|Spiraling smoke tells you how Little Richard's cooks its pork shoulders.|
Little Richard’s takes its name from founder Richard Berrier who got his start in the barbecue business when he was 13. It cooks pork shoulders – the Lexington style, hence the use of Lexington in its name – with hickory wood on an open pit for up to 10 hours. Then they’re hand-chopped as the restaurant’s dip (sauce) is added.
|The parking lot fills quickly when Little Richard's opens.|
When I arrived for lunch several minutes before noon on a Monday, the restaurant was busy. Only two tables were available. Glancing at the other tables, I saw that most customers had a BBQ tray (a cardboard boat loaded with chopped barbecue and slaw) or a BBQ sandwich. Even a small tray, which also comes with hushpuppies or a roll, was more than enough for lunch.
|My tray was packed with adequate servings of slaw and barbecue.|
Although the chopped pork was moist and delicious without needing any extra sauce, I was captivated by the tangy flavor of Little Richard’s own house dip and kept adding more and more to my boat as I ate the barbecue. The dip, mixed every morning, is Little Richard’s select combination of vinegar, ketchup, water, spices, and salt. It is thin and vinegary with a consistency similar to sauces in eastern North Carolina.
|The dip recipe is a secret, but the ingredients are listed on the bottles.|
True to Lexington style, Little Richard’s offers a vinegary red slaw, which gets its characteristic color from ketchup, with its BBQ plates, trays, and sandwiches. The menu lists “slaw,” with no description -- the implicit understanding is that the mayonnaise-based coleslaw of eastern N.C. barbecue traditions isn’t available because it’s not Lexington style.
|Soon after I arrived for lunch, every table was occupied.|
The original location, a destination on the historic N.C. Barbecue Trail, opened more than 25 years ago (a second location is also available -- surprisingly and somewhat confusing, several other barbecue restaurants in the area are also named Little Richard’s but are not connected).
|The wood pile in back is Little Richard's proof that it cooks its pork slowly over hot coals.|
By serving delicious barbecue that is cooked slowly with hickory wood, Little Richard’s is easily achieving its goal of “Eat Mo’ Pig.”
|"Eat Mo' Pig" is an appropriate motto.|