We all know that barbecue does not have to be fancy to be really good. It is a simple dish. If it is done right, the meat ends up very tasty. The other part of the equation is that the places where you eat the barbecue do not have to be especially fancy or in the heart of traveled areas to be successful.
Pop's is a surprise in that it happens to be right at the heart of Cornelius and just across the street from one of the biggest new housing developments that I have ever seen. That says a lot since I have watched Cornelius and the Lake Norman area go from a rural spot to becoming exit one in the urban boom that has rapidly spread northward up Interstate 77 from Charlotte.
Somehow Pop's manages to a little oasis in the middle of the urban explosion that is Charlotte. It is a surprise to find barbecue is so tasty and obviously done right by hand in such a civilized place. The barbecue is accompanied by perfectly cooked, hand-cut fries, and marinated cole slaw which I love. On top of it all, the inside of Pop's is bright, cute, and clean and the food is served by very friendly people. It is a simple system walk up to a counter, place your order, take a seat and they will bring you your food. They even serve Pepsi products which I think are perfect alternate to tea.
The $9.99 price for my barbecue plate with two sides did not concern me given the prime location in Cornelius, the ease of parking, and the pleasant atmosphere. There are plenty of deals on barbecue, but you usually have to drive out into the boondocks to find them. Pop's is just a pleasant drive off of Interstate 77 through downtown Cornelius. I will pay a little extra to have something other than predictable chain restaurant food.
I found the barbecue to have just the right amount of smoky flavor to suit my taste buds. I could have used some Eastern North Carolina vingear based sauce to top it off, but being a native North Carolinian, I love all barbecue. I might bring a bottle of the good stuff the next time I come to town.
I can highly recommend Pop's. It is a taste of old North Carolina at ground zero for the new North Carolina. Often explosive development overwhelms these wonderful local places, so visit soon. I hope Pop's hangs around long enough for me to thoroughly investigate the menu. I noticed that they do ribs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Pop's is closed on Monday or I might have been able to also out the chicken.
You can find some more reviews and pictures of Pop's to back mine up on Yelp. Their address is 19901 S Main St, Cornelius, NC 28031.