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Jimmy's Barbecue

1703 Cotton Grove Rd., Lexington, NC - (336) 357-2311
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/24/2013 5:49:00 AM
Devotees of kick-ass barbecue might be forgiven if the sight of Jimmy's coarse-chopped pork does not elicit their rapture. It looks plain: gray, disheveled, without glow or glisten. This is Platonic Piedmont 'cue, a duet of smoke and swine with only enough sauce (or, as it's called here, dip) to add a jot of moisture, a twist of vinegar tang, and a halo of red pepper to the big, unspeakably tender chunks of meat. Its virtue is its subtlety, not its bombast; and while it won't win beauty contests or stir orgasmic yelps, it delivers austere elegance unique to the barbecue of eastern North Carolina. For a few years now, it has been cooked with gas rather than wood smoke – a misdemeanor to purists – and while I do miss the come-hither perfume of wood smoke that surrounds traditional pits, I am not going to kick this good stuff off my table!

Coarse-chopped means hunks as big as two or three bites; regular chopped is the more familiar, hash-like tangle – a bit more exciting, texture-wise, but still in no way show-offy. In a sandwich with white slaw, it's perfect. A righteous slaw option, and a Piedmont favorite, is barbecue slaw, which is the crisp white slaw infused with enough dip to turn it auburn in color and noticeably spicy. Of the many available side dishes, green beans are a stand-out, cooked long enough to lose all their snap, infused with the flavor of ham (big chunks of which are included in each serving) and dotted with sweet corn kernels.

Perhaps even more alluring than the pork is Jimmy's barbecued chicken, available Thursday through Sunday. Like the pork, it is tender beyond words, and its luxuriously crisp mahogany skin delivers taste pleasure that will haunt you long after the meal is done. Out of curiosity, perhaps some day I will try what Jimmy's bills as a "bread burger." The waitress explained that it is made by grinding up bread with the meat – a beef-stretching recipe that goes back to the lean times of FDR's presidency.

Do note that unlike many of Lexington's famous smoke pits, Jimmy's is open for breakfast and on Sunday, too. I arrived mid-day Sunday, and, in blue jeans and casual shirt, was dramatically underdressed compared to most customers, who come here en famille after church.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
BBQ Chicken
Banana Pudding
Chopped BBQ Sandwich
Dip
Coarse Chopped BBQ Plate
Hushpuppies
Green Beans
Chocolate Cake
BBQ Slaw
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Chopped 'cue and white slaw on a bun: a North Carolina classic.
"Chopped 'cue and white slaw on a bun: a North Carolina classic."
Michael Stern





In the Piedmont, slaw comes either white or, as pictured here, infused with thin, spicy barbecue sauce. The sauce adds real zest and the slaw retains all its welcome crunch.
"In the Piedmont, slaw comes either white or, as pictured here, infused with thin, spicy barbecue sauce. The sauce adds real zest and the slaw retains all its welcome crunch."
Michael Stern


Coarse chopped barbecue is shockingly tender, here pictured on a partitioned plate with mashed potatoes (blah) and BBQ slaw.
"Coarse chopped barbecue is shockingly tender, here pictured on a partitioned plate with mashed potatoes (blah) and BBQ slaw."
Michael Stern


Dip, aka sauce, is thin and spicy, a fine supporting player for Jimmy's mellow BBQ.
"Dip, aka sauce, is thin and spicy, a fine supporting player for Jimmy's mellow BBQ."
Michael Stern


Green beans are cooked to a fare thee well with plenty of ham and a sprinkle of sweet corn kernels.
"Green beans are cooked to a fare thee well with plenty of ham and a sprinkle of sweet corn kernels."
Michael Stern


I like the homely look of Jimmy's chocolate cake, but its taste was unremarkable.
"I like the homely look of Jimmy's chocolate cake, but its taste was unremarkable. "
Michael Stern


Well-balanced banana pudding is wonderful conclusion to a barbecue meal.
"Well-balanced banana pudding is wonderful conclusion to a barbecue meal."
Michael Stern


As is the custom hereabouts, hushpuppies are tubular. They're an OK side dish, if not outstanding.
"As is the custom hereabouts, hushpuppies are tubular. They're an OK side dish, if not outstanding."
Michael Stern


A legacy of wood-smoke days, these smokestacks stand high above Jimmy's.
"A legacy of wood-smoke days, these smokestacks stand high above Jimmy's."
Michael Stern


I don't quite understand the logic of a plastic knife and metal fork. Anyway, the knife is unnecessary for any of the pork served here, nor will you need it for the chicken.
"I don't quite understand the logic of a plastic knife and metal fork. Anyway, the knife is unnecessary for any of the pork served here, nor will you need it for the chicken."
Michael Stern


Locals fill Jimmy's after church on Sunday.
"Locals fill Jimmy's after church on Sunday."
Michael Stern


Founder Jimmy Harvey began his culinary career working for the Zeus of Piedmont barbecue, Warner Stamey.
"Founder Jimmy Harvey began his culinary career working for the Zeus of Piedmont barbecue, Warner Stamey."
Michael Stern



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