Oftentimes I have to go to court in other counties for motions, petitions, and even trials. Most of the time, I end up in Gaston, Buncombe, Guilford, Forsyth, and Wake Counties. But my latest adventure took me to a place I haven’t seen in a long time: Cleveland County. Cleveland County—County Seat Shelby—is located just at the precipice of the rolling Piedmont foothills in southwestern North Carolina.
On this particular occasion, I had to argue a Lienholder’s Petition in Superior Court. In Lienholder’s Petitions, I represent banks and other lenders in obtaining court orders that release cars that have been seized in DWIs and other arrests. If the Defendant/Owner is in default on the loan, the court can release the car, which is collateral for the loan, back to the lender.
But when you’re in Shelby, it’s what happens after court that ends up being really special: Red Bridges Barbecue. Situated along I-74 (aka Dixon Blvd.), Red Bridges has been and remains a staple eatery not just in Shelby, but in North Carolina since 1946. And if the site Thrillist is to be believed, America as well. As in the best barbecue in the United States, with 80,000 votes to back it up.
According to Bridges website, the business started in 1946, when Red and Lyttle Bridges opened the restaurant under the name Dedmond’s, making pit-cooked Lexington-style barbecue for Shelby folks. The rest is history, but of note Red and Lyttle’s daughter, Debbie, runs the business along with her two children to this day.
Bridges looks much like did back in the day. There’s nothing fancy, no music, no funky décor, just an honest ‘cue house that has all you need: knock it outta the park pulled pork pit barbecue. Order the jumbo plate, because you’ll want to keep tasting it. Bridges’s red barbecue sauce is a sweet, savory, and tangy delight, but the meat can stand on its own without sauce.
The sides abide as well. Bridges’s barbecue slaw is a tangy blend of cabbage, vinegar, and red sauce (I think). I rank it up there with my other favorite vinegar and oil slaw—from Primanti Bros. The hush puppies are fried up so they’re nice and crispy on the outside, and are great dipped in the red sauce or mustard.
So the next time you’re in Shelby, stop by Red Bridges Barbecue to experience a legend. It’s right off of I-74 and is almost impossible to miss. You don’t even have to be in Shelby on other business; going there specifically for Bridges is as noble and worthy a pursuit as anything else.