Sampling Carolina style BBQ at the Dillsboro Smokehouse

When Jeff and I visited Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains this past November, we wanted to take advantage of our proximity to North Carolina to sample some good ol’ Carolina style barbecue.   If you follow our blog, you know that we’re both big fans of really good barbecue, and have written about two of our local favorites — Bigmista’s Barbecue in the Los Angeles area, and the Cowboy Way Bar-B-Que in Palm Springs.  So, we couldn’t pass up the chance to make a day trip across the Smokies, via the Newfound Gap Road.

Dillsboro Smokehouse

A couple of excellent cold beers from nearby Heinzelmännchen Brewery.

Initially we’d planned to visit Asheville, a North Carolina cultural and culinary destination at the foot of the Smokies, but what we saw online seemed a bit too commercial for us.  We sought a more authentic intimate introduction to the culture and cuisine of the North Carolina side of Appalachia.  Fortunately, Jeff discovered Dillsboro, a tiny adorable historic railroad town located just 20 minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

When Jeff perused reviews for barbecue joints in the Dillsboro and Franklin areas, he kept reading good things about the Dillsboro Smokehouse, established in 1992.  So, after a morning of driving through the Smokies, and climbing up to Clingman’s Dome, we headed to the Dillsboro Smokehouse for a late lunch.  We instantly fell in love with the quaint quirky at-home-feeling interior decor.

Dillsboro Smokehouse

My lunch: smoked turkey breast, hush puppies, brunswick stew, and a side of coleslaw that I split with Jeff.

Dillsboro Smokehouse

Jeff's lunch: pulled pork, sweet potato fries and barbecue beans.

Jeff and I both ordered different meats and sides, so that we could sample as much of their menu as possible.  We started out with a couple of excellent cold beers from Heinzelmännchen Brewery, a local North Carolina brewery to wash down our BBQ feast.

Dillsboro SmokehouseFor lunch, I went with the smoked turkey breast (trying for at least one healthy item on my plate), which was moist and tender (although not as good as Bigmista’s smoked turkey breast, or my husband’s smoked turkey).  I also ordered my very first southern hush puppies, which were quite good, and my first taste of brunswick stew, which was my favorite thing on the menu (I must find a good recipe!).

Dillsboro SmokehouseJeff ordered the smoked pulled pork (he too preferred Bigmista’s version), excellent crispy sweet potato fries, and baked beans that were pretty average.  We also ordered a side of coleslaw to share, which was pretty decent.  We sampled four different sauces: a spicy sauce, a sweet sauce, an East Carolina vinegar, and a really good West Carolina red (still vinegar, but with a touch of tomato).

Dillsboro SmokehouseOverall, the food was good, but, aside from the sauces and the brunswick stew, nothing too exceptional.  We actually both preferred the BBQ we’d sampled in Wears Valley and at Rippy’s in Nashville.  But, the atmosphere was welcoming, the service good, and the prices very good — our entire bill with beers, tax and tip came to $30 plus change.


  1. says

    One of the reasons I chose it was that it was listed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the Top Ten BBQ joints in the country! It was good, and worth the trip for an example of Carolina Q, but Top Ten nationally is VERY generous…

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