North Carolina Piedmont Tour de Barbecue: Lexington Barbecue #1, Lexington

I got to Lexington about 45 minutes after leaving Stamey’s, and headed straight to Lexington Barbecue #1.   Lexington #1 sits on a hill overlooking the confusion caused by a highway barging through local streets, making it a little tricky to get there.  (You can tell you’re close when your GPS says, “Listen up, y’all.”)   It’s tricky in part because it’s easy to be distracted by the sight of that beautiful white building, sitting like a city on a hill.

lex 1 exterior

When it came into sight I actually thought,

Thine alabaster cities gleam.

And I had just eaten lunch at Stamey’s!  As you climb the hill, you see the smoke rising from the pit house,

lex 1 smoke

and the pile of oak and hickory in the rear.

lex 1 wood

Lexington #1 has a straightforward, no frills interior, clean and pleasant.  Service is quick and friendly.

lex 1 interior

The picture is misleading.  When I got there at 2:30, the three dining rooms and counter were nearly full.  I took pictures as I was leaving.

They have a varied menu, but it really all boils down to whether you want a large or small or large chopped pork tray or a chopped pork plate.  They note that the large tray has more meat than a plate.  The trays include meat, slaw and either rolls or hush puppies.  With the plate, you have the additional options of choosing baked beans and fries.  But why would you?

I ordered a small chopped pork tray. ($6.10).

lex 1 tray

The small tray has plenty of meat, including much hidden under the slaw.  And the meat is delicious.  It has more smoke flavor than Stamey’s, and comes with a finer chop, with a good mix of inside and outside meat.  It comes mixed with some pepper vinegar.  And it is delicious.  The slaw — another red slaw — has much more tang and pepper than Stamey’s slaw.  It is very tasty by itself, and with the tray set-up, you get bites with a mixture of slaw and meat that taste great.  The hushpuppies also were superior.  They came out piping hot and had an excellent crust and interior.

Lexington#1 has some good looking pies.  They did not have coconut, which was a tender mercy after my two lunches.  I don’t know why I asked.  Yes I do.

Lexington #1 is known locally as Honeymonk or, more simply, The Monk.  It was founded by Wayne Monk, and I’ll take a guess and posit that his wife called him “Honey.”  That is a tribute to the man in a host of ways.  I will not say it was because he made some sweet barbecue (sweet in the general laudatory sense; see, e.g., Napoleon Dynamite), because that would belittle the barbecue.  Garden and Gun goes so far as to call Mr. Monk the most famous pit master in the Piedmont, and Lexington #1 is on every “Best Barbecue” list, as it deserves to be.

Garden and Gun interviewed Mr Monk a while back, and it includes a description of the cooking process.    It’s a good read.


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