• Rob Glover

Smoky, Tangy, Sweet, and Saucy: 9 Gaston Barbecue Joints to Soothe Your Summer Soul

Bar-B-Que is a way of life around here. Entire evenings are whiled away discussing the virtues of tangy vinegar versus a sweet tomato-based sauce. And don’t even get us started on the best type of slaw.

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.

Are we missing any? Let us know!

Ray’s Country Smokehouse & Grill

219 S. Broad Street, Gastonia

Credit: Ray's Country Smokehouse & Grill

The low-down: Solid southern themed, old-school BBQ with plenty of smoky flavor.

Amazing menu item: 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.

The vibe: Table service, full bar, great dinner spot.

Ole Carolina BBQ

1011 Union Rd, Gastonia

Credit: Ole Carolina BBQ

The low-down: Third-generation pit masters producing smoky, saucy pork, beef, and chicken BBQ.

Amazing menu item: You just have to love a place that considers a half-rack of ribs an appetizer! But here, the chicken is a favored stand out.

The vibe: cozy and quiet, family, simple beer selection. Great for lunch weekdays or Sunday.


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

Credit: R.O.'s Bar-B-Que

The low-down: Regionally famous BBQ joint that’s been serving Gaston County for seven decades.

Amazing menu item: No need to get fancy here. Get the pulled pork sandwich and a side of crinkle fries.

The vibe: Counter or curbside service (one of the few in Gaston). Perfect spot for a summer night out with the family.

Buddy’s BBQ

5945 W Wilkinson Blvd., Belmont

Credit: Buddy's BBQ

The low-down: An unassuming gem hidden (in plain sight) with incredible breakfast that’s as good as the BBQ.

Amazing menu item: Yes, we’re 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.

The vibe: Small space, open for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday. Perfect for a quick lunch or breakfast on your way to work.

Hillbilly’s BBQ & Steaks

720 McAdenville Rd., Lowell

930 E Garrison Blvd., Gastonia

The low-down: Bustling spot with homemade sauce and all the standard BBQ fair.

Amazing menu item: All-you-can-eat ribs because sometimes dinner can also a challenge. Seriously though, the ribs are really good.

The vibe: Large dining room, table service, family friendly.

Kyle Fletcher’s

4507 Wilkinson Blvd., Gastonia

The low-down: 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!

Amazing menu item: This is where you go for a huge pile of smoky pork, fries, and those oblong hush puppies that were meant for dipping. So the large chopped pork plate is the best place to start.

The vibe: Cash only, lots of sports memorabilia in the small dining room.


403 E Catawba Street, Belmont (behind Belmont’s Drug Store)

Credit: Peace-N-Hominy

The low-down: Traditional BBQ (including thick cut smoked bacon) joint with an outdoor porch, full weekend brunch, and a nice little beer selection.

Amazing menu item: Porkapalooza hash. Home fries with a pulled pork, bacon, sausage hash topped with fried eggs and a chorizo gravy. Comes with cornbread.

The vibe: Counter service, family, great spot after Sunday Church.


4571 New South Hope Road, Gastonia

Credit: RayNathan's

The low-down: If you’re passionate about the craftsmanship of excellent BBQ, RayNathan’s is the place for you.

Amazing menu item: The brisket is hardwood smoked and covered in RayNathan’s homemade spice rub. The brisket plate comes with two sides.

The vibe: Exposed brick, barn doors, rustic-but-clean aesthetic that is as well-crafted as the food. Only open Thursday through Saturday. Perfect for a weekend night out.

Shane’s Rib Shack

3660 E. Franklin Blvd, Gastonia

The low-down: Shane’s is a regional chain with locations across the Carolinas and Georgia. But don’t let that deter you. It is solid ‘cue that is smoked and hand-cut daily. They offer a variety of sauces, so no matter your style, they have you covered.

Amazing menu item: 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.

The vibe: Family oriented, quick food, counter service. A lunchtime favorite.

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