Lexington-style barbecue is made with pork shoulder cooked slowly over a hardwood fire, usually hickory wood. It is basted in a sauce (called "dip" locally) made with vinegar, ketchup, water, salt, pepper and other spices. The actual ingredients will vary from restaurant to restaurant, with each restaurant's recipe being a closely guarded secret. While each is vinegar based, the taste varies widely from tangy to slightly sweet or spicy.
The most distinguishing feature of the "Lexington Barbecue Sandwich" is the inclusion of red slaw (sometimes called barbecue slaw). Red slaw is a combination of cabbage, vinegar, ketchup and crushed/ground black pepper. Red slaw is distinguishable from coleslaw because red slaw contains no mayonnaise. Many Lexingtonians (and visitors) consider red slaw a staple for a quality barbecue experience. Red slaw is commonly served as a side dish with barbecue, grilled poultry and other meats, and on hotdogs as a relish.
Lexington is located in the Piedmont. It is centered at 35°49'0" North, 80°15'31" West (35.816768, -80.258643), in the valley of the Yadkin River. Lexington is 11 miles northeast of High Rock Lake, part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee chain of lakes in central North Carolina. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.6 square miles (45.6 km²), of which, 17.6 square miles (45.6 km²) of it is land and none of the area is covered with water.
It is bordered to the north and west by Interstate 85 Business, to the south and east by Interstate 85. Both interstates merge just southwest of the city. Additionally, 4 U.S. Highway Routes, U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 64, U.S. Route 52, U.S. Route 70 and state highways NC Highway 8 and NC Highway 47 intersect the city.
There are 7,926 households out of which 28.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.0% are married couples living together, 17.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% are non-families. 30.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.42 and the average family size is 3.00.
In the city the population is spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $26,226, and the median income for a family is $32,339. Males have a median income of $25,555 versus $20,939 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,310. 21.2% of the population and 16.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.7% of those under the age of 18 and 18.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. The global outsourcing of textile and furniture manufacturing has negatively impacted Lexington's economy in the past few years.