Lexington Style Barbecue

“Lexington-style barbecue is generally juicier, smokier, sweeter and milder than its counterpart in eastern North Carolina. Whereas barbecue flavored by wood smoke is only an option in the East, in Lexington it is, with a few exceptions, an unspoken but unyielding expectation. The tangy, red barbecue slaw is usually the spiciest part of a Lexington barbecue sandwich, whereas the milder, creamier coleslaw on an Eastern-style barbecue sandwich is meant to balance the relatively fiery chopped pork.”

—    Bob Garner, author “North Carolina Barbecue”

The “Skinny” on Barbecue


How to Order a Sandwich, Plate or Tray

Ordering barbecue can be as simple — or complex — as you like.  Area waitresses are accustomed to explaining the procedure, but here are a few tips:


  • Barbecue is served finely chopped, coarsely chopped and sliced. It is not “pulled.”
  • When the pork shoulder is cooked, the crunchy crust that forms on the outside is full of flavor and is called “outside” or “brown.” Ask your waitress to add a little to your order.
  • There are two kinds of coleslaw: “white” and “red.”  Most folks are accustomed to the white, mayonnaise-based slaw.  In Lexington we serve barbecue slaw, which is red and made with ketchup and vinegar.  It compliments the meat very well and is served on all sandwiches unless you tell the waitress otherwise.  Some restaurants serve both kinds.  And if you’re ordering a fish sandwich, hot dog or hamburger, be sure to ask what kind of slaw they’ll put on it.
  • You can order a sandwich plate or tray.  The sandwich is barbecue and slaw with a little dip added.  The plate comes with barbecue, slaw, french fries and either rolls or hushpuppies.  The tray is a small container with the meat on one side and the slaw on the other.
  • “Dip” is a sauce served with all barbecue and is made from ketchup, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar.  Each restaurant has its own secret recipe.  Unlike thick barbecue sauces, “dip” has a thin texture and tastes great with your meat, hushpuppies and fries.
  • Hushpuppies are made from cornmeal and are deep fried.  They do not have whole corn kernels in them but may contain onions.
  • Iced tea is the standard beverage and is served sweetened.  You can ask for unsweetened or mix the two together for “half ‘n half.”

And, don’t forget dessert. Most restaurants offer homemade goodies – pies, cakes and banana pudding.

See the complete listing of all area “Lexington Style Barbecue” restaurants.