In the past, when I’ve taken these little trips, I’ve usually gone on a Friday and Saturday. This time, I did it on Thursday and Friday, because I took my daughter to see the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She really liked the place, I’m glad to say. Her grades need a little more of a kick in the pants to make it into such a good school, but at least in the short term, she came back motivated and started reporting some higher test scores. She still has a little time to get that GPA looking better.
Also in the past, I’ve usually been ready to go and begin the second day’s eating as soon as the first restaurant on the to-do list would let me, but academics took priority and, miles of walking around campus later, we drove over to Country Club Road to try Little Richard’s Lexington BBQ. I’ve always said that mathematics demands that one restaurant on a tour of several is going to end up being the one that I enjoyed the least, but never you mind me. This place was the second-busiest establishment that we visited on the trip. It’s extraordinarily popular, and the parking lot was absolutely packed. In part that’s because Little Richard’s shares a lot with a car wash and detailing place, and people were lined up to get their cars cleaned on their lunch hour after the snow earlier in the week had (mostly) melted, but the line for a table inside the restaurant was just as long.
We were joined by my old friend Kristal and her young son. Kristal and her family have moved around a lot, but they’ve been in Winston-Salem for a couple of years while her husband is doing post-graduate work at WFU. It was lovely to see Kristal again, and very nice to have her counterbalance the “flying unicorns” level of promise that the campus tour guides suggest with a little reality: she reported that the coursework is tough and some of the people can be cliquish. Still, my daughter left with the understanding that a little more work is needed to get into any good school. And, with that, we dug into our lunch.
A possible strike against this restaurant was that I chose to order my meat coarsely-chopped, because I believed that would be similar to the blocky “pig-pickin” style that I had on my last visit to Winston-Salem, at Hill’s Lexington Barbecue across town. It was, but it also wasn’t anywhere as moist or tender as Hill’s.
Here’s something that I find really interesting about Piedmont-style barbecue: the people in the kitchen know how much sauce, or dip, the meat needs. I’ve sometimes shaken up a bottle to get a little more pepper on my meat and change the flavor slightly, but just about everywhere you stop in central North Carolina, you’ll usually get the pork served with precisely the right amount of sauce. Everything’s in balance. But this meat was very, very dry, and it just soaked up the dip so thoroughly that even after I poured on some more, it tasted like I hadn’t given it any sauce at all. On the other hand, my daughter had her barbecue with the usual fine chop, and really enjoyed the sandwich. She was quite hungry, and even ate all my hush puppies, which was interesting as she claims that she doesn’t actually enjoy hush puppies.
Upon reflection, history might have been made here. This could have been the first time, ever, that my daughter has enjoyed a meal at a barbecue place more than I did. It would happen again before the sun went down.
The restaurant, owned by Richard Berrier, was opened in 1991. There’s a second location in nearby Wallberg. I’m sorry that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the mobs, but the mobs are so large and its reputation is so great that I have to conclude I came on a bad day and ordered the wrong thing. Should we return to Winston-Salem, I will definitely give this place another try.
Other blog posts about Little Richard’s Lexington BBQ:
Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 360 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!