The North Carolina
Pork shoulders or whole hogs cooked using a gas or electric heat source is just roast pork. Roast pork can be very good, especially with the right sauce, but it ain’t barbecue! In times past,
Of course, there are plenty of folks who enjoy roast pork masquerading as barbecue just as much as the genuine article. Some would argue that
You know what a “whomp biscuit is”, don’t you? Whomp biscuit was a term coined by the late Jerry Clower, who said that the saddest sound in the world is that of canned “biscuits” being “whomped” on the counter. I have to agree with the most famous son of Yazoo
Perhaps the saddest thing about the decline of real barbecue in
Over the past few decades though, our culinary arts have been in decline. Even as the Food Network celebrates southern food with special programs, fewer and fewer southerners are cooking in the fashion of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The reasons are obvious – the general homogenization of culture due to television, the steady influx of northerners moving south, high divorce rates, working mothers not having the time to teach their daughters to cook, fast food, packaged and frozen food, etc. When was the last time you fried chicken, or ate anyone’s home-fried chicken? Most fried chicken these days comes from the Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC is great, but it can’t hold a candle to my grandmother’s fried chicken! I can’t fry chicken like my grandmother, neither can anyone in my family – it is a lost art and our lives are emptier for it.
The whole hog style (universally popular Down East) of barbecue takes more time and effort than the pork shoulder style of
I am starting with Lefler’s Place, in the historic community of Pee Dee (
I don’t know where I’ll go from there… maybe Whispering Pines in Albemarle, Blue Mist in Asheboro, Lexington Barbecue #1 or the Barbecue Center in Lexington , Tarheel heading out of Lexington toward Advance, Stamey’s in Greensboro, Andy’s in Welcome … who knows. There are many well known places, some legends like Lexington Barbecue and some little known, way off the beaten path places that should be as famous as Lexington Barbecue, like Lefler’s Place. There are plenty of places I haven’t tried.
If you have some tips about where I should eat next, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit our website frequently to read my restaurant reviews, ramblings and musings… and to read the many other articles, by other authors, on the history, culture and happenings in North Carolina
End note 1: Credit should be given to Bob Garner for documenting the history of
End note 2: There is no shame in using good quality hardwood lump charcoal in place of live hardwood coals if you are cooking barbecue in your backyard. Good lump charcoal (not briquettes) is simply hardwood burned down to coals and then extinguished. You will still want to add some hickory wood for flavor.
End note 3: I prefer piedmont style barbecue pork, but Down East sauce - that is my own bias. I was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but my mother’s family was from
I decided to start this series on Uwharrie/NC piedmont barbecue with “Lefler’s Place Café and Grocery”, because Lefler’s is everything real
Native Americans populated the banks of the Pee Dee long before recorded history – the Town Creek Indian Mound is just on the other side of
Lefler’s Place opened in 1922. As of today, Lefler’s has been in business for about 86 years. Consider that most restaurants in
I’m told that Lefler’s has the last remaining outdoor, wood burning barbecue pit in
Lefler’s is a true “wood burner”. See the wood in the chimney ready to be burned? Here is a closer look (backyard barbecuers take note, this is how a real barbecue pit should be built):
The wood burns, the coals fall through the grates and are shoveled under the pork shoulders. The big steel cover raises up using a pulley system weighted with cinder blocks, and the meat cooks on the grill.
Lefler’s Place is the oldest operating store and grill from
Pictures of Dale Earnhardt line the wall as do huge mounted bass (the fishing is great in the Uwharries).
Each menu bears their message, “We want our customers to feel at home at Lefler’s Place. Our family enjoys making you smile and feel warm and welcome. We strive to give you excellent service. We thank you for your patronage and hope the atmosphere was an enjoyable one! And.. May God Bless You.” They also promise, “to provide the highest quality food while giving you courteous and dependable service at an economical price.”
The pictures above of the pit speak to the quality of the food. You don’t cut any corners cooking barbecue that way. What you may not know is how much hard work goes into cooking barbecue the traditional way – hours of hot, sweaty, backbreaking work, burning wood, shoveling coals, smoke in your eyes, getting burned, etc. – that’s all part of the process.
Lefler’s place also does hamburgers, hot dogs, fried bologna sandwiches (a southern classic), BLTs, chicken, a full breakfast menu and even salads… including my favorite regional specialty, the barbecue salad (a large serving of chopped barbecue piled on top of a fresh green salad, served with a tangy dressing). They also have fries, onion rings and curly fries and a soft drink menu that includes “Cheerwine products” meaning that you can get that wonderful cherry soda in a can, bottle or 20oz size!
I really can’t say enough good things about Lefler’s Place, the Pee Dee Community,
Lefler’s Place Café and Grocery
Tuesday & Wednesday 5:30 am to 2:00 pm
Thursday and Friday 5:30 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday 5:30 am to 3 pm
Sunday and Monday – closed
Dine in or take-out