The other day my husband and I were taking our friend, John, around the Triangle. It was his first visit not only to RTP, but to the United States. He had traveled all the way from South Africa for a conference at the place where I work. We wanted to make sure he had a chance to try some North Carolina barbecue, so we took him to the Original Q Shack in Durham.
The Q Shack has been around for many years, serving both pork and beef barbecue that has been smoked and slowly cooked. The outside features a picture of a pig. The building looks like an old Southern home with picnic tables strewn around outside. Inside is very cute and friendly, with a bunch of sports hats on the wall and a large blackboard displays the menu choices.
The meat is very tender and tasty. I had the chopped pork and our friend had the beef brisket. The Q Shack serves their barbecue without the sauce, so you can choose either the North Carolina (vinegar-based) sauce, or a more Western (tomato-based) sauce. I used the vinegar sauce and found it to be pleasant, although I still like Allen & Son’s barbecue better.
What I really enjoyed was the sides I had, which included baked beans and fried okra. The baked beans has a real freshness to them. It was obvious they were homemade and not out of a can. The sauce was a tomato-based sauce that had some vinegar in it, giving them a tangy, tomato taste. The okra was very fresh and nice and crispy. The batter was not too thick.
The only real downfall in the meal was the hush puppies, but that was because it seemed they had been sitting around for a while, so they were more doughy than they should have been. Hush puppies really need to be eaten shortly after they come out of the frier.
Our friend’s brisket was very tender and had a really nice bark on it. He also had the okra and baked beans.
My husband had the ribs, which literally fell off the bone they were so tender. I think next time I come I will have the ribs! He had the creamed spinach instead of the baked beans. His creamed spinach was also home-made and really yummy.
I would certainly recommend taking someone to the Original Q Shack again, mainly because it is a Durham icon, is reasonably priced and has a nice atmosphere.
The Original Q Shack is located at 2510 University Drive in Durham. They are open Monday – Sunday from 11am – 9pm. You can like them on Facebook.