Introducing: The Lexington Big Board

Monk: Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I quietly posted my Lexington rankings a few months back through the top navigation bar. Before the pandemic hit, it was my pet project to hit all of the current Lexington-area barbecue restaurants for my definitive* Lexington rankings. I’ve been a longtime fan of Lexington Barbecue and in recent years, The Barbecue Center. But as the self-proclaimed “Barbecue Capital of the World” (one of many cities claiming that title, it should be noted) boasting at times one barbecue restaurant per 1,000 restaurants (though this is not currently the case), I needed to explore the others to understand the quality and depth of the other restaurants.

I’ve broken the 14 restaurants I’ve reviewed thus far into three tiers. Someday I will get to the curiously named Lexington Trimmings for completeness sake but in the meantime, here is the most definitive list of Lexington-area barbecue restaurants on the internet*. Ladies and gentlemen, the Lexington Big Board.

*one man’s opinion
**that I know of

Tier 1

  1. Lexington Barbecue
  2. Bar-B-Q Center
  3. Rick’s Smokehouse
  4. Speedy’s Barbecue
  5. Smiley’s Lexington Barbecue
  6. Backcountry Barbeque

I need to revisit both Smiley’s and Speedy’s asap, as they may no longer be in business for too much longer as a result of the NC Department of Transportation widening Highway 8 that they both sit on. Also, both were reviewed very early in this blog’s life and while I really enjoyed both, I’ve had a lot of barbecue since.

Tier 2

  1. Speedy Lohr’s Barbecue
  2. Smokey Joe’s Barbecue
  3. Tarheel Q
  4. Cook’s Barbecue
  5. Arcadia Q

To my knowledge, all of these places smoke over wood with no gas or electricity but are just a notch below the best of the best in Lexington.

Tier 3

  1. Stamey’s Barbecue of Tyro
  2. Kerley’s Barbecue
  3. Randy’s Restaurant

Of the bottom tier, Kerley’s and Randy’s don’t smoke over wood and it shows in the actual barbecue.

Still to try

Lexington Trimmings

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments or email us at

Linkdown: 7/20/16

– Stephen Colbert is once again poking the NC barbecue bear

“North Carolina, I love you,” Colbert said, “but I’m sorry that barbecue is not as good as South Carolina.”

– Plan accordingly:

– Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! visits three Memphis-area barbecue joints: Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q, and Top’s Bar-B-Q

– Charlotte Five weighs in on 5 joints for good barbecue in Lexington, including Lexington Barbecue, The Barbecue Center, Smiley’s, and Speedy’s

– More Charlotte Five content: Mac’s Speed Shop is on this list of 4 meat-focused eateries with great vegetarian options for diner

– UberEats will be delivering Pecan Lodge to Dallas residents today from 11-2 via drones

– The Pik-N-Pig is a NC barbecue joint located at an airport near Carthage

Reader Submission

We received the following submission from someone calling himself “McLovin”:

Me and my wife decided to go have lunch on a Saturday at Smiley’s. First of all the claim that it is good food is a whole lie….I’ve had better. My wife ordered their chicken salad sandwich. It was HORRIBLE nothing special just in a regular burnt sandwich bread and their chicken salad didn’t taste good. we took one bite and told the lady at the cash registered that we did not eat the chicken salad sandwich and was told we had to pay for it anyway. You and I know well that when something does not taste good customer does not pay for it. We felt they were rude and greedy. Since then we have told our experience  to our family and friends to avoid a bad experience. Bottom line is DONT EAT THERE!!!

After spending way too much time trying to figure out why an eight year old is married (age guess based on grammar skills), I decided to reply to our loyal reader McLovin’ to explain our positive review of Smiley’s. It appears that we had a much better experience than the dear reader. I think the main reason behind it is that we aren’t dumb. Seriously – who goes to any restaurant in Lexington and orders a chicken salad sandwich? I can’t stress enough how bad of a decision that was. It really calls into question every other decision your wife ever made (marriage vows included). So yea – if you want chicken salad, don’t go to Smiley’s. If you want great barbecue, then go on over and have yourself a great meal.

As for your assertion that you shouldn’t have to pay for food that doesn’t taste good, there’s a billion dollar health food industry that has something to say about that. So sorry the “greedy” folks at Smiley’s kept the outrageous $4.25 they charged you for your chicken salad sandwich, but next time, man up, order a real meal, and you’ll have a better experience.

Thanks for reading!


N.C. Barbecue Society honors owner of Smiley’s BBQ

Congrats to Steve Yountz of Smiley’s Lexington BBQ.

Steve Yountz, the owner of Smiley’s Lexington BBQ, continues to have a passion for barbecue cooking nearly four decades after he landed his first job at the former Southern BBQ in Lexington.

The 50-year-old Lexington native (who turns 51 Sunday) was recently named as one of the 2012 inductees for the N.C. Barbecue Society’s Wall of Fame. He was one of four people — the only one from Lexington — to be inducted in this past year’s class.

“I’m honored,” Yountz said. “That’s quite a recognition.”



N.C. Barbecue Society honors owner of Smiley’s BBQ