NC Eatin’: Johnston County
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The Chicken Barn
110 South Brightleaf Blvd
Smithfield, NC 27577
I had been to Smithfield before and knew I wanted to go back there for my Johnston County visit. The downtown is cute – little shops and restaurants on one side of the main street and government buildings and the Ava Gardner Museum on the other. The folks in Smithfield I’ve met in my two visits there are wonderful, regular people. They are willing to help out and want to make people feel welcome. They’ve also done a great amount of work in demolishing the good ol’ boys network, which is especially impressive considering that the county was famous for a KKK ad not so long ago. (See here, here, here, and here about the sign. I’m not making it up; I think it was removed sometime in the ’80s.)
In planning my visit, I did a Google search for reviews of restaurants in Smithfield. Recommendations for places to eat in Johnston County are a bit tough to find. I finally found this review on The Chicken Barn and knew I had to go. The name alone was good enough for me!
I picked up my friend Rachel and her friend Robert (who I hadn’t met before), and we were off. We admired the cows, giggled about the trees pruned for power lines, and eagerly searched for The Chicken Barn. We found it without any problem and bopped on in.
Robert, not having spent much time in the South, made sure to order sweet tea. His remark: “Wow, this is sweet!” He and Rachel enjoyed their fried chicken, slaw, and fries.
I ordered spicy popcorn chicken, tots, and a drink. The chick at the register kindly pointed out that a kid’s meal was the best way to get that, so I did as she suggested and was rewarded with an oatmeal cream pie! I also ordered a slice of their pecan pie. Everything was very good.
Just as we were finishing up, one of the cooks beckoned me over to the counter. He asked us to try a few chicken wings in a sauce he’d just mixed up. It was great! Spicy, sweet, the barest hint of heat.
I wish I lived closer to Smithfield! I would visit The Chicken Barn regularly (and also, I suspect, the shaved ice stand next door when it’s open). I’ll just have to look forward to my next visit.
A few more pictures are here.
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