You always know the food is good when you see the parking lot full and people waiting to get in and it was true of both places we stopped. On a recent trip south we wanted some North Carolina style barbecue so we made a few side trips to several prominent BBQ restaurants in the eastern part of North Carolina. Parkers and Wilber’s BBQ restaurants come highly recommended and worth the trip so they were at the top of the list. Parkers is in Wilson, NC and Wilber’s is in Goldsboro, NC. For those out there that are unfamiliar with eastern carolina style barbeque what people like in this part of the country is to have their Q chopped or pulled (or both). As you know Pork is king in North Carolina so a dinner is usually chopped pork with sides of slaw, potato salad, and corn bread.
Now I don’t mind telling you that this type of barbeque is my favorite. My family is from NC and I spent alot of time there as a child. I also spent alot of time there when I was in the Army (Ft. Bragg). Both of these establishment have been around a long time and have a great track record. I had never been to either so I couldn’t wait to give them a try. As with many local BBQ places there are nothing to look at because they keep it simple. Have a clean place with simple furnishing, and easy place to enjoy your meal because the food will speak for itself.
The food in both places was excellent. Parkers barbeques the whole hog and then they chop it up to the point it is almost minced. It has just enough vinegar and red pepper flakes in the sauce that it does not dominate the meat. All the fat, skin, meat makes for barbeque the way it was meant to be eaten. Wilber’s pretty much takes the same approach only theirs is not as finely chopped as Parkers. When you do the dinners both places serve some of the best fried chicken I’ve had in a long time. Parkers also serves Brunswick stew with their dinner. Barbeque in this area isn’t barbeque without cornbread and you can get it at both places.
It’s hard to say which one was better but if I had to chose it would probably be Parkers. I just like that fine chop of the meat and the combination of the whole hog as the basis of their Q. Both places are going to be a regular stop for me on my trips down I-95. I highly recommend both. They are definitely worth the side trip.