Monk: In this short feature from UNC TV’s NC Weekend, host Deborah Holt Noel traverses across the city, taking in all the tastes and experiences it has to offer. From wakeboarding to donuts to breweries and wineries.
But of course, there’s also barbecue. On that front, she visits the barbecue pit that was discovered during the renovation of City Hall in 2014 (1:01) which also contains all of the posters of The Barbecue Festival (2:00) which brings in 150,000 visitors each October and will continue next year.
No trip to Lexington is complete without actually eating barbecue, and she wraps up the barbecue content in this video by visiting the two most prominent restaurants in Lexington Barbecue (3:19 and Bar-B-Q Center (4:45), which started as an ice cream parlor.
Description: There’s so much to do in Lexington that you can spend an entire weekend there and that’s just what we did with visits to breweries, wineries, restaurants, donut shops, even a wake park! Lexington, NC https://visitlexingtonnc.com/
Monk: The NC Food & Beverage Podcast speak with with Keith “Bub” Wright of Lexington Barbecue, who married into Monk family by way of Wayne Monk’s daughter Kelly, who he began dating in high school while working at Lexington Barbecue. Bub speaks with the NC F&B guys and schools them on Lexington-style barbecue and how they do things in Davidson County. Right off the bat, he explains why they serve their barbecue three ways: chopped, coarse chopped, and sliced.
Monk: A lot (and I mean, a lot) has changed since the last time I did a “Best of Charlotte” series in 2016. Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and Queen City Q, both winners in several categories, are both no longer in business. Neither are Sauceman’s or Bill Spoon’s, who in 2016 placed in ribs and pork respectively.
The Smoke Pit had the best brisket at the time and since then Jon G’s, Sweet Lew’s, and Noble Smoke have all opened their doors with wood-smoked brisket that each edges out the offerings from The Smoke Pit.
Midwood Smokehouse didn’t top any one category in 2016 but still had a strong showing by being in the top three in each of the five categories: pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, and other. Thankfully, they are still around and are well represented on this list.
Now, onto our picks for the “Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate.”
Pork – Noble Smoke
Jim Noble and team are carrying on the 100+ years-old legacy of Lexington-style barbecue at Noble Smoke in west Charlotte. Simply rubbed with salt and pepper and smoked directly over wood coals in their custom brick masonry pit (named “John”) whose design was borrowed with permission from family friends the Monk family of Lexington Barbecue, upon tasting the pork transports you an hour or so north up I-85.
Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Brisket – Jon G’s Barbecue
The meat that put Jon G’s on the map. Of their many spectacular smoked meats, the brisket is the one must order every time you go. Do it and you won’t be disappointed. Trust me.
Honorable Mention: Noble Smoke
Ribs – The Smoke Pit
This one was a surprise from a recent trip that Speedy and I took to the Gastonia location of the local mini-chain of restaurants in late 2020. On that visit, Speedy noted that the dry rub ribs had the perfect bite with just the right amount of spice. I couldn’t agree more and it was the standout meat of that meal.
Honorable Mention: Jon G’s
Sausage – Cheerwine Hot Link from Jon G’s
A truly unique sausage made in-house at Jon G’s, with Salisbury, NC-based Cheerwine taking the place of the water used in the sausage-making process. The end result isn’t overly sweet or “Cheerwine-y” but it does impart a slight sweetness to counteract the heat of the jalapeno.
Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Beef Rib – Midwood Smokehouse
The beef rib is a weekend special at Midwood Smokehouse and upon my last visit is available every week for a cut-rate price of $32, well below what you would pay if it were charged by the pound.
Honorable Mention: Jon G’s BBQ (not available all weekends)
Side – Hash and rice from Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Hash and rice isn’t something you find in Charlotte, much less North Carolina, as its almost strictly a South Carolina barbecue dish. Sweet Lew’s differs from what you would find at True BBQ in West Columbia or Sweatman’s in Holly Hill in that instead of the off parts of the pig it uses pork as well as brisket, but I just love that they now offer it fulltime on their menu whereas it used to be a Wednesday special only.
Honorable Mentions: Pork skins from Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Smoked Meatballs from Midwood Smokehouse, Smoked wings from Noble Smoke
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.
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