There’s no better place to find classic Piedmont North Carolina-style barbecue than Lexington Barbecue.
Founded by Wayne Monk in 1962, it has roots stretching back even further. Monk was mentored by local ’cue legend Warner Stamey, who learned the craft from Jess Swicegood and Sid Weaver, creators of what’s called the Lexington barbecue style.
Monk’s crew (including son Rick, who manages the restaurant) still cooks pork shoulders for 10 hours on brick pits, firing them with both oak and hickory coals. Those pork shoulders get only a good sprinkling of salt before they go on the racks.
The finished pork is served chopped, sliced, or “coarse chopped”—cut into medium-size chunks—and dressed with the region’s signature vinegar-based sauce. The locals refer to it as “dip,” and it’s tinged red with tomato ketchup.
There are even a few non-barbecue options like burgers and fried chicken, but don’t come here looking for ribs or—horrors—beef brisket. This is pork country, and at “Honeymonk’s” (the locals’ name for Lexington Barbecue) they serve about 3 tons of it a week.
Don’t expect to wash down your meal with anything alcoholic. Most barbecue joints in North Carolina are about as dry as a church supper. From its decor to its cooking technique to its menu, this place captures the essentials of the region’s barbecue style—and that makes a very compelling case for naming it the best in the South.