Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.

There's a division in the South as to where the best barbecue hails from and whether the meat should be pork or beef. But there were no regional squabblings Monday night at the opening of Robert Lowe's Hickory Dock restaurant in Alexandria.

"I don't aim at making the best barbecue, I aim to be second best." said Lowe, a former staff attorney for ex-Arkansas Sen. William Fulbright, who had invited a lot of Capitol Hill people, friends, and just plain folks to sample the cooking.

Lowe explained the regional preferences, saying that while people from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama might think his was the best, folks from Oklahoma and Texas "like a little catsup in their sauce. And the Carolinas, why that's a whole 'nother thing."

None of the 400 guests was splitting hairs over the differences, however.

Packed in tighter than tinned sardines, they wolfed down pork ribs, barbecued beef slices, smoked turkey and beans, catfish, peach and cherry cobbler and beer. Lots of beer, though there were other liquid refreshments.

And while Pabst Blue Ribbon is usually associated with Southern Fare, one of the guests noticed that Fulbright had managed to get the last Heineken.

With a small island of space areound him pollster Pat Caddell of Georiga savored the ribs.

"I'm just here eating barbecue," he told friends Kenneth Connell and Marianne Pernold. "I'm just back home eating barbecue."

Enroute to his wife, Mary King, deputy director of ACTION, drink-laden Peter Bourne, special assistant to the President for health affairs, confided to another guests: "I really come out to support Lowe because I thought it was such a rainy night, few people would show up.

"Just goes to show," said Richard Moose, assistant secretary of state for Africa, "an awful lot of people will come out on a rainy night for free food."

And frienship. Friendship with Lowe was what kept William Hall Smith III, former press secretary for ex-North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin, smiling and glad-handing the sea of people at the door even as sweat beaded his brow.

"There are 10 of us here," he said, nudging Jerry Blizen, a former staffer for Sen, George Smathers of Florida. "We're just good friends of Lowe's."

A bluegrass band struck up "Okie from Muskogee" on a platform just in front of a very large picture of a pig by artist Rebecca Devenport. The pig is part of the restaurant's decor.