I had a quick trip to Charlotte for work this week – one of those where I spent 18 hours traveling and four hours in a conference room. I’ve made the treck to Charlotte quite a few times over the years. This trip, however, was my first since I started egging seriously. The trip presented a unique opportunity to explore both halves of my handle – BBQ and Esquire – in one trip.
I started my research in the cab. “Where is the best place to get some good Carolina barbecue? I don’t mean a place that’s down the block from my hotel, I mean the real thing.” I also questioned the guy at the front desk of the hotel (the Courtyard doesn’t have a concierge), and the court reporter. The place with the most votes was called Mac’s.
I finished with my deposition in time for a nice lunch at Mac’s. I was not disappointed.
I ordered the pulled pork platter with mac and cheese and baked beans. The pork was absolutely delicious. Moist, tender and juicy. There were four different sauces on the table: SC Mustard, Carolina BBQ Sauce, Red BBQ Sauce, and a nondescript bottle with the word “vinegar” scribbled on it with a sharpie. I sampled my way through the four different sauces, taking notes all the way.
My first take away: the vinegar sauce was the bomb, and (not surprisingly) way better than the stuff I make. It had a sweetness to it, a subtle heat, and the bite of the vinegar was very soft. The other sauces were good also. I liked the mustard sauce for a change of pace. But the vinegar sauce was clearly the house specialty. While the other three sauces had ingredient labels (and are available on the restaurant’s website), the vinegar sauce did not.
I wanted to know more about the vinegar sauce. My waitress, kind as she was, couldn’t tell me anything. However, I picked up a few tips by looking at the other labels. First big one: none of the sauces had white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar only. I can only speculate, but I bet this is the reason for the subtle sweetness and smoother finish in the vinegar sauce. I plan to cut back on the white vinegar next time I make my sauce. My second observation was the presence of Worcestershire in the Carolina BBQ sauce. Perhaps I’ll sneak in this ingredient sometime.
I left my meal at Mac’s full and satisfied. I was also really excited and thankful for the opportunity to do some research on my new craft. I’m already looking forward to my next depositions in Charlotte so I can go back.