It was a snowy New Year's Eve lunchtime when we stopped in at Becky's BBQ, located in an unassuming brown clapboard house across from the Shaw's/Christmas Tree Shop mall. The line-up for take-out barbecue seemed to include office workers, blue-collar guys, and techno-geeks, all on the same wavelength about the bargain sandwiches at Becky's, not to mention the scrumptious flavors of their pit-smoked meats.
The eat-in area looks like my southern Aunt Lindy's dining room: worn wallpaper with apples twining on vines and overhead shelves with canning jars, graniteware pie plates, enamel teapots, and even a Kewpie doll. There are lacey curtains at the windows, a hutch with pick-up plastic tableware and those all-important wet napkins, and a beverage cooler, with soft drinks, iced tea, and water.
On the wall near the entrance is a blackboard menu, but it was easier to grab take-out menus to study at our table — there are six natural wood tables, 17 chairs, and two highchairs. The first thing to read on the menu is the description of the pork and beef barbecued in a hickory pit for 18 hours; the chicken and ribs are hand-rubbed and put in the pit until the meat is falling off the bone. The temperature is kept low (180 to 225 degrees) and the meat is actually "cooked" by the smoke, causing a reddish color.
In keeping with the pig theme, Becky's offers a dinner-for-four special as "The Straw House" ($25.95), for six as "The Wood House" ($39.95), and for eight as "The Brick House" ($52.95). They cater business and social occasions, and they have scores of satisfied sandwich-munchers ($1.99-$5.75). Of these, the pulled pork, pulled beef, and pulled chicken sandwiches come in three sizes, or you can choose a "sandwich plate," which includes a beverage and one side.
In keeping with the idea of sampling as many things as possible, we ordered dinner plates: rib tips ($6.99) for Bill and a half-chicken for me ($7.49). These come with cornbread and two sides. Bill also made his dinner into a combo by adding on pulled chicken ($2.75) and a quarter-slab of ribs ($4.75).
The rib tips are subject to availability, but that day they were available, seven very meaty beef tips, so well-barbecued and flavored that at one point Bill almost chewed one of the small bones! Anytime/anywhere barbecue fan Bill ordinarily prefers the Kansas City sweet-style sauce, but this time, he tried some of Becky's Carolina vinegar/pepper-based sauce on the pulled chicken and went back to douse it several times.
My half-chicken was, as advertised, falling off the bone, and the dark meat was among the smokiest I've ever eaten, with the breast meat also nice and moist. The cornbread is, to my taste, ordinary, a little too fluffy, a little too sweet. For a Yankee like Bill, it was just fine.
We tried four of the five sides: the smashed red bliss potatoes were a wonderful complement to the 'cue. The potato salad (a round scoop of it) seemed to also have the red bliss potatoes, with a touch of onion, plenty of parsley, and a bit of pickle. The cole slaw was finely chopped with green peppers and a vinegar dressing — Bill chose to spark the leftover at home with some mayo, but I was fine with the original incarnation. We didn't opt for corn niblets but we did have "Becky's Three-Bean Bake," which includes kidneys, limas, and navy beans, not as sweet as some baked beans.