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Lexington Barbecue #1

10 Highway 29-70S, Lexington, NC - (336) 249-9814
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/27/2014 3:02:00 PM
Lexington, North Carolina, is to hog barbecue what Lockhart, Texas, is to beef: a Mecca with far more than its fair share of great eateries that attract pilgrims from around the nation and the world. Lexington's best is appropriately named Lexington Barbecue #1, and there are many aficionados who consider its slow-cooked pork shoulder to be the definitive barbecue not just of Lexington or of North Carolina, but of our solar system. (In 1983 the North Carolina General Assembly designated Lexington as the "Hickory-Cooked Barbecue Capital of Piedmont North Carolina.")

"Monk's Place," as locals know it (in deference to founder Wayne "Honey" Monk), looks like a barn with a line of smelters attached to the back. From those smelters issues the aroma of burning hickory and oak wood and the sweet smell of slow-cooking pork, one of the most appetite-inducing aromas in the world. No complicated techniques or secret sauces are used in the cooking process. The shoulders simply loll in smoke for hours, becoming ambrosial. The meat is hacked into a hash that, while sloppy, is as elegant as silk -- smooth in flavor as well as texture, but punctuated with a few chewy shreds of bark from the outside of the shoulder. The hacked meat gets only enough sauce to coax out full flavor and is served on a bun with slaw or in a small yellow cardboard boat with slaw in the other half or on a plate. Like the meat, the slaw is judiciously flavored with a vinegar/sweet red barbecue sauce. The slaw-and-pork's perfect partner is a portion of crunch-crusted hushpuppies with creamy insides.

Honey Monk's is a straightforward eatery with booths and tables. Much business is take out -- by the sandwich, or in multi-pound portions for parties at home. When we visited the day before Christmas at 10am, every seat in the place was empty but the parking lot was full, and at the counter inside, controlled pandemonium reigned as crowds of barbecue lovers received the pounds of meat, quarts of slaw and scores of hushpuppies they were taking home for holiday eats.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Barbecue Sandwich
Skin Sandwich
Barbecue Tray
Skin
Chopped Barbecue
Cole Slaw
Coarse Chopped Barbecue
Cobbler
Sliced Barbecue
Hush Puppies
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The classic Lexington barbecue sandwich: pork shoulder chopped into moist hash, barely flavored with vinegar sauce and crowned with zesty slaw -- all in a supersoft bun.
"The classic Lexington barbecue sandwich: pork shoulder chopped into moist hash, barely flavored with vinegar sauce and crowned with zesty slaw -- all in a supersoft bun."
Michael Stern





My new favorite way to get barbecue at Lexington #1: sliced. This provides the full range of texture, from velvet soft to chewy and crunchy, all of it radiant with smoke-swine flavor.
"My new favorite way to get barbecue at Lexington #1: sliced. This provides the full range of texture, from velvet soft to chewy and crunchy, all of it radiant with smoke-swine flavor."
Michael Stern


The peach cobbler on the left is almost always on the menu.  The berry cobbler on the right is usually only available the first weekend of each month.  This is good enough to plan your schedule around!
"The peach cobbler on the left is almost always on the menu. The berry cobbler on the right is usually only available the first weekend of each month. This is good enough to plan your schedule around!"
Cliff Strutz


When we introduced ourselves to owner Wayne Monk and told him how much we enjoyed his BBQ, he took us in the back and gave us a tour.  Here, one of his men shows us the pork shoulders cooking over hickory.
"When we introduced ourselves to owner Wayne Monk and told him how much we enjoyed his BBQ, he took us in the back and gave us a tour. Here, one of his men shows us the pork shoulders cooking over hickory."
Cliff Strutz


The hush puppies here have a very crunchy exterior, with a soft, creamy inside.
"The hush puppies here have a very crunchy exterior, with a soft, creamy inside."
Cliff Strutz


A close-up of the vinegary coleslaw.
"A close-up of the vinegary coleslaw."
Cliff Strutz


It is not poetic license to say that as you cruise into the town of Lexington, the air smells of barbecue. These huge smelters are part of the reason. Literally tons of smoked pork is sold here every week.
"It is not poetic license to say that as you cruise into the town of Lexington, the air smells of barbecue. These huge smelters are part of the reason. Literally tons of smoked pork is sold here every week."
Michael Stern


A side view of the building shows the smokehouse in the back and the carhop ready to take your order.
"A side view of the building shows the smokehouse in the back and the carhop ready to take your order."
Cliff Strutz


The day before Christmas ... and Lexington Barbecue is crowded with customers getting gigantic orders to take home for holiday parties.
"The day before Christmas ... and Lexington Barbecue is crowded with customers getting gigantic orders to take home for holiday parties."
Michael Stern


This big eating barn is one of the nation's top barbecue destinations.
"This big eating barn is one of the nation's top barbecue destinations."
Michael Stern


Coarse Chopped Barbecue is bigger-than-bite-size hunks of varied texture. So, so succulent.
"Coarse Chopped Barbecue is bigger-than-bite-size hunks of varied texture. So, so succulent."
Michael Stern


This is very good cherry cobbler, but after eating Lexington's pork, anything would be an anti-climax.
"This is very good cherry cobbler, but after eating Lexington's pork, anything would be an anti-climax."
Michael Stern


Peach cobbler is a regular dessert item at Lexington Barbecue #1
"Peach cobbler is a regular dessert item at Lexington Barbecue #1"
Michael Stern


A majority of customers get their barbecue chopped, and this is what goes into sandwiches. It is moist and big-flavored.
"A majority of customers get their barbecue chopped, and this is what goes into sandwiches. It is moist and big-flavored."
Michael Stern


What a munchie! Crisp pig skin will give your jaw a good workout. Once crushed by teeth, it seems to melt into a slurry of pure pork flavor on the tongue.
"What a munchie! Crisp pig skin will give your jaw a good workout. Once crushed by teeth, it seems to melt into a slurry of pure pork flavor on the tongue."
Michael Stern


Logs are being burned down to coals, which are then pushed over to the pit. Nine hours of smoke from the coals is what cooks the pork shoulders.
"Logs are being burned down to coals, which are then pushed over to the pit. Nine hours of smoke from the coals is what cooks the pork shoulders."
Michael Stern


Always a good sign at a barbecue parlor: piles of wood ready to be burned down to coals.
"Always a good sign at a barbecue parlor: piles of wood ready to be burned down to coals."
Michael Stern


There is a lot of crunch to this sandwich of pigskin, the savory luxury of which is so well-balanced by a layer of barbecue slaw.
"There is a lot of crunch to this sandwich of pigskin, the savory luxury of which is so well-balanced by a layer of barbecue slaw."
Michael Stern



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