I should probably be embarrassed about how many times I’ve mentioned barbecue on this blog — it’s certainly not intentional — it just happened that I went through a barbecue phase a couple of years ago. Every outing was a mission to find good pulled-pork barbecue. I’m happy to report that we didn’t often fail.
A favorite on the Outer Banks is is Jockey’s Ribs in Nags Head at Mile Post 13, near the famed Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The smiling service and cold beer make for a nice treat after a hot day of hiking the dunes, but the menu is most important when I’m tired of seafood and want something else. I will always recommend the barbecue sandwich, Eastern N.C. style, with extra sauce on the side. While you’re at it, also order a side of the house rib sauce. I’m usually not a fan of the really thick sauces because 1) I’m from Eastern North Carolina, not Memphis and 2) the thick sauces often taste too much like ketchup, but this one has a distinct smoky-sweet flavor I loved but couldn’t quite place. (A touch of bourbon, perhaps?) The sauce complements the pork nicely, and because I’m a 7-year-old boy at heart, it’s also good on the fries, the onion rings, the awesome fried dill pickle chips — and whatever else is handy to dip. Ditto for the tartar sauce. (Not that I eat that on my barbecue.)
The tartar sauce was actually served up with the crab cake sandwich during our last visit. Good crab cake sandwiches are everywhere in our area, and although yummy, they’re not terribly distinctive. What sold us on this sandwich was the added fried green tomato. The sandwich didn’t disappoint — it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, and it’s because of the fried green tomato, which was a wonderful substitute for the lemon. I did add a little of the tartar sauce, but not much — the sandwich didn’t need it. The broiled cake itself was nearly all crab, little filler, and not dry at all. The sandwich was a terrific $10 deal.
Traveler’s Advisory: The gumbo is rumored to be fantastic. I cannot confirm this, however.
Where: 3948 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959