Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gary's BBQ


Gary's BBQ, Lexington
Gary's BBQ, Lexington
Gary’s BBQ was recommended from a woman we met at Lexington BBQ. A very friendly local if not slightly eccentric woman who insisted we not only go to Gary’s but also only go when we can meet Gary himself. Gary and I spoke on the phone in the morning and he welcomed us to come visit. And so we did.

Gary’s BBQ opened 41 years ago when Gary left the BBQ restaurant he started working at when he was 15 years old and never looked back.

The walls of Gary’s is chock full of signs, clocks, serving trays etc. of old American brands. It is a model that could easily look ridiculous but not at Gary’s; it is the perfect look for an excellent BBQ restaurant.

Interior of Gary's BBQ, Lexington
Interior of Gary's BBQ
The menu at Gary’s is not dissimilar from that at Lexington. Mostly pit cooked shoulder, chopped, dressed and served on a plate or sandwich with the usual sides, including the local specialty of both BBQ and creamy slaw. I had the large pork sandwich with BBQ slaw. Gary and our waitress Judy (21 years of service) suggested a combo of both their vinegar sauce and their smoky BBQ sauce. It was a sublime combination.

Wifey had a fried fish on a bun with creamy slaw and both sauces. Though the fish was frozen, Wifey was a happy camper.

The vinegar sauce was simply cider vinegar, black pepper and red pepper, boiled, cooled and bottled. It was bloody perfect. The smoky BBQ was a classic ketchup-based sauce. I suspect the smoke flavour was liquid smoke. Very nice when combined with the vinegar sauce.

The creamy slaw was simply cabbage, carrot, vinegar and mayo. Pretty nice.

Outside Gary's BBQ, Lexington
Outside Gary's BBQ
The BBQ slaw was cabbage with yet another sauce that was not divulged. It was close to a combo of the vinegar sauce with a small amount of the smoky BBQ sauce.

I had my first taste of another local delicacy – Brunswick stew. Theirs was pork and chicken based. Nothing all that special but worth a taste.

The hush puppies were very large balls made with corn flour, flour, salt, sugar and onion. Nice but again nowhere near as the perfect specimens at Lexington.

And finally, the banana pudding. This is similar to the banana cream pie my mother made when I was a kid, and it really reminded me of those younger days.  This is prevalent on many local menus and is an absolute must when at Gary's.

Gary brought me back to their pit operation. They used to use an Old Hickory smoker but these days prefer the Kook Master smokers. These seem to be electric smokers that accept a small amount of wood for flavour. As they removed the shoulders from the cooker, the meat fell apart, after
12 hours of cooking. That was something to behold.

The real stars of the show were Gary and our waitress Judy. Both took the time to talk to us, hear our story, and give us some of the history as well as little nuggets of free tasters and bottomless tumblers of iced tea. They clearly love what they do and it shows through in everything they do.

Gary’s is highly recommended. Visually it is a gem, the food is very nice, the staff incredibly friendly and an overall excellent experience.

Gary's BBQ
620 Highway 29 N
China Grove, North Carolina
Phone: (704) 857-8314

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