Picnic, a new Durham whole hog barbecue restaurant, opens Friday

The outside of the new Picnic barbecue restaurant in Durham.
The outside of the new Picnic barbecue restaurant in Durham. Matt Lardie

The much-anticipated Picnic Durham will start serving whole hog barbecue and fried chicken at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 5.

This modern take on a roadside barbecue joint is the project of Chef Ben Adams, formerly of Piedmont Restaurant in Durham, pitmaster Wyatt Dickson of Pig Whistle Whole Hog BBQ catering company, and farmer Ryan Butler of Green Button Farm in Bahama, N.C.

Picnic has all the usual barbecue suspects; that pit-roasted pulled pork and fried chicken as well as coleslaw, mac and cheese, hush puppies and classic banana cream pie. Some more upscale fare like fried oysters and steak also make appearances on the menu, and each table is set with a bottle of Dickson’s own barbecue sauce, a creation that marries the much-loved vinegar sauce of Eastern North Carolina with the oft-maligned (at least over here) tomato-based sauce of the Western half of the state.

The restaurant also places an emphasis on sustainability, with all of the hogs locally raised on Butler’s Green Button Farm, about 13 miles from the restaurant. Additionally, the smokers were specially designed by Dickson to be fuel-efficient and eco-friendly.

You can try some of what Southern Living calls “next generation ‘cue” beginning at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Picnic Durham will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and they hope to offer a Sunday brunch in the near future. They will be open on Valentine’s Day.

Picnic is located at 1647 Cole Mill Road in Durham, just off I-85. For more information visit their website at

Matt Lardie is a Durham-based food and travel writer. He writes the Eat Write Go blog: Reach him at