“The Barbecue Center, Inc. is the oldest barbecue establishment in downtown Lexington that still cooks on pits. It has been featured in Southern Living magazine, on the TV show “Good Morning America” and in any number of newspapers. This bastion of Lexington-style barbecue started years ago across the street from its current site as a dairy center serving ice cream. They built a small barbecue pit to have something to sell in the winter when the ice cream business slowed. They moved in the late 1950s but they still sell a lot of ice cream.
The Center separates its light and dark meat for slicing. Some people want extra outside brown, some want white, some want extra fat and some want no fat. The barbecue is served custom-made to the customer’s order.
History of the Bar-B-Q Center
2/24/38 - 6/14/13
Originally published by The Dispatch
When someone is described as an icon, you better be able to back up that statement with some proof. But when you are talking about someone like Sonny Conrad, owner of The Barbecue Center, then no explanation is needed.
Conrad, 75, of East Holly Grove Road, died Friday morning at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, and the city of Lexington may never be the same.
“He was my best friend, the best boss and the best Dad a man could have,” said his youngest son, Michael Conrad.
The chopped barbecue is moist, tender, medium chopped, tomatoey and peppery. It’s generously sauced in the kitchen with a hint of vinegar and a hint of sugar. It’s tasty - slightly tangy, not too tart. It has a good finish with no heavy aftertaste. The coarse chopped barbecue is very, very tender with a good, smoky flavor. It holds hands nicely with the dip. The sliced barbecue is very tender with a great smoky flavor and outside brown. This is the ticket. The chopped barbecue with the red slaw, which is slightly tart (ketchup, vinegar, pepper, salt, sugar and crisp cabbage) works well together. The slaw does not fight or overwhelm the flavor of the meat.
The light brown, vinegar-base sauce is comprised of ketchup, pepper, salt, water and hot peppers. It’s very tangy alone but calms down on the meat.”