Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Swine-ful Progressive Barbecue Dinner in Lexington

Lexington, NC  keeps its pork lovin' residents content with 17 barbecue restaurants, all at very reasonable prices.  Although the Swine, Wine and Dine Tour aimed to sample each of them, seventeen in two and a half days was impossible. However, we did manage to cover three in one evening by going on a piggy progressive dinner. It was swineful.

We started at Speedy's Barbecue with a barbecue salad; slices of pork barbecue on top of lettuce with choice of dressing and side dipping sauce.  I chose blue cheese dressing and truly enjoyed the salad as I  had consumed trays of barbecue at Barbecue Central the night before and lunch platters at Lexington Barbecue: chopped barbecue, sliced barbecue, coarse chopped barbecue, barbecue with bark and without. Oh my!

Owner Robbie Johnson says Speedy's  has been in the same location for 50 years. His restaurant uses the rotisserie method of cooking the meat, which is more efficient and cleaner than the pit process. Robbie explained that the pork fat drips while roasting and saturates the pork shoulders below. He says meat cooked this way is very moist. Typically an 18-20 pound raw shoulder will shrink down to 12 pounds.

Speedy's serves an accompanying dip made from one third ketchup, one third white vinegar and one third water with a little salt, pepper, sugar and crushed red pepper added in. The comfortable joint was hopping with satisfied patrons,  but we had to move on.    

Next we went to Smiley's Lexington BBQ where the Good Girls were smitten with the pig statue outside the restaurant. He makes a great photo op.

"Hooray," I shouted, when I learned Smiley's is known for their barbecue chicken. I was delighted with the change to poultry from pork, although they, of course, keep all customers happy with pit barbecue pork, too. My chicken leg tasted moist and tender, truly delicious, and I also appreciated the coleslaw that was white, not red, like at most of the other Lexington establishments. 

Smokey Joe's Barbecue in Lexington

Carrot Cake 
Onward with full stomachs, we headed to Smokey Joe's Barbecue. This restaurant is one of several recommended by Southern Living magazine. They pit cook their pork for 10-12 hours, so the dishes served to diners were cooked the day before. Fortunately, for me, Smokey Joe's is also known for their cakes and pies made locally by The Cake Ladies of Welcome.  I was so full of barbecue, I skipped it and went for  dessert. I chose carrot cake and found the texture wonderfully dense from lots of grated carrots and layered with sweetness from cream cheese frosting. Yummy!  After a few bites, I could eat no more. Lexington, the barbecue capital, burst my seams. I now felt I blended in with all those adorable artworks from a fund-raising initiative known as the "Pigs in the City."

Here are some of the Lexington's famous pigs:

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