Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on December 5, 2023.
We also feature different types of cuisine in this beautiful small town, including fine dining, Mexican food, and small plates. Here is how we’ve organized this guide to food in Lexington:
- Lexington NC Restaurant Map
- List of Lexington Restaurants in this Guide
- What is Lexington Barbecue?
- Lexington Barbecue Restaurants
- More Restaurants in Lexington Beyond Barbecue
If you’re new to the area and wondering, “what is Lexington-style barbecue” or “where is the best food nearby,” our guide is here to help! Keep reading and discover Lexington NC’s best restaurants in various cuisines below.
Lexington NC Restaurant Map
You can visually plan your next Lexington NC food adventure with our Lexington NC Map of 20+ Attractions.
List of Lexington Restaurants in This Guide
These restaurants in Lexington NC are listed alphabetically and do not reflect our ranking.
- Lexington Barbecue Restaurants
- Backcountry Barbeque
- Barbecue Center
- Smokey Joe’s Barbecue
- Speedy’s Barbecue
- Lexington Barbecue
- More Restaurants in Lexington NC
- The Bistro at Childress Vineyards
- Don Juan’s Mexican Restaurant
- The Eatery
- Mi Casa
- Perfect Blend
- Pour Folk Provisions
- Red Donut Shop
- Rustic Roots
- Sophie’s Cork and Ale
What is Lexington-style Barbecue?
Lexington-style barbecue has a history tracing back to 1919 when Sid Weaver started selling barbecue out of a tent in the middle of town.
This style of barbecue smokes the pork shoulder long and slow over hickory until it becomes tender. The meat takes on a red tint because it is dipped in a tomato, vinegar, and spice, then served with a tomato slaw.
Lexington Barbecue Restaurants
Lexington-style barbecue is revered throughout much of the state, with some exceptions depending on who you ask. Lexington Barbecue vs. Eastern NC Barbecue is a very hot topic, almost as divisive as politics and which basketball team you follow.
Long story short, many eateries specialize in this regional cuisine, but here are some of our top picks for the best Lexington Barbecue restaurants…in Lexington.
Address: 4014 Linwood-Southmont Rd, Lexington, NC
On the southern edge of Lexington is Backcountry Barbeque, a small restaurant with a solid and loyal following. Backcountry is off the beaten path and beloved by locals, making it a great place to stop by if you’re looking for authentic Lexington Barbecue.
While Backcountry’s menu is limited, it is very affordable. The char-grilled steak is a fan favorite of customers, but everything from the barbecue to the hushpuppies is delicious.
We recommend ending your meal with their homemade banana pudding!
Address: 900 N. Main St, Lexington, NC
The Bar-B-Q Center didn’t begin as a barbecue joint, but it still carries the title of the oldest barbecue restaurant in downtown Lexington that cooks on pits. The Center originally served ice cream and added a small barbecue pit to increase business during the winter months.
Since 1955, it has grown into a beloved NC barbecue icon.
The Bar-B-Q Center customizes the meat for each customer. They separate light and dark meats and use a slightly sugary, slightly vinegar-like sauce to create a moist and tender barbecue.
If you’re feeling adventurous, order a banana split to top off your meal!
Address: 5114 Old U.S. Hwy 52, Lexington, NC
Kerley’s is the epitome of a Lexington barbecue restaurant. Since 1978, Kerley’s has been serving such good barbecued pork and chicken that customers keep returning.
The restaurant is located in a rustic building with indoor and outdoor seating.
The extensive menu at Kerley’s has many affordable barbecue options, from barbecue plates to sandwiches. Breakfast is also popular here and is served from 7:00 am to 10:30 am.
Address: 100 Smokehouse Ln, Lexington, NC
A restaurant named directly for Lexington-style barbecue has much to live up to, and this place does! Lexington Barbecue is an award-winning restaurant serving some of the tastiest food in NC.
Wayne Monk founded it in 1962, who gained quite a lot of barbecue experience from his first job at a local BBQ stand as a curb hop. In 2003, the restaurant won a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic Award, cementing its growth from a small cafe to a nationally-known BBQ joint.
Lexington Barbecue slow-cooks its pork shoulders for nearly half a day over oak and hickory coals. Wayne Monk smokes his meats without marinade and sauces them on the plate, creating an enjoyable and flavorful taste.
Pair your BBQ with a cool sweet tea and some of Monk’s daughter’s peach cobbler!
Smokey Joe’s Barbecue
Address: 1101 S Main St, Lexington, NC
Smokey Joe’s Barbecue has been serving original pit-cooked barbecue since 1972. It was founded by Joe Cope, whose commitment to serving extraordinary food lives on today.
Smokey Joe’s has passed through the hands of two generations of the Cope family and is currently operated by Aimee Cope Harvey, the only female pitmaster in Lexington.
This family-owned establishment has a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu centered around authentic barbecue. In addition, Smokey Joe’s has an expansive menu that allows you to enjoy a cold beer or cider with your BBQ.
And, of course, as if it wasn’t great enough, they also have a drive-thru to make ordering more accessible.
Address: 1317 Winston Rd, Lexington, NC
Quality, quantity, and quick service are the three Q’s that Speedy’s embodies. Speedy’s is owned by brothers Roy and Boyd Dunn, co-owners of the business since the 1970s.
Serving huge portions, delicious barbecue from Speedy’s could be your breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Speedy’s is also one of the few remaining Lexington establishments that offer curbside service. All of the above keep Speedy’s among our top choices for delicious Lexington-style barbecue.
Read More: 50 of the Best Day Trips from Durham
More Restaurants in Lexington NC
And, of course, Lexington has so much more history and culture other than barbecue. So if you’ve gotten your fill of BBQ, or are just looking to explore more restaurants in Lexington, here are our favorites.
The Bistro at Childress Vineyards
Address: 1000 Childress Vineyards Rd, Lexington, NC
Enjoy an upscale, professional dining experience at the Bistro at Childress Vineyards. Childress, of course, is one of the most prominent NC wineries, having won over 750 medals in various wine competitions.
The Bistro is the Lexington winery’s private, in-house restaurant, where you’ll find the same air of elegance and luxury as the vineyard.
Open seven days a week, the Bistro requires reservations during the weekend and strongly recommends reservations during the week. Choose from their refined menu of dishes like mahi mahi, duck leg confit, and artisan cheeseboards.
Pair your meal with wine from the vineyard for an unforgettable dinner.
Don Juan’s Mexican Restaurant
Address: Woodbriar Plaza Shopping Center, 43 S Talbert Blvd, Lexington, NC
Don Juan’s is easily one of the best Mexican restaurants in Lexington, if not the best for all cuisines. You can dine in at a table or by the bar, or just grab some takeout from this spot.
The menu at Don Juan’s is huge, with any variety of enchiladas, empanadas, burritos and more. Stop by and you’ll see why so many locals have remained loyal to Don Juan’s for years.
Address: 101 N Main St, Lexington, NC
The Eatery is a chic Southwestern restaurant in Uptown Lexington. The inside has a rustic feel, with wood tables and ceilings and a welcoming exterior with colorful chairs and tables.
The Eatery keeps its emphasis on fresh and local food in mind when cultivating its menu. The restaurant is known for its tacos, especially on Taco Tuesday, but customers can build their own bowl or enjoy a bowl of chips and salsa.
Address: 278 N Talbert Blvd #4143, Lexington, NC
Mi Casa has another location in Winston-Salem but their Lexington restaurant is one that you can’t miss! Grab some ACP (Arroz con Pollo), quesadillas, or any other tasty Mexican dishes and you’ll be looking forward to next time!
The “Lite Menu” portion of Mi Casa is a nice addition to the array of Mexican food options that you can enjoy here. Mix it up with a grilled entree or a salad and you’ll have even more reasons to keep coming back to this Lexington restaurant.
Address: 1 N Main St, Lexington, NC
Perfect Blend is a specialty coffee shop in Lexington that strives to offer a unique breakfast experience. Since 2007, Perfect Blend has been the go-to place for a morning coffee or afternoon pick-me-up, but the cafe recently expanded its menu to include food options.
Owner Tyler Prevatte (who also owns Pour Folk Provisions) spent months cultivating a niche breakfast and lunch menu that would help the cafe grow.
Now, customers can enjoy a breakfast of avocado toast, Nutella toast, egg and cheese on a croissant or English muffin, and more.
Pour Folk Provisions
Address: 401 S Railroad St Suite A, Lexington, NC
In the heart of Lexington’s Historic Depot District is Pour Folk Provisions. Pour Folk was founded by local business owners Tyler and Madison Prevatte and Brent and Ashlee Moore in February 2022 and prides itself on high-quality, unique menu offerings.
The restaurant is located inside Goose and Monkey Brew House, a setting that only elevates the trendy atmosphere.
The menu is comprised of “Handhelds” aka sandwiches make up most of the menu. Handheld options include Cubans, hot chicken sandwiches, bison sausage, and pork belly bánh mi, a Vietnamese dish.
Red Donut Shop
Address: 117 N Main St, Lexington, NC
The Red Donut Shop is a family business with an intriguing history. It was opened by the Vay brothers in 2015 whose extended family came from Cambodia in the 1970s.
Today, the Red Donut Shop is known throughout Lexington for having the area’s best donuts. The shop lets customers customize their donuts by choosing up to six different fillings to make it even more special.
The Vay brothers named their business in honor of the previous restaurant that resided in the building.
The restaurant was called the Red Pig and was opened in 1929. It has since moved locations, but much folklore surrounds the Red Pig, including rumors that it used to serve alcohol during Prohibition.
No one really knows if the last tidbit is true, but the deliciousness of these donuts is!
Address: 102 S Main St, Lexington, NC
Rustic Roots is a recent addition to Main Street. It opened in 2019 when local food truck owner Mike Morefield decided to trade in his food truck for a cozy restaurant setting in Lexington.
Rustic Roots has an intentionally smaller menu, allowing the restaurant to focus on quality over quantity. However, we still think there’s something for everyone here, with dishes like salads, sandwiches, pasta, and more.
The restaurant is true to its name, with a very rustic and woodsy feel. It’s a great place to sit and enjoy a meal surrounded by friends and family.
Sophie’s Cork and Ale
Address: 23 W 2nd Ave, Lexington, NC
In a town of historic barbecue and slaw, Sophie’s Cork & Ale is THE Lexington restaurant for delicious and elevated cuisine. The former bookstore space encourages diners to share plates at a table intimately or while catching up over a great conversation on a couch.
The menu includes items like Waygu sliders, wild mushrooms, and goat cheese tartlets for craft beer and wine pairings. But, of course, I couldn’t leave out the most delicious seared scallops I’ve found in Central North Carolina.
What Are Your Favorite Restaurants in Lexington NC?
Now that we’ve shared our picks for where to eat in Lexington NC, we’d love to hear from those of you who know the area. What are your favorite Lexington restaurants?
Is there a place that we need to add? Let us know (kindly) in the comments or by email and we’ll be happy to investigate further!
Don’t forget to share your Lexington food adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
Beyond Lexington NC Restaurants (Travel Guides)
We’ve created many more NC travel guides that feature these Lexington restaurants and more things to do in the area! Here are a few of them.