Riding through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, we wanted Barbecue. But Virginia is known for smoked ham, not ‘que, so it’s hard to find. We set our GPS to find it for us, and in Harrisonburg, up popped the Bar-B-Q Ranch, a drive in and dining room that has been on the same spot for 63 years, with fabulous North Carolina pulled pork made in the wet style. Biting into that heavenly sandwich, I was vividly rebuked for thinking I had been eating BBQ in the overhyped (I’m as guilty as the rest) New York City faux BBQ joints. You could take the best of Hill Country, Blue Smoke, R.U.B., Dinosaur, etc, and it wouldn’t be worth that one succulent sandwich I had, made by lovely Til Heatwole who has been the pitmaster at the Bar-B-Q Ranch for all of it’s 63 years. Til explained that they didn’t make it over wood (“it was burned that way”) but carefully cooked in an oven and pulled and seasoned, in classic North Carolina fashion. Wood or no wood, this was outstanding BBQ. The charming restaurant is decorated all over by a collection of pig statues and bric-a-brac that is of considerable folk interest. The people are friendly and urged us to try the fried chicken “You need to call ahead, because we make it up fresh, to order and it takes at least 25 minutes…” We promised we’d be back and we will.
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