366 Valiant Drive, Lexington, NC
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “My only beef with Cook’s is brisket.”
“Right Turn on Rockcrusher Road”
I don’t own a GPS unit; I’m early-2000s-old-fashioned and rely on Mapquest. Still, I can imagine questioning the sanity of the computerized lady were she to instruct me to turn off Highway 8 and onto Rockcrusher Road, as visitors to Cook’s BBQ must do. But the drive to Cook’s is well worth it, as Cook’s serves some of the best barbecue in a town that serves some of the best barbecue in the state.
I first visited Cook’s about seven years ago, when it had a small but loyal following among Lexington area diners. At that time the restaurant was a modest-looking, modest-sized wood building built by founder Doug Cook with timber he milled himself. Maybe it was seeing the humble wooden building after driving down a road I thought surely led to nowhere, or maybe it was the smoky aroma, or maybe it was just the quality of the food. Whatever it was, my first meal at Cook’s seven years ago was magnificent. I had only found my way back once since then, and when I pulled into the driveway this time and saw a large expansion on the original building my heart sank a bit. But the aroma of hickory-smoked pork still hung thick in the air.
Don’t Fear the Brisket
Although my meal at Cook’s seemed a little less magnificent than my memories of my first visit, the ‘cue still rates high. The pork is tender and cooked to perfection, with a distinct wood-smoked flavor from the 10 or so hours the shoulders cook slow-and-low over the hickory coals. Pitmaster Brandon Cook, the son of Cook’s BBQ’s founder (who now owns Backcountry Barbecue across town), firmly believes that cooking over wood is the only way to make barbecue.
Cook’s BBQ doesn’t heed all sacred barbecue traditions. Beef brisket earns a place on a almost distressingly diverse (more…)