Monk’s Top 10 Favorite Barbecue Meals of 2018

Monk: Last year I provided a ranking of my 10 favorite barbecue meals eaten in 2017 so trying to make it an annual thing by doing the same for 2018. Happy New Year!

10. Brisket, sausage, pork ribs and a taste of the beef rib from Louie Mueller Barbecue (review)

I was a little let down by the brisket at Louie Mueller’s (as was Rudy) but I’ll chalk that up to a bad day. However, the beef rib and sausage more than made up for it. Plus, the number of of legendary Texas joints I’ve visited is quite low so I was glad to visit one of the OG’s.

9. Barbecue tray from Smokey Joe’s (review)

8. Barbecue tray from Speedy Lohr’s (review)

I hope to one day make a comprehensive list of Lexington barbecue joints, but in early 2018 I was able to knock two off the list in Smokey Joe’s and Speedy Lohr’s, with neither tray disappointing.

7. Whole hog from NC State BBQ Camp (link)

At the NC State BBQ Camp, I was honored to be a guest panelist for a barbecue roundtable led by none other than Bob Garner. After that chat, the campers and panelists all partook in a whole hog pig pickin’ with some dang fine whole hog. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch who did the smoking but whoever you are, well done.

6. Chopped pork plate and brunswick stew from Stamey’s Barbecue (last review from 2013)

My takeout meal the day after Thanksgiving of pulled pork and brunswick stew only proves that I need to make it a point to get to Stamey’s more often.

5. Chopped pork and brisket from Sweet Lew’s BBQ (review)

There are certainly big things coming for Sweet Lew’s BBQ which only opened in early December. I look forward to many more meals here over the coming months and years.

4. Big Poppa Sampler (Full Rack Ribs, 12oz Pork, 12oz Brisket, ½ Chicken) and 6 Memphis dry rub wings from Martin’s BBQ Joint (review)

I couldn’t have been more impressed with everything on our visit to the downtown Nashville location of Martin’s in late summer – from the space itself to the open air beer garden to each and every delicious meat. Speedy is quite lucky to have Martin’s as his local joint.

3. Whole hog platter with barbecue hash from Buxton Hall Barbecue (review from 2016)

A visit to Buxton Hall once every two years simply isn’t gonna cut it for me. With the consistently amazing whole hog, the fantastic barbecue hash, and at least a couple other items I haven’t even tried such as fried catfish and smoked fried chicken, it should be at least a twice per year affair for me.

2. Brisket, sausage, and chopped pork from Lewis Barbecue (review from 2017)

As confirmed by the #hogtripping crew of the Tales from the Pits podcast as well as The Smoking Ho during their travels in late August, Lewis truly is legit Texas barbecue in the lowcountry. The Carolinas and in particular the lowcountry should count itself very lucky.

1. Brisket, chopped pork, Porky Brewster sandwich, and taco from Jon G’s Barbecue (review)

My only complaint with Jon G’s Barbecue is that lately they’ve focused more on catering gigs instead of public servings. In any case, Garren and Kelly continue to kill it.

Honorable Mentions: Q – Houston, TX (review), LeRoy & Lewis – Austin, TX (review)

Speedy Lohr’s BBQ – Lexington, NC

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Name
: Speedy Lohr’s BBQ
Date: 1/15/18
Address: 3664 NC-8, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Small chopped tray with hush puppies and a Cheerwine 
Price: $9

Monk: On our way to Cook’s BBQ just after Thanksgiving, we actually passed Speedy Lohr’s BBQ, a barbecue joint with a very similar name to two other joints in the town of Lexington: Speedy’s Barbecue Inc. and Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia. While Cook’s was alright, after this trip in hindsight maybe we should have just stopped at Speedy Lohr’s instead of heading another 4 miles south.

Speedy Lohr’s is located in a no frill building off NC Highway 8 south of Lexington, a classic Lexington-style joint that actually caught fire in 2015 and closed. Thirteen months and $200,000 later, it reopened in August 2016 with its barbecue pits now conforming to current code and has been seemingly humming along ever since. Prior to Speedy Lohr’s taking over the building and its pits in June 2013, it was a barbecue restaurant named Whitley’s Barbecue. Owners Randy and Amy are no strangers to the barbecue business though, with Randy’s father previously running a barbecue joint in the area that was a casualty of when the state of North Carolina expanded highway 8.

Knowing that I was likely going to go to one more spot that day, I tried to keep it simple with a small chopped pork tray with hush puppies instead of buns (duh). Little did I know, the small tray is actually quite big and I left a bit more stuffed than I would have liked. Thankfully, what I was stuffed with was really good smoke-kissed chopped pork basted in a traditional Lexington dip. I couldn’t stop eating the pork until it was all finished even though I knew that I was going to pay for it later due to my limited stomach space. But it was just that good.

The basket of fresh, small orb hush puppies was also a rather bountiful and the slaw on the other side of the cardboard tray was maybe a tad heavy on the dip but still good. Each part of the Lexington trinity was hitting on all cylinders that day.

In all honesty, I actually meant to go to Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia that day to try and knock out another joint on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail. I’ll get to that some other time but I was very happy with the meal I got at Speedy Lohr’s BBQ. In my preliminary “Speedy” power rankings of Lexington joints with that in the name, Speedy Lohr’s BBQ wins out over Speedy’s Barbecue Inc. simply because they smoke over wood as opposed to electricity (even though we gave Speedy’s 4 hogs back in 2012). Next up I’ll have to try Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia to see who takes the belt.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Speedy Lohr's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 11/23/16

– North Carolina apparently smells like blackberry and barbecue according to Homesick Candles

– The Atlanta Journal Constitution blog has a first look at B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue

– Hickory Tree BBQ in Greensboro sells turkey barbecue, and not just for Thanksgiving

– Grant continues his tour of the NC Historical Barbecue Trail with stops at Switzerland Cafe and Speedy Lohr’s of Arcadia

– Marie takes a turn writing a chapter on Stamey’s  for Marie, Let’s Eat!

Linkdown: 8/10/16

– Speedy Lohr’s in Lexington has finally reopened, nearly a year after a fire forced it to close

– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ writes a eulogy for the barbecue joint, including Grady’s

We all know that barbecue is growing, but a reminder is in order. As we pointed out last year, the independently run, counter-service barbecue restaurant numbers are shrinking. Those are the barbecue joints. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

– Missed this last week, but Jim Shahin had a SC barbecue primer in addition to the “future of barbecue” article I linked to

– Saveur Magazine has an article on the history of Chicago barbecue

– Robert Moss likes the whole hog at Buxton Hall a lot, but says not to skip the fried catfish

– Grant’s latest stops: Roger’s Bar-B-Que in La Grange, GA and Byron’s Smokehouse in Auburn, AL

– The Davidson Farmer’s Market Pig Pickin’ is this Saturday and features Chef Michael Spencer of Fork! preparing a 150-pound pig for pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and banh mi sandwiches

– Wyatt Dickson of Picnic will be bringing whole hog barbecue to Lewis BBQ on 8/21

Linkdown: 6/24/15

– In Praise of Hushpuppies and Barbecue, by Robert Moss

– After a fire early Monday morning, Speedy Lohr’s in Lexington will be closed for a few weeks

#Brisketgate explained, from the man who shot the original video at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party a few weekends back

NYC’s top 20 barbecue restaurants, according to Eater – bookmarking this for our week in NYC in October

– The name of the article says it all: 11 ways BBQ is like church

These days, it seems like more and more fanatics are joining Belinda Carlisle in the belief that heaven is indeed a place on Earth. To us, it smells of burning oak, cold beer, and fatty brisket. To many, barbecue is like a religion, so much so that barbecue worship is a lot like going to church. Still a non-believer? Here are 11 reasons barbecue is like church, but with better bread. So it was written, so it was smoked.

– Queen City Q is now hiring for its upcoming Matthews location

– EDIA Maps (the folks behind The Great NC BBQ Map) create a barbecue cocktail for the summer

– The case for Santa Maria being the secret fifth major barbecue style in the US

Santa Maria barbecue is always cooked over a fire of red oak logs, using meats heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and dry spices, then marinated or basted with a mixture of vinegar and oil while cooking. Side dishes almost always include fire-grilled then buttered bread, tossed green salad, fresh tomato salsa and beans. Because the area is known for growing sweet strawberries, berry pie or strawberry shortcake is often paired with the main course as dessert.

– Charlotte’s getting a “Mediterranean smokehouse” concept in the old Sol and Tijuana Flats location from local restaurateur Martin Sprock (c0-founder of Moe’s and whose other ventures includes Leroy Fox and RuRu), and it sounds interesting while bringing up a little skepticism from this barbecue bro

The concept for the restaurant is the first of its kind for Sprock. He plans to feature barbecue menu items like pulled pork, smoked butts, chicken and lamb – all with a Mediterranean flavor.

A specialty grill that uses hickory wood will be the focal point of the restaurant, which he plans to adorn with distressed wood and copper trim. The restaurant will also have a bar and an approximately 1,000-square-foot patio

– A NC barbecue trail from the Wilmington Star-News, though curiously it includes Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, which isn’t open yet

– Want to win a $500 gift card to Midwood Smokehouse? Of course you do! Even though Father’s Day was last weekend, enter in Midwood Smokehouse’s #SummerofDad photo contest through the end of the month for a chance to win

New Speedy Lohr’s returns to old business

I would hope/expect that Randy Lohr (owner of the new Speedy Lohr’s) would also cook barbecue the old fashioned way as his brother’s joint of the same name does (it is on the NC Historic BBQ Trail as a result), so this new joint should be worth checking out on pedigree alone. Not too far off I-85 either.

-Monk

New Speedy Lohr’s returns to old business