When Lechon Latin BBQ appeared seemingly out of nowhere on Instagram, with a location in the slightly forgotten Triangle Town Center mall, locals were quick to follow, because in the Carolinas, barbecue is a rite of passage and considered a competitive sport. In North Carolina alone, there are two styles: Eastern (whole hog) and Lexington (vinegar and tomato sauce), and a handful of newcomers throwing a twist on tradition (like Jon G’s, Lawrence Barbecue, and Shepard Barbecue), but it’s not often that Latin barbecue comes onto the market.
Lechon owners Richard Camos, Randy Hernandez, and Jorge Thorne wanted to bring a new kind of barbecue joint to the Triangle, offering Puerto Rican-style lechon with cuero (roasted suckling pig with crispy skin). “Nobody has it,” says Hernandez, further noting that Latin people drive from as far as Greensboro to enjoy the suckling pig and crispy skin — and beyond. “We wanted to do a barbecue place inspired by Latin food,” he adds.
“We’re not trying to be better than anyone, we are trying to be different,” Hernandez says. Lechon is the type of restaurant that would crush it in downtown Raleigh, but given Hernandez and Camos’ backgrounds, with successful past concepts in malls, the team felt they could breathe life back into Triangle Town Center and bring something diverse to the community, simultaneously. Lechon is also centralized to most Triangle residents.
Like most Carolina barbecue joints, the pork is the draw and is seasoned for four hours and roasted for eight, resulting in succulent, flavorful meat. Sides vary from a vibrant Latin potato salad with peppers to fried yuca and cilantro coleslaw, which works effortlessly with the entire menu. It’s advised to save room for the fall-off-the-bone pork ribs accompanied by Cuban bread from La Segunda Bakery in Tampa, Florida, that’s crispy on the outside and bouncy on the inside.
A deeper dive into the menu reveals a nod to each of the owners’ backgrounds, offering a melting pot of additional Puerto Rican, Peruvian, and Argentinian dishes with a flair. There’s Peruvian chicken, Argentine sausage, an empanadas menu, a Cuban sandwich and Cuban flatbread, and more. The variety offers diners a glimpse into some of their favorite eats from back home. And a list of rum-based cocktails, including a delicious mojito, to wash it all down.
Salchipapa, a dish composed of hot dogs, french fries, and ketchup, originated in Lima, Peru, as an evening snack offered to workers on their way home— and later became a mainstay at restaurants, with numerous variations. At Lechon, the regular salchipapa consists of crispy fries topped with Argentine sausage, drizzled with the popular KM sauce (ketchup, mayo, garlic, and spices). “It’s a staple, I love that plate,” says Hernandez. Dial it up with the salchipapa montada y pollo, where fried eggs are added to the equation, plus a quarter chicken, coleslaw, and bread to dig into.
While Hernandez leads the kitchen, the entire time works diligently on testing recipes and having critical conversations on whose version of a dish is most appealing for diners, taking hierarchy out of the restaurant — and really striving to focus on outstanding food and offering a diverse dining option to the Triangle.
Lechon Latin BBQ (5959 Triangle Town Blvd., Unit 2121) is open Wednesday through Monday and is located at Triangle Town Center, across from Barnes & Noble, outside of the mall. Check Instagram for additional specials and events.
• Lechon Latin BBQ [Official]
• Here Are 2021’s Eater Awards Winners for the Carolinas
• Lawrence BBQ Opens in Raleigh With All the Smoked Meats
• Shepard Barbecue [Official]