Monk: This mostly wordless, made-for-social-media video goes back and forth between some pretty great barbecue joints: (in order) Buxton Hall Barbecue, La Barbecue, Skylight Inn, Convenience West, Lexington Barbecue, and Pecan Lodge. Despite the lack of narrative, there are still some pretty great visuals of each joint.
This week, Adrian Miller, the James Beard Award-winning author and self-proclaimed “Soul Food Scholar” shared the cover art and preorder link for his forthcoming book entitled “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue.” As I noted in my recent Barbecue Bros Book Club entry for “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries” by D.G. Martin, while the John T. Edges and Bob Garners of the world have given us so much in terms of exposing us to places we might never have known about otherwise, it’s well past time to get a different perspective.
I am very much looking forward to reading both this book as well as Rodney Scott’s upcoming book to get just that. “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue” will be out April 22, 2021 on University of North Carolina Press.
“Black Smoke celebrates the significant contributions that African Americans have made to the American barbecue story. You’ll learn how African Americans honed and popularized a cuisine rooted in Native American culinary tradition, and became its most effective ambassadors. I profile fascinating barbecuers from the past two centuries, look at different aspects of African American barbecue culture, and opine about barbecue’s future.”
The BBQ Review (@BbqRate) is a Twitter account I just found out about
John Tanner’s BBQ Blog visits The Pit in Raleigh for a solid meal
John Tanner also recently shared his favorite barbecue sauces
Congrats to Warner Stamey, founder of Stameys Barbecue, on his Barbecue Hall of Fame induction!
Desiree Robinson of Cozy Corner is also a BBQ Hall of Fame inductee
This UPROXX interview with Rodney Scott covers a lot of the basics you may already know
Horn Barbecue has finally opened in Oakland (finally!)
The Drinking Pig by Chef Raheem Sealey is a weekend pop-up in Northeast Miami Dade
Franklin Barbecue has started shipping briskets through Goldbelly
A second location of Pappy’s Smokehouse has opened in the St. Louis area
LeRoy & Lewis has a Patreon account for exclusive content
This week is Texas Monthly BBQ Week
Name: Smiley’s Lexington BBQ
Address: 917 Winston Rd, Lexington, NC 27295
Order: Chopped barbecue sandwich with hush puppies and a Cheerwine (link to menu)
Monk: Smiley’s Lexington BBQ was an early stop on our barbecue journey, about 5 months into the blog and back when our photos were extremely filtered photos from Instagram. However, both Speedy and I really liked the barbecue and ranked Smiley’s as 4 hogs at the time. As I have been working my way through the Lexington barbecue restaurants for my own rankings, it was almost certainly worth a revisit 8 years later.
Then, word came a little over a year ago that Highway 8 which Smiley’s and Speedy’s both sit on was slated to be widened by the NC DOT and they both would be among the casualties lost (John Tanner certainly had some thoughts). The initial timing I had heard was summer 2020 but with the pandemic throwing a wrinkle in many things, it seems as if Smiley’s has received a temporary stay of execution. I hope it ends up being more permanent but regardless I wanted to make one more stop while I still could.
And I’m so glad I did, because Smiley’s provided an excellent late morning breakfast in my chopped sandwich, hush puppies, and a Cheerwine. The chopped barbecue was fresh, smoky, and topped with a tangy, crunchy red slaw. Just perfectly executed Lexington-style barbecue, with my only complaint was that the sandwich fell apart a bit easily and made for a quick and messy eating experience.
The basket of hush puppies was piping hot and my only regret was that I only had a couple of them and left more than half to waste. I wish that I could have somehow gifted these to someone without making it weird.
As I paid my bill, I asked the waitress if there was any update on the highway widening and she nodded her head side to side, saying that they hadn’t heard anything recently. “We’re just living day to day.”
Make it a point to get to Smiley’s Lexington BBQ while you can.
Billy Twang is a Texas-based dry rub and grilling tool company that was started in Houston in 1992. All of their products are proudly made in the USA and backed by a lifetime guarantee. They recently reached out to me to try out a few of their dry rubs in exchange for an honest review, and I happily obliged.
Bottom line: Based on my experience with these rubs, I would happily recommend them to any backyard griller or smoker.
Old No. 3 Rub ($25 but currently sold out, link)
Old No. 3 Rub is a classic central Texas salt and pepper dalmatian mix with granulated garlic. Not having time for a brisket, I tried the rub on a chuck roast that I was smoking for tacos. You can tell the quality of the ingredients in the rub just by looking at it, with the coarsely ground peppercorns and salt. Slightly overcooked chuck roast notwithstanding, the crust and flavoring on the chuck roast was excellent.
I also got good results by using the rub a porterhouse steak in a cast iron on the stove. I would occasionally get an especially peppery bite, but that’s why you have the red wine to wash it down.
Plan to use on: Brisket and tri-tip, naturally
Punch Rub ($25, link)
The aptly named Punch Rub is the spiciest of the bunch, but not overpoweringly so on the pork chops I grilled. The heat is not for kids or the faint of heart *cough*Mrs.Monk*cough* but if you are a spice head there’s nothing you can’t handle here. The rub contains high quality ingredients sourced from Mexico, France, and India.
Plan to use on: My next set of baby back or spare ribs, with a sweeter sauce to counteract the heat
Big Rub ($25, link)
The Big Rub is a more savory rub that still provides a kick on the back end due to the Tellicherry, Aleppo, and Urfa peppers. Again, this rub was too spicy for my kids on pork chops (amateurs) but not so for Mrs. Monk.
Plan to use on: Pork tenderloin or chicken or mixed into burgers
Many thanks to Billy Twang for reaching out and providing these rubs for a product test. Click here for ordering information