The small town of Hillsborough, North Carolina made a big impression on me, despite only being able to drop in for a short overnight stay. Completely off my radar before planning my BBQ Bound itinerary, the town is now my top choice for a repeat visit of all the stops I made during my three weeks on the road.
With a compact downtown set near the scenic Eno River and a population hovering around 6,000 (but said to be growing), Hillsborough was a laidback little place with all the hallmarks you’d hope for – quaint, welcoming, pretty, loads of historic buildings and access to the outdoors. And unlike a lot of small towns (even ones twice the size or more of Hillsborough) there was no insular, myopic vibe about it – or local yokels sitting around complaining there was nothing to do. And just in case one were to get bored, big city (ish) sights and sounds wouldn’t be too far away with Durham and Chapel Hill a short drive down the road and Raleigh just bit farther. They’ve got awesome BBQ too!
Hillsborough BBQ Company
236 S Nash Street, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
One of the more newly constructed pits I visited during my trip but no less authentic or yielding anything less than top quality smoked meat, the Hillsborough BBQ Company was an amazing place to eat and an especially friendly venue. Want to feel like a local star having your homecoming moment? Take a seat at the bar and revel in the chatty hospitality. Grab a bite while you’re there. HBC’s brisket could hold its own among any Texan contenders. The smoked turkey was out of this world – moist and tender with a subtle woody flavour. And the banana pudding? Damn! I hate to admit it but it was even better than my dear old dad’s!
Visit the restaurant online at hillsboroughbbq.com.
Beyond the Q
Holiday Inn Express
202 Cardinal Drive, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
Another day, another Holiday Inn Express. And that was a good thing. The Hillsborough location was perfectly placed for heading into town and hitting the highway. Service was gracious and friendly. My room: super clean and spacious with a very comfy bed.
Find out more at ihg.com/holidayinnexpress.
Mystery Brewing Public House
230 South Nash Street, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
On the Saturday night I waltzed into the Mystery Brewing Public House, folks were putting on their own rendition of Rocky Horror to an energetic audience … a van out back was slinging Korea street food and word from Mystery’s gregarious owner, Erik Lars Myers, was that tomorrow noon held the promise of “beer church” if I’d like to come back by. Had I stumbled upon my new favourite bar? I certainly enjoyed the hell out of the couple of seasonal brews I sipped and laughed heartily while doing the Time Warp.
Head to mysterybrewing.com for info.
I loved my early autumn morning stroll along the Riverwalk, an urban greenway stretching for about two miles along the Eno River that’s part of North Carolina’s far greater Mountains-to-Sea Trail. For details about Riverwalk and the MST check out ci.hillsborough.nc.us/content/riverwalk and ncmst.org.
Learn more about Hillsborough at visithillsboroughnc.com and the great state of North Carolina at visitnc.com. For loads of help planning your trip to anywhere in the States, go to VisitTheUSA.com. And please be sure to keep an eye out for more BBQ Bound posts to come!