Good Golly, Miss Molly
From the vintage metal advertising signs on the walls to the traditional wood-cooked pork to the location just down the street from Vinegar Hill Road (too good to be true but it is!), Little Richard’s feels like it has been around as long as the “other” Little Richard. But the joint, named after owner Richard Berrier, wasn’t around in the early years of rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, the joint only opened in 1991, making it a young’un by barbecue standards. Still, over the past 18 years, Little Richard’s has established a well-deserved reputation as a purveyor of authentic Lexington-style pork.
No Tutti Frutti, Just Tobaccy
It’s fitting that in Winston-Salem, one of North Carolina’s proudest tobacco towns and inspiration for two of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s flagship cigaratte lines, cooking pork over smoky wood remains in style. And on the day I visited Little Richard’s, the pork wasn’t the only thing smoking. At a table next to a wall covered with vintage tobacco advertisements sat three generations of men from one family, and all three generations were pulling steadily on cigarettes. Leaving the public health issues of this kind of family bonding aside, it seemed fitting to see a family smoking RJR products while waiting for their barbecue meal. After all, the connection between barbecue and tobacco dates back a long time. But I digress.
Provided you can handle a side of cigarette smoke, Little Richard’s is well worth a visit. (Or you can wait until next year, when like it or not smoking will be banned in NC restaurants, even in Winston-Salem.) The pork, which is available chopped, sliced or coarse-chopped, has a rich smoke-laced flavor and is denture-tender, almost too tender for my taste. The barbecue is rooted firmly in the Lexington-style tradition, as it is made of pork shoulders and served with great BBQ slaw and a lightly-ketchuped dip (the dip bottle is emblazoned with the phrase, “Eat Mo’ Pig”). As is typical for Lexington-style joinys, trays are served with BBQ slaw or creamy coleslaw, as well as your choice of rolls or hush puppies. Plates add french fries, but the trays offer a generous serving even by always-generous BBQ joint standards. As usual, I chose the puppies to accompany my tray and found them good, though just a bit sweet for me.
Though the menu, available online, features BBQ offerings that stick pretty closely to the Lexington-style paradigm, there are some nods to the Eastern style. The pork was generously flecked with skin, which reminded me of some of the places I’ve visited down east. Also, Brunswick Stew, potato salad and baked beans were offered on the menu, though I did not try them. The rest of the menu includes standard grill fare like burgers, chicken, hot dogs, and BLTs. Barbecue Chicken is served on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Next time you find yourself in Winstom-Salem, stop at Little Richard’s and breath in the smoke. Just be sure to bring cash, as it’s the only payment accepted.