Hometown Eats: Carla Sue’s Smokehouse BBQ

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT
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BASSETT, Va. (WDBJ) - Hometown Eats is all about showcasing the favorite and sometimes well-known restaurants in our area.

Every now and then we find one that is a true hidden gem like Carla Sue’s Smokehouse BBQ in Bassett.

“If you love BBQ then you need to come here. It’s worth the drive,” said owner Jess Carpenter.

That’s exactly what we did, 9 miles down 57 toward Bassett, off 220 south, to one of the best kept secrets in the area, Carla Sue’s Smokehouse BBQ, to try Jess Carpenter’s old school, dry rub, Memphis-style pork and chicken.

“This is the only way you’re going to get real barbecue is off a stick burner. We don’t have coal and a couple pieces of hager, we do it the olden way,” said Carpenter.

Jess is an Army brat and has lived in Michigan since he was 8. Some years ago, he bought a $100 smoker and what started as a hobby transformed into his now-daily technique.

How he got to this little roadside spot began with the death of his father in 2021. Jess’s brother convinced him to come down and while here, he and his brother smoked some ribs.

“I said I think we can sell these,” exclaimed Carpenter.

From there, an idea was born.

“We started discussing and we saw this little place; three weeks later we opened it up,” said Carpenter.

Jess never left. He sold his place in Michigan and Virginia is now home with the mission to deliver a style of barbecue he believes can’t be found, with his mother’s name on the sign.

“I’ve been to every barbecue joint around and it’s nothing like this,” said Carpenter.

Customers agree, any review you read raves about how good the meat off this smoker is.

“I just heard it today; some guy stopped here after he drove by with his window down and had to turn around. He goes, man, that’s the best BBQ sandwich I’ve ever had in my life! I had a guy come from St. Louis camping around here and he said he’s stopped at almost every BBQ joint, and he said we rank in the top five and I hear that every day. People say that’s awesome and the best they’ve ever had and it just pumps you up,” Carpenter said proudly.

As far as the meat and seasonings, Jess keeps it real simple.

“We don’t sauce our meats,” said Carpenter.

That’s your job with one of three sauces.

“We have a sweet and tangy with a kick, apple BBQ sauce a lot of people like which is sweet, and a Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce,” described Carpenter.

And it’s all made in this kitchen.

“We make our own rubs, sides, and homemade sides,” said Carpenter.

Some of those sides include smoked mac and cheese, smoked baked beans, cole slaw, macaroni salad and hush puppies.

“If you want real authentic BBQ, this is the place to come because otherwise, you’re not going to get it,” Carpenter said with confidence.

Carla Sue’s Smokehouse BBQ, a hometown eat where smoking’s encouraged.

Be sure to keep a lookout on the restaurant’s Facebook page because they’re going to be moving locations, They’re planning on having a trivia style game to guess where they’re moving and will offer prizes to the winner.

You can find Carla Sue’s Smokehouse BBQ at 8798 Fairystone Park Hwy, Bassett, VA 24055.