Monk’s 5 Favorite Barbecue Meals of the First Half of 2020

Monk: A little later than I’d normally like to post a first half look-back but then again, I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a weird year. At least barbecue is (mostly) back. After a lot of backyard smoking (a little more on that below) and an attempt at mail order, barbecue restaurants started to reopen in late spring and adapted to the current situation with all formerly extinct practices like curbside service and carhops that made perfect sense in a pandemic environment.

In alphabetical order:

Chopped pork tray from Backcountry BBQ (review)

A barn full of firewood out back was a sign of good things to come when it came to Backcountry Barbeque, an unassuming barbecue joint south of Lexington that landed in the top tier of my Lexington barbecue rankings.

Pork belly burnt ends and sliced pork belly from my backyard (story)

While I haven’t quite lived up to my promise that I would smoke pork belly again very soon, it is very much on my to-do list for upcoming backyard smokes. Particularly as the weather starts to cool down this fall. I still think about those pork belly burnt ends from time to time.

Beef rib, brisket, ribs, and cheddar bossa sausage from Jon G’s Barbecue (review)

You guys all know how I feel about Jon G’s by now, so not too much more needs to be written here except that you should make the trip, particularly if they have a beef rib on special (but be prepared to pay for it). I’ll also reiterate how glad I am that Garren and Kelly finally opened their store and are doing it their way.

Chopped pork from Rick’s Smokehouse (review)

Rick’s was the favorite of my new Lexington discoveries as part of my recent Lexington barbecue quest, landing just below my co-favorites Lexington Barbecue and Bar-B-Q Center.

Pork, ribs, and chicken from Southern Smoke BBQ (review)

Not too much more to add from my recent review other than Southern Smoke was my absolutely favorite new barbecue I’ve tried this year. I’ll repeat myself from my review: “Do yourself a favor and find time to make the trip like I did. You won’t regret it.”

What should I try in the second half (or what’s remaining of it) of 2020? Leave a comment with your recommendation.

Lexington Style Trimmings – Lexington, NC

Name: Lexington Style Trimmings
Order: Large chopped tray with red slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Since last fall, it has been my pet project to finish trying every Lexington area barbecue restaurant. As of February, I was making good progress and had just one or two more to try…before COVID 19 hit and shut the country down. Like a lot of things, my quest fell by the wayside.

As North Carolina entered phase 2 in late May and restaurants were slowly allowed to reopen with reduced capacity, I knew that it didn’t have to be too long before I was able to try the next restaurant on my list: Lexington Style Trimmings (although they closed for about a month between mid-June and mid-July due to a kitchen fire). Other than the name, I didn’t know too much about LST and even after doing research afterwards detail are a bit hard to come by other than it is a “longtime” barbecue restaurant at the same exit as the Bob Timberlake Gallery exit in Lexington.

Regardless, on first glance, Lexington Style Trimmings fits the bill of a Lexington joint. It sits at the end of a small strip mall, has car hop service (even pre-pandemic), and is a diner-style restaurant that serves barbecue in addition to other southern foods in two small, no-frills dining rooms.

However, the barbecue didn’t live up to Lexington standards. The chopped pork was mushy and had a rather unappealing texture. Not to mention a disappointing lack of smoke. For one of the last joints on my Lexington barbecue quest, this was quite a letdown and only made me want to revisit the better joints on the list post haste.

The red slaw was standard and while the hush puppies were a bit overdone and perhaps a tad too crispy, they were slightly sweet and by far the best part of the meal.

There is now one more joint to try – the newly discovered Blazin’ BBQ and Kickin’ Chicken in downtown Lexington – and there are some joints I need to revisit in my Tier 1 of Lexington joints (like Speedy’s and Smiley’s, which I last visited in 2012), so I’ve still got just a little more work to do. As for Lexington Style Trimmings, now that I’ve punched this one on my card I think I’m good.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2.5 hogs
Pork – 1.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 1.5 Hogs

Linkdown: 8/5/20

So glad to see Grant writing barbecue chapters for Marie, Let’s Eat!

Gerri Grady’s of Grady’s speaks with NC Tripping

The 2020 World Series of Barbecue is cancelled

Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano will open this Saturday, according to Kevin’s BBQ Joints

Bill Addison’s list of 11 places to get barbecue in Los Angeles

Here’s hoping more than just chain restaurants survive this pandemic

Sam’s BBQ had been in the news recently after country band Midland appropriated an image of their storefront while photoshopping out their name

Meal kits from Pappy’s Smokehouse, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, and Joes Kansas City BBQ from Goldbelly are on Buzzfeed’s list of 21 worth ordering

The Pig Island NYC BBQ will be held on Staten Island this September

ICYMI

Linkdown: 7/27/20

“Black Smoke” by James Beard Award-winning “Soul Food Scholar” Adrian Miller is officially a go for Spring 2021. Very excited to read this next year.

A short interview with Derrick Walker of Smoke-A-Holics BBQ on “Tex-Soul” and being a black pitmaster

This year’s Barbecue Festival has been canceled, which should surprise no one

John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog stops by a few eastern NC barbecue restaurants on his way to the beach: Boss Hog’s Backyard Barbecue in Washington, Stephenson’s in Willow Spring, Marty’s in Wilson, the rebooted Wilber’s in Goldsboro, and Southern Smoke in Garland:

City Limits Barbeque gets a shout out in this feature on Columbia

22% of Americans say Texas style is their favorite regional style of barbecue, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll

Steven Raichlen has some tips for barbecued ribs, which he calls”barbecue at its most primal and unadorned”, in the New York Times

The “Ultimate Guide to Barbecue,” from The Wall Street Journal

Pig Beach is heading south, but not just for the winter; it plans to open a Florida location in West Palm Beach by the end of the year

“Carolina-style” BBQ cauliflower? C’mon man…