The hardest thing to describe is the Old Hickory House sauce. Saying it's tomatoey doesn't mean it's like Lexington sauce, with vinegar cut by a little tomato. No, this is very tomato-based and sort of thick, with no detectable vinegar. That alone cuts it from the Carolinas herd. In fact, I could swear I tasted a little lemon along with the bits of onion.
The funny thing is that despite the haze of hickory smoke over the parking light and the open pit in the dining room -- complete with longhorn steer horns and that "Hawg Heaven" sign -- the meat isn't overwhelmingly smoky. Like so much Carolina barbecue, it's all about the low and slow cooking, not the taste of wood.