Rick's Smokehouse – Lexington, NC

Name: Rick’s Smokehouse
Date: 1/21/20
Address: 6043 Old U.S. Hwy 52, Lexington, NC 27295
Order: Chopped barbecue tray with hush puppies, red slaw, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: In a continued effort to get to know Lexington Barbecue joints better, I recently made another Lexington run to try three new-to-me barbecue joints. These three are ones that you really don’t hear about, so I was a bit apprehensive as to what I might find on this trip. I’m beginning to think about the Lexington-area barbecue restaurants in terms of tiers so the looming question was: in which tier(s) would these restaurants land?

My first stop was Rick’s Smokehouse which has a Lexington address but is in the small community (or “census designated place” if we’re being technical) of Welcome which is north of Lexington proper. Welcome is home to Richard Childress Racing and North Davidson High School, who I played soccer against 20 or so years ago. And yes, it does have a sign that reads “Welcome to Welcome” as you enter on Old Highway 52.

Rick’s is located off that same Old Highway 52 and actually burned down approximately 10 years ago as a result of a fire in the smokehouse that damaged the kitchen and dining room. Thankfully, they rebuilt their brick pits and reopened a year later and have continued to smoke over wood these days. Despite being a newer barbecue restaurant relatively-speaking (it was opened in 2009), Rick’s has also continued the old Lexington tradition of curb-side service for folks who want to stay in their car and have their cue brought out to them.

I’m happy to report that Rick’s serves a tray of wonderfully smokey and fresh barbecue, which was a bit of a revelation for me. Thinking about those Lexington tiers, this one could definitely challenge for the top tier. The red slaw and hush puppies matched the quality of the pork, so it all added up to a very good meal.

Perhaps I was overly skeptical, but I hadn’t expected such a wonderful and tasty experience, particularly when the restaurant was basically empty when I arrived a little after 11am (to be fair, I was on the early side of any potential lunch rush).

I wouldn’t be so lucky with the other two restaurant visits I made on this Lexington run, but thankfully I did get a very good meal at Rick’s Smokehouse to start off the day. It truly is a hidden gem in the Lexington barbecue landscape.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Friday Find: BBQ with Rik Rik presents Tyler Harp of Harp Barbecue

Videographer/photographer Tarik Sykes spends some time with rising star Tyler Harp of Harp Barbecue at his weekly pop-up at Crane Brewing in Raytown, MO (about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City). Sean Ludwig from The Smoke Sheet and NYC BBQ even makes an appearance towards the end of the video.

Check out BBQ with Rik Rik’s YouTube Channel for more content from Tarik.

Description: I shot this video over 2 Saturdays visiting with Tyler at Harp Barbecue which is every Saturday from 11-Sellout at Crane Brewing in Raytown, Mo. (Unless posted they will be closed).

Tyler talks about when they started their Pop-up at Crane Brewing and hits on how BBQ is broke up into Regions and KC being a hub of the different Regions in BBQ. Also touches them making Pork Belly Burnt Ends at the Pop-up !

Linkdown: 2/5/20

In sad news, Peace N’ Hominy Q Shack in Belmont has officially closed after owner Christine Rienk’s breast cancer returned after 12 years in remission; a GoFundMe has been set up to help with the costs of chemotherapy #cancersucks

Sweet Lew’s BBQ’s new Cheerwine beef jerky will debut this month according to Charlotte Five

Buxton Smokeshow by Buxton Hall is bringing a heavy crew of pitmasters and chefs for its inaugural event on 5/17

View this post on Instagram

The countdown is over! Buxton Hall fans, ‘cue lovers & whole-hog worshippers, here’s the news you’ve been waiting for! Elliott and our crew at Buxton Hall have dreamed up the raddest of BBQ festivals, and you’re invited! ⁣ On Sunday, May 17th, we’re throwing down in #Asheville at @HighlandBrewery. From 5pm – 9pm, enjoy endless soul-warming ‘cue from your favorite joints from across the southeast & beyond. Plus, there will be live music (bands to be announced next month), and equally as show-stopping non-BBQ bites. Plus tasty brews from our pals at Highland Brewery. ⁣ Head on over to the link in our bio for more info and early bird tickets! ⁣ Pitmasters⁣ 🌟Leo Botello – Truth BBQ, Houston, TX⁣ 🌟Zach Parker – B.E. Scott’s, Lexington, TN ⁣ 🌟Mike Patrick – Fancy Hanks, Melbourne, AUS⁣ 🌟Harrison Sapp – Southern Soul Barbeque, Saint Simons Island, GA⁣ 🌟Jonathan & Justin Fox – Fox Bro's BBQ, Atlanta, GA⁣ 🌟Billy Durney – Hometown BBQ, Red Hook, NYC⁣ 🌟Sam Jones – Sam Jones BBQ & Skylight Inn, Greenville/Ayden, NC⁣ 🌟Matt Horn – Horn BBQ, Oakland, CA⁣ 🌟Pat Martin – Martin's BBQ, Nashville, TN ⁣ 🌟 Rodney Scott – Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston, SC ⁣ ⁣ Chefs⁣ ⭐️Brian Canipelli – Cucina 24 & Forestry Camp, Asheville, NC⁣ ⭐️Brian Wolfe – Kimball House, Atlanta, GA⁣ ⭐️Joe Kindred – Hello Sailor, Kindred, Davidson, NC⁣ ⭐️Annie Pettry – Decca, Louisville, KY⁣ ⭐️Mike Moore – Vin Rouge & Blind Pig, Durham, NC⁣ ⭐️William Dissen – Marketplace & Haymaker, Asheville/Charlotte, NC⁣ ⭐️Meherwan Irani – Chai Pani & Botiwalla, Asheville, NC/Atlanta, GA⁣ ⭐️Matt Kelly – Mateo & Saint James, Durham, NC

A post shared by Buxton Hall Barbecue (@buxtonhallbbq) on

The NC Barbecue Society Boot Camp (offered 3 times a year, once in each NC region) is one of the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “8 great destinations for the intrepid solo traveler”

Congrats to Chef Jim Noble who was awarded by the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association the Ken Conrad Award for Service to the Community for his work with his restaurant The King’s Kitchen (which donates 100% of its profits to feed the poor) and partners with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center to provide professional opportunities to Charlotteans who have suffered from “extreme life-challenges” such as poverty, homelessness and the slow, uphill battle of recovering from substance abuse or incarceration

Pitmaster Profiles: Jordan Smith of Bar-B-Q King

Monk: For this Pitmaster Profile, we are staying in Western North Carolina. Jordan Smith is a second-generation pitmaster at Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton, who we recently re-reviewed. Much like Spencer Purcell, our last profile, Jordan is a new and different voice in North Carolina barbecue, and I hope you enjoy hearing from him.

For more about Bar-B-Q King, check out their websiteInstagram, and Facebook page.

If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

How long have you lived in Lincolnton and what’s your family’s history there? 

I’ve lived in Lincolnton my whole life, I was born and raised here.  I only left for college where I played basketball. My dad Keith, has worked at BBQ King for 40 years.  He started working for Steve (owner and founder) when he was 15 years old. Keith quickly became Steve’s right hand man and bought into ownership in the late eighties.  

How did you become a pitmaster? 

I started working on and off at the King at 15 years old. After college I became a full time pitmaster/manager. Barbecue has always been a passion of mine since I was a child and I was excited to dive right into the business after college. I’ve always said barbecue is a labor of love because it is not a quick process. Smoking ‘que the right way takes time but it is well worth it.

What other types of roles do you do for Bar-B-Q King? 

Other roles than pitmaster/manager include social media manager and catering manager. I do a little bit of everything around here and I love it!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

What is your favorite meat to smoke? What type of wood do you prefer?

My favorite meat to smoke is pork shoulder over hickory wood coals. We’ve smoked over hickory wood for almost fifty years and have always used a pork shoulder for the restaurant. Although for caterings we have smoked whole hog and briskets and I thoroughly enjoy those meats as well.

What are your barbecue influences?

My barbecue influences are my Dad (Keith Smith) and Steve Abernethy.  They have taught me everything I know about barbecue. I’ve read plenty of books about barbecue but nothing compares to someone actually showing you the process from start to finish.

What is your favorite barbecue joint or style?

BBQ King is obviously my favorite joint and I love Lexington style barbecue. Pork shoulders with a tangy sauce is my go to. I have an appreciation for all styles of barbecue though and have tremendous amounts of respect for old school joints that have been in business for many years. And I also appreciate the new school barbecue joints smoking barbecue the old school way!

What is your earliest memory of barbecue?

When I was around 5 years old I can remember riding up to BBQ King in the wee hours of the morning to “help” my dad smoke barbecue, and I’ve been in love ever since. There is nothing better than that primal feeling of standing in front of a fire and smoking meat. Many employees/friends that I met at BBQ King as a child still work here to this day.  Employees like Kelly Lineberger and Charlie Reep, who have been here for many years, have played a pivotal role in my life and the restaurants success.

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

What is the best thing about barbecue in western North Carolina?

Western NC BBQ has many great qualities but my personal favorites are the meat, sauce, and wood.  The meat is usually pork shoulder or butts. The sauce has just enough vinegar with a hint of ketchup.  And the wood is usually hickory or oak. These techniques are tried and true in this part of the state and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

What is a weakness or opportunity of barbecue in western North Carolina?

Weaknesses of western NC BBQ are restaurants that don’t smoke BBQ over wood.  Oven baked pork is not barbecue. Another weakness is some restaurants use too much ketchup in the sauce and not enough vinegar.  Barbecue smoked over live wood coals and a well-balanced sauce is a recipe for true success!

Courtesy Jordan Smith and BBQ King

Anything else you’d like everyone to know about you or Bar-B-Q King?

My younger brother, Jared, is also a pitmaster/manager and has a passion for BBQ just like me. My fiancée, Stephanie, works at BBQ King as well. Stephanie is great with customers and she is a staple up front at the counter. Her parents (Steve and Becky Abernethy) are the founders of BBQ King. My mother, Kelly Smith, does the payroll. Stephanie’s mother (my future mother-in-law), Becky, helps decorate the restaurant for different seasons. BBQ King is family run from all angles. It is a blessing being able to work with family and share the workload. We are excited to celebrate 50 years in September 2021!

Thanks again to Jordan for his time, and if you ever find yourself in the Lincolnton area stop by BBQ King and say hi.

If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Monk and Jordan, December 2019