If you are from another part of the world, you might think of BBQ as an event where friends and family enjoy the summer sun and food cooked outdoors, you might think of BBQ as any food cooked on a grill, or you might assume BBQ is whatever meat receives a healthy dose of BBQ sauce. In rural southeastern Virginia, though, BBQ is one thing: slow-smoked pulled pork.
This style of cooking was developed centuries ago as a way to use the pieces of meat that might otherwise by tough. A long, slow cook (often over 12 hours) over low heat breaks down the connective tissue in the meat and imparts the signature smoke flavor. This process also develops a crisp “bark” on the exterior of the meat, while keeping the inside juicy and flavorful.
Pork pairs well with sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors, so brown sugar, red peppers, paprika, molasses, vinegar, and mustard are commonly used to rub the meat. These same ingredients (and sometime tomato) are also the foundation of most BBQ sauces.
The tender pork that has been pulled apart (and often chopped), with a bit of smoke flavor, is the basis of all Virginia BBQ, but every pitmaster (BBQ cook) and local BBQ joint uses a little creativity to set themselves apart.
QDaddy’s Pitmaster BBQ (Smithfield)
Q Daddy's is a local favorite with fresh, slow-smoked pulled pork (and lots of other smoked meats and southern sides). Q Daddy's pork is always juicy even without a lot of sauce. Their traditional sandwich is served with pickles and onions, or you can get yours with cole slaw. The original recipe Awesome Sauce or BBQ Sauce are always terrific additions. Be sure not to arrive too late. Q Daddy's often sells out before the end of the day!
Virginia Diner (Wakefield)
Virginia Diner BBQ is prepared in the traditional style of southern Virginia and North Carolina. The meat is finely pulled and prepared with vinegar-based sauce (often called North Carolina style). It's tangy, a little salty, and great with a few dashes of hot sauce. If you are craving traditional BBQ with other amazing southern fare (be sure to try the carrot souffle) you'll love Virginia Diner.
Taste of Smithfield
Taste of Smithfield prepares their pork in a Cuban style called Mojo. It is bright, fresh, and full of flavor. The creative BBQ dishes include sandwiches, tacos, and fries topped with bacon, mojo pork, and queso. Taste of Smithfield also offers lots of unique, local goodness.
Mason’s Grill & Smokehouse (Suffolk)
Mason's BBQ is straightforward, fresh, juicy, freshly-smoked pulled pork. Get a traditional BBQ sandwich with slaw or Totchos - tater tots topped with pulled pork, queso, jalapenos, and pickled onions.
Cowling’s Bar-Be-Que (Waverly)
Cowling Bar-Be-Que (Waverly).
Cowlings has been a fixture on Rt 460 for decades. Locals in Sussex County love the simple southern food including the expertly smoked pork BBQ. You'll often see one of the cooks chopping the fresh pork as you enter the restaurant. Get yours with some tangy North Carolina style sauce, cole slaw, and baked beans.
Suffolk BBQ Co.
Suffolk BBQ Co. serves all the traditional favorites like sandwiches and BBQ platters with both pork and chicken BBQ. A unique favorite is the Smoked Nachos Grande. Smoked pork goes great with the flavor of corn tortillas. Especially when topped with cheese, hot pepper and sweet sauce. Both their pork and chicken is dry rubbed, slow-smoked, and then served with your choice of sweet and tangy sauces
Wharf Hill Brewing Company (Smithfield)
Wharf Hill's BBQ menu is delicious and includes one of the most creative uses of pulled pork. The Non-Wonton is pulled pork and cole slaw in an eggroll wrapper, and served with a tangy sauce. You will love all the creative dishes. And don’t forget Wharf Hill’s craft beer.
Bubba-N-Frank’s Smokehouse (Carrollton)
Bubba-N-Frank’s is beloved all over our region for simple, delicious food. Their BBQ is served both North Carolina and St. Louis style. If you are especially hungry try the Triple B Burger which includes a beef patty, St. Louis BBQ, brisket, pepper Jack cheese. and all the fixings.
April 27, 2021
Smithfield-Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Franklin-Southampton, Surry and Sussex have received approval from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) to use the branding Virginia is for PEANUT Lovers and Virginia is for PORK Lovers in future marketing campaigns for their tourism efforts and the efforts of the Salty Southern Route.
VTC considers Pork and Peanuts a truly unique and quintessential experience for those visitors to Smithfield-Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Franklin-Southampton, Surry and Sussex that includes farm petting, seeing how the products are used/cured, and of course, eating!
The southeastern region of Virginia has long been known for its peanuts, salt-cured hams and pork products. The Salty Southern Route takes you on a journey through this picturesque area to experience this tradition first-hand. From the town of Smithfield, namesake to the world's largest pork producer Smithfield Foods, and the city of Suffolk, home to the world-famous Planter's Peanuts, to the farms, peanut processors and charming country stores of Surry, Sussex, Franklin & Southampton County, visitors experience the culture and people behind the delicious foods the area produces. And of course - get to sample some mighty fine food along the way! The city of Franklin, Southampton County, the town of Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, the city of Suffolk and Surry County, and Sussex County have been at the very center of the pork and peanut industry since the area was first settled in the 17th century. These charming southern communities are proud of their historic and culinary traditions. They're all conveniently located in the heart of Coastal Virginia, just up the interstate from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Newport News, Chesapeake and Hampton. For further information about the Salty Southern Route visit the website at https://www.saltysouthernroute.com/
The “Virginia is for Lovers” logo and word mark are registered trademarks of the Virginia Tourism Authority and the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC). The logo and word marks have been in use since their inception in 1969. The logo and word marks have gone through several visual transformations, and in recent years VTC has developed a number of sub-brand logos. Virginia is for Lovers® is the Commonwealth’s registered trademark and the official tourism logo and slogan. In its 50th year in 2019, it is one of the most recognizable after I Love New York.
The Salty Southern Route is full of hidden treasures and unique places to visit. We are compiling a list of the most interesting sights for you to include in your travel goals for 2020.
The harvest of peanuts, corn, and cotton, and the changing leaves create a beautiful drive down our rural highways of the Salty Southern Route. The autumn flavors of fresh peanuts, smoked meats, and warm spices are abundant at the restaurants and local businesses along the route. Visiting the family farms of Southeastern Virginia during the fall can be an unforgettable experience. Here are some places you might want to add to your seasonal plans.
College Run Farms (Surry County)
Turtle Creek Farm (Southampton County)
Darden's Country Store (Carrollton)
Grayson & Emma's Garden Spot (Courtland)
Gurganus Peanut & Buying Station (Capron)
Goose Hill Farms (Franklin)
Virginia is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the "Virginia is for Lovers" theme. In honor of this milestone the Salty Southern Route would like to present 50 Destinations to Love. All of them are worth a trip down the Salty Southern Route.
Memorial weekend is when many of us begin to think about outdoor cooking. We stock up on paper plates and charcoal and scrape the dirt and old bits of burnt food off the grill. At the Salty Southern Route we want to challenge you to go beyond burgers and hot dogs this summer. Here are a few ideas to get your creative culinary juices flowing.
Grilling fruit might seem like a strange idea at first, but the unique sweetness of fruit from the grill is a special summer treat. Grilled peaches can be especially good topped with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
Fresh sweet corn is truly a treasure of the summer. While cooking your burgers or steaks on the grill, throw on a few ears of corn. You can simply put the entire un-shucked ears on the grill. If the grill is nice and hot, turn the ears every 3-4 minutes. The outside leaves of the corn will probably burn and turn black, but the corn itself with be just fine. Let it cook for a 10-15 minutes.
If you want to keep it hot throughout your cookout, put the ears of corn in an empty cooler.
Shuck the corn and serve it with butter and salt.
College Run Farms in Surry has pick-your-own corn. Also look for fresh corn at the Farmer's Markets in Surry, Smithfield, Carrollton, Wakefield, Franklin, Suffolk, and Courtland.
Salmon with firecracker marinade slow cooked on a grill or smoker is a little spicy, a little sweet, a little smokey, and just about perfect.
The smokiness is an important part of this dish, so it is preferable to use a smoker or charcoal grill. If using charcoal, cook the salmon over indirect heat and keep the grill temperature between 225 and 275 degrees. Add wood chips to the charcoal throughout the cooking. There is no need to soak wood chips.
If you only have a gas grill, you can certainly make the this recipe work. It will still be great, just not as smoky as charcoal. Simply keep the grill temperature between 225 and 275 and do not place the salmon directly over the flame.
Smoking fish can seem a bit intimidating if you have never done it. This recipe, though, is quite easy, and a fairly foolproof way to cook salmon. The trick is to watch the temperature of the meat, and don’t overcook it.
Smoked Whiskey Sour
There are lots of variations on a whiskey sour. No matter how you like it, the sweet and tart drink is perfect for summer. Making your whiskey sour with smoked lemons adds a a savory, woody depth to the drink.
Smoked Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is a southern classic with as many variations as there are southern cooks. This recipe tries to capture a bit of summer along with the smokiness of outdoor cooking. If you are wary of smoked and dessert, don't worry. The combination of smoke, raisins, apples, and cinnamon is amazing.
This bread pudding can be divided into smaller cooking dishes (as pictured). Small cooking dishes allows you do decrease the cooking time.
Look for fresh eggs, milk, bread and apples at the Farmer's Markets in Surry, Smithfield, Carrollton, Wakefield, Franklin, Suffolk, and Courtland. You can also find great bread at the Smithfield Gourmet Bakery.
This chilly time of year brings out the “hungry” in all of us! And, just in time for this hankering for a good meal, Smithfield’s 6th Annual Restaurant week is coming up and ready to oblige! The best part about Restaurant Week is that you are hopefully enticed to travel to an establishment that you may not have been to before! If you are in the mood for something new, or to just patronize one of your favorite spots, Friday, February 1st through Saturday, February 9th is a great week to hang out in Isle of Wight County!
That being said, let’s talk about where you are riding The Salty Southern Route to during this delicious week! Also, what is pretty awesome, is that some of these eating establishments you may not even have thought would be on the list for a restaurant week! For instance, have you been to Cure Coffeehouse in Downtown Smithfield yet?! Or, have you had breakfast at the Cockeyed Roaster off of Route 10, or even The Gatling Point Yacht Club for lunch or dinner? And these places are just the tip of the ice burg! All in all, Smithfield’s Restaurant week has 17 participating restaurants/businesses, both inside and outside of the Historic District! These places include, but are not limited to, The Smithfield Inn, The Smithfield Station, Wharf Hill Brewing Company, The Taste of Smithfield, the newly renovated Tokyo & Thai, Q-Daddy’s and Bubba-N-Frank’s BBQ, Captain Chuck-A-Mucks and Darden’s Country Store! These places are featuring a specially priced lunch and dinner option, or options, that features something unique about their menu!
So, what are you doing the first week of February?! Hopefully you will be taking a trip on The Salty Southern Route to Isle of Wight County, Virginia! The food in this charming “Ham Town” is sure to delight!
Check out this link for a full list of participating business and links to their specialty menu for the week!
Alright, let’s talk “salty” this week! So, peanuts of course! A pretty awesome place on The Salty Southern Route is Newsoms Peanut Shop! The Bunn Family in Southampton, Virginia knows the peanut, having a long farming heritage in the county!
Since opening their shop in 1980, Newsoms wants you to know that they make the freshest peanuts, only making their product per order! When you ride The Salty Southern Route to Newsoms Peanut Shop the comfortable feeling of family and country charm takes over the senses! That feeling is only amplified when you walk into the shop and are welcomed by the friendly greetings of family members that have worked their land and product for many years. The walls of the shop is filled with mementos and memories that truly makes you feel that the word family and peanut go together! Blair Bunn, Newsom’s owner, tells the story of his family’s long history in farming over the years on their website. His family lives on part of Turtle Creek Farm, the family farm, where they also raise row crops and cattle. The story of the Newsom Peanut started in his mom’s kitchen where she used to cook famous home-cooked and country packed peanuts! The first summer they would load their truck up with sweet corn, watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes and Mom would bring along those delicious peanuts! All these years later, The Newsom Peanut is distributed to people throughout the U.S. and abroad!
Which leads us to, most importantly, the mouth-watering peanuts! Product categories include Home Cooked Virginia Peanuts, Homemade Brittle and Candies, Pecans, Raw Virginia Peanuts, Seasonal Samples, Roasted In-Shell-Virginia Peanuts and The Chocolate Factory! Newsoms products are found and can be purchased for sale in many grocery and specialty shops throughout Virginia! They work with many groups, such as The Boy and Girl Scouts and 4-H, for fundraising and even offer custom or private labeling!
Check them out on Facebook and their website for more information!
Talk next week! Have fun on riding The Route!
This time of year when it’s cold and your outside activities are limited heading out to a new restaurant should be on your list of things to do! One of the restaurants that should be on that list is Wharf Hill Brewing Company! Not only does this place, located on Main Street in Downtown Smithfield, have delicious food, including daily specials, but it is a Brew Pub! As a microbrewery Wharf Hill not only has a full bar and long list of local craft suds, but also features a number of in-house made beers like the famous Isle of Wheat Hefeweizen and the Holy Braille Brown Ale.
When you walk in the main entrance of Wharf Hill Brewery you are met with friendly faces, jovial laughter, a warm welcome by the host or hostess and the overall eclectic and inviting nature of a building that has been around for over 100 years! That’s right, not only is this an awesome pub with delicious food, but it is also filled with history! The building, or buildings, that Wharf Hill occupies was a number of businesses over the years, as they were all part of the town’s African American Business District. These businesses consisted of a barber shop, the Elks Lodge and a funeral parlor. When this restaurant was being built, the owner took pain staking efforts to incorporate as many of the leftover elements from these buildings back into what you see today! And, if he couldn’t find supplies from those buildings he used pieces and structural elements from historical buildings found throughout the town and county!
So what about the food?! Wharf Hill Brewery offers many choices for lunch and dinner, opening every day at 11:30am, switching over to their dinner menu at 4pm. Since we are talking about riding The Salty Southern Route, a must try is their smoked, dry-rub BBQ! And since we are talking about pork, you have to order the Non-Won-Tons! What’s a Non-Won-Ton?! They are three BBQ and homemade coleslaw stuffed egg rolls that are deep fried to perfection and served with the most delicious tangy BBQ sauce! By the way, this is just where the deliciousness starts! With the recent release of a new menu, Wharf now offers a few new items like Dave’s (one of the owners) homemade meatballs for pasta and a devour worthy sub, a new sampler platter that features a little bit of all the awesome apps, Joe’s (one of the chef’s) special BBQ Mac N Cheese and the yummy WHACHOS (Nachos, lol)!
So, are you hungry yet?! Travel down the hill on Main Street in Smithfield “Ham Town,” Virginia and visit Wharf Hill Brewing Company, the perfect place to warm up with a full belly and some local beers on one of these winter days!
Visit the links below for more information about Wharf Hill’s beers, food, the really cool story of how the three current owners were former employees and more insight into the history of the buildings!
The Salty Southern Route
is a joint tourism effort of the towns of Franklin and Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry and Sussex Counties, and the city of Suffolk, Virginia.