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Help Me Decide - Allen and Son Or Lexington BBQ?

We are driving from Asheville to Raleigh on Friday and are looking for great BBQ for lunch. Thanks to some searching on this board, I think I have narrowed it down to Allen and Son in Chapel Hill and Lexington BBQ in Lexington. We are leaving early so have time to get off I-40 for a bit, and it's my understanding that Lexington is only about a 1 hour detour?

Your thoughts would be appreciated, as well as any pertinent info such as hours of operation, and also, whether or not these locations are still open? I read one review for each place that said they were closed? Or maybe the reviewer just meant not open for business during the hours they tried. I am a little confused.

And of course, any other suggestions would be appreciated if warranted. Thanks!

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  1. Allen & Son all the way, if you ask me. I've been to both, A&S many times and Lex BBQ only once, and while Lex was great, A&S blows me away every time. I usually get the BBQ sandwich. It comes with a side; I like the hush puppies and the onion rings.

    They're closed on Sunday and Monday, but open every other day.

    1. You can't go wrong with either, and Lexington would be more like a 30 minute detour max.

      I've gone to both with some regularity and I have found the Lexington BBQ is consistently good and the servers know their product (make sure you ask for outside brown, so you get some texture with the meat). At Allen & Sons, it can be hit or miss, both in the quality of the pork and the knowledge of the server.

      1. My favorite is Allen & Son, and yes, it does vary in quality, but for me it's never been below "pretty darn good" and is "absolutely heavenly I-would-take-this-to-a-desert-island-if-it-were my-only-meal" good about 60% of the time. Not sure if I've picked up on a pattern, but I've had much better luck on Fridays and Saturdays than earlier in the week (I'd say my Saturday lunch percentage for "heavenly" is about 85%). That may just be happenstance.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mikeh

          I agree completely with your percentage...Also, I avoid the fries but my friends swear by them. I really like their onion rings and hush puppies.

          I've had trouble with Saturday hours, seems like last summer I'd go every other Saturday and they would be closed...so, call ahead!

        2. I'm going to have to vote for Lexington. They are the standard by which all others are judged. My dad is from Lexington and I still have family there. I currently live in Chapel Hill, just a few minutes from Allen & Sons. Their BBQ is pretty fantastic and I recommend it all the time. However, that being said I will still occasionally drive the hour and a half to Lexington for the finest BBQ this state has to offer. Given the choice, go for the Honeymonk (Lexington #1).

          Of course, you could always try both - they're different (and excellent) enough to warrant a little sampling. You'll be happy and full either way.

          1. Both are quite good but I prefer the smokier, vinegary flavor of Allen & Son better.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bbqme

              Growing up in Orange County, I ate at most of the BBQ places around over the years, and one of my favorites has always been Hursey's in Burlington and Graham. The chopped pork is so moist and flavorful, you don't even need sauce, and if you order by the pound, they give you a full bag of buns to make sandwiches.

            2. I've never had Lexington. I did grow up in Chapel Hil, still live in Durham, and have eaten at A&S many, many times. The pork is somewhat inconsistant but when it's on it's really on. The desserts are always good too. I will say that I find it hard to believe that after all these years ( and I've been going there for at least 30) the fries are STILL awful.

              1. My advice would be to take the detour and visit Lexington #1. I promise you will never regret those extra 35 minutes, and the scenery on 64 is nice. But since you're already planning a 35 minute detour, why not take the extra 10 minute detour and get some Allen & Son bbq too? They are both excellent, different examples of bbq at the highest level. And that way, when someone comments that Lexington #1 is better than Allen & Son, or vice-versa, you can add your opinion :) By the way, I sampled these two places (and four others in Lexington) on my birthday last year, and I will tell my grandchildren about that day trip many decades from now. And for sake of argument, the "outside brown" from Lexington #1 with a splash of the sauce from Allen & Sauce is the best bbq in the state. And I'll probably be banished from the bbq world for mixing the two...

                1 Reply
                1. re: sweetmung

                  Heretic! You must repent immediately! ;-)

                2. While in Raleigh, you may want to consider trying The Pit. Here are some Chowhound comments

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: hazardnc

                    Thank you all for your help. We are going to give Allen and Son a go thanks to the recs and also the fact that I think that will keep us a bit more on track to our final destination. I need to Mapquest, but any idea off the top of anyone's head how far of a detour this would be off I-40? We are driving from Asheville and staying in North Raleigh about 10 minutes away from Walnut Creek Amphitheater.

                    1. re: miss piggy

                      Exiting onto NC 86 off of I-40 A&S is just a couple miles north. Not a bad detour at all.

                      1. re: LBD

                        The exit # is 266. It's at the intersection of Mt. Sinai and 86. It's on the southeast corner of that intersection. When you're driving north, if you cross some railroad tracks, you've gone 200 feet too far.

                        btw, I had Allen&Son for lunch today (inspired by this thread). It was particularly AMAZING today (I think the rainy weather helped the smoky intensity settle or something). My gf when coming home asked why the house smelled so nice.

                        1. re: mikeh

                          Not trying to be argumentative, but actually, Allen and Son is located at the southwest corner of Hwy. 86 and Millhouse Road. Millhouse is named Mt. Sinai Road eastward of 86. Again, please don't take offense, as none is intended...just trying to make sure the location is clear. We all tend to say Allen and Son is located on 86, and someone posted elsewhere that they had "moved", as they were now located on Millhouse Road! Technically, their address is Millhouse Road.

                          I'm glad you like Allen and Son...I think it is amazing, too!

                    2. re: hazardnc

                      I ate at The Pit for the first time this weekend. There might be a lot of questions about Ed Mitchell's business practices, but there is no question about the quality of his barbecue. Easily as good as anything I've had at Allen & Sons or the Good Barbecue Joint. Easily.

                        1. re: carolinadawg

                          Oops. The Barbecue Joint is in Chapel Hill on Weaver Dairy Road. Good barbecue and a pretty eclectic menu. It was next to The Good Beer Store, until the owner sold the beer store and moved to Canada. The Barbecue Joint, fortunately, is still there and well worth a visit.

                    3. I would recommend a lexington tour, picking up a sandwich at two or three different places in lexington. definitely go for some outside brown. I find both their hushies and their fries are sorry though.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: quazi

                        Wish we had time for that kind of tour - we'll do it someday for sure. Thanks everyone for your help!

                        1. re: miss piggy

                          Hope you hit A&S on a good day (a very high probability) as Lex #1 is more consistently excellent. Desserts are better at A&S. Getting to both isn't really much of a logistical problem.

                          1. re: Hushpuppy

                            Thanks everyone - we enjoyed Allen and Son! It was easy to find thanks to the clear directions, and I was especially appreciative of the tip to turn if we hit the RR tracks because we had gone past is as it's hard to see from the direction we were driving. I had the BBQ and Stew combo, my husband had just BBQ, and we also had the hushpuppies, slaw and onion rings. I thought the stew was only OK, but the BBQ and sides (esp those onion rings) were really, really good. I am not very accustomed to NC-style BBQ so it was fun trying it out. Looking forward to comparing it to Lexington spots when we can get up that way again.

                            1. re: miss piggy

                              Piggy??????? were you in Raleigh for the same reason I was???? If so........ it was EPIC!!!!

                              1. re: Spreadhead

                                YES!! I figured you were a Panic fan. Loved the Youtube fiddle girl...what a treat!