Monday, June 7, 2010

Mac's Speed Shop - Charlotte, NC

Friday night, Mr. FvF and I finally got to get away and have a nice dinner alone, which meant we got to pick the spot. Since we'd driven there, we could hop in the car and head out of the hotel territory, where there were plenty of other dining options. I'd read a lot on Urban Spoon about Mac's Speed Shop BBQ and wanted to check it out. Luckily, it was just under two miles from the Westin.

Mac's has a nice ambiance, similar to Tank's or Fricker's, for those of you familiar with those two Dayton joints. It's billed as a biker hangout, but not a biker bar, per se. The decorum matched right up with their namesake - from light fixtures made from old wheel stock to an entire bike suspended from the ceiling, and you'll find everything from a Ducati to custom choppers in the front parking lot.

So, let's get down to business - the food! The service was fast AND friendly - two things that aren't typically mutually exclusive. The know how to cater to their kind of crowd, staffing a good handful of young, good looking girls wearing little but booty-cutters, black tank tops and tattoos. Our server was on it and got our drink order right after we were seated and had it to the table in just enough time for us to have decided what we wanted. We ordered the "Little bit of everything," which was around $20 and came with pulled pork, ribs, brisket and smoked turkey. Basically, they had five meats to choose from, and we picked everything but beer can chicken. The food came out a LOT faster than we had expected, but you'll never hear me complain about that.

None of the meat was heavily sauced, which is exactly the way I like it. They has their own, house-made sauces available on the table. There was the standard red, then the more mustard/vinegar style gold sauce. Strangely enough, they were both very thin, much more like a mop sauce than an actual, textbook BBQ sauce - but I'd be lying if I said they weren't both very good and accompanied their cooking style really well. Unfortunately, I was a little bummed when it came to the taste factor. Now, let's keep in mind: a.) we're in North Carolina, largely considered one of the greatest BBQ states in the US; b.) we're a bit off the beaten path, at a non-chain variety eatery; and c.) this place was voted Charlotte's best barbecue by the state's own BBQ Association (why don't we have one of those, by the way?).

I don't want to give the impression that it wasn't good, but by my standards, BBQ in North Carolina should be a lot better. The meat could have been more tender, and I detected little to no smoke flavor in anything. The pulled pork was a bit dry for my taste. I got a couple good pieces of bark, but not one single piece with a nice juicy bit of fat on it. Seems like it may have been all pork loin, and I think you almost have to add shoulder to the mix to get the right amount of moisture in there.

The sides were good, but not for me. I ordered cole slaw (of course), but I didn't like the style. Not enough mayo, too much vinegar - but this may just be NC's style of slaw. Mr. FvF really liked his baked beans, but they tasted like a well-doctored version of canned to me. I could be very, very wrong there, and if the cook or owner ever read this - please correct me if I am. Don't take it that badly, though - there's nothing wrong with canned baked beans.

But, the service made up for what little the food lacked, and they did a pretty killer job with dessert. We weren't completely stuffed and were craving something sweet, but I'm not easily sold on standard dessert fare. However, our adorable waitress did a good job selling us on how great they were. We ordered the apple bread pudding, which came with vanilla ice cream, both components drizzled in warm caramel. Top notch! Bread pudding isn't hard to totally screw up, but it's hard to get it dead on. This wasn't as good as Christopher's, maybe on par with the Bourbon bread pudding at Parmisano's at the Dayton Marriott (and they've won awards for theirs, too).
Our bill for the giant sampler (which came with two sides and toast), one whiskey, one beer and one dessert came to around $34. Not shabby at all, especially considering the price gouging that was going on elsewhere near uptown.

4.5 out of 5 sporks!
Mac's Speed Shop BBQ on Urbanspoon


Valerie Strickland said...

Should you ever go on some kind of foodie road trip and make it east of Raleigh, please please do yourself a favor and eat at Wilber's in Goldsboro.
Of course I love it for the nostalgia factor (my family would stop there on every beach excursion) but there are so many other reasons to sing it's praise. When I was 16 or so, my mom asked the manager if we could go out back and see the pit. I think this moment made me fall in love with food in a way I'd never experienced before. You should check out the "Hog's Blog's" section on the site if you get a chance. Anthony Bourdain has said the best barbeque he's ever had is eastern North Carolina whole hog. This eastern Carolina native begs you not to judge our barbeque based on anything you've tasted in the western half of the state.

Anonymous said...

YOU WERENT IN LEXINGTON, NC, THE "BBQ CAPITAL OF NC. Bring cash cause most (good) places dont accept credit, and thats fine by me. END OF STORY.

Anonymous said...

This place is not BBQ. They could serve old shoes to the uptown yuppies and they would all go tell it on the mountain about how good it is.

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