Bib’s Downtown: Don’t Call This Barbecue!

Bib’s Downtown: Don’t Call This Barbecue!
By Timothy G. Beeman II

There is one word, one that you would think would be there somewhere, that you will not find at Bib’s Downtown in Winston-Salem: barbecue. Well, that may not be true. It is mentioned in one place and that is on a 20-foot banner that reads Barbecue Pit Masters Championship from Mobile, Alabama. Yes, that cooking competition on television. Bib’s Downtown won it in 2013.
But, just because you do not see the word, it is technically still barbecue, at least in the strictest sense of the word. Partners Mark Little, Robert Moreau, and Ricky Seamon started Bib’s Downtown at 675 W 5th Street in downtown Winston-Salem in December 2008. It was an avenue for Mark and partners to explore a different kind of smoked meats. Notice I did not say barbecue.
Mark is an artist by trade. He was a graphic illustrator for 25 years. He still paints in his off time when he is not going to his grandchildren’s activities or just having them around the house. Mark said that he is teaching them all – all girls – how to cook pit-smoked meats. He started a catering business just prior to starting Bib’s. But, he’s no stranger to food. His father and grandfather were both butchers and they cured their own country ham. His aunts were both bakers. So, he has been cooking his entire life.
Bib’s specializes in pulled pork, not chopped as most others around town do. “You’ll find no cleavers here,” says Mark. “Bib’s is really old school with house made sauces and rubs, and meat cooked on real wood stoves – not gas stoves. The sides and desserts are all house made, as well. These are my family’s recipes.” And, you can tell he is proud of that; why would he not?

Bib’s cooks the whole pork butt for 24 hours and then they pull the entire thing. When they finish with that, they bring in another whole butt. Besides the pulled pork, Bib’s has become known for their ribs. They are St. Louis-cut ribs and with a house made rub and sauce, Mark says, “I’d put them up against anyone in town.”
When asked about the “Eastern vs. Western” debate that goes on with conventional barbecue in North Carolina, Mark says, “it’s neither Eastern nor Western. It’s ‘Bestern.’” He also says that they don’t use the word “barbecue” because of the stigma it carries; Eastern, Western, chopped and so on.
Also on the menu are their jumbo wings, which are five whole wings smoked and doused in your choice of sauce. They have grilled wraps, beef brisket – in which Bib’s was one of the first places in town to cook, and smoked turkey. There are specialty salads and burgers and sandwiches of all varieties.
The sides at Bib’s will not disappoint, either. They have the conventional red and white slaw, potato salad, house made mac ‘n’ cheese, collards, green beans, “twice fries” which are, as the name suggests, fried twice and seasoned with the rub used to season the meats. Finally, Bib’s Beans which are cooked in a pot with three different types of meat, four different peppers and four different beans along with a sweet and savory sauce. Mouth-watering to say the least.
And, if you are wondering about the name Bib’s Downtown, look for Mark as he is always wearing bib overalls. Hence the name.
Bib’s Downtown is open Monday through Thursday 11 am to 9 pm and Friday through Saturday 11am-10pm. They offer catering services and have an upscale, private event space that can be used for your parties and events like wedding rehearsals and formals. You can find more information about Bib’s Downtown by visiting Bon appétit!