The Prime Smokehouse

By Jennifer Grant

I often think that mac and cheese should be its own separate food group. Like fruits and vegetables, it takes up a large chunk of my diet. I’ve seldom found mac and cheese I disliked, but I vehemently believe that they’re not all created equal. I would soon realize and reaffirm my belief that some are MUCH better than others.


My group member Laura and I had just arrived at our hotel in Rocky Mount and we were starving. We had made plans to return to Tarboro that evening for dinner.  After skimming over the restaurant’s menu again and realizing that going to Tarboro meant another 30 minutes in the car after we’d already spent much of the day traveling, we decided to look for something closer. The Prime Smokehouse: Barbecue and Beyond, was one of the first options to pop up in our Google search. Intrigued, I looked into it a little more and found that the restaurant’s mac and cheese had been given the honor of a spot on Travel + Leisure’s  “America’s Best Mac and Cheese” list. SOLD. After a quick call to make a reservation, and a much-needed nap, Laura and I were off to see just how good this mac and cheese really could be.


The restaurant was located in an area that seemed like it would be downtown Rocky Mount, but it was pretty deserted. If not for the several parking lots we saw full of cars, we probably would have thought no one was there that night. After driving around a few times looking for a spot where we wouldn’t be towed, we parked and walked over to The Prime Smokehouse.


It’s a good thing I made a reservation! The place was packed and noisy and bustling with chatter. Even with a reservation, we and several other parties waited a bit longer than I would have liked to be acknowledged and shown to our table. I didn’t mind too much, though, because it gave me time to take in the warm and friendly environment. Soon, we were seated at a high top and handed two very large menus.


Laura and I knew we were each going to order mac and cheese as one of our sides, but how could we possibly choose an entrée from the expansive selection? After much consideration, we both picked dishes from the “From Our Famous Smoker” section of the menu. Laura opted for the pulled pork with a side of coleslaw and mac and cheese, and I chose the Bronzed Chicken with a side of roasted broccoli and mac and cheese.