The Tar Heels visit Duke on Wednesday, and that can only mean one thing: Mac’s on Tuesday.

Let me explain.

I don’t hate North Carolina barbeque –- but I don’t love it, either.

Oh sure, there are a few must-stops, such as The Pit in Raleigh and B’s Barbeque in Greenville. But unless the restaurant gets it juuusssttt right, I’m not a huge fan of the vinegar-based sauce for which the area is known.

Thankfully, I have good friends like Derek and Makayla Samson, who introduced me to a little slice of heaven called Mac’s Speed Shop.

With two locations in Charlotte –- I prefer the original on South Blvd. –- Mac’s is so good that, on lonely evenings, I call up its menu on the web and fantasize about my next trip.

For a boy who grew up in Texas and lives in Kansas City, that’s sayin’ something.

One of the best things about Mac’s is that they let you sauce your own meat. The vinegary stuff is there if you want it, but a thicker red sauce is available, too. Heck, even if you went dry, the brisket, ribs and pulled pork are flavorful enough to make you forget about the bottles of sauce lurking next to your iced tea.

I’ve been to Mac’s twice now, and on each occasion, I ordered the only acceptable item for a newcomer –- the inappropriately-named “A Little Bit of it All.” Seriously, this is false advertising. The words “Little Bit” shouldn’t be associated with this entrée.

By the time I finish my mountain of pulled pork, two pieces of chicken, a thick slice of brisket and a mess of ribs -– not to mention two side items and Texas toast -– the only thing “little” are the breaths I take as I attempt to gather myself by circling the table with my hands clasped on top of my head.

(Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that last month, Derek, Makayla and I split chicken wings before our main course, and by split I mean that they had one wing each and I had eight.)

Ahem, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I would gladly chip in an extra five bucks for an oxygen tank and a wheelchair to haul me out to my rental car. Instead the price of “A Little Bit of it All” comes out to a whoppin’ $16. I haven’t stumbled across a bargain that good since I bought Mark McGwire’s Olympic Topps rookie card for a quarter at a garage sale back in junior high school.

I’d love to be able to tell you about some of the other things on Mac’s menu, such as the Brunswick stew, the brisket tacos or hand-pulled smoked turkey that looked as tender as a mother’s love. But something tells me I’ll always get that combo platter during my return visits to Mac’s. Just thinking about it is getting me excited.

Maybe it’s time to move to Charlotte.

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