A Young Joint Cooking Old Time
Although Smiley’s has been around for only 8 years, they are proud to cook their ‘cue in the traditional way on a wood pit, an art that is starting to disappear even in tradition-bound Lexington. On their website, the folks at Smiley’s say, “Pit Cooked BBQ is different from the electric or gas cooked BBQ processes that are commonly seen in today’s marketplace. With Pit Cooked BBQ, you can taste the rich flavor of the open flame in every bite.” Ain’t that the truth! Smiley’s serves up a quality product cooked with care. Their hard work pays off with tender, moist ‘cue that holds up well against many of Lexington’s best (and better known) barbecue joints.
Smiley’s is a fairly typical Lexington-style joint, cooking pork shoulders that are available chopped, coarse-chopped or sliced. The chopped is an excellent, medium-rough consistency that is not as finely chopped as some joints’, a trait characteristic of places like Smiley’s that continue to hand chop their ‘cue instead of using a machine grinder. The meat is served with a ketchup-spiked vinegar dip on the side. Smiley’s red/barbecue slaw is a good specimen of what Lexington-style slaw tastes like, love it or hate (I am a fan but understand why some have a hard time making the leap from creamy mayo-based slaw to the mayo-less cabbage/dip concoction).
Although hush puppies and rolls were an option, as in most Lexington-style joints, I ordered my meal with corn sticks, a rare treat in this part of state.
Curb service is offered, and those who partake can order the ‘cue or any of a number of other dishes from their full menu, which includes burgers, hot dogs, pimento cheese sandwiches, and bologna sandwiches among other grill favorites. BBQ chicken is served on weekends only.
Where is the Love?
Judging from the fairly thin crowd when I visited, compared to the busy scene at the good-but-inferior Speedy’s just two blocks away, Smiley’s is a bit underappreciated even by the locals. I suggest you pay them a visit and make them feel appreciated for all their hard work. I think the good food and friendly service will make you feel appreciated too.