Helen Schwab

Bridges barbecue prevails

The magazine’s whole bracket.
The magazine’s whole bracket. Garden & Gun

So it was really an N.C. cue-off.

Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby emerged the victor Thursday in Garden & Gun magazine’s 2015 “Ultimate Barbecue Bracket,” a readers’ poll.

Bridges ended up with 58 percent of the vote, the magazine reported, topping SAW’s BBQ in Birmingham, Ala. The irony: SAW’s is owned and run by native Charlottean Mike Wilson, who cooks N.C.-style barbecue, too.

Bridges opened in 1949 (that’s the Red Bridges place, not Alston Bridges’, another barbecue stalwart, as longtime Shelby ‘cue aficionados will know). The place does what’s often called Lexington-style ‘cue: pit-cooked pork shoulders, with a vinegar-tomato sauce. Bridges’ sauce is on the sweeter side of the Lexington-style spectrum.

SAW’s opened in 2009. Mike Wilson, a 1991 graduate of Myers Park High, cooks Boston butts (a cut of the shoulder) and says his vinegar-based sauce has a little ketchup in it, though he aimed for more balance, so it can serve as a marinade or Bloody Mary seasoning, too.

Garden & Gun lists its audience as topping 1 million. It’s printed bi-monthly and also does email newsletters and blogs.

You can see the entire 32-restaurant bracket at http://gardenandgun.com/blog/barbecue-bracket-winner