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Discover Local Culture at Due South BBQ in Christiansburg

By David P. Ribbe
September 30, 2010
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Blacksburg and the New River Valley Mall  were crammed full of Hokie fans before Saturday's game against East Carolina. It was Friday night and I was eager for a culinary adventure, so I ventured over to Christiansburg with a friend to find an out of the way dining experience.  I wanted to find a place to eat that was undiscovered, yet full of character and close to town.

Due South Pit Cooked BBQ wasn't hard to find; the two catering vans parked out front on Roanoke Street in Christiansburg were painted pig pink and were fitted with porcine ears.  Parking was tight, but one look through the plate glass window in front of me hinted that this was the right place for a Friday night cultural experience.

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Bluegrass country music filled the air in a quintessential harmony with the smoky aroma of pit-cooked BBQ.  We quickly grabbed a booth under the squinty gaze of a stuffed boar's head mounted on the wall.

 

It took a moment in the small, well packed, restaurant to figure out that orders for BBQ sandwiches and plates, aptly named "Jumbo," "The Trough" and "The Big Slop," are made at the counter. In less than 10 minutes, we were served two orders of "The Big Slop." "The Big Slop" is a jumbo BBQ sandwich, with three sides and a helping of hush puppies.

While the bluegrass gospel group, Alleghany Springs from Alleghany Baptist Church in Blacksburg, sang in the restaurant, we enjoyed studying the wide array of BBQ sauces in large squeeze bottles set next to big rolls of paper towels on the table. They read:

  • Sweet Brown Sauce: Tomato base with brown sugar and molasses;
  • Lexington Sauce: Vinegar base and spicy;
  • Sweet Red: Tomato base, sweet and tangy;
  • Yellow Sauce: Mustard base, sweet and tangy;
  • Hot Red: Tomato base, warm and sweet.

Even though the owners, Jared and Marie March, opened Due South just three years ago in 2007, their menu and placards on the wall boast multiple local awards for their sauces and chili, as well as for taste and appearance.

 

The recipes were personally developed while cooking on their backyard smoker in South Carolina. Marie March, a slight, gray haired southern lady, took orders, served tables and chatted up customers with typical country charm and grace.

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The large portion of smoked BBQ pork came in a basket lined with paper while the sides were in small paper boats.  The jumbo sandwiches were big enough to split into two parts; that way we could sample as many sauces as possible on the open faced sandwich.  Of course I put cole slaw on the BBQ, in true southern fashion.  My favorite sauces were the yellow sauce and the Lexington, both of which were zesty.  I liked the moderate spiciness of the Lexington.

 

The platter came with three hush puppies, which went down well with ketchup and a chaser of freshly brewed "not sweet" tea; as I added the sugar myself. We both ordered three different sides so we could sample as many sides as possible. Our sides included smoked taters, sweet potato casserole (my favorite), baked beans with bacon and fried green tomatoes.

 

As we ate, I found myself humming and singing along with Alleghany Springs to "I'll Fly Away"  and "Long Black Train." Alleghany Springs consisted of two guitars, a zither, a banjo and a bass along with a lead male singer and a female harmony.  The entire experience at Due South BBQ was like going to a well established, old fashioned country restaurant with a sense of built-in family.

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Friday nights at Due South are live music nights with several bluegrass or gospel groups that rotate each week.  I appreciated the unprocessed and local nature of the food and the business.  I look forward to going back for more music and to try the beef brisket or smoked chicken. I'll definitely have a large helping of their fried apple pie.

Photos by David P. Ribbe