July is National Grilling Month, and that means one thing: Barbecue.

On the Outer Banks, when it comes to barbecue, a must-stop spot is the iconic Kill Devil Hills eatery known as Pigman’s Bar-B-Que, the premiere barbecue restaurant on the Banks.

The eatery offers many varieties of BBQ with signature house-made sauces to go along with it. Assorted types of pork, chicken, beef, tuna, turkey, country ham — and their award-winning ribs with all the fixings all are the makings of a mouth-watering feast.

Owners Top Palmer and Richard Bruce began working at Pigman’s in their early-20s, and when they had the chance to take over the business, they took a shot — and it was nothing but net.

“We were roommates and teammates on the basketball team at VMI. Both of us worked here as employees, loved it, so when the opportunity came to acquire it, we jumped on it,” Palmer says.

The dynamic duo has kept the popular OBX eatery on track, staying true to founder Bill Shaver’s vision of a country farm house where people can get great barbecue with pure southern flavor.

“Anything barbecue-related is our specialty,” Palmer says. “We also have some unique items like tuna-que and BBQ beach fries with our new Alabama white sauce, which you can’t get anywhere else. We also started doing pork rinds, and the customers seem to love those. We give out complementary pork rinds for customers, and if they like them, they can purchase a bag for $3.99.”

But it’s the restaurant’s award-winning St. Louis-style ribs and Carolina-style pork barbecue that are the most popular menu items, he says.

What makes Pigman’s barbecue extraordinary, Palmer says, is that it’s North Carolina to the bone. “It’s cooked in vinegar-based sauce, and cole slaw on top of the sandwich is also a North Carolina thing. We give out a complimentary cole slaw with our sandwiches specifically for this reason.”

Its sauce is so popular that its offered for sale at the on-site shop ($7.99 per bottle), as is its Rub-a-Dub Meat & Rib Rub ($13.99)

Pigman’s also offers catering and can put together picnics-to-go, the latter of which includes a free bottle of sauce with every order.

There are three picnic options:

  • The Piglet: Feeds eight people and include 3 pounds of pork barbecue, two pounds of barbecue-baked beans, two pounds of cole slaw, and three orders of hush puppies ($71.99)
  • The Swine: Feeds 12 people and includes four pounds of pork barbecue, three pounds of barbecue-baked beans, three pounds of cole slaw, and four orders of hush puppies ($95.99)
  • The Potbelly: Feeds 16 people and include five pounds of pork barbecue, four pounds of barbecue-baked beans, four pounds of cole slaw, and five order of hush puppies ($119.99)

The restaurant also is committed to the community that has supported it since 1985 by taking part in fundraisers for the Outer Banks SPCA, including its Tailwagon Tuesdays throughout the summer, and the annual Jorts in June fundraiser — all of which makes the original Pigman, Bill Shaver, one proud papa.

“We keep in touch with Bill; I actually just got done talking with him,” Palmer says. “He says that he is proud of us. …Bill is a great resource, and we love bouncing ideas off him because he was the mastermind behind all of this.”


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