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Backyard BBQ Pit #2

Posted by YAR 14 Jun 2009 18 Comments

I am very happy to see something new go into the old Pizza Palace space (I’m a sucker for geodesic domes), and also happy that it’s a restaurant with some really good greens.


Backyard BBQ Pit has had a location on Hwy 55 for a few years now, and this month they opened up a new location in North Durham (at 3128 Guess Rd).  I know that people can talk for hours about bbq around here, especially when it comes to what’s traditional and what’s not, but I’ll leave that to the commenters for now and just say that I thoroughly enjoy Backyard BBQ Pit (#1 and #2).  I love the ribs at #1, so we got those again.  As usual, they were tender (some might say too tender, but not me) and so deliciously sweet.  Also quite good were the sides (we got cabbage, greens, and slaw).  The hushpuppies were above average, and definitely freshly fried.


Next we tried the brisket, which I’ve never had at the other location.  I did like it, especially the crispy parts on the outside, but after a few bites I was starting to wish we’d just gotten two orders of ribs.  THEN we noticed that the red squeeze bottle on the table, innocuously posing as ketchup, was actually the same delicious sauce that goes on the ribs.  So I squirted some of that on there and loved the brisket, too.


Having been a fan of the Pizza Palace vibe, I was a bit disappointed by BBP#2′s use of the space — they are currently only on the first floor and things seem a bit dark and low-ceilinged.  It sounds like they have plans to expand upstairs when the business warrants it though; hopefully that will be soon.  The owner wasn’t quite sure whether he’d be opening a bar–apparently some of his clientele is anti-bar.  I guess there aren’t many BBQ joints around that serve alcohol, which could make adding one all the cooler or just a bit out of place (I vote for cooler, personally).  (If you agree with us that North Durham could really use a bar here, you should mention it to someone when you go in!)  In terms of atmosphere, I do like the down-home feel that’s imparted by a lot of rough wood shingles.  Also, everyone was just as friendly as at the first location.



  • Phil said:

    Good greens! Awesome.

    YAR: I’ll miss your local commentary. Many thanks for your service.


  • Dan said:

    Have eaten at BBQ Pit #2 twice since it has opened. Their BBQ is definitely one of the best around. Lots better than that place down the road called hog heaven. I love their mac and cheese.


  • burgeoningfoodie said:

    While not in Northern Durham and not a bar, do check out the development of a brew/pub in the works for Durham over on Eat Joe’s web site.


  • mclaugh said:

    Had the brisket and the ribs for lunch yesterday, and I have to say, I wasn’t particularly impressed.

    First ominous sign: no smell of wood smoke.

    Second ominous sign: all meats kept in trays on a steam table.

    Third ominous sign: 1″ plus liquid in bottom of pan holding the brisket.

    Nice selection of sides, though. I went for the fried cabbage, candied sweet potato, boiled potatoes, and greens.

    Brisket: cooked through, but no sign of a smoke ring and nowhere near falling apart tender. Needed to pull out my Columbia River Kit Carson knife to cut it into bite-size pieces. VERY wet. Texture was closer to undercooked, stringy pot roast than smoked or roasted beef. Flavor wasn’t bad, but even with a VERY liberal dousing of sauce, it tasted more like pot roast than smoked brisket.

    Ribs: give ‘em credit for falling-off-the-bone tender. Needed a heckuva lot more sauce, though.

    Hushpuppies: freshly fried, but a couple had ring of oil on the inside to a depth of ~1/4″. Only time I’ve seen that or had it happen is when the oil isn’t hot enough.

    Fried cabbage: good flavor and tooth. Best part of the meal. It’s real easy to overcook the cabbage so it becomes flaccid and mushy. They got it right.

    Candied sweet potato: long on candy, short on sweet potato. A little heavy on the nutmeg and light on the cinnamon for my taste, but still quite good.

    Greens: tough and leathery. Way undercooked. Tasty pot likker, though.

    Boiled potatos: What’s there to say? they’re boiled potatoes. Hard to screw that up.

    Service was friendly and efficient, and portions were more than ample.

    Overall, I’d rate it as solid but not spectacular. Pretty good value for the money, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there again.


  • Porky LeSwine said:

    I appreciate the review, but I’m a bit distressed that there is no mention of the actual barbecue. It is the Backyard BBQ Pit, right? It ain’t the Rib Pit, Brisket Pit, or Greens Pit. Passing on the ‘cue seems kind of like visiting a steakhouse and reviewing the salmon. Oh well, sounds like you must return for another visit…

    In the meantime, The Rib Rabbi and I plan to review the Pit #2 soon at bbqjew.com and we’ll be sure to order the ‘cue. We’ve tasted the ‘cue at Backyard BBQ Pit #1 already and found it pretty good but nothing more. Mclaugh is right that the steam table never helps.


    RPP replies on June 16th, 2009 at 9:02 pm:


    No need to be distressed! As a barbecue purist, I think you might be taking their name a bit too literally. Their website is called “sweetribs.com” and their slogan is “Authentic Pit Cooked Pork, Beef, and Chicken BBQ!” They clearly market themselves as something more than a NC ‘cue joint.

    We have previously reviewed the barbecue at #1, found that we preferred the ribs, and thus reviewed that at the second location.


    Porky LeSwine replies on June 17th, 2009 at 7:25 pm:

    RPP, I understand, and I know you reviewed the ‘cue at Backyard #1 awhile back. Still, as a stubborn barbecue fundamentalist (“purist” is far too generous) I felt it was my duty to comment. All in good fun!


  • Sant said:

    My experience left a lot to be desired. I did not care for the ribs. It was overly sauced, the sauce was too sweet (and I am not a NC style purist), and it tasted like it was baked rather than smoked. I agree with the other poster that said it was lacking in smoke flavor. And it was too tender; ribs should still have a little chew to them, not falling off the bone(in this case, I am a purist). I also got the chpped que. It was quite good actually. Not as good as Allen & Son, but quite enjoyable.

    The sides I got were greens and sweet potatoes. The green were too mushy but had a nice vinegary flavor. The sweet potatoes had good spicing to it but the jelly/liquid portion was too congealed. I suspect both of these are symptoms of having sat in steam trays for too long.

    My rec would be to go at lunch before the veggies/sides have sat around too long and get the chopped pork.


  • GoBucks said:

    Backyard BBQ is my favorite BBQ joint in the Triangle. The food and the people are always consistently great. I love their slaw with pickles (or relish) and the hickory smoke flavor is incredible. There are certainly other great BBQ places in the area, but none that has such consistently good food. Can’t wait to try the new location!


  • CJK said:

    Is the floor as slippery as their location on Hwy. 54 (which I know call “Slippery’s BBQ)? And is the food also as greasy (which caused alot of stomach upset for me)?


  • JI said:


    A lot of haters of a top notch low brow restaurant. The food here is Amazing with a capital A.

    There chopped pork is amazing and the best deal on the planet is the chopped pork sandwich with two sides. Absolutely delicious hickory flavor on the chopped pork. This is the second best chopped barbecue (I totally agree with BBQ Jew on his post in this thread that you should indeed go for the barbecue) in town. Second only to Alan and Son’s, which is tough to beat. This is cheaper than Alan and Son’s and closer than Alan and Son’s. If you live in Durham and enjoy high quality barbecue and high quality hand cooked food, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of Backyard BBQ Pit! Chopped hickory smoked pork sandwich with 2 sides $5.35 or so! 2 thumbs way up!


  • Another_Q_Lover said:

    Q is moist and fairly tender. Flavor has a vinegar twang, with a bit of spice thrown in. After taste has a bit of smoke. Not bad really. On my scale of 1-5 (1 being terrible and 5 being the best in the world) I gave it a solid 3.5.

    Cole slaw is chopped fine with fairly good flavor.

    Baked beans were very tasty with what seemed to be a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar.

    Stew missed the mark! Lots of veggies, but not much meat. Flavor was a bit strange.

    I found Pit#2 to be a bit better than their Hwy 55 location.

    I’d recommend “Byrd’s Barbecue” to anyone looking for the best Q in Durham. Travel just a wee bit further to Allen & Son’s in Chapel Hill for some good stuff too!


  • Beth1 said:

    The bbq beef brisket was just so-so, but being from Texas, my standards are very high. The shredded pork was very good. Potato salad and collards were excellent, as was the Red Velvet cake (made in-house.)Baked beans were too sweet – too much molasses perhaps? The people working there were very friendly.


  • VanBriggle said:

    We tried to go there last week. Apparently, Backyard BBQ Pit 2 is now closed and will be turned into a sports bar. Such a disappointment.


    VanBriggle replies on August 5th, 2010 at 9:15 pm:

    My mistake. Backyard BBQ Pit 2 wasn’t closed permanently, just for some renovations. They are back open now :)


  • Kid Stardust said:

    There’s a for-rent sign out front here now…


  • Faux Paws said:

    Hey, y’all

    Has anyone noticed the Backyard truck parked outside the florists shop on Guess Rd at Carver (SE corner)?

    I discovered it after pulling in to pick up a bouquet for Sweetie’s b-day, today.

    Upon arrival, a lovely lady in a catering truck said “Hello.”

    Questioning the florist inside his shop, I learned that this was the truck reincarnation of the former Guess Rd brick and morter BBQ joint. I was advised that the ribs were really good.

    Leaving the florist with Sweetie’s bouquet, I walked up to the Backyard truck and was greeted warmly and offered a sample of the ribs.

    Hooked instantly, I left with a rib platter (mac&cheese, cole slaw sides…very good).

    Since I hadn’t eaten much that day, anything would have tasted fine. But, at home, with a brief trip through the microwave, the ribs made me hop up and down with pleasure. M….MMMMM!

    I spend a good deal of time on the road and appreciate good cooking from all over America. When I return to Durham, my usual first stop after leaving RDU is Cook Out for a steak style burger and a malted very berry milk shake. I’m back home! I may have to change my habit on the days that Backyard BBQ is on Guess Rd.

    God bless you, Backyard, BBQ!

    Faux Paws


  • MRS said:

    By the way said former Backyard #2 brick n’ mortar is now Bella’s Cuisine, about which I’ve heard good things.


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