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Finally got to try Lexington Barbeque #1

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After a day of hiking around Pilot Mt. I took my hungry boys and myself to Lexington for some BBQ. I sought out Lexington Barbeque #1 since it's the most famous. Even at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Monday, it was quite busy.

In short, I was not impressed with the food. The cole slaw was not shredded but rather nearly pureed, like it had been cut with a food processor. They use their BBQ sauce to flavor the slaw, giving it a strange red color. The BBQ sauce itself was boring. Watery, bland catchup with vinegar is how I'd describe it. The BBQ beans were okay-- kinda plain. The chopped pork was moist and had good flavor but I was excepting a more smokey flavor and aroma. I think Allen & Sons BBQ north of Chapel Hill is far better BBQ. My review of Lex. BBQ #1 in short: bland and boring.

However, I don't want to give up on BBQ restaurants in the Lexington area. I picked up a local map and there are 20 BBQ joints in the area! Which do y'all recommend I try instead next time?

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  1. Say it ain't so! Oh my! Waiting to hear some other comments. Lexington , NC is supposed to be the place for "Q"....

    Sounds like the cole slaw was done in a food chopper -Easier to slop on top of the pulled pork?

    4 Replies
    1. re: chuck

      I've eaten at Lexington #1 a number of times. I have to say I think Sant has a point. It's good, but only in a bland sort of way. I've never been especially thrilled. I had better at Lexington Style Trimmings, but the single best NC-style BBQ I've had was at Allen and Sons, where the meat has a subtle tang and juiciness that makes all the difference.

      Don't get me wrong -- these's nothing objectionable about Lexington #1, it sure beats McDonalds, but at the same time I think the hype has perhaps slightly overtaken the reality.

      David A.

      1. re: David A.

        I must concur with your opinion. I've eaten at Lexington BBQ many times but never thought it lived up to the hype. Never had Allen & Sons but can't wait to give it a try.

        1. re: sandlapper

          Back in January, I posted on here that I was ever-so-slightly disappointed with Lexington Barbecue. I would not in the least call that a downhill alert, just an indication that sometimes we build these places up in our heads so much that the reality can't help but not live up.

          OTOH, I've stopped at Jimmy's a few times and have always been extremely pleased. Jimmy's 'cue melts in your mouth, and he's open on Sundays, which is a big deal in these parts.

          1. re: Bob W.

            I would basically agree with you. I have been to an awful lot of q places all over the state. Lex#1 is very good. I think all their food is very good. But I have not found any pork that can match Allen&Sons incredibly flavorful q. Ayden comes close. I love Lexington style q, but I admint I am slightly partial to eastern style.

    2. That is exactly what red/bbq/Lexington slaw is.
      Yes it was done with a buffalo chopper. You won't find it on the menu, but you need to ask for chopped outside brown meat.

      Lexington bbq is Lexington bbq, so you'll probably find about the same everywhere.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Raine

        Hammer, nail, head...Raine

        When going to Honey Monk's aka Lexington #1, ask for the chopped outside brown. You'll get a much smokier flavor with crunchy bits of pork skin. Moisten it with their BBQ dip and you will have a special meal. Another great item not on the menu are the fried pork rinds.

        As for the slaw, my personal view is that you can take all the BBQ slaw in every BBQ joint in Lexington and flush it down the toilet. Don't know why they like to flavor their slaw with BBQ dip so much over there, but it is just a local preference that they should keep to themselves, in my opinion.

        1. re: Brent Kulman

          We would rather have the bbq slaw over mayo slaw. We make a bbq/red slaw, however it does not have any bbq sauce in it.

          Link: http://www.ebsbbq.com/bbqslaw.JPG

          1. re: Raine™

            Eastern NC chopped mustard slaw rocks!

            1. re: Bob W.

              Ours is a marinated slaw we make it up a week before we are gonna to use it. And it will keep for months after that. Ours is not like any slaw you have ever eaten. Hopefully it will be available soon for more readily consumption.

              1. re: Raine™

                I would love your slaw recipe and hope you willl consider e-mailing it to me. Thanks, Karen

        2. re: Raine

          Thanks for the heads up. I'll definitely ask for the outside brown meat next time.

        3. I think the red slaw you had was pretty much typical of the area.

          As for places to eat, they're all the same, but they're all different. One of my friends thinks Lexington #1 is number one, another likes the chunks of pork at Smokey Joe's, I like the BBQ Center and a friend from the eastern part of the state dislikes them all.

          1. BBQ Center is about a mile away and that is where I go when Lex #1 is too crowded. Lex #1, Stamey's (Greensboro), Skylight (Ayden), and Sweatman's are the best places I've eaten Q. Everywhere else is an also ran. Just my opinion. Native Tarheel if that counts for anything.

            If you didn't care for Lex #1 I don't think you're going to care for any of the places in Lexington.

            1. I thought the barbecue at Lexington Barbeque #1 was great. But the hushpuppies were the worst I've ever had.

              1 Reply
              1. re: GT-ACC man

                You must have hit'em on an off day or gotten the bottom of the fry basket. Usually they are among the best in Lexington.

              2. Let's face it, it's all according to your taste. Lexington BBQ is an institution and as such it holds a place of honor in every red-blooded Tar Heel's heart. It started out as a labor of love, in the Monk family's backyard, then they decided to open up the restaurant and it's been there ever since. The lines out the door attest to what the locals think about it.

                I'm from NJ and I love the place and whenever I go to visit my Uncle Bill (his family has been in Lexington for generations), we make the pilgrimage to the Mecca of NC BBQ. However, tastes vary and some may enjoy a sweeter sauce or a greasier meat (there's nothing wrong with grease, it adds to the flavor...ever had a Jimmy Buff's Italian Hot Dog?).

                As they say variety is the spice of life. People get to ridged about their likes and dislikes. I wouldn't want to go to Lexington BBQ to the exclusion of every other places, but saying you don't like Lexington BBQ is like saying you don't like manna from heaven. Do yourself a favor and try it again.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Glasgowman

                  I'm a red-blooded Tar Heel (actually...make that a BLUE blooded Tar Heel...GO HEELS!!!) and Lexington BBQ holds no place in my heart...much less a place of honor.

                  It's a shame that in Lexington they trim off the outside meat and serve the bland inside meat. It's the outside that has most of the flavor. That's one of the reasons Eastern NC Q is so good...we mix the meat as we chop it...inside along with the outside. Those Western folks just went off the deep end when they decided to mess up a perfectly good bbq sauce by adding ketchup to it...then they started trimming off the outside meat too? God bless 'em.

                  Ok...that above paragraph should get some blood boiling...it was supposed to :-)

                  Seriously though, there's nothing wrong with a good Lexington sauce. I do find that many in that area like to water it down way too much. You don't have to do that.

                  The slaw is chopped pretty much as fine as it is in the eastern part of the state. Actually, I tend to find it even more fine in the east as in the west. Some people like stringy slaw...but that's not how we do it in North Carolina.

                  The best BBQ in the state can be found at Mr. Pete Jones' (God rest his soul) Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC. AUTHENTIC Eastern NC bbq. You want in institution? Now, the Skylight Inn is an institution! Before I moved to South Carolina, we would drive 45 minutes to Mr. Pete's, sit for 10 minutes and eat, and drive 45 minutes back home. We did that quite often in the winter when there was no farming to be done. I remember one week we made that trip 5 times in a 7 day period! It truly is the best. If National Geographic saying, "it's the best BBQ in the WORLD" isn't enough to prove it...the James Beard Award hanging on the wall should!

                  Anyway...to the original poster...good luck finding that "right spot" in Lexington. I'm sure it's there...and when you find it you'll be as happy as a 10 year old on Christmas Morning.

                  1. re: JayL

                    Have you never heard of "Outside brown?" In my experience, you can order your BBQ that way at most of the better Lexington style joints, including Lexington #1.

                    I agree with your comments about Skylight, but your disparagement of the Lexington style is not supported by the facts.

                    1. re: brentk


                      I touched a nerve...re-read my post and you'll see I was trying to do just that (ie. I was embellishing a bit). It worked! LOL

                      Anyway, yes I've heard of outside brown. And no, I don't like the idea of it. The inside "white" meat doesn't have a ton of flavor on it's on. Most of the smoke and all of the seasoning is on that "outside brown" portion. The inside meat might as well be called "roast pork" instead of bbq. I've eaten outside brown, and it's really good. Too bad it isn't used to season the pork that most of the customers are forced to eat.

                  2. re: Glasgowman

                    Poor old Sant doesn't even seem to exist on CH anymore, maybe their opinion changed over 6 years and they dropped outta sight?

                    Anyway, I get a kick outta brimstone and hellfire posts as below. I also agree with "tastes vary".
                    But maybe even more importantly, people have to be educated in various nuances and be exposed to various types of cuisine (be it BBQ, Chinese, whatever). If you're used to one particular nuance of cuisine, of course other places will let you down.
                    Don't necessarily mean they suck, sometimes it means you just don't appreciate the greatness at this moment...

                    1. re: porker

                      God points. I would add:

                      1. Carolina BBQ is just not quite what it used to be. Pigs had the fat bred right out of them decades ago, and Western NC BBQ was always abut good, fatty meat, relatively unadorned. Modern pigs just don't pack the fat necessary to bring the flavor so many of us remember from the good old days.

                      2. So many foods are as much a product of place and culture. There's regional favorites all over this country that appeal mainly to folks raised on them, but don't impress people from other parts of the country. Pickles on hot dogs served by people who refuse to serve ketchup? It is to laugh. And what's that weird noodle bowl with runny chili and plastic grated cheese on top they eat in the midwest, Cleveland maybe? Skyline chili? No thanks. But I'll take me some Lexington #1 tomorrow for lunch, if someone else is driving that far, as it's like mother's milk to me. You get the point...