You can’t miss Daddy Bob’s Barbeque, even when it’s parked among several dozen other food trucks at a rodeo. You don’t even have to use your eyes to locate the fire engine red trailer, which is, after all, just one spark in a vehicular riot of color.
Just follow your nose to the source of that intoxicating aroma of wood smoke.
That’s hickory, apple and pecan, to be precise, a mix of woods that owner Miller Howerton combines (the exact proportion is a secret) to turn out barbecue better than you’d ever have thought could come off a truck.
The feat is a little less surprising when you learn that Howerton’s barbecuing roots go back to his great grandfather, the truck’s namesake. The family called him Daddy Bob, but to most folks in the small Mississippi Delta town where he lived and converted old refrigerators into smokers, he was known as the Barbeque Man.
Three generations later, Miller Howerton is carrying on the tradition – but with a geographical twist. Fittingly enough, given that Howerton was born and grew up in Greensboro, his pork barbecue is a hybrid of Eastern and Western (more accurately called Piedmont or Lexington) North Carolina styles.
True to Western tradition, he uses pork shoulders (or bone-in butts when he can get them) rather than the whole hog favored in the East, smoking them low and slow for 12 hours. The coarse chop leans to the West, too, though the peppery vinegar-based sauce is unabashedly Eastern.
Did I mention that the barbecue is smoked fresh every day? “No exceptions,” says Howerton. “If we’re doing dinner, I start cooking at 5 a.m. For lunch, I start the night before, at 11 p.m.”
You can get the pork (or exceptionally juicy pulled chicken) on a sandwich, with the slaw of your choice: Howerton’s take on a Lexington-style “red” barbecue slaw, or jalapeño slaw (“that’s my dad’s recipe”).
Or you can spring for a plate, which gets you the slaw and your choice of two sides. Sides, made from scratch with as much care as the barbecue, make the plate well worth the splurge.
“We don’t even boil the pasta for the mac and cheese until we get to the site,” Howerton says, and it shows in a rich, creamy blend of rotini and three cheeses.
Baked beans are redolent of smoke, and no wonder: they’re simmered beneath the pork as it cooks in the barbecue smoker. Jalapeño-cheddar hushpuppies are first-rate, too. I haven’t tasted the country-style green beans yet, but judging by everything else I’ve had, I’d be surprised if they didn’t rival what you’d find in a topnotch Southern meat-and-three joint.
Skin-on fries – crisp, golden brown and well-seasoned – are available as a side, or as the foundation for a Southern take on nachos called Big Butt Fries: a shareable pile of fries topped with your choice of pulled pork or chicken, and slaw.
After you place your order, take a minute to mosey down to the end of the truck, where you can see the electric pellet smoker that’s the source of that smoky aroma that lured you here. The smoker is inside a screen enclosure whose practical purpose is to allow the smoke to escape.
But with a little imagination, the enclosure – complete with screen door — calls to mind a screen porch. It gives the truck a suitably down home-look, one that would no doubt make Daddy Bob feel right at home.
Daddy Bob’s Barbeque
Prices: sandwich $6, plate $12, sides $3-$4