The Smoke Pit barbecue joint in Concord is worth the wait

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When you pull up to the modest storefront of The Smoke Pit in Concord, there’s a good chance the door may not even be visible. A patio packed with patrons under red umbrellas greets hungry guests as they stand in line in the parking lot, waiting to get in the door.

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Once inside, customers feel at home. The dining room features a casual setting with yellow walls and brightly colored paintings, and unfussy table settings with all the necessities—squeeze bottles of house barbecue sauces and a whole roll of paper towels.

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Since opening its doors in December 2014, The Smoke Pit has grown from serving 30 people a day to about 700. The barbecue spot has also been listed as one of the top places to visit when visiting Concord, as well as the best restaurant in Cabarrus County.

Located near Gibson Mill, The Smoke Pit is a restaurant the entire family can enjoy. The menu boasts options for the most ardent barbecue connoisseur, including sandwiches, barbecue plates, combination plates, ribs, wings, salads, and spuds. To go alongside the meal are a variety of sides such as mac and cheese, fried okra, and collards. The Smoke Pit also includes a kids’ menu with grilled cheese, pork sliders, and chicken tenders.

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When it comes to the restaurant, it’s all about the atmosphere. There’s always a buzz, whether it’s from the people standing in line to order and laughing amongst one another, or from those already with their food, gathered around their table. There’s a sense of community and happiness that can be felt throughout the building. That’s especially true on Saturdays, one of the busiest days for The Smoke Pit.

Showing up to The Smoke Pit on Saturday means many guests will be standing in a line that starts at the register and trails out the door where people wait patiently to move forward. Some guests say that on one Saturday, they stood in a line that wrapped around the building. With so many daily visitors, certain items may run out and are then placed on a sign below the menu, which some visitors peer at from the line.

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Mark Prior, a guest who has been on a quest for good barbecue since he moved to North Carolina in 1989, believes that he has found it at The Smoke Pit.

“Everyone says they have good barbecue, and everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been disappointed,” says Prior. “When some friends recommended this place, I wasn’t expecting much because of so many places bringing that disappointment, but this is the best barbecue I’ve had yet.”

After visiting the restaurant once with his wife, Anne, and their daughter, Sarah, Prior and his family, who live in Mooresville, all agreed that both the 40-minute drive from home and the 20- to 30- minute wait are well worth it.

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The Smoke Pit, 796 Concord Pkwy N, Concord.

Photography by Eric Pound. A version of this story originally appeared in Lake Norman Magazine.

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