4005 Patterson Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC
336.767.2184 or 336.767.3502 (pick your poison)
Hours: Tue-Sun 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A
Porky Says: “The state’s most elegant barbecue.”
Hill’s Lexington Barbecue occupies a handsome brick building with a red roof on a strange stretch of Patterson Avenue that is peppered with manufactured housing businesses and other light industry. Hill’s also occupies a coveted spot on the NC Barbecue Society’s Barbecue Trail, as it is a traditional wood burner that has been around since 1951.
According to Jim Early of the NCBS, Hill’s was the first joint to use the phrase “Lexington Barbecue,” as founder Joe Allen Hill hailed from Lexington and wanted to lay claim to his barbecue roots when opening a joint in nearby Winston-Salem. Hill’s therefore claims, rightly so as far as I can confirm, to be “Winston-Salem’s Only Original Lexington Barbecue” and, less provincially, “The Original Lexington Barbecue.” As long as Hill’s keeps cooking barbecue of the quality I experienced on my visit there, they can claim whatever they please.
Hill’s Lexington Barbecue, still family owned in its 60th year, is a nice family restaurant in the North Carolina tradition. However, they take themselves a little more seriously (or maybe less so?) than most old school barbecue joints. Their logo features a classy looking pig wearing a top hat and twirling a cane and, impressively, they serve their barbecue tray in a real tray. I don’t mean the standard flimsy wax paper tray, but rather a silver metal tray. And did I mention the pork is garnished with a sprig of parsley? It’s a nice touch, whether it’s sincere or a bit of tongue-in-cheekiness (I suspect the former, as barbecue is a pretty sincere business).
The barbecue itself is moist and flavorful, with generous amounts of outside brown mixed in and distinct smoke flavor. I ordered the ‘cue chopped and it was just a bit too finely chopped for my taste, but the pork is also available sliced (a “deli slice” according to my waitress) or “blocked,” meaning in chunks pig pickin’ style. I also found the dip just a bit too sweet (not uncommon for Lexington-style BBQ), but it is nicely spiced and complements the pork well. A splash of Texas Pete neutralized the sweetness nicely. The barbecue slaw that accompanies the pork is quite peppery and fairly strong on the ketchup, but balances out the pork nicely, as it is meant to do. My tray was rounded out with fluffy, perfectly fried hush puppies that are less sweet than most and have a distinct cornmeal taste. All in all, a superb meal, with or without the silver tray and garnish.
Make sure you save room for Hill’s signature banana pudding, among the best I’ve had the pleasure of eating. The pudding is served warm and features a tasty meringue topping as well as terrific balance between pudding, banana and Nilla wafers.
If you happen to be in Winston-Salem in the morning, rest assured that at Hill’s barbecue is available for breakfast: served with two eggs. You can also order a barbecue salad, a strange creature that inhabits this part of the state. If for some reason you, or more likely your dining companion, wants to sample something besides BBQ, Hill’s offers a large menu, including pancakes, fried chicken, country ham, ribeyes, burgers, pimento cheese, brains & eggs, omelets and more. They even offer “All One Cares to Eat” deals for bbq for $15.39 per person.