Every Friday through the end of 2018, the Rant will feature a dish that stands out among Lee County’s restaurant scene. We’ll usually focus on lunch, but there aren’t any rules – we just want to let you know (if you don’t already) about the many dining options we have that are owned and operated by people right here in Lee County. We haven’t really touched on barbecue yet, and Brannan Schlitz in Jonesboro is doing great work but flying a little under the radar. Hopefully we can help change that.

Despite our location in central North Carolina, Sanford and Lee County haven’t boasted much truly great North Carolina barbecue for a long time. Your options usually come from places that specialize in other things – you can get a decent portion at any number of local family restaurants, for example, but it’s usually made somewhere else, and the stuff from Smithfield or Cook Out is more of a fast food facsimile that’ll do the job in a pinch but probably leave you wondering where the smoke is. Stubbs & Sons BBQ in the Tramway area, who do fine work, is connected to Allen & Sons in Pittsboro, making it something of a franchise (there’s also a location in Carthage), and we’ve tried to focus on places that are a little smaller scale than that. Brannan Schlitz is different than most of what we’ve featured in that it’s not even exactly a restaurant – it’s a grill dealership first. But in recent years, the staff has begun serving great smoked meats to show off what their wares are capable of producing. Everything is served on a takeout basis (Thursday, Friday and Saturday only) and it helps to call orders in ahead of time, so plan accordingly. But if you want some slow smoked barbecue goodness, do yourself a favor and check the place out.

THE DISH: The pork barbecue plate ($8.50) is just what it sounds like: a heaping portion of slow smoked pulled pork (shoulders, we’re guessing, since we didn’t see any cooker big enough for a whole hog), covered in a thick sauce (it’s closer to a western style than an eastern, but there’s plenty of tang as well), as well as two sides and a small corn muffin. We chose the green beans and slaw on our first visit, but there’s also a side salad if you want something lighter, or you can choose from baked beans, potatoes, or mac and cheese (that’s on the list next time). The meat is the star, of course, and it hits all the notes you want in great barbecue – it’s tender, smoky and plentiful. Add a can of soda ($1) or sweet tea or lemonade ($1.50) and suddenly you’ve got a traditional barbecue meal fit for a pitmaster.

WHAT ELSE TO TRY: Brannan Schlitz doesn’t just stick to the North Carolina stuff, offering a brisket plate ($9.95) and even a smoked bologna plate ($6.50), as well as pork ribs ($9.50) and chicken breast ($8.75). You can get a two meat combo for $10.95 or a three meat combo for $12.95, and the pork barbecue, brisket and bologna are available as sandwiches ($7.25, $8.25 and $5.50, respectively). There’s also a couple of adventurous twists – nachos or smoked potatoes topped or stuffed with your choice of meat for $7.75. If you think these violate some kind of sacred bbq rule, you’re the one missing out. Most everything is available in bulk by the pound, and Brannan Schlitz also does catering, so inquire within.

Brannan Schlitz BBQ is located at 147 Rand Street in the Jonesboro area of Sanford and can be reached at (919) 292-2711. They are open for food service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visit their website here.

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