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.

Friday Find: Full-Time Eater Mark Wiens Explores Lexington-style Barbecue

Monk: You may recall Mark Wiens from his whole hog journey in eastern North Carolina I featured a couple months back. He’s back, and featuring Lexington-style barbecue. While he hit up 5 whole hog joints in his eastern NC video, he focuses on just two restaurants here: Lexington Barbecue and Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro. While I’m of course always happy to see Lexington Barbecue featured, I like that Mark also visited Stamey’s and met with fourth generation owner/operator Craver Stamey and many of the Vietnamese pitmasters and kitchen staff who have worked for Stamey’ for years.

Description: LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA – There are two main styles of North Carolina BBQ, the whole hog and vinegar based sauce in Eastern North Carolina (watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/3u3KJOqrZsQ) and the pork shoulder bbq with ketchup based sauce in Lexington, North Carolina. Today we’re going to eat, learn about, and fully experience Lexington style North Carolina BBQ!

Lexington Barbecue (https://goo.gl/maps/WN8DFKw7UDJ6Qiaf6) – Right in the heart of Lexington, North Carolina, Lexington Barbecue is known to be one of the best places for bbq in North Carolina. They slow smoke pork shoulders using a time proven process. The pork is ready, it’s chopped, mixed with sauce, and you can specify the different chopped coarseness you prefer. Along with outstanding pork barbecue, you have to order the hush puppies, which are little deep fried corn fritters that go perfectly with any bbq meal.

Stamey’s Barbecue (https://goo.gl/maps/4uzT92ErRGEip6PM7) – Next up on this tour of Western North Carolina bbq, we drove over to Greensboro, North Carolina to eat at Stamey’s Barbecue, again one of the most renowned bbq institutions in North Carolina. Their recipe is similar and again they make use of pork shoulders. Pork was fantastic, so tender and smoky with a depth of flavor and all the sides were incredibly tasty. It was another day of delicious food in North Carolina and experiencing the incredible barbecue culture of the Carolinas.

Linkdown: 4/27/22

Native News

At Port-A-Pit BBQ in Statesville, they serve the public as well as help the community fundraise

BBQ King gets a segment on Spectrum News 1

Old Colony Smokehouse looks like it should be added to my list

The Smoke Pit is one of the recommended places to eat when in Concord just north of Charlotte

The best barbecue places in Eastern NC according to WNCT’s analysis of TripAdvisor data

Get tickets to the Carolina BBQ Festival while you can

Non-Native News

The first in a series of articles from the great Hanna Raskin leading up to the Southern Foodways Alliance Fall Symposium on Barbecue. Can’t wait to read the rest.

John Lewis has brought “border food” to the lowcountry with Rancho Luis

I know nothing about any of these restaurants in NoVa, but here you go

Another national list

The famed Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ celebrated her 87th birthday last Thursday

Linkdown: 3/2/22

North Carolina has lost another classic barbecue joint; Smiley’s Lexington BBQ officially closed this past weekend as a result of the NC DOT widening of Winston Road. Restaurant owner Steve Yountz and his wife, Tena, have no official plans to relocate the restaurant as of now but are not ruling it out either, depending on how much money they get from the state. For now, they are going to take some time to evaluate their options.

The building housing Smiley’s has been a barbecue restaurant for over 70 years and according to Yountz, ““It’s the oldest pit-cooking restaurant in Lexington. We’re still using the original pits.” Before Yountz opened Smiley’s in 2002, it operated as Southern Barbecue from 1963 to 1998 and started as Dan’s in the 1950’s.

This NC DOT project, first announced in 2018 and not set to begin until July 2023, actually has two victims as Speedy’s Barbecue the next block over is also closing due to the road widening.

Native News

Through the Preserve the Pit fellowship, Ron Simmons of Master Blend Farms in Kenansville was able to add 56 acres to his family farm and add barbecue catering as a side gig

Big Belly Que in Chapel Hill is pivoting to Italian for the time being

Lechon Latin BBQ is a new-ish, Latin-focused barbecue restaurant at Raleigh’s Triangle Town Center

Noble Smoke’s second location at Optimist Hall opens this Sunday

Congrats to Garren and Kelly from Jon G’s, who 2 years ago on Sunday closed on the former Barbee’s Barbecue location, which they would open in June 2020 just a few months into the pandemic

Non-Native News

Texas barbecue James Beard semifinalists

Robert Sietsema’s latest barbecue guide for Eater NY

Juicy Lucia and Di Fara Pizzeria will be located in the former Corner House BBQ on Staten Island

Virgie’s is back

Lewis Barbecue is set to open their Greenville location this summer

Snow’s Barbecue by Robert Jacob Lerma for Huckberry

According to Dave Grohl, salt and pepper is all the rub you need for a great brisket

Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck Festival is back and has added NC band Superchunk to its music lineup

Here’s a list of the chefs that will be at Hot Luck

Should we call this the Memphis Airport Barbecue Challenge?