When you first get to North Carolina as a transplant, one of the first things you’ll learn is that barbecue means only one thing: smoked and pulled/chopped pork! Whether you’re talking vinegar or a tomato based sauce, shoulders or whole-hog, it’s all about the pork. And when you’re talking about some of the best NC barbecue in the state, people usually think of Lexington Barbecue #1 off of Highway 85 in Lexington, NC. I had stopped by for lunch years ago and finally got back for a return visit recently. But now with a lot of barbecue eating under my belt, I wanted to see how the place held up.
From the outside, Lexington Barbecue just looks like a down-home barbecue spot in basic white and brick with hardwood smoke gently billowing out of the top. The parking lot is already jammed at 12:45pm but it looks like the early lunch crowd is starting to move on. Inside Lexington Barbecue, the place is bustling with locals looking to get their barbecue fix.
Old-school and clean, the staff here wears tan frocks reminding me of a simpler place and time. Small dining counter to the right, two dining rooms in back with a mix of small booths and some shared tables. We grab an end of a table and peer through the menu. It’s super basic with barbecue trays (slaw and hushpuppies), plates (slaw, hushpuppies and fries), sandwiches, sides and some desserts. I go with the coarsely chopped que!
The food comes out lickety-split, they do a serious volume here. The line for a table has really blown up so apparently the 2nd round of lunch folks are in the house! My plate looks fantastic, leaner pork shoulders in a light vinegary sauce with a touch of ketchup and heat. Perfectly fried crinkle fries on the side and some very spicy and tangy, finely chopped slaw, uhmmm… It’d definitely some of the best que I’ve had in NC and well-deserved of its reputation. The meat is tender, the sauce light but flavorful.
A side basket of hush-puppies is also amazing. Perfectly fried with a brown crust and slightly onion-y interior. Again, some of the best I’ve had in NC. The entire meal is satisfying and I finish off with a beautiful peach cobbler with flaky pastry crust! Uh yeah, there are no such things as diets here at Lexington Barbecue #1.
Our glasses are filled up regularly and the staff here is very efficient but hospitable. We pay up front and head on of to our next destination full of great barbecue! And while I’m not sure when I’ll get back here next, Lexington Barbecue #1 is a worthwhile stop if you’re making the drive from the Triangle to Charlotte. Don’t miss their delicious que, hush-puppies and cobbler here for a taste of old-school North Carolina!