Lexington Barbecue: Have it Your Way

Have it Your Way

Each shoulder weighs 18 to 20 pounds before smoking.

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 first lunch during our trip, we visited Lexington BBQ, located on the outskirts of town.

Wayne Monk opened the joint in 1962 and today, it is one of the most popular restaurants in the area. His son-in-law, Bub Wright, is now the pitmaster, and he was kind enough to allow us into the kitchen. There we observed his staff working with an impressive number of pork shoulders, which average 18 to 20 pounds in weight prior to being cooked, and six to seven pounds afterwards. Wright explained that they heavily salt the meat before smoking it for 10 to 11 hours, and as is customary with most barbecue places around Lexington, they wait to chop it and douse it in their vinegar-based sauce — “dip,” to the locals — until it’s time to serve.

The choice of cuts is what distinguishes this restaurant from its neighbors. Customers can order their barbecue pork chopped, rough chopped, or sliced, and can specify if they would like white or brown meat, which includes some of the thin layer of skin that’s left on after butchering. The thicker outer layer of skin is saved and fried, which tastes like very smoky bacon but has an even more satisfying crunch. Seats can be scarce on a busy Saturday, as Wright and his team serve 1,600 to 1,800 hungry diners, but the fare is definitely worth the wait. Between the awesome barbecue and the staff’s warm Southern hospitality, it’s easy to see why Lexington BBQ is a favorite among the locals.

Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.