A repeat winner. The Carter family, and ‘cue lovers across the state, suffered a loss this year with the death of patriarch Gene Carter, but the clan continues its operation with a grandfathered pit — one of the last left in this part of the state. You can enjoy real Southern barbecue near the pit and watch part of North Carolina’s culinary history before it goes up in smoke. Sandwiches come sliced (for you Georgian and Alabama folk) or chopped (for Tar Heels). Their succulent hickory smoked pork ribs have customers clamoring for shipment across the US.