Over Labor Day weekend, Nancy and I travelled to Bath, NC, about 40 miles south of Greenville, home of East Carolina University. We would spend the weekend with my daughter, Angelin’s family, and drive up to see our grandson, Ben, a cheerleader for the ECU Pirates.
We attended the Saturday night football game, or tried to. Somebody saw a flash of lightning and the game was delayed a half-hour. Another half hour past, and another, and then the officials couldn’t decide on whether to let the lightning kill us inside the stadium or out in the parking lot. The game was ultimately canceled at 8:30 and rescheduled the next afternoon, when the Pirates lost to NC AT&T.
But as we were heading down I-95 to get to Greenville, we had to bypass Wilson, NC, and it broke my heart. Wilson is the home of Parker’s Barbeque, perhaps the best BBQ on the planet.
Parker’s is Eastern, NC Barbeque as opposed to Lexington, or Western, NC Barbeque. It is whole hog barbeque – everything but the squeal – seasoned with a vinegar and pepper-based sauce while Lexington barbeque uses mostly shoulders and puts catsup in their sauce. I like both, but Eastern-style is by far my favorite.
Parker’s is a no-frills, family style restaurant and they do a massive business. They maintain several locations in Eastern, NC, but are based out of Wilson. Their Barbeque is fantastic and their Fried Chicken will rival your Aunt Martha’s Sunday best at a family reunion picnic.
Their special is the Family Style Dinner which includes all you can eat Barbeque, plus two pieces of Fried Chicken, Brunswick Stew, Boiled Potatoes, Cole Slaw and Corn Sticks – all for $8.95! As you can imagine, the place stays packed.
Brothers Graham and Ralph Parker and a cousin – Henry Parker Brewer – founded the restaurant in the 1940’s. I bet old Henry is a relative of mine ‘cause I sure do like his barbeque. Parker’s success is largely due to their location in a town with huge tobacco markets. The tobacco buyers, as they moved about their circuit, helped spread the word about the good barbecue they had encountered. Parker’s name and stories about their barbecue soon became legend.
There may be, just may be, barbeque someplace as good as Parker’s, but not better. If you are in that part of the country, head into Wilson or Greenville and order up some genuine Eastern, NC Barbeque. It’s the best there is. By the way, bring cash. They don’t accept checks or credit cards and no one ever complains.