Whether you’re new to the Raleigh-Durham area or are a life-long resident, eastern North Carolina barbecue is a must-have, and Backyard BBQ Pit in Durham is an excellent place to go. Located at 5122 NC Highway 55 in Durham, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
1. HistoryBackyard BBQ Pit in Durham is a relative newcomer on the scene. The restaurant opened in April 2007, after Donald Cozart II, Melvin and Fabianne Simmons, Marquis Egerton II and family purchased the old “AW’s Barbecue.” While the restaurant was ready to go upon purchase, the new owners changed the name and the recipes, making it their own and quickly creating a following.
2. MenuMeats offered on the menu include chopped pork barbecue, pork ribs, pork chops, smoked chicken in homemade barbecue sauce, fried chicken, beef brisket, turkey, trout, croaker, catfish, whiting, flounder and shrimp. While these are available as meat plates, sandwiches are also an option with chopped pork barbecue, brisket, fish, shrimp, fried chicken or pork chops. Side item choices either come with a plate or can be purchased by the half-pint, pint, quart, half-tray or full tray. Items include baked beans, black eyed peas, Brunswick stew, candied yams, coleslaw, collard greens, corn, French fries, fried cabbage, fried okra, green beans, potato salad and stewed potatoes. If you can manage to save room for dessert, banana pudding offers a Southern classic option. Slices of cake in orange, chocolate, lemon, strawberry and Moravian love are also available.
3. PricesIf you’re looking for a good meal deal, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than you get at Backyard BBQ Pit. The sandwich special runs all day and is only $4.99. This special features a chopped pork barbecue sandwich, either with or without coleslaw, and a choice of two side items. Dinner plates, which come with meat, two sides and hush puppies, start at $6.49. All desserts are $1.89.
4. Food PreparationAll the food at the restaurant is homemade, with the exception of the baked beans. In terms of the meat, Backyard BBQ Pit is the only open pit in all of Durham. The pork, ribs and beef brisket are slow-cooked over hickory and oak wood, making the meat tender and flavorful. Chopped pork barbecue is one of the most popular items, both in the state and at the restaurant. Homemade seasoning of red pepper flakes, salt, hot sauce, distilled vinegar and a secret dry rub blend of 12 spices is added to the chopped pork.
5. AtmosphereAs you enter the Backyard BBQ Pit, you’ll likely notice one thing right away. The walls are full of autographs, messages and even a few drawings, created by patrons in a variety of different marker colors. Anyone can take a marker and compose their own ode to barbecue right on the wall, or simply write a name and date to commemorate their visit. Even American Idol runner-up and local Clay Aiken is a fan of the food and has signed the wall, behind the counter.
The décor is nothing over the top – just your basic, casual dining room. Some may even describe the restaurant as a typical hole-in-the wall barbecue joint. But who needs fancy seating and tables when you have perfectly cooked food and welcoming staff members who greet you with a smile and remember you if you visit often enough. For those who want to stay awhile, free wi-fi is a recent addition to the dining area.
6. PublicityBackyard BBQ Pit was featured in an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Man V. Food.” Host Adam Richman paid a visit to the restaurant, documenting the way they operate the pit and prepare the meat, from chopping the wood to mixing up the tender cooked pork. You can watch the episode here.
Independent Weekly, a local publication, also featured the restaurant in an article, here.