Aug 27, 2021 - Food and Drink

6 takeaways from my first trip to Jon G’s Barbecue with a Texas native

Photos: Emma Way/Axios

I waited two hours and spent $200 for Texas-style barbecue, and you should, too.

North Carolina natives Garren “Jon G” and Kelly Kirkman opened their humble barbecue restaurant in June 2020 about 45 minutes east of Charlotte in Peachland. Ever since, there’s been a line forming every Saturday around 9am hungry for brisket and spare ribs.

And once the meat’s sold out, that’s it until next week. While the crowd waits, they fold open portable chairs, sip cold (and free) beer and just hang out.

Why it matters: “A North Carolina barbecue joint shouldn’t be putting out Texas barbecue this good.” That’s high praise from Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn himself when he visited Jon G’s earlier this year.

[Related Axios guide: The 4 best barbecue spots in Charlotte — plus 4 more worth the drive]

Background: The Kirkmans started the business as a food truck, which they still operate for pop-ups in and around the Charlotte area. The restaurant, however, gives them the space for a Texas-sized menu, covering everything from Cheerwine hot links to the “porky brewster” sandwich.

I took a trip to Jon G’s last Saturday with my Texas-native roommate (I’m from Delaware). Here are my takeaways.

Another Texas native I met while at Jon G’s. “This sh-t’s legit,” he said after taking a bite of this giant rib. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

(1) Plan ahead and arrive early.

Jon G’s is located along I-74 in the tiny town of Peachland at 116 Glenn Falls St. It’s about a 50-minute drive from Uptown, but hey, at least there’s no rush hour traffic on Saturdays.

You want to arrive at least an hour in advance of opening — around 10am or earlier. We arrived at 9:30am and were about 10th in line.

This isn’t a grab-your-food-and-go type of place. You’re there for the experience. Pack accordingly. Here’s what I brought:

  • Sunscreen. There is some cover, but not much, especially if you’re further back in line.
  • Beer, preferably light, cheap beer. It is 10am after all. Bring some to share or help yourself from the cooler, which is usually stocked with Natty’s, Miller and others.
  • A chair. If you arrive early enough, there are a few chairs available, but best to bring your own.
  • Snacks. My roommate brought us “beaver nuggets,” straight from the Texas chain Buc-ee’s to munch on as we waited.
  • Water. It’s hot out, stay hydrated.
  • A fully charged social battery. Get to know the people standing around you in line. That’s part of the fun.

Of note: There is a bathroom open while you wait.

(2) Order a little bit of everything and share.

The menu is split up into four categories: meat, sandwiches, sides and specials.

Meat:

  • Pork ($8) and brisket ($13.50) are available by the half-pound.
  • Spare ribs are sold for $19 a pound.
  • Cheerwine hot links are $5 each and are as delicious as they sound. Jalapeño cheddar links are $6 each.
  • Bacon burnt ends cost $13 for a half-pound.

Sandwiches and burgers:

  • The classic North Carolina pork sandwich: $8.
  • The brisket version is $10.
  • The fully loaded “porky brewster” with coleslaw costs $10.
  • The G’s burger on a brioche bun and fresh ground brisket: $12.50.
The porky brewster.

Sides: Purchase your sides as an individual serving ($3.50-$4) or by the pint ($8-$12) or quart ($14-$22). Options include:

  • Mac & cheese.
  • Brown sugar smoked beans.
  • Jalapeño cheese grits.
  • Coleslaw.
  • Fruit crunch, which is more dessert than fruit.

Specials: Some of the specials come from Jon G’s food truck, others are one-offs.

  • Porky B. tacos are $6 each.
  • Mexican street corn salsa: $3.50.
  • Cowboy candy a.k.a. candied jalapeños: $1.
  • Oreo dirt pudding: $4.
  • Brisket and pork fried rice: $5 for a half-pint, up to $20 for a quart.
Porky B. taco.

(3) Order like at a cafeteria line.

Each order is cut and weighed to your liking so the line crawls a bit, even after Jon G’s 11am opening. They’re also trying to limit the amount of people inside the restaurant so expect to wait outside until it’s your time to eat. Be patient, and enjoy the wait.

Seeing as if I was a first-timer from Delaware, I asked for recommendations. The whole staff was very helpful and loaded up my platter with a little of everything.

I couldn’t decide which sides I wanted so I got them all.

(4) Sauce is a no-go for true Texas-style barbecue.

Per my roommate’s suggestion, I tried all the meat sans sauce for a true Texas experience. But if you like sauce like most North Carolinians do, I’d recommend Jon G’s vinegar-based sauce.

Speaking of the meat, you can’t leave without trying Jon G’s brisket.

Her take on Jon G’s: “The best Texas barbecue in North Carolina.”

jon gs barbecue peachland brisket

(5) Order a Big Red to drink.

Big Red is Texas’ Cheerwine, only sweeter. The red cream soda sells out fast at Jon G’s. We secured the last one and again, we were only 10th in line.

(6) Ask for to-go boxes.

We tried as hard as we could, even inviting three others to join us, but we barely made a dent in our giant platter of meat. We took home about six takeout containers full of food.

Sides of mac and cheese, fruit crunch, beans, grits and brisket fried rice.
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