• Katie McCarthy

Queue up some Barbecue with these 8 saucy, smoky, and tangy Gaston BBQ Hot-Spots

Ever since the start of the pandemic, local restaurants have needed support more now than ever. We have covered sandwiches, farm-to-table, Mexican, and even fish. And yet, there is one fan favorite that still remains: barbeque. Barbeque is more than just a sauce. It's smoking and sides and more sauces than one can handle on their own.

Kyle Fletcher's - Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

Great news though: you can find just about any kind of barbecue your heart desires in Gaston County.

Vinegar, sweet, or mustard-based. Pork, beef, chicken, or ribs. Chopped, or sliced. You’ll find it all here.

We’ve put together just the beginnings of a list, in no particular order, of some of Gaston’s amazing Bar-B-Que restaurants. So you can decide which style is your favorite.

Buddy’s BBQ

Buddy's large pulled pork plate with fries and hush puppies
Credit: Buddy's BBQ

5945 W Wilkinson Blvd., Belmont

Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Buddy's BBQ Inc. is an unassuming hidden gem (in plain sight) with an incredible breakfast that is just as good as the BBQ. Don't worry. We’re still talking BBQ— and Buddy’s pulled pork is awesome— but the breakfast at Buddy’s is what surprises most people. The egg and sausage on toast is a great place to start. For these reasons, Buddy's is the perfect stop for a quick lunch or breakfast on your way to work.

Hillbilly’s BBQ & Steaks

720 McAdenville Rd., Lowell

930 E Garrison Blvd., Gastonia

Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

As its name may suggest, Hillbilly's BBQ & Steaks is a bustling spot with homemade sauce and all the standard BBQ fair. For a dinner that will challenge your love for BBQ, head to Hillbilly's for all-you-can-eat ribs. Seriously though, the ribs are really good.

Kyle Fletcher’s

Chris Rodarte, Gaston Outside

4507 Wilkinson Blvd., Gastonia

Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Highly rated, low-key joint for some of the best BBQ in the region. You can smell the smoky goodness all around Kyle Fletcher’s. Looking for a huge pile of smoky pork, fries, and those oblong hush puppies that were meant for dipping? Kyle Fletcher's is the place to go. The large chopped pork plate is a good place to start (cash only).

Ole Carolina BBQ

BBQ chicken cooks on a wood-fired grill
Credit: Ole Carolina BBQ

1011 Union Rd., Gastonia

Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Watch these third-generation pit masters producing smoky, saucy pork, beef, and chicken BBQ at Ole Carolina BBQ. You have to love a place that considers a half-rack of ribs an appetizer. Here, the chicken is a favored stand-out. Ole Carolina BBQ is a great place to grab lunch on the weekdays or on a Sunday afternoon. Or stop by after a hard day of work to enjoy their beer selection.

Ray’s Country Smokehouse & Grill

Credit: Ray's Country Smokehouse & Grill

219 S. Broad St., Gastonia

Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Ray's Country Smokehouse and Grill can be summed up as solid Southern-themed, old-school BBQ with plenty of smoky flavors. Get a half-dozen wings to share first. Then, go for the rib plate with potato salad. The term “fall-off-the-bone” was written for these baby back beauties.

Ray Nathan’s

Photo Courtesy of RayNathan's

4571 New South Hope Road, Gastonia

Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

If you’re passionate about the craftsmanship of excellent BBQ, Ray Nathan’s is the place for you. The brisket is hardwood smoked and covered in RayNathan’s homemade spice rub. The brisket plate comes with two sides. Ray Nathan's aesthetic is as well-crafted as the food with a rustic but clean experience that includes exposed brick and barn doors. Open Thursday through Saturday, Ray Nathan's is perfect for a weekend night out.

R.O.’s BBQ

Photo Courtesy of R.O.'s BBQ

1318 Gaston Ave, Gastonia (plus two BBQ trucks that set up shop around Gaston)

Curb Side Service: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Inside Dining: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

This regionally famous BBQ joint has been serving Gaston County for seven decades. At R.O.'s BBQ there is no need to get fancy. Get the pulled pork sandwich and a side of crinkle fries. R.O.'s BBQ offers both counter or curbside service (one of the few in Gaston). Though a perfect spot for a summer night out with the family, its novelty remains year-round.

Shane’s Rib Shack

Photo Courtesy of Shane's Rib Shack

3660 E. Franklin Blvd, Gastonia

Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Shane’s is a regional chain with locations across the Carolinas and Georgia. But don’t let that deter you. It produces solid BBQ that is smoked and hand-cut daily. They offer a variety of sauces, so no matter your style, they have you covered. "The Big Dad" is a huge pulled pork sandwich served on thick-cut Texas toast. The meat is medium smoky, so it’s a good contrast to the buttery bread. Shane’s original sauce is a sweet and tangy blend that’s a strong choice for this sandwich. This family-oriented chain is a lunchtime favorite.