We recently took a trip to Lexington, North Carolina to experience some of what the “Barbecue Capital of the World” has to offer. For our final night in the town we went on a dinner tour, visiting three barbecue spots consecutively; the third and final stop was Smokey Joe's Barbecue.
In a town known for its salted and pit-fired pork, it’s important to bring something a little different to the table. Smokey Joe’s does this by offering a cut that’s not too prevalent around Lexington: ribs. They pit-fire approximately 50 shoulders each week, and roast their pork ribs using the same technique. Another distinction of their kitchen is that they don’t salt their meat before putting it over the fire for 10 to 12 hours, which almost every other local barbecue joint does. This allows the pork to stay a little fattier and therefore a little more flavorful and indulgent.
General Manager Angie Baker is one of the few women in the local barbecue scene, and she understands that diners in Lexington know their pork and are always on the lookout for a meal that goes slightly against the grain. The eatery offers a choice between mayonnaise-based “white” coleslaw and the ketchup-based “red” coleslaw, which is predominantly the way other restaurants around town prepare the Southern staple. It isn’t unusual to see patrons order a little bit of everything and have before them a plate of chopped pork shoulder doused with “dip” (sauce), a few succulent ribs, and a portion of red or white coleslaw; sometimes even both.
Although the savory options are delicious, it would be a mistake not to save room for some pie or cake at the end of the meal. Smokey Joe’s serves desserts made by bakers from the next town over, The Cake Ladies of Welcome. Their carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is a great balance of moist cake with crunchy walnuts and creamy icing, and their chocolate pie topped with whipped cream is velvety, decadent, and quite honestly perfect. It’s easy to see why Lexington locals looking for a well-rounded, flavor-packed meal head to Smokey Joe’s barbecue.