Pecan Lodge – Dallas, TX (Speedy’s Take)

: Pecan Lodge
Date: 7/21/18
Address: 2702 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226
Order: The Trough (1 beef rib, 1lb of pork ribs, 1lb brisket, 1/2 lb of pulled pork & 3 sausage links), ½ pound burnt ends, fried okra, collard greens (link to menu)
Price: $120-ish (for 3)

Speedy: On a recent work trip to Dallas, I experienced Divine Intervention. In town for only two days with full calendars both days, I was resigned to having to miss Pecan Lodge once again, and based on Rudy’s review, it’s a joint not to miss. I must have done something right over the past week, because a cancelled meeting left me a block of time between 10 and 2, enough time to head to Deep Ellum to try the ‘cue. I brought two co-workers in tow, which turned out to be a great decision.

Monk: The barbecue gods certainly work in mysterious ways…

Speedy: We arrived right at 11, which is right when Pecan Lodge opens. The line was already out the door, which is when coming with friends comes in handy. We went straight to the bulk order counter (minimum 5 pounds), which had no line (hence the great decision to bring back-ups), and we were on our way.

Our number was called after a short wait, and it was time to dig in. Obviously, we had more food than the three of us could eat, and everything looked and smelled incredible. I have a hard time knowing where to begin with this meal, so let’s just jump right in.


The brisket was heavenly. Rich, flavorful, moist, peppery, and perfectly cooked. It is easily in the top 4 briskets I’ve ever had, joining La Barbecue, Franklin, and Killen’s, and frankly, nothing else even comes close. The brisket seemed to melt in your mouth.

Personally, my other top meat was the beef rib. It was incredibly tender, had an amazing bark, and pulled, but didn’t fall, right off the bone. Honestly, I’d take these two cuts of beef over even the finest steaks. Beef like this just doesn’t come around often.

The other beef dish we had was the burnt ends, which was a special of the day. My two co-workers rated this as their favorite meat, and I agree it was very good, but I thought it could have been slightly more tender and could have used a little heat on the sauce. This is nit-picking to the extreme, but it was a tier below the brisket and beef rib for me.

The pork was also a pleasant surprise. I have had very hit or miss experiences with pork in Texas, but you could have told me the Pecan Lodge pork was from Tennessee or North Carolina and I would have believed you and demanded to know where from. It was tender and had nice bark, and overall was really great.

Monk: Funny you should mention that. I recalled hearing at one point at there was a connection between Pecan Lodge and NC and lo and behold, Justin and Diane Fourton (the couple behind Pecan Lodge) both used to live in Charlotte and met at Selwyn Pub in 2000. So while they both are originally from Texas, they may have gotten some pork knowledge through osmosis during their time in NC.

Speedy: On Rudy’s trip to Pecan Lodge, he raved about the ribs. This was my least favorite meat by a wide margin. The ribs were still good, but I felt like they could have been a little meatier and the outside got a little charred to me. I’m not sure if it was just a sub-standard batch, but the ribs were forgettable, especially when compared to the rest of the meal.

Rudy: Maybe you got a bad batch or I got an overly great batch. You may have also had the benefit of having several different meat to compare it to, and I only had the brisket. I’m sorry that I missed out on the beef rib.

Speedy: Generally, I don’t pay too much attention to the sides when I have five pounds of barbecue in front of me, but it was a different story here. The fried okra was really, really good. Perfectly seasoned and fried. The collards were also amazing and very unique. While I’m used to having bacon bits or pieces or pulled pork (or at least chicken stock) in the collards, these were very sweet – my guess is brown sugar. The collards are not to be missed.

The next paragraph is going to be a little hard to write. As a North Carolinian, I will go to my grave saying that Lexington barbecue is the best single food item that one can eat and that it was bestowed upon man by God himself. All that said, the top four all around barbecue meals of my life all happened in Texas, and this was in that group. It’s just that good. If you get a chance to visit Pecan Lodge – just do it.

Monk: Who in the? What in the? How in the?

Rudy: I have always said that the ceiling on Texas barbecue is higher but so is the floor.  When it is done well, it is great, but it can also be done poorly. North Carolina barbecue is more consistent. I agree that Pecan Lodge is a must visit and if you have to order from the bulk window to avoid the lines, you will never be disappointed.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Beef rib – 5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Pecan Lodge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby, NC (solo Monk review)


Name: Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge
Date: 10/21/17
Address: 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28150
Order: Barbecue plate with red slaw, hush puppies, fries, and baked beans, Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $11.50

Monk: With all apologies to Speedy (who loves this place just as much, if not more than me), our last visit and only review of Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge was over 4 years ago and it was time. In late October, my wife and in-laws roped me into going to the Livermush Festival in downtown Shelby with the promise of Red Bridges for lunch beforehand. And boy, did that promise work on me like a charm.

Last time, Speedy and I thought our visit would yield a slam-dunk 5 hog review but found a few nits to pick and rated it just below. I wondered in the review if it was the start of a trend but I am happy to report that it was an indeed an anomaly and everything on this visit was as good as ever. The chopped pork tray didn’t have as coarse a chop as last time and the table dip had the right consistency. Even the fries, a worrying blunder last time around, were as you would expect.

I must spend a few sentences to opine on the glory of the hush puppies. These large oblong goodies come by the basket full and are top 3 hush puppies for me, ever. They have a perfect mix of sweet and savory and combined with the crunch when they are provided fresh out of the fryer, they are a religious experience.

On this Saturday, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge was doing steady business between seated customers and takeout orders. At times, the waiting for a table left customers spilling out of the small waiting area and out the door as well. I imagine Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge had seen this scene on a regular basis in their 70+ years on highway 74 in Shelby. And why not – a short wait to get a table is a small price to pay to get pretty much the perfect meal.

Atmosphere/ambiance – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sides – 5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX (RE-REVIEW)

: Franklin Barbecue
Date: 7/21/17
Address: 900 E 11th, Austin, TX
Order: 2 pounds brisket, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound sausage (link to menu)
Price: $120-ish

Speedy: Less than 24 hours after my excellent visit to La Barbecue, I was ready to get back at it, this time to the legendary Franklin Barbecue. Rudy dropped me off at 6 AM to get in line and went to take care of some things at work, re-joining me about 8. Getting there that early, I expected to be first in line, but in reality, there were three groups and about 12 people in front of me. Fortunately, I was still there in plenty of time to be shaded for my entire wait, which was hugely clutch. I spent most of the time sitting in a tailgate chair and sipping Lone Stars, so all-in-all, it was a pretty good morning.

Rudy: The shade part was the best by far. I don’t know how the people in the 2nd half of the line made it, I guess just more Lone Stars.  

Speedy: Around 9:00, someone came around to ask what we were ordering, in order to get a good idea when food was going to run out. You weren’t bound by the order, but it was a good way to understand how far the food would go.

Around 10:30 am, I went inside to hit the bathroom (which they opened up around 9:30), and I saw the Godfather himself – Aaron Franklin. I was a little bummed he didn’t recognize me as a Barbecue Bro (AARON – ARE YOU EVEN READING??), but it was pretty cool he was there.

Rudy: I’ll chalk it up to him just being intimidated by your presence. I am sure he scampered to the back to make sure everything was up to snuff. In all seriousness, I think it is great that they open the building early to people that need to use the bathroom or want to purchase drinks or merchandise. I feel like many places would keep the doors closed until they open for food. That was a nice touch.

Speedy: Eventually, the restaurant opened, and Rudy and I were to the front of the line pretty quickly. Like at La Barbecue, we were given a bit of brisket to much on, and it was every bit as good as the previous day, only this time I was expecting it. No matter – we placed our order, got our meat, and found a table to sit at and dig in.

I’ll start with the brisket since that’s what it’s known for and my God, it is incredible. The peppery bark was perfect, the meat was tender and flavorful, and it was simply divine. The previous day I had claimed I had eaten the best brisket I’d ever tasted, but this was every bit its equal. Just absolutely phenomenal.

Rudy: I agree, if barbecue places in Texas are judged primarily on brisket, you have to hit it out of the park to be listed as the best, and Franklin’s did. The bark was amazing, but the flavors ran all the way through the meat, so no matter what bite you got, it was great. We got moist brisket, and the fat was perfectly rendered as opposed to many other places where you end up with a huge glob of fat with drier meat around it.

Speedy: Rudy had been raving about the ribs, so they were what I tried next. I’ve eaten lots of awesome ribs in my day, but these ribs stacked right up there with the best of them. They were perfectly cooked – giving a clean bite every time. The flavor was amazing – with just the right amount of rub that had a touch of sweetness. The ribs were glazed, so neither wet nor dry, which worked perfectly. These may not have been the best ribs I’ve ever had, but I’d say they’re in the top 5. Overall, you’d be remiss to skip out on these at Franklin.

Rudy: Top 5?!?! I need to eat some of the places you’ve been eating! I love them because of the flavor, the fact that they are tender and moist without being wet ribs. They are my favorite by far.

Speedy: The pork was also a great showing. Tender and a little vinegary, it was everything you’d expect from a good pulled pork. In a normal setting, I’d write more to rave about the pork, but it was a distant third in this offering. Not to say it wasn’t very good, but brisket and ribs were the co-headliners.

The sausage was good – considerably better than La Barbecue, but I wouldn’t order it again. Stomach room at Franklin is too precious to waste on just an above average meat. At many barbecue places this would be the top offering, but at Franklin, the brisket and ribs rose to the top.

Rudy: The pork was a pleasant surprise for me because I had not had it before. What I’ve had other places is usually a peppery pulled pork (which this included) but the difference here was the slight taste of vinegar that you don’t get with most other Texas pulled pork. That gave it a distinct flavor compared to the other meats and also made it closer to NC pulled pork, which was a welcome bit of home for me. As far as the sausage, I agree, it was good but I could have done without it in lieu of more of the other 3 meats.

Speedy: The question that came up often after the trip was whether Franklin Barbecue was worth the 5 hour wait. It’s not something I’d do every weekend, but I think it was absolutely worth it. Overall, the wait was a rather enjoyable experience, and if I wasn’t already obsessed with barbecue, I’d call the meat life-changing. I can’t wait for my next trip to Franklin’s!

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 hogs
Franklin Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Barbecue – Austin, TX (Speedy’s take)

IMG_1608Name: La Barbecue
Date: 7/20/17
Address: 1906 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
Order: ½ lb brisket, ¼ lb pork, 1 sausage link (link to menu)
Price: $19

Speedy: After a quick work trip to Dallas, I thought it would be a good idea to pop over to Austin to visit Rudy. We both had to work my first day there, but I was able to get away for lunch and head over to La Barbecue, which Rudy previously raved about.

I got there about 11:30, and there was already a decent line. A guy behind me in line asked how long the wait was from the end – he was told 15, but the reality was 40. After 15 minutes, his order was taken (but no one else’s), so as to not make the worker “a liar.” Also, there was no free beer as there was on Rudy’s visit. Combine this with the hot weather and the business casual attire, and I was a little annoyed. The lack of urgency from the staff to serve people added to my annoyance.

Monk: I know the answer to this question, but you were mad because it was hot in July in Texas and they didn’t offer you free beer, something they aren’t obligated to do? Really?

Rudy: I believe that the free beer is only on Saturdays. You were actually able to visit La Barbecue on one of their last days as a food truck because they have since moved into a brick and mortar location. So while the wait might not be less time, but it could possibly be inside.

Speedy: At long last, I got to the front of the line, ordered ¼ pound brisket, ¼ pork, and a sausage link. Before cutting, the homie cutting the meat handed me a small chunk of brisket, which I popped into my mouth. Every annoyance, and truly every care I had immediately went away. The bit was so peppery and moist and simply divine. I quickly upped my order to ½ pound of brisket, got my food, paid, and went to find a shady spot to sit.

Rudy: They got me with the taste test too. Works every time.


Speedy: Every bite of brisket was just as the first. This was, without a doubt, the best brisket I had ever tasted. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was absolutely perfect. There’s nothing I would change about it. I’m not an eloquent enough write to justly write about this brisket, so I’ll just say if you ever get a chance, get it.

Monk: I had similar thoughts when I tried Lewis Barbecue in Charleston earlier this year, which we all know is the joint that former La Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis opened about a year ago. I’d be curious how Lewis stacks up to La.

Speedy: Being a North Carolina boy, I didn’t have high expectations with the pulled pork, but digging in, I was blown away. It was tender, smoky, and tangy. I don’t know what was on it, but there was vinegar involved. It also came with pickled onions, which was a perfect pairing. Overall, this was in the top echelon of pulled pork I’ve ever had. I was shocked. If you ever get a chance, get it.

The sausage was disappointing. The flavor was fine, but it was a little dry and fell apart pretty easily. It wasn’t by any means bad – in fact, in a vacuum, i’d probably call it good. But compared to the brisket and the pork, it’s not worth ordering.

I didn’t order sides – I didn’t feel the need to.

In thinking about La Barbecue, my biggest regret is not getting a beef rib (in addition to, not instead of the other things). Yes, it’s expensive, and there’s no way I could eat it all, but damn it looked good.

Overall, my meal at La Barbecue was incredible. The next day, Rudy and I had plans to hit up Franklin’s, so I was pumped to be able to compare the two. Leaving La Barbecue, my only thought was that I had a hard time understanding how it would equal or exceed what I had just eaten.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs (bumped down due to heat, lack of free beer, and slow service)
Brisket – 5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sausage – 3 hog
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 Hogs (the brisket and pork were good enough that nothing else mattered)
La Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que – Atlanta, GA (Speedy’s take) 

: Heirloom Market BBQ
Date: 6/14/17
Address: 2243 Akers Mill Rd., Atlanta, GA 30339
Order: Spicy Korean pork, brisket, collards, fries (link to menu)
Price: $16

Speedy: I sent Monk a simple text on Friday evening. It just said, “Wow wow wow. Heirloom market.”

Monk: It’s true; I can confirm this happened. I wondered why it took so long but was glad Speedy finally made it out there before moving.

Speedy: I have lived in Atlanta for almost a year before checking out Heirloom Market. In my defense, I have to get on 285 (aka the busiest road in America) to get there, but shame on me. This place is incredible.

Heirloom Market doesn’t look like much from the outside. It’s connected to a convenience store, is tiny inside, and just has an outside patio with a half dozen tall tables (and no chairs) if you want to dine-in. However, it has a great reputation, which is well deserved.

Monk: Indeed. A few years back when I was coming into Atlanta, Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat! urged me to go here instead of, say, Fox Bros if I was only picking one joint in Atlanta that weekend. And I was so glad I did, especially years later when I finally tried Fox Bros (which was fine). But Heirloom Market is special.

Speedy: I ordered the combo plate, eschewing the traditional pulled pork for the spicy Korean pork, along with the brisket. The pork is served chunked with a spicy sauce and some kimchi (I think) mixed in. Let me tell you, dear reader, it’s absolutely incredible. The pork is smoked perfectly and the sauce adds just the right amount of spice, along with incredible flavor. In addition to my love of barbecue, I’m a huge fan of all Asian food, so this meat was right up my alley. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Monk: My first taste of that spicy, Korean-influenced pork was one of the best bites of barbecue I’ve ever had – definitely top 5.

Speedy: The brisket is also fantastic. It was the right combination of lean and fatty, had lots of bark, and was not dried out at all. The bark was nice and peppery, and no sauce was needed. This was in the upper echelon of briskets that I’ve enjoyed.

Monk: While not Korean-influenced, I agree that Heirloom Market’s is just a damn good brisket.

Speedy: The collards were great – definitely cooked in some sort of meat stock (I’d guess chicken, but not positive) – giving a nice flavor. And the seasoned fries were also excellent.

My meal was too big for one person – I got a second full meal the next day. All this stuff even tasted great re-heated.

Overall, this meal at Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. The only thing I regret is not getting there sooner.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Spicy Korean Pork – 5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Heirloom Market BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Heirloom Market BBQ

Pecan Lodge – Dallas, TX

: Pecan Lodge
Date: 10/12/14
Location: 2702 Main St, Dallas TX 75226
Order: 1/2 pound of brisket, 1/2 pound of pork ribs, mac & cheese, fried okra (link to menu)
Bill: $25

Rudy:  I don’t make it up to Dallas very often, so when we planned a trip to the Texas State Fair in October, a visit to Pecan Lodge was an absolute must. Texas Monthly listed it as one of the top 4 barbecue joints in the state, so I had high hopes going in. Spoiler alert for the rest of the review: my expectations were more than met.

Pecan Lodge began in the Dallas Farmers Market, but recently opened it’s own brick and mortar location. Having experienced some of the long lines for top places in Austin, I didn’t want to run the risk of getting a place too far back in line, so I got there at 8:20 in the morning.  Sometime after that, many of the employees showed up. The next person in line showed up at 9:30, and at 10:30 the line was only 20 deep. So yeah, I was a little over-zealous, but at 11:00, the line was around the block.

The atmosphere, while waiting for Pecan Lodge to open, was the most unique and the least enjoyable aspect of my visit, but something I wouldn’t hold against the restaurant. The second guy that showed up came dressed like Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, all the way down to the hat and probably the metal plate in his head, which made for great conversation. At one point he had to grab something from his car, and as a way to thank me for holding his spot, he brought me a warm homemade beer in a plastic water bottle. I politely declined.

Monk: Aw man, you should have tried the “beer.” At the very least, it would have made for a good story.

Rudy: Then about 45 minutes before opening, the store owner across the street (who is a vegetarian) began blasting cow mooing sounds. If it was an attempt to run off business, it didn’t have the intended effect. Pecan Lodge had a line all around it’s building, and this guy had nobody enter his antique store.

The best part of arriving early and being first in line, was getting to ring the dinner bell that hangs at the cash register, thus signaling they were open for business. I rung the bell, ordered, and found a seat.

Monk: Awesome! I only wish you had a photo capturing yourself doing this.

Rudy: I know, it would have been cool. When I got to the front I was worried about holding up the line, so I felt in a hurry.

One cool thing that Pecan Lodge offers is an express lane for people ordering in bulk, plus a bar that you can sit at and order as well. This is a great way to get as many people through the lines as possible.

I knew right away that the brisket was going to be amazing. It came in 2 big thick cuts, which kept it moist. There was a great amount of bark and seasoning, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The fat was perfectly rendered and just melted in my mouth. If the line wasn’t so long behind me, I would have gone up and gotten more. It was everything that I had dreamt it would be and more.

Next came the ribs. Normally I skip ribs and go for sausage, but for some reason I decided to try the ribs here, and it was a great decision. Many times they can be dry or not very meaty, but that was definitely not the case here. There was so much meat on these ribs, they were moist and had a slight sweet taste to them. There was plenty of tug on them, so they didn’t fall apart, but the meat was tender and cooked perfectly. They were by far the best ribs that I have had and would be reason enough to go back.

Pecan Lodge offered a bit more than the typical sides of beans and potato salad. I opted for the mac & cheese and fried okra. Both of them were good, but not great. I think it was hard for either of them to stand out when they were being compared next to the brisket and the ribs.

Overall Pecan Lodge lived up to all the hype. The brisket and ribs were unbelievable and it had a great atmosphere. Considering you don’t have to get there 3 hours before opening (even though I came close) to enjoy such incredible barbecue, I think they could take over my top ranking. They are every bit as good as La Barbecue and Franklin’s, I only wish they were closer to me.

Atmosphere/Ambiance –  5 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Pecan Lodge on Urbanspoon
IMG_3114 IMG_3115 IMG_3116 IMG_3119 IMG_3112 IMG_3113 IMG_3111 IMG_3108 IMG_3110 IMG_3121

Ed Mitchell’s Que – Durham (RE-REVIEW)


Name: Ed Mitchell’s Que
Date: 9/4/14
Address: 359 Blackwell St, Durham, NC 27701
Order: Speedy: Carolina Baby Back Ribs platter with fries, collards, and Pork Slap Farmhouse Ale; Monk: Chopped whole hog BBQ platter with collards, mac and cheese, and Mother Earth Weeping Willow (link to menu)
Price: $45

Monk: Ever since Speedy checked out Ed Mitchell’s Que back in May, I’ve been looking for excuses to make it to Durham myself. Our annual trip to the Hopscotch Music Festival afforded a great opportunity to do exactly that on our way into Raleigh (you may recall we had previously checked out Allen & Son, The Pit Raleigh, and Hursey’s during Hopscotches past).

Speedy: As this was my second trip, I knew what to expect when walking in, but I did get a pleasant surprise when the man Ed Mitchell himself was sitting at the bar. Honestly, I was a bit awe struck, so Monk and I let the man be for a bit while we got down to business.

Monk: I knew that I had to try the whole hog barbecue, Ed Mitchell’s speciality, so that was a no brainer. In his lone wolf review of Que, Speedy let it slip out that he actually likes eastern style just as much as Lexington style. At the time I found it to be a little blasphemous, but tasting Ed Mitchell’s whole hog barbecue has definitely changed my thinking that much more. It was perfectly moist and had just a hint of spiciness. Not a ton of bark, which is to be expected in whole hog barbecue, but the pork was really smoked to perfection.

Speedy: I can’t say much about the whole hog that I didn’t say before except to say that it was just as good this time around. Consistency can be difficult to achieve in the barbecue world, but with a pro like Ed Mitchell, it was a non-issue.

Monk: I think the takeaway here is that when you have a master working his craft – be it at Wayne Monk at Lexington Barbecue, Rodney Scott at Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue or John Lewis at la Barbecue – regional styles shouldn’t get in the way. Just sit back and enjoy the deliciousness – and I certainly did on this trip.

Speedy: I didn’t have the ribs last time I was at Que and noticed they’ve since been renamed “Throwdown ribs” to pay homage to Ed Mitchell’s smack down of Bobby Flay. The ribs came out with a light glaze of sweet western style sauce and were seriously meaty. They were cooked too well – tender enough to come off the bone easily, but not so tender that you can’t get a good bite. The flavor was quite good. If I had one complaint, it’s that the western style sauce is slightly sweet for my taste, but it didn’t stop my from cleaning off my share of bones.

Monk: Speedy and I went splitsies with our meals since they don’t do combo plates, and these were the largest baby back ribs I’d ever seen at a restaurant. And as Speedy said, they were quite tender. The sides were scratch made in house and I didn’t taste anything wrong with either my collards or my mac and cheese. The collards were fresh and perfectly cooked while the mac and cheese was great. At this point, I haven’t tasted anything wrong with Ed Mitchell’s Que.

Speedy: I agree, Monk. Sometimes, as a world-renowned blogger (we are that, aren’t we?), I feel the need to find something negative to say about any place that I eat, but when treated to an amazing meal, sometimes its best to just sit back and enjoy it.

Monk: On his first visit, Speedy initially toyed with a 5 hog rating before eventually backing off to a 4.5 hog rating. We were having a very similar conversation as we wrapped up our meal this time around too. As we got our check, Ed Mitchell himself came around to check to see how things were and to make sure we enjoyed our food. Naturally, we took the opportunity to snap a quick photo with the legend (posing with his portrait and “The Pitmaster” from the back wall in the background at his insistence). And I must say, Ed was extremely gracious and kind, thanking us for coming in. In the car, Speedy and I discussed more and decided that Ed himself was reason enough to go with a 5 hog rating. Because if that kind of hospitality from the owner and pitmaster (in addition to his amazing food) isn’t reason enough to up the overall rating, I don’t know what is.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Ribs – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 5 Hogs

photo (1)


Lexington Barbecue – Lexington, NC

Name: Lexington #1 Barbecue
Date: 7/23/14
Address: 100 Smokehouse Lane, Lexington NC 27295 (link to menu)
Order: 2 large chop trays, 1 chopped plate, 1 chopped sandwich, side of hushpuppies, 4 Cheerwines
Price: $50 (for 4)

Rudy: Ahhh, reunited and it feels so good. The whole Rudy clan made a summer pilgrimage to North Carolina and got to enjoy some barbecue with Speedy and Monk. Seeing y’all was fine and everything, but being reunited with great Lexington Barbecue was really the best part.

I feel like there was a bit of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ aspect to NC style barbecue. I’d been eating brisket, sausage, and ribs for so long, that I had forgotten about how great a plate of chopped pork can be.

Speedy: And what better place to reunite than consensus Barbecue Bros favorite, Lexington Barbecue aka Lexington #1 aka Monk’s Place aka Honeymonk’s aka heaven. Some of you may be thinking, “Speedy – how can this be the Bros’ favorite when you haven’t been there in the two plus years you’ve had the blog?” Well, loyal readers, the reality of it is that rarely does a month pass by when I don’t figure out a way to get my hands on some of this delicious chopped pork, but we had to have all the Bros reunited for this review.

Monk: That’s true – I can attest that Speedy brings home a pint of chopped pork from Lexington Barbecue regularly (I am usually a beneficiary of such a trip). Even though Speedy and I live but an hour away from Lexington we knew that for the official review we needed to wait until Rudy was back in North Carolina. And yes, it somehow took over two years for us to arrange to all be in Lexington at the same time. When it comes to a plate of chopped pork, Lexington Barbecue is our gold standard.

Rudy: Absolutely it is.  There is so much flavor to the pork.  It is tender and moist.  The thing I liked most about it was that it already came sauced, so it had plenty of flavor and didn’t force you to try and figure out how much you needed to put on it. It is obvious from the flavor (and from the smell outside) that they are using real wood pits as opposed to gas or electric smokers to cook.  This makes a tremendous amount of difference in the flavor.  I was all ready to put Texas brisket above North Carolina Pork, but Lexington #1 is giving me lots to think about.

Speedy: I couldn’t agree more, Rudy. The pork is absolutely perfect. It’s not smoked by man – it’s smoked by God through man. There’s no other way to put it. It has the perfect amount of bark mixed in with the smoky, savory pork. It’s all shoulder, so there is consistency from bite to bite (which you don’t always get with whole hog), and it’s just damn good. Lexington does keep a spicy dip and Texas Pete on the table, which can be added for a little heat, but it’s certainly not necessary. The tang, the hint of sweetness, the tenderness – it could not be any better. And probably my favorite thing about Lexington barbecue is the consistency. These guys have been doing their thing for 50+ years, and it shows. I’ve never had a single bite of chopped pork there that wasn’t absolutely divine, and this trip was no different.

Monk: The barbecue slaw at Lexington is what Speedy and I always compare slaw to when we go to a NC joint. It is a perfect mix of tangy and crunchy. The hush puppies are darn near perfect, and to top it off, we each ordered a Cheerwine with our meal. Rudy, how good was it to have a Cheerwine with barbecue once again?

Rudy: Don’t even get me started on how great it was. Texas has a red soda too, called Big Red, and it is terrible. People say it tastes like a red creme soda or even bubble gum, but either way I say it is not good. When you have Cheerwine and sweet tea (also rarely served in Texas) on the menu, I’m going to give you a big bump in rating. That and being able to walk around back and see the wood burning into the smokers were the coolest parts of Lexington #1’s atmosphere.  Other than that it seems like a basic barbecue joint. So if there is going to be any knock on Lexington #1, it would be the atmosphere. That’s not really the most important part of a restaurant, the food is, and they nailed the food.

Speedy: We went in expecting this to be a slam dunk 5 hog experience, but we’ve been disappointed before. Not this time. The meal at Lexington #1 was absolutely perfect. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – if you want barbecue, be it eastern, western, Lexington, Memphis or Texas, this is the gold standard, top of the mart meal. Everything else is just trying to play catch-up.

Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sides – 5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Lexington Barbecue on Urbanspoon
IMG_9390 IMG_9392 IMG_9395
IMG_9397 IMG_9401
IMG_9406 IMG_9409 IMG_9412 IMG_9414 IMG_9424 IMG_9430

Stamey’s Barbecue – Greensboro, NC


Name: Stamey’s Barbecue
Date: 7/12/13
Address: 2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, NC 27403
Order: Chopped pork plate with red slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Bill: $6.84

Monk: Guys, I think I am in love. Despite growing up in High Point not 20 minutes from Stamey’s, I’m a little ashamed to admit that this past Friday was my first visit to the joint. I mean, Carter Brother’s was fine at the time but why didn’t someone drag me by the ear to Stamey’s?

Rudy: It’s funny that you had never been there, because I practically grew up on Stamey’s. It is located about 2 blocks from my Dad’s business, so I ate there all the time. It is pretty much the barometer for how I view all barbecue. It is also directly across the street from the Greensboro Coliseum, so during the ACC Basketball Tournament, it is packed all day long.

Monk: There really is no good explanation as to why it took so long but in any case, after finishing my latest reading material and getting a better understanding of Warner Stamey’s legacy and influence on Lexington style barbecue in NC, I knew I had to get here asap. And visiting my parents for the weekend while my wife went out of town presented the perfect opportunity.

My dad and I were already going to be in Greensboro so we planned to stop in at Stamey’s that day. We walked into the large wooden building, sat ourselves in a booth and did the usual barbecue joint drill – order a drink, order food when the waitress returns with our drink 2 minutes later, and then receive the food another 2-3 minutes after that (if not sooner).

Soon a perfect plate was presented before me with chopped pork barbecue, red slaw, and oblong hush puppies. After snapping a few photos, I took my first bite and wow. Just wow. Immediately I knew an overall 5 whole hog ratings was in play. Nice chop, perfect smokiness that can’t be faked with gas, and the right ratio of sweetness to tang in the sauce. I ordered the regular plate but immediately wished I had ordered the large.

Rudy: With so many places moving towards gas, it is refreshing to see a big stack of wood piled in the corner of the parking lot; a clear sign that they are sticking with the traditional smoking, which makes the whole difference.

Monk: In case you weren’t aware (I wasn’t until recently), Warner Stamey is actually credited with introducing hush puppies into barbecue meals in the 50’s (it had previously only been a seafood side). As stated in this space numerous times, I like a sweeter hush puppy and while these weren’t quite as sweet as I’d have liked they were pretty good. The red slaw was above average and a Cheerwine rounded out the meal nicely. My Dad and I also split a blueberry cobbler bro-style (separate plates, thank you very much) for dessert, which was quite good. I’m usually too full to order dessert at a barbecue restaurant, but I’m glad I did on this day.

Rudy: One of my biggest complaints about barbecue in Texas is the lack of effort with sides. Most of the time it is just some beans as an option. Stamey’s has brunswick stew as a side option…and it is amazing. Next time anyone goes there, it is an absolute must.

Monk: I wish I had seen your tweet and had ordered the brunswick stew, but next time. When the bill came out I did a double take since the entire meal was under $14. Total. I have come to expect to pay that much for just myself. So you’re telling me not only is this probably at least as good as the best barbecue I’ve ever had (Lexington #1), but the prices are ridiculously reasonable too (a sandwich is $2.99 and a regular plate is $5.29)?

I can’t say enough good things about Stamey’s and I hope to make it back very soon. It is the definition of a 5 whole hog plate of chopped pork barbecue and to me, also the definition of a 5 whole hog joint.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sides/Dessert – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs








Stamey's Barbecue on Urbanspoon