After Gov. Jay Inslee closed bars and restaurants to slow the spread of coronavirus, I was in need of some Southern comfort.
No, I don’t mean the whiskey-based liqueur from New Orleans my grandma likes to sip. I’m talking barbecue.
I called in an order to Bothell’s Carolina Smoke on Bothell-Everett Highway, and my colleague Mark Carlson picked it up.
Carolina Smoke is owned and operated by David Hayward, who is originally from Charleston, South Carolina. Although it has “Carolina” in the name, Hayward’s restaurant doesn’t serve Carolina barbecue. It’s Hayward’s very own style.
“I just want to do barbecue the way I think barbecue should be — and I do,” he said.
Hayward smokes his meat in an Ole Hickory smoker with maple and pecan wood. His chicken smokes for about three hours, ribs go in for about five hours, and pulled pork and brisket stay in for 12 hours.
Hayward’s brisket is especially popular. He smokes upwards of 1,000 pounds of brisket per week.
Mark and I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and a brisket sandwich, plus four sides: cornbread, potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans. You can get a pulled pork sandwich with a side for $13.99, and a brisket sandwich with a side for $15.99. All sides are $3 each, except for the macaroni and cheese, which is $3.50.
All of it was delicious. The brisket and pulled pork were tender and flavorful, and the sides were well-made. The coleslaw was fresh and crunchy; the baked beans were a mix of pinto, black and Boston, with a good bite, and sweetened with molasses; the potato salad was, in a word, perfect; and the cornbread was moist, with a cake-like crumb and sweetened with honey.
In addition to sandwiches, on the menu are combo meals, meat platters and weekday specials. You can also buy Carolina Smoke meat by the pound.
With fear and uncertainty around the virus, Hayward said he’s making more comfort foods for his chef specials.
He also makes his own sauces, including barbecue, honey mustard, honey sriracha and apple butter. One marked “BB” in our take-out bag stands for Burnin’ “B.” B is Hayward’s nickname for his son, Branden. I had the urge to slather my pulled pork and brisket in this spicy barbecue sauce because it’s got great flavor and a nice kick, but I refrained so that I could still enjoy the smokiness of the meat.
If you love heat, ask for Hayward’s newest barbecue sauce: D’s Triple Threat. It’s made with ghost peppers, scotch bonnet and Carolina reaper. For reference, Burnin’ “B” has just the ghost peppers in it.
(By the way, Hayward has his own beer: Carolina Mac — an amber ale made by Foggy Noggin Brewing in Bothell — is named after his daughter, Makaela.)
When Hayward moved to Washington in 1969, he brought his homestyle Southern cooking with him. After getting rave reviews for his barbecue — it was just a hobby back then — he decided to start his own catering business in 2000. He opened a restaurant 12 years ago in Country Village in Bothell. After Country Village closed last year, Hayward found a new home for his restaurant just two blocks away near Safeway.
“The last thing I ever I thought I’d be doing is running a restaurant — but I did,” said Hayward, who is 65 but has no plans to retire. “I like what I do.”
Even with the coronavirus shutdown, Hayward said business is only down about 30-40 percent. He’s seen no change in the number of take-out orders.
“All I want to do is cook,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to survive. So far, it’s been really good. The Bothell community and surrounding neighborhoods have been really good to me and have been ordering for pick-up. I appreciate that; all of my crew appreciates that.”
Mark and I both recommend Carolina Smoke for takeout. A humble Hayward simply describes his style of barbecue as “very good.” We’d say we agree, but it’s better than good. It’s great barbecue.
“Its strip-mall location in Bothell doesn’t feel like down-home authenticity, but Carolina Smoke’s barbecue tasted like the real thing, at least to this lifelong Washingtonian,” Mark said. “All in all, a fine option for takeout during the shutdown.”
If you go
Carolina Smoke BBQ & Catering, 24118 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell, is open for to-go orders 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday. Hours may vary, so call to confirm. Call 425-949-8672 or go to www.carolinasmoke.com for more information.