REVIEW: Lexington Barbecue #1 (a.k.a. Monk’s) – Lexington
Lexington, North Carolina is what many people consider to be the capital of barbecue in North Carolina. The city boasts twenty barbecue joints which I think gives it the most barbecue restaurants per square mile of any other city or town in North Carolina and maybe the nation. I read on Wikipedia that, as of 2003, Lexington had one barbecue restaurant for every thousand residents which is pretty freakin’ incredible.
Lexington Barbecue #1 (or Monk’s as my dad calls it which is the last name of the owner) is where I learned to eat barbecue growing up. My family would take the occasional 25 minute trip down to Lexington from High Point to get lunch. It was more than just driving somewhere for food. It became more of an event than just eating lunch. We shared lots of great conversation growing up over some of of Wayne Monk’s ‘cue.
When you sit down, a waitress gets your drink order and sets down a basket of fresh hush puppies. The hush puppies meet all my requirements for a good hush puppy. They have a crispy exterior and soft inside. They aren’t very greasy so I will dip the occasional hush puppy into a bit of margarine. Most of the regulars already know what they want when they sit down so the waitress might try to get your order out of you right away if you are ready.
I drove to Lexington with Alex and Jackie for one of our occasional Friday lunches that we have been doing over the past few months. They both ordered the chopped barbecue which is the more traditional Lexington-style barbecue. I grew up eating this (in a sandwich with a side of fries) as a child and have a dear place in my heart for it. Each fork full is soft and tender making one of those little cardboard trays never enough to fill my desire even though it will still fill me up.
The picture above is of the chopped barbecue tray and the picture below is of the large coarse chopped barbecue tray. The quantity of barbecue gets a little confusing and difficult to figure out when you look at the menu. According to a note on Lexington Barbecue #1’s menu, the large barbecue trays have more barbecue than the plates but the plate come with French fries. I recommend going with a large tray because you probably will regret getting anything smaller because it is so damn good.
I ordered what I remember my dad ordering ever since we started going to Lexington Barbecue #1 back in the day. I ordered a large tray of the coarse chopped brown ($9.90) which is a lightly chopped portion of the outside of the shoulder. The outside of the shoulder has all of the char from the direct heat on the cooker so it is a bit crunchy but you have to request the “brown” to the waitress to get this part. It also has a a little fat throughout and a strong smokey flavor to boot which I really dig. I recommend ordering this because it gives you a little more bang for your buck and it is something that a lot of restaurants don’t tend to serve to their customers.
Nothing goes better with a huge plate of barbecue than a sweet dessert especially when it is peach cobbler. Lexington Barbecue #1’s peach cobbler dish is massive and comes in a paper bowl. The cobbler is made fresh daily on site and one of the best cobblers that I have had i the past few years. The ice cream may seem a little iffy at first because it comes out as a perfect rectangle. I am used to scoops so I was thrown for a loop when it came out but the ice cream tasted very good.
You have probably heard that Lexington Barbecue #1 or Monk’s or Honey Monk’s (all three names for the same place) is one of the must-try barbecue joints in North Carolina and there is no denying that. This isn’t just hype. It is the real deal. Wayne Monk has turned his restaurant into a place that people make pilgrimages to in search of the ultimate barbecue plate. If you are thinking about heading down here, let me tell you that it is worth the trip. You won’t be disappointed.