BURGAW, NC (WECT) - At last count, there were more than 100 barbecue restaurants in North Carolina, from roadside shacks to sprawling eateries.
There is even a barbecue trail that stretches from the mountains to the coast but a barbecue restaurant in Burgaw just received some special attention.
Wednesdays are busy days for owner Myra McDuffie. After being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, it doesn’t take long for customers to start coming into her restaurant, MeMa’s Chick’n’ & Ribs, right after she opens the doors.
Two years ago, McDuffie opened her restaurant in Burgaw and since then, she has had customers from all over the country and even from foreign destinations.
USA Today recently conducted a readers poll of the best barbecue restaurants in North Carolina, and out of the thousands of votes, MeMa’s came in at No. 8.
“First of all, we did not even know we were in the race for the first 11 days after voting had started," McDuffie said. "It was a customer that brought it to our attention that we were in the race so we got the word out and asked all of our family and customers to vote for us. To be No. 8 in North Carolina is a big deal.”
Many of the older barbecue restaurants in the state still smoke whole hogs over wood or coals for hours or overnight until the meat is fully cooked and falling off the bone.
Newer restaurants cook selected cuts of pork in indoor smokers.
MeMa’s uses Boston Butts for its meat.
“I think the slow cooking of our barbecue on the smoker for 10 hours makes all the difference," McDuffie said. “(The pitmaster) can’t really tell all of his secrets but he does infuse it and it is just a slow process. It is made with love.
"Our barbecue is what we have been making at home all the time. We just brought it in to the restaurant.”
MeMa’s is located in a Burgaw shopping center, but McDuffie said she is thinking about opening a second location.
“We love our customers, and we are so thankful and grateful to everyone who comes in and eats," McDuffie said. "Everyone is family here, and we want them to know it and feel the love when they walk through the door.”