The Southport Smoke House is the real deal
People take their barbecue seriously. It’s an art form as unique to the region as to a person’s taste. The folks at Southport Smoke House- know this, and have perfected their hickory smoked meat. Celebrating one year as of April 2015, Southport Smoke House is the joint venture of Troy and Tabitha Knight and Jim and Carla Sparks. Troy is the full time pastor at Generations Church in Southport, and Jim is a retired police officer that works in sniper training for the Marines. What brought this unlikely pair into the BBQ business? The backyard pit. The Knights and Sparks are neighbors in Southport. Evenings and weekends smoking pork and beef brisket generated a lot of discussion about the “flavor of the meat”. Both agreed the hickory smoked flavor, “the kind that gets into the meat” emphasizes Troy- is key. Backyard talk became reality when the building in front of the Olde Southport Village Shoppes became available.
In the beginning, with the help of Southport Smoke House manager- Daniel Crouson- who Troy says- “does everything!”- Pit masters would tend the fire- cooking the meat all night- that is -until the Oyler Smoker from Mesquite, Texas arrived. The Oyler, weighing in at about 4000 pounds, “needed a crane and a semi- to get in place- ” explains Troy- “but so worth it- this is a wood smoker- we use 100% hickory wood- from suppliers in the area- start the coals- put the hickory on top- and let it burn all night- the rotisserie smoker – cooks the meat 12 – 14 hours a night, the dampers open and close- feeding the fire oxygen to achieve the right temperatures for the slow cooked meat.” Troy says, “We want the customer to taste the wood smoke- the flavor absorbed in the meat-when you see a little red ring- that’s the smoke ring.” A true smokehouse.
The big black Oyler is impressive- as are the cords of hickory stacked outside. The pork and beef briskets are cooked all night. The chicken and ribs are put on in the morning so they are ready for lunch. But nothing is as impressive to the eyes as is to the nose: the smell! That warm sweet smoky slow cooking smell that makes you hungry- even when you didn’t know you were hungry!
Everything is prepared in house. Homemade potato salad and Cole slaw both red slaw, the regional vinegar based and white slaw, the mayonnaise based. Mac n cheese, green beans, baked beans and of course banana pudding are some of the sides. Plates, sandwich combos, Ala carte items and kids meals are available.
But anything about BBQ would not be complete without some discussion of the sauce. At the Southport Smoke House the meat is served as is- hickory smoked with a dry rub- customers can choose their sauce at the sauce bar. The sauce bar has five different sauces: sweet, spicy, tangy- the tangy is Carla Sparks’ Grandfather’s family recipe, Eastern North Carolina-vinegar and red pepper, and Lexington style, made with cola and vinegar. Everyone seems to have a favorite: when asked what the owners favorite sauces are, Troy, who is from Texas, “where BBQ is a verb” he laughs, leans towards the hot and spicy- ‘Tabitha, from North Carolina likes the Lexington, Carla probably favors the tangy, the family recipe,” and Jim? Troy laughs,” probably- doesn’t use sauce-believing, good smoked meat – moist enough with great flavor- doesn’t need sauce”.
The Southport Smoke House has dine- in and carry out. The dine- in feels like a cozy country BBQ joint- with tin siding and an old sliding barn door, red antique accents, ceiling fans and old timey soda bottles used as vases with flowers on the tables. There is also outdoor seating shaded by the big oak out front. The Southport Smoke House also caters and delivers for big crowds- meetings, weddings and reunions. Customers have choices of meat combinations, sides and sauce.
1102 N. Howe Street, Southport, NC 28461
www.southportsmokehouse.com and on Facebook.
Business hours: 7 days a week 11am to 8pm.