don’t maintain a “top ten” list, I would have to put Corky’s in Memphis at the top of my list. Second would have to go to the Skylight in Ayden. The Commissary in Germantown Tennessee is also great as well as Bozo’s in Mason Tennessee. I would even rate Smithfield Chicken and Barbecue and McCalls higher than Wilbers.


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