The Original Little Richard’s Lexington Barbecue, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

We stopped and spent the night in Winston-Salem after a couple of truly delightful days with brother Jim and his wife, Cantey, before heading to Atlantic Beach, since our rental did not start until 3:00 the next day.  I’d never stayed in Winston-Salem before, so I turned to our Senior Texas correspondent, Hunter Brown, who is from Winston-Salem.  He immediately recommended Little Richard’s.

Little Richard’s has no association with the singer, but was started in 1991 by someone named Richard.  There is an associated branch in Wallburg, and apparently another unassociated barbecue chain also named Little Richard’s.  I cut through the confusion and headed straight to “The Original Little Richard’s,” in part because its website is http://www.eatmopig.com.

little r interior plate

Who could resist?

little r sign

The Original Little Richard’s sits on a stretch of Country Club Road that is anything but Country Club-ish.  Architecturally, it’s a pretty standard barbecue place.

little r exterior

Good start.  The interior includes a lot of Rock and Roll paraphernalia appropriate to the place’s name, and a big old jukebox right up front,

but the dominant decor consisted of scores of old signs, most advertising cigarettes.  Now, a few old signs can be nice, but I can do without large numbers of vintage signs, even when they are genuine.  They make me think of Cracker Barrel.  But the cigarette theme is appropriate to Winston-Salem, and I suppose the signs provide a sense of place.

Little Richard’s is cash only, which is inconvenient and conflicts with my airline point mania, but it’s something I expect in old school barbecue places.  And the food, as usual in barbecue places south of Richmond, doesn’t cost much.  I ordered a pork plate with red slaw and substituted potato salad for the standard french fries.

little r j plate

Nancy got the barbecued/smoked chicken with white slaw and potato salad.

little r n plate

We engineered the rolls/hushpuppies choice by Nancy ordering hushpuppies (which I ate) and me ordering the rolls (which I ate).  Nancy got water and I got lemonade.

They give you a lot of pork, and it comes with a medium chop, dressed with some of their dip, or sauce.  It tasted very good.  I would love to have Little Richard’s in DC.  It would be head and shoulders above every other place.  But I had just dined on yet another one of my own ultra-smoked pork butts (six meals in the past seven days), and by comparison Little Richard’s seemed light on the smoke flavor for a place that uses hickory.  Compared to Ollie’s sauce,  their dip could have a higher percentage of vinegar (less ketchup and water), and it could have more pepper.  Same with the slaw, which, of course, is a mixture of cabbage and dip.  I acknowledge that I like more vinegar and a good bit more pepper than you probably do, and these are just quibbles: Little Richard’s makes good barbecue.

Nancy’s half chicken (the smallest available serving) was, like much smoked chicken, a little dry and stringy.  The dip helped it a lot.  The white cole slaw, chopped fine and with a light dressing, was good. The potato salad was over-dressed, as potato salad so often is.

At Little Richard’s, nine hushpuppies is the standard serving for one person.  Their hushpuppies were round rather than elongated, as is usual in North Carolina.

little r hp

That minimizes the surface area, and thus limits the crispiness possibilities.  They had a nice touch of onion and tasted good, but I showed restraint and did not eat all of them.

One thing:  I was struck by how big the customers were.  Now I eat in Alabama a lot, and I am pretty hefty myself, to put it kindly, so it’s unusual for me to remark on people being big.  But, wow!  I expect that it’s related to the sign announcing that they sell boxes — boxes, mind you — of french fries, hushpuppies, onion rings, and tater tots for those for whom the regular menu, which includes french fries and hushpuppies with just about everything, is just not enough.   At any rate, I expect that the aggregate weight of the customers exceeded the weight of the total population of some of the smaller Colorado towns.

If you’re in Winston-Salem, you should go to Little Richard’s and have a barbecue plate.  You probably should skip ordering a box of tater tots.

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