GARLAND — When Matthew and Jessica Register opened Southern Smoke BBQ two years ago, they said they wanted to put the small Sampson town on the expansive North Carolina barbecue map.
Now firmly on that map among residents, news outlets and foodies across the state, it has ascended to the national stage. A USA Today 10Best Reader’s Choice poll lists Southern Smoke in Garland as one of 20 nominees for the best barbecue sandwich in North Carolina.
According to USA Today, 10BestSandwich America recruited a panel of local foodies to nominate their favorite barbecue pork sandwiches in the state and have now opened the contest up for votes. Ballots can be cast once per day until voting ends at noon Monday, June 6.
As of Wednesday, Southern Smoke stands in third place, bolstered by news of the nomination spreading like wildfire on social media in just a short time. Matthew Register said he was overwhelmed by the nomination and the support the Q joint has had since it was announced.
Even if winning is not in the cards, Register said he is honored to be among the other nominees. He was on his way to the Food & Wine Festival in Wilmington Saturday morning when he was informed of the news.
“We’re just honored to be nominated by USA Today as one of the top 20 barbecue sandwiches in North Carolina,” he said. “I was amazed and it put a big smile on my face. There are some 500 barbecue places in North Carolina and we are one of those 20. It’s just an honor to be on this list.”
Founded in 2010 by Register and wife Jessica, Southern Smoke BBQ has quickly gained a following for its pork cooked slow and low over oak wood coals. Diners can choose from two different sauces, named for the couple’s children, to dress their pulled pork sandwiches. Since opening the Southern Smoke location in April 2014, people have come out in droves to the restaurant southern tip of Sampson County, where that history of old-fashioned barbecue is still alive and well at 29 Warren St. just off U.S. 701 (Ingold Avenue).
Hovering around third place, Register said he would like to finish in the top 5.
“This is a Sampson County thing,” he said, “and we want Sampson County help.”
To vote, visit www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-bbq-pork-sandwich-in-north-carolina.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.