Tarheel Q – Lexington, NC

Name: Tarheel Q
Location: 6835 West, US-64, Lexington, NC 27295
Order: Regular chopped tray with “extra brown” and red slaw
Pricing: $

The second stop on the “Highway 150 Barbecue Corridor” (it’s going to be a thing) was Tarheel Q, just 9 miles away from Arcadia Q (although more directly on Old Highway 64) and also owned by Leon and Becky Simmons. Based on this visit, Tarheel Q definitely has its own set of customers, as indicated by a packed dining full of workers, locals, and maybe a few out-of-towners like me.

On that day, I wasn’t yet aware that Arcadia Q and Tarheel Q were owned by the same husband and wife duo (though looking back there were definitely clues in the logos of each as well as the use of a #GR8BBQ4U hashtag), but I also never would have guessed based on the barbecue. Tarheel Q’s barbecue was fresher and tastier than the tray that I had just had at Arcadia Q. The smoke flavor was more intense, and I preferred this pork by far. I’m curious if the barbecue at Arcadia Q is smoked on site or is perhaps trucked in from Tarheel Q (my experience that day might suggest just that, but this would be me speculating).

The hush puppies, however, were a different story. I preferred the hush puppies at Arcadia Q, though the ones at Tarheel were still above average, with the shape being more typical. As was the case at Arcadia, the red slaw was fine.

As I was leaving, the smokestacks were going full bore as more wood and pork was being added to the brick masonry pits out back. Any experienced barbecue traveler know this is a welcome scene, in the middle of the day and on this day, Tarheel Q definitely had the upper hand of the first two places I tried on the Highway 150 Barbecue Corridor.

Highway 150 Barbecue Corridor Rankings (so far)

Barbecue
1 – Tarheel Q
2 – Arcadia Q

Hush Puppies
1 – Arcadia Q
2 – Tarheel Q

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Tar Heel Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Arcadia Q – Lexington, NC

Name: Arcadia Q
Location: 8000 N, NC-150, Lexington, NC 27295
Order: Regular chopped tray with “extra brown” and red slaw
Pricing: $

Monk: Lexington, NC is mentioned in some circles as the “barbecue capital of the world” with its ratio of roughly 1 barbecue restaurant per 1,000 residents. However, up to this point I’ve mostly focused on Lexington Barbecue and more recently, the Bar-B-Que Center on my barbecue visits to the city. Recently, I’ve decided to expand my horizons to see what else the other 16 or so barbecue options in Lexington have to offer. On a Friday in November, I decided to take on three Lexington barbecue restaurants on what I have dubbed the “Highway 150 Barbecue Corridor:” Tarheel Q, Stamey’s Barbecue of Tyro, and my first stop, Arcadia Q.

Arcadia Q was known until recently as Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia before owners Roger and Lisa Lohr retired earlier this year and reached out to Tarheel Q owners Leon and Becky Simmons to see if they’d be interested in opening a second location of their restaurant. Both Simmonses worked for the Lohrs approximately 25 years ago, and Tarheel Q is located just 9 miles southwest of Arcadia, just off Highway 64. The result is the now-renamed Arcadia Q.

For my tour of three barbecue joints on the Highway 150 Corridor of Barbecue, I decided to make the same order at each restaurant as a means of comparison: a regular chopped tray with extra brown, red slaw, and hush puppies. I did order a Cheerwine at Arcadia Q before deciding that would be the only soft drink order of the day because as much as I like Cheerwine, I didn’t want the empty calories along with all the food I’d be eating for lunch that day.

The hush puppies at Arcadia Q were a shape I hadn’t come across at a Lexington-style barbecue joint before. They were longer cylinders than the typical hush puppy, as if perhaps they were squirted out of an icing squeeze bag directly into the fryer (this is only my speculation). They are somewhat reminiscent of the shape of corn sticks in eastern North Carolina joints like Parker’s, though I don’t have any personal experience with those (yet). Regardless of the curiosity of the shape, these were my favorite hush puppies of the mini tour.

As for the barbecue, I didn’t get a lot of smoke on it and the temperature was slightly lukewarm. Unfortunately, the outside brown was chewy and tough and not until I dug into the tray below the top layer of outside brown did I start to enjoy the texture of the barbecue. Of all the red slaws I tried that day, none really stood out more than the other so I won’t be commenting too much on them other than the say that they did the job they were supposed to.

So my mini-tour on the “Highway 150 Barbecue Corridor” (it’s going to be a thing) was off to an inauspicious start at Arcadia Q. From here I would head southwest along the aforementioned Highway 150. Of my next two stops, one was a bit better and one was a bit worse. Which would be which? Tune in next Monday to see…

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

Speedy Lohr's BBQ of Arcadia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 10/30/19

The Old Hampton Store & Barbeque is part barbecue joint, part general store, and part music venue.

John Tanner’s BBQ Blog really batted for the proverbial Barbecue Bros cycle of NC barbecue in the Charlotte area with Lexington Barbecue, Noble Smoke, Sweet Lew’s BBQ, and Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

Houston’s Blood Brothers BBQ makes the Smithsonian Magazine

Last weekend’s 36th Annual Barbecue Festival sounds like it was a success

The 90th Mallard Creek Barbecue was heavy on barbecue (as per usual) but light on politicians

Keaton’s BBQ in Cleveland does serve pork barbecue but its really known for its friend chicken that is dipped in Lexington-style barbecue sauce

How three Harvard students enhanced the Kamado Joe cooker with computer modeling

Adrian Miller’s Black Smoke research hits the Richmond area this weekend

Linkdown: 10/23/19

The 90th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue is this Thursday

Last weekend’s Smoke on the Water barbecue competition in Washington, NC raised $30,000 for local charities

The Barbecue Festival will bring in over $6.5 million dollars to the area

Matthew Odam’s list of top 50 Austin restaurants is now out and includes 3 barbecue restaurants – Franklin, Interstellar, and La Barbecue

A new contender enters the barbecue drink ring: sweet tea, Cheerwine, or champagne?!?

Robert Moss’s 7 Memphis joints to visit in next month’s Southern Living

NC Tripping’s list of best restaurants in Cleveland County includes several barbecue restaurants including Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Alston Bridges, and The Honey Hog

Linkdown: 9/25/19

Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque at Sweet Lew’s this Sunday!

Corky’s Bar-B-Q was the final sandwich of John Tanner’s Great Memphis Region Barbecue Sandwich Tour

Robert Moss on Boston butts

The Barbecue Festival adds two new sporting events to the weekend’s festivities: the BBQ Hardwood Classic and the Pig Pickin’ Throwdown

How the Northeast did at American Royal

The Athletic takes on Alabama barbecue

Jon G’s Midweek Charlotte Pop-up: THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Linkdown: 9/4/19

Another blow for NC barbecue: Laurinburg, NC barbecue restaurant General McArthur’s was completely destroyed in a fire on Sunday; a follower on Twitter tweeted this at us

John Tanner’s BBQ Blog has recently been posting reviews from his Great Memphis Region Barbecue Sandwich Tour, with entries from Abe’s in Clarksdale, Central BBQ, The Dixie Pig and The Kream Kastle in Blytheville, Chubby’s in Hayti, Helen’s in Brownsville, B.E. Scott’s in Lexington, and Ramey’s in Parsons

Bourbon + Barbecue = Crazy Delicious (applicable for any day, not just Labor Day)

Roegel’s Barbecue in Houston will be doing whole hog once a month

Jess Pryles walks Popular Mechanics through 6 smokers in this article:

Matthew Odam sees how the sausage gets made at Franklin Barbecue

Give Adrian Miller a follow on Twitter if you think you might be able to help him out with any barbecue research questions this fall

Linkdown: 8/21/19

Sweet Lew’s Barbeque, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Lexington Barbecue, Grady’s BBQ, and Skylight Inn BBQ all represent NC on this Thrillist list

Is the North Carolina Department of Transportation Anti-Barbecue? John Tanner things maybe perhaps so.

NC DOT, careless of the thousands of victims of The Great Wilber’s Debacle, now turns its guns on Lexington.  NC Dot has determined that the Smiley’s-Speedy’s section of Winston Road apparently gets a fair amount of traffic.  Of course it does.  It contains two barbecue places.   

Robert Moss reflects on Charleston’s dining scene so far, including the barbecue scene which went from “minor outpost to [an] acclaimed destination”

USA Today advocates for Clyde Cooper’s BBQ in Raleigh, saying its “a key stop on any tour of America’s pantheon of BBQ joints”

Bryan Furman will be at this November’s Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Can any city rival Austin’s BBQ? Austin-based food writer Rob Balon says no.

The 36th Barbecue Festival will take place October 26th in Lexington

Linkdown: 6/26/19

It’s important to understand the roots of the thing we all love so much

The Barbecue Festival has been named as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast, according to the Southeast Tourism Society

Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life shouts out books from NC pitmasters Sam Jones and Matt Register in her latest newsletter

Register also gets a profile in the Winston-Salem Journal

“I was a real-estate developer. I didn’t even really cook,” Register said. “I was the grill guy who liked to be outside with my beer, listening to music.”

That changed when he happened to pick up a copy of “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed.

New pork belly taco special from Midwood Smokehouse until July 4th

The Texas Monthly Reader’s Choice Bracket has reached the semifinals

Speaking of which, big news for Texas Monthly

A longish but certainly worthwhile read about a barbecue roadtrip through NC (and SC and Georgia) from Marie, Let’s Eat!

Noble Smoke will raise the bar for Charlotte barbecue when it opens this summer

Jim Noble will officially enter the barbecue restaurant world with the opening of Noble Smoke in the coming few weeks, but he is certainly no newcomer when it comes to barbecue, having grown up in High Point and spent his life going to Lexington Barbecue. Noble Smoke will be the culmination of a decades-long idea that’s been rumbling around in Jim’s head ever since he got started in the restaurant business. Jim may have started off in french cuisine and fine dining, but from spending some time with him getting a behind the scenes tour of the upcoming restaurant, it’s pretty evident that barbecue (and in particular, North Carolina barbecue) is a passion of his.

We’re still a few weeks ago from the opening, but its pretty clear to me that once opened, this will be a destination barbecue joint. The touches that you would expect from a Jim Noble restaurant are there – there will be a full service bar, the design is impeccable, and the dining experience will be well thought-out – but where it will really stand out is what’s housed in the custom built smokehouse out back.

That is where there are 6 custom-built reverse-flow offset smokers (each one named for Jim’s great aunts and uncles) as well as a brick pit that pays homage to Lexington Barbecue via a slightly tweaked design of their pits. This was probably the coolest part of the tour for Speedy and me, as longtime readers will know that Lexington Barbecue is our #1 all-time favorite restaurant (Rudy too). Jim is also a huge fan and has learned from the Monks, the family behind Lexington Barbecue, for years. With Noble Smoke, he will be very much looking to continue the Lexington-style barbecue tradition that began with Sid Weaver and Jess Swicegood and their stalls across the street from the Lexington courthouse in 1919.

Besides the smoked meat, the other part of the experience that will help make Noble Smoke a destination barbecue spot will be Suffolk Punch Brewing, which shares the other side of the old bus depot that will house the restaurant. A beer garden and killer patio will make the strong case for customers to stick around well after their meals are done, and Suffolk Punch will be doing some lambic style brewing of sours onsite at this second location, which will surely help differentiate it in the Charlotte market.

Let’s not forget Bossy Beaulah’s, the chicken shack that will sit on the property down a small hill closer to Freedom Drive. Jim has named that after his Aunt Beaulah, whom he named a mobile smoker trailer after and whose fried chicken he grew up on. That will have a smaller menu but patrons in the beer garden will be able to order from it with the servers running up a small hill to bring them brined and buttermilk breaded fried chicken sandwiches.

Jim Noble is a North Carolina guy who is passionate about North Carolina barbecue and I am confident that he will raise the bar when it comes to barbecue in Charlotte. Midwood Smokehouse brought back wood smoked barbecue to Charlotte in 2012 and Sweet Lew’s BBQ has contributed greatly to the scene to it with its opening last December, but Charlotte has so much more room to grow when it comes to its barbecue scene. If Houston’s barbecue scene is blowing up, there’s no reason why Charlotte can’t do the same. I think it just takes more passionate folks like Jim. Noble Smoke will continue the upward trend of barbecue in Charlotte with its opening this summer and I predict will stake a worthy claim to be Charlotte’s flagship barbecue restaurant.

Linkdown: 6/12/19

From this month’s barbecue issue of Charlotte Magazine

Texas Monthly on 2019’s best barbecue books

Houston’s barbecue scene is on fire

Several Lexington barbecue joints are featured in this blog post from Bites of the Bull City

Robert Sietsema on the history of barbecue in NYC from the 80’s to the present

Sam Jones will be doing a book event at the downtown Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville on June 25

Congrats to The Smoking Ho on 6 years