The Lexington Barbecue Rankings: June 2022 Update

Monk: I first posted the Lexington Big Board two years ago in June 2020 in the early months of the pandemic and have maintained it ever since but it was only in recent months that we’ve had some actual movement in the rankings. And unfortunately it was due to closures.

As a result of the NC Department of Transportation widening of Highway 8, Smiley’s Barbecue has officially closed as of February 2022 but I did get to check them out one last time in October 2020. They will surely be missed. Speedy’s appears to be open for the time being but their days are numbered as a result of the same project. And, in a shock Facebook post at the end of April, Rick’s Smokehouse (previously my overall Lexington #3) closed. Currently they are listed on Facebook as “temporarily closed” but I’ve seen no indications that they will reopen, despite numerous pleas from comments on Facebook.

That leaves us with 13 open restaurants by my count, which I continue to divide into three tiers. I did try Lexington Trimmings after the publish of the initial list but they slotted into the third tier. Blazin’ BBQ and Kickin’ Chicken was another on my list but they closed in October 2020 after only 4 months open

With that out of the way, the current Lexington Big Board

Tier 1

No movement at the very top with the ever-reliable Lexington Barbecue and Bar-B-Q Center maintaining spots 1 and 2 (really 1 and 1a). Speedy’s is worth one last visit before they close.

Tier 2

Any of these would be worth a revisit, as I believe they all continue to smoke over wood coals.

Tier 3

Lexington Style Trimmings looked the part of a Lexington joint but the barbecue was a letdown.

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments or email us at barbecuebros@gmail.com.

Introducing: The Lexington Big Board

Monk: Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I quietly posted my Lexington rankings a few months back through the top navigation bar. Before the pandemic hit, it was my pet project to hit all of the current Lexington-area barbecue restaurants for my definitive* Lexington rankings. I’ve been a longtime fan of Lexington Barbecue and in recent years, The Barbecue Center. But as the self-proclaimed “Barbecue Capital of the World” (one of many cities claiming that title, it should be noted) boasting at times one barbecue restaurant per 1,000 restaurants (though this is not currently the case), I needed to explore the others to understand the quality and depth of the other restaurants.

I’ve broken the 14 restaurants I’ve reviewed thus far into three tiers. Someday I will get to the curiously named Lexington Trimmings for completeness sake but in the meantime, here is the most definitive list of Lexington-area barbecue restaurants on the internet*. Ladies and gentlemen, the Lexington Big Board.

*one man’s opinion
**that I know of

Tier 1

  1. Lexington Barbecue
  2. Bar-B-Q Center
  3. Rick’s Smokehouse
  4. Speedy’s Barbecue
  5. Smiley’s Lexington Barbecue
  6. Backcountry Barbeque

I need to revisit both Smiley’s and Speedy’s asap, as they may no longer be in business for too much longer as a result of the NC Department of Transportation widening Highway 8 that they both sit on. Also, both were reviewed very early in this blog’s life and while I really enjoyed both, I’ve had a lot of barbecue since.

Tier 2

  1. Speedy Lohr’s Barbecue
  2. Smokey Joe’s Barbecue
  3. Tarheel Q
  4. Cook’s Barbecue
  5. Arcadia Q

To my knowledge, all of these places smoke over wood with no gas or electricity but are just a notch below the best of the best in Lexington.

Tier 3

  1. Stamey’s Barbecue of Tyro
  2. Kerley’s Barbecue
  3. Randy’s Restaurant

Of the bottom tier, Kerley’s and Randy’s don’t smoke over wood and it shows in the actual barbecue.

Still to try

Lexington Trimmings

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments or email us at barbecuebros@gmail.com.