Bar-B-Q Center (Lexington, NC)

Lexington, North Carolina is world famous for their pit cooked chopped pork BBQ. The region has been credited by many as the birth place of American BBQ. The Bar-B-Q Center in uptown Lexington, is one of the area's BBQ landmarks. Since 1955, The Bar-B-Q Center has been slow smoking pork shoulders and serving them up chopped or sliced with their famous red slaw.

Bar-B-Q Center is the epitome of the classic Carolina style joint. It's an ultra casual family restaurant featuring a simple, one page menu. The main attraction is, of course, is the pit cooked BBQ. While many restaurants in the area have switched to electric rotisseries, Bar-B-Q center is one of the few remaining joints still slow smoking their pork with hardwoods. Smoke can be seen pouring from the chimney around the clock and the parking lot is scattered with neatly stacked wood piles.

Katie and I met some close friends (and Lexington residents) for lunch at Bar-B-Q Center this weekend. It was the first time any of us had eaten there. The place was three quarters full with families and seniors. The interior featured a mix of booths and tables and patrons were directed to seat themselves as they arrived. Additionally, Bar-B-Q Center featured a long lunch counter and a multi bay drive up awning for curb side service.

I ordered a chopped BBQ plate ($7.40) that included red slaw, fries and hush puppies. The food was served promptly on plastic ware (as is the case with most Carolina joints). Both the portion size and price were in line with other restaurants in the area. Needless to say, you won't leave a Lexington style BBQ joint hungry.
The pork came tossed in a house made vinegar base sauce or "dip". The "dip" was thin and tangy. It did, however, have a bit more sweetness than typically found in Lexington dips. The color was also more red than what I'm used to. I have to assume the sweetness and color come from ketchup being added to the vinegar and spice base.

The pork was very tender. Since it was already sauced, it was difficult to tell how moist the pork was on its own. The flavor was very mild. With all the smoke I'd seen rolling out of the back of the building, I had expected a bolder smoke flavor. Occasionally, I'd get a piece of dark bark that had absorbed the hardwood smoke, but it was nearly undetectable in a good portion of the meat.

There are so many BBQ joints in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Each joint features it's own unique take on chopped pork. However, few stick to the traditions that made Carolina BBQ famous more closely than Bar-B-Q Center. If you're looking for an authentic Carolina BBQ experience, you won't find a place much more authentic than Bar-B-Q Center.

Click here to see the Bar-B-Q Center website. See how their "Q" rates compares to other joints on our "BBQ Ratings" page.

1 Response to "Bar-B-Q Center (Lexington, NC)"

  1. Thanks for reviewing this! Bar-B-Q Center has been on my short list of places to check out next time I'm up near Lexington.

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