Stamey’s serves Lexington-style North Carolina barbecue, which means that the meat of choice is pork shoulders that are pit-cooked over smoldering hickory wood until ridiculously tender, then chopped or sliced. “Chopped” means chopped so fine it is nearly pulverized. Slices are actually more like shreds of varying sizes, some soft, others edges with crust from the outside of the meat. The sauce is peppery with a vinegar tang, and thin enough to permeate the soft, sweet pork rather than blanket it. If you get a platter (as opposed to a sandwich), it will be accompanied by a powerfully zesty cole slaw and odd-shaped, deep-fried corn squiggles that are Stamey’s version of hushpuppies. This is a Piedmont meal that connoisseurs consider the best barbecue in a big state that is fanatical about barbecue and has at least six different regional variations from the coast to the Western mountains.
Warner Stamey started the business in the 1930s; his descendants have tended it ever since; and many of the other good barbecue pitmasters in the area learned their trade from him. Although the restaurant started as a rustic shack, a modern barnboard building was erected in 1980s, and today customers dine in country comfort.
Oh, yes, one more thing: try to leave room for dessert. Stamey’s warm peach cobbler is nearly as famous as the barbecue.