Red State BBQ: Local roadside food with powerful flavor


Kernel Lifestyle Sig

Madeline Perry

Lexington, Kentucky, is home to many great establishments and places, although none of them are quite like Red State BBQ.

Red State BBQ is located on Georgetown Road, very close to the Lexington/Georgetown border, and from the looks of the outside you may question if you want to go in or not.

Far from downtown and right next to the Sunset Motel, the outside can be deceiving to many folks. In fact, if you were to ask some locals, they may even tell you they have no idea where you’re talking about. Red State’s small but homey layout is just one of the things that will make you remember it after your visit.

Inside the restaurant, the walls, ceiling, doors, and window sills are covered in signatures, names, quotes, dates and writing from customers over the years. The purpose behind letting customers vandalize their place? The owners want you to remember Red State, and they want Red State to remember you.

Red State was founded in 2010 by Scott Ahlschwede, and while it’s a fairly new business to the area, it continues to boom. An equine veterinarian and Texas native, Ahlschwede knew his way around the perfect barbeque. Why did he open Red State? He wanted to have some good barbeque and a beer. 

The restaurant has accomplished just that. Red State has earned a certificate of excellence every year since 2014, and has been recognized by Kentucky Living, Georgetown Living, the Lexington Herald-Leader and even the New York Times.

Their menu keeps it simple– simply southern comfort food. A variety of meats, including brisket, ribs, sausage, pulled pork, pulled chicken and double smoked brisket, can be paired with macaroni and cheese, green beans, greens, beer cheese grits, hand-cut fries, corn pudding and baked beans. All sides are made in house daily as well as their homemade desserts: peach bread pudding, banana pudding, as well as the peanut butter, chocolate, and strawberry mason jar desserts. Just looking at their menu is enough to make your mouth water, but trying it is an absolute delight.

“There’s nothing like genuine barbeque, the fact that we’re a local business in central Kentucky with great food is a recipe for perfection,” said Jesse Hamby, Red State’s kitchen manager and employee of three years.     

“Being an outstanding roadside barbeque joint isn’t easy. But, we are unique when it comes to our atmosphere, staff, and consistent food. So many people from across the country and the world come here because we are a roadside place, people traveling want food that reminds them of home and food that is fast. I’ve met people from the Philippines, Japan, and even Australia,” said owner David Carroll.

Red State is also popular amongst the equine scene because of its close proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park. Between the I-75 traffic, hungry horseback riders and locals, Red State has made a name for itself here in Lexington as some of the best barbeque in town– and even the state, according to Kentucky Living in 2017.

“We are unique in everything we do here– especially when it comes to the variety of sauces we offer,” said Veronica Viniteski, a waitress at Red State.

Red State offers seven different barbecue sauces that are all made in-house. The two most popular are Memphis Sweet and Kentucky Small Batch. Memphis Sweet is savory and sweet just like its name, while Kentucky Small Batch is made with just the right amount of bourbon to make it almost melt in your mouth.

Red State is a great dining experience for all– families and friends alike– and can be considered a place that makes Lexington well known to people across the country.