Lexington NC BBQ
Planning a trip to Lexington, and I wanted to know people's favorite spots. I love the Eastern NC BBQ, but I haven't tried Lexington style yet.
Jimmy's is good,Barbecue Center is good.Lexington #1 (Honey Monk's) is the best.Don't miss it.You will return as often as you can.
Lexington #1 and The Barbecue Center are both excellent. Tar Heel Q is a fantastic spot located west of Lexington on US Hwy 64 that receives much less attention than some of the in-town joints. All are certainly worth a visit.
I'd avoid Speedy's, Lexington Style Trimmings and Henry James. They're not wood cooked, real barbecue.
While I'm partial to Eastern NC whole hog cue, Lexington style is also great.
Note that Lexington style has a unique vocabulary. You can get your cue sliced or chopped. Chopped can be coarse or fine. Plus there's the difference between "inside" and "outside" meat. Outside meat is also known as "brown."
Then you have to decide if you want a tray (just meat and slaw) or a platter (which also has fries, I think).
For example, on one of my sadly too rare visits to Lexington #1, I always get a "large tray of coarse chopped outside."
It's not rocket science but it's close. LOL Fortunately the menu is somewhat helpful. Have fun!
re: Bob W
I must confess that I lived many years within half an hour's drive of Lexington but never ate 'cue there the whole time. During those years, I didn't really think it was barbecue unless it was eastern NC V&P whole hog, the stuff I grew up with Down East.
As I've gotten older, my mind has gotten broader when it comes to 'cue, so I corrected the oversight of my younger years during a visit home to NC for Thanksgiving and ate at Lexington Barbecue. Following the advice of this board and others, I ordered the course chopped, mix of outside brown and inside white. Gosh, this was good stuff. It really did remind me of 'cue pulled straight from the hog at a pig pickin'--tender, smoky chunks of porcine goodness. I tried my wife's regular chopped 'cue and wasn't as impressed. It was good but not great. I think the course chopped is definitely the way to go. And the outside brown was tender enough that I ordered some extra to take home with me, no need to mix in the inside meat in my opinion.
The dip surprised me a bit. In some ways, it seems closer to a true V&P sauce than many of the thicker, sweeter sauces that often get labeled as "Lexington" sauces. It truly did seem like a vinegar sauce cut with a little ketchup/tomato product rather than the ketchup cut with vinegar you find at some places. I liked it--it had a nice vinegar bite mellowed by tomato and maybe a bit of sugar. I also tried the Smokehouse sauce which was spicier and not as sweet.
Surprisingly, I also liked the hushpuppies though they are not the slightly sweet version I usually crave. Instead, these are a purist's dream, expertly fried with a very clean corn taste and not bland at all, which is the problem I often have with non-sweetened pups.
Though I'm not a big fan of BBQ slaw, the one they serve here is better than most I've tried. They clearly sweeten the sauce up a bit before they add it to the slaw, so it doesn't seem overly redundant alongside the 'cue. There's also some additional seasoning going on I couldn't quite place. I swore I faintly tasted garlic in there at one point.
All in all, the 'cue at Lexington BBQ ranks up there with the best I've had. The folks there do a few things and they do them very, very well. I think their success probably helps make this place great. They are clearly cooking so many shoulders a day, I figure it's rare that your 'cue spends more than a half hour off the pit before it's served!
Another vote here for Lexington BBQ #1. You can't go wrong with it. Also be sure to get the hush puppies instead of the fries if you order the platter.
I've been reading Holy Smoke by John and Dale Reed. It offers some wonderful history and insight into the people and places that define NC barbecue. It treats eastern v western ecumenically and explores some of the similarities and differences. With regard to where to eat in Lexington, they show that more or less all of the places are run by former employees and relatives of Warner Stamey. Many use the same recipes so the differences are in the way they go about smoking (time, temp, wood, etc.)
We're giving copies to all of our pork fiend friends.
Love Lexington BBQ, I haven't been to all the que joints in Lexington yet. I did go to Stamey's of Tyro, and John Wayne's which I felt are both respectable. But I have to agree that Lexington #1 was my favorite.