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Best BBQ in the DC Metro Area


fischwlu
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Urban BBQ-

Just a word on Urban Q...Its a great place, opened by an ex GM and ex chef of Old Glory BBQ in g town. Great brisket, sides, the whole nine yards. Their two sauces rule, and they even have a wall of hot sauces. Try the soul rolls and the mac and cheese. Ask for Dave, Lee, or Corey. they own the place.

d

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Bill, what sides did you try?  I am fond of the greens, less so of the mac & cheese.  The cornbread is seriously good.

The owners are very friendly.  We order carryout frequently and it's always a pleasure talking to them.

We had the Mac and Cheese (which I liked although it was a little thick) the slaw (which I like to put on my sandwich) and the potato salad.

We also had the BBQ Egg ROlls, which came with a dipping sauce of chili and cheese which was very good and rich.

We didn't eat the cornbread when we were there but had it reheated the next day. It was just the way I like it - a little sweet but not like a piece of cake either.

Bill Russell

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  • 2 months later...

Ben's Whole Hog BBQ, 7422 Old Centerville Rd. Manassas.

I stopped with my daughter to see how things were going at Ben's. It's been a while for both of us, and during that time the restaurant has been remodeled. Instead of the old benches and booths, it's now maple tables and chairs. Very spiffy inside - not a good sign in a barbecue place. Another dubious sign, each place was set with chopsticks.

Still, the smell of smoke was in the air, so we decided to try. The pulled pork is very tender, the parts near the outside of the meat have a visible smoke ring. The smoke flavor is there, although kind of faint. We had cole slaw and okra, and both were good. The okra was made from a prepackaged frozen product (okra being out of season in Virginia in late November) but was actually pretty good. The slaw was quite good.

One interesting change is the growth of the Korean part of the business. Along with the chopsticks you'll find a Korean menu, with the barbecue choices on a seperate piece of paper tucked inside. Apparently the owners would like this to become a Korean place, but because barbecue brings in most of the revenue, they can't eliminate it. But I get the feeling that their heart is not in it. I mean, barbecue without iced tea?

The choice of sauces don't seem to resemble anything I've had elsewhere. The closest was a mustard-vinegar sauce that is apparently an attempt at a South Carolina flavor, but it's much too sweet for that. There's a spicy sauce that is kind of like Western Carolina, but not exactly, and something heavy and sweet that seems like a combination of Memphis and hoisin sauce.

Good barbecue, but not great barbecue any more.

WR

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  • 3 months later...

Hit Willard's in Chantilly over the weekend. I give it two thumbs up. Before I even get to the BBQ, I need to say this is probably the best potato salad I've ever had. This place does not drop the ball on the sides.

Had the NC pork, which is very "wet." It's tasty, though. And they give you a ridiculous amount. There was easily a pound of meat on my platter, which cost $8.95 and included cornbread and two sides. Their menu is enormous. You could go there every day for a month and not have the same thing. Plus they had a ton of daily specials.

It's also very near the new Air and Space museum by Dulles, fyi.

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Jumping in late here as well. Haven't tried a lot of the places mentioned.

Johnny Boy's on 301 - Agree with the descriptions above, had gotten very inconsistent.

My best luck on 301 has been a place that's about a mile east of 301. You turn right at the 1st or 2nd traffic light north of the Potomac River Bridge (headed north), you'll know which light because there's a hand painted sign before the turn. Only open warm weather weekends (about April - October). You'll see another sign by the road that says "Open Today" on the right, I think, if they're open, turn in there. Just a shack by an old church. Ribs have been really good everytime I've had them, but we stop by there when we're traveling back from VA, hard to say make a special trip due to sporadic opening.

Perhaps that Joe guy will share his 15 great Chrales county BBQ spots with us, so far he's keeping them to himself!

My favorite locally is Dotson's barbecue in Glen Burnie, south of Baltimore. Smoky, pit cooked ribs and chicken and soul food sides. White bread with your ribs, a good sign. I used to work right near there and the smoke was coming up every morning no matter how early you went in. Their deal is they cook all the stuff for the day to be ready by lunch time, start the fire at 3 or 4 AM, so don't go before 11:30 or so.

Dotson's barbecue: 7317 East Furnace Branch Road 410-768-2784

See, I share the wealth! :biggrin:

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Anyone been to Riedel's in Van Ness? I'm curious but haven't gotten a chance to go. I hear they have a mustard-based sauce they call "Carolina" which I find insulting 1) being a North Carolina native and 2) assuming everyone knows the eastern NC vinegar sauce is the best. :raz:

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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I'm REALLY not qualified to contribute to this thread since I don't eat meat. However, my boyfriend happens to be the biggest rib fanatic and I am usually a very nice girlfriend and go along with him and get salad and fries while he enjoys a rack. We lived in St Louis for a few years, just a few blocks from the St Louis Rib Co on Delmar, where he ate on a regular basis, so I guess he was spoiled.

Although he hasn't found anything close to it, the two places he favors in DC are Famous Daves and Ribster's on Little River Turnpike in Annandale (I haven't seen that one mentioned yet). I am a bbq sauce fanatic and especially enjoyed dipping my fries in the sauce at Ribsters.

I'm glad I found this thread, my boyfriend will be thrilled to have some more recomendations.

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I have not been to Famous Daves, but Ribsters is awful. The ribs swim in an overly sweet sauce, and they taste as if they have been boiled prior to hitting a grill. Just not palatable. I have yet to find ribs around here that are worth eating, that is unless they come off of my smoker.

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I have not been to Famous Daves, but Ribsters is awful.  The ribs swim in an overly sweet sauce, and they taste as if they have been boiled prior to hitting a grill.  Just not palatable.  I have yet to find ribs around here that are worth eating, that is unless they come off of my smoker.

This may be why Marzapane's boyfriend likes Ribsters - St. Louis Barbecue sauce is typically pretty sweet.

Bill Russell

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This may be why Marzapane's boyfriend likes Ribsters - St. Louis Barbecue sauce is typically pretty sweet.

I knew I shouldn't have gotten into a conversation among carnivores! I will try to ask my boyfriend what he liked about it. I also seem to remember that Ribster's had several different varieties of ribs (ie, Memphis style, Texas style, etc). I myself am partial to sweet bbq sauce. I've never really cared for the vinegary varieties.

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They have three different types of ribs, and none of them are very good. They have Regular, Memphis, and Texas (beef ribs).

As for sweetness in sauce, not every red sauce has to be either sweet or vinegar. I do not know of anywhere that offers vinegar sauce for ribs. I have never understood the sauces that have more sugar in them than a Slurpee. I make a number of different types of BBQ sauces, and for the three that I use on ribs, all have enough tartness to off-set the sweet. Otherwise you overpower the flavor of the meat, and smoke.

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After reading all the posts I felt inspired and headed out to Willard's to give it a try (I live outside the beltway, so traveling in to DC on a whim was out). My wife and I had the NC pulled pork. Not bad, could use a little more vinegar as someone else suggested a while ago. Their hot sauce is also pretty good, but it kind of negates the whole NC thing.

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Jumping in late here as well.  Haven't tried a lot of the places mentioned.

Johnny Boy's on 301 - Agree with the descriptions above, had gotten very inconsistent.

My best luck on 301 has been a place that's about a mile east of 301.  You turn right at the 1st or 2nd traffic light north of the Potomac River Bridge (headed north), you'll know which light because there's a hand painted sign before the turn.  Only open warm weather weekends (about April - October).  You'll see another sign by the road that says "Open Today" on the right, I think, if they're open, turn in there.  Just a shack by an old church.  Ribs have been really good everytime I've had them, but we stop by there when we're traveling back from VA, hard to say make a special trip due to sporadic opening.

Perhaps that Joe guy will share his 15 great Chrales county BBQ spots with us, so far he's keeping them to himself!

My favorite locally is Dotson's barbecue in Glen Burnie, south of Baltimore.  Smoky, pit cooked ribs and chicken and soul food sides.  White bread with your ribs, a good sign.  I used to work right near there and the smoke was coming up every morning no matter how early you went in.  Their deal is they cook all the stuff for the day to be ready by lunch time, start the fire at 3 or 4 AM, so don't go before 11:30 or so.

Dotson's barbecue:  7317 East Furnace Branch Road  410-768-2784

See, I share the wealth!  :biggrin:

Charles County, Maryland is the ONLY place in the greater D. C. area that allows open pit barbecuing. There really are a lot of places there that are excellent. Johnny Boy's used to set the standard but I haven't been in a couple of years. Most of my recent trips to Southern Maryland have been in search of crabs-perhaps I should have been looking for Q which, several years ago, was my primary obsession. A lot of these places also come and go, open one year and then gone the next. I remember one place that was a hang out for bikers; it was outstanding. (I think it was on the "back road" than ran from La Plata to Indian Head. Route 225? Route 6?) I felt uncomfortable eating in my car since ours' was the ONLY car in a lot filled with 75 or 100 Harleys. Still, they KNEW great Q and for me, it was worth "the risk" if you will. Over the years some friends of mine and I have done tours of the Charles County pits and returned convinced that they set the standard for the DC area.

On another board someone had the suggestion (a serious one but no one picked up on it!) of renting a stretch limo and eight or ten of us cruising the various Charles County pits and joints, looking for the DC area's best.

I'm still willing and know a half dozen others that could probably be talked into it!

As for the place where the Harleys hung out, well, today, it may be known for crabs in the same way that Stoney's in Broome Island lost their "chef" to Tony's Riverhouse in Benedict which NOW sets the standard for the definitive southern Maryland crab cake.

Edited by Joe H (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...
What about Mighty Midget?   I've been meaning to try it ever since it was mentioned (very favorably) in that WP bbq article last year.   202-A Harrison St, Leesburg

I am actually panning on going there this weekend if I get a chance. I drove past it last weekend and it is smaller than I had even pictured. But I figure it is worth a shot - I'll report back.

Here it is ten months after this post and I FINALLY made it to the Mighty Midget this past Sunday. Beautiful day to sit at one of their picnic tables.

The pulled pork was good, but nothing great - it had the right texture, decent sweet sauce (I like my Q saucy) and was a good sized sandiwch, but not quite as smoky as I would have liked or as good as I had hoped.

As a side dish, I had a half-smoke that was crisp and flavorful, served with a honey mustard relish - really excellent. jenrus had the fried fish sandwich - a huge sub-like sandwich, and very well done - crunchy breading and light, flaky fish.

I hope to get back to try the ribs, but they are only available on Friday and Saturday

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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I'll have to get out there soon myself. Probably like you, I had to wait until the weather improved to try it.

But I did make the inaugural visit to Urban BBQ over the weekend. Great stuff, its location makes it a welcome addition to the area. Probably the only BBQ place I'll ever try in Maryland.

The Old Dominion Root Beer on self-serve tap is a nice touch. Had what I usually get on maiden visits, the pulled pork. Not as finely "pulled" here as I've had it at other places, but that's not really a positive or negative, just a difference. (What I mean here is that the chunks of pork were larger than most places.)

The cornbread was probably the moistest I've had at a BBQ joint, which is a big plus in its favor. The cole slaw was good, served in a diced style with a lot of green and red herbs and veggies and things. Didn't get to try it, but the potato salad looked very non-traditional. Had an orange tint to it, maybe from some eastern spices.

They have three or four main sauces for you to apply, plus a chili powder of some kind. The Carolina and the Yella were very good. Borrowing from Tom S., I would say the red sauce was a bit cloying. They also have a thick spicy sauce, but that's not my cup o'tea.

The staff were very pleasant, too. Three of us walked in all slack-jawed and gaping at the menu, and they helped us through and were very nice.

A few posts up I gave praise to Willards, which I would still probably rate higher than Urban. But the two are quite a ways from each other, so there's plenty of room for both to thrive. My opinions could also shift soon, after trying their versions of my traditional second-visit meal, the ribs.

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If you want great BBQ in DC go to National airport and take a flight to austin, KC memphis or other places. DC does not have what I would consider to be great BBQ.

However, I think Red Hot and Blue is good for what it is, a chain witha high school kid watching the smoker. Rockland's is very inconsistant. It you hit it on a good day, it can be good. The best BBQ was near manassas called Ben's Whole hog (NC style) but it change hands a year or so bad. Its good but I would no longer make the 50 mile trek. I've heard great things about the Mighty Midget near Leesburg but have not made my way over to try it.

Washington is still lacking in this area.

Soup

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  • 3 months later...

I'm spending a good chunk of the next few Sundays motoring into deep Southern Maryland and back along 301 (camp-time) and would be happy to accept any new tips, thread updates or timely suggestions regarding where to get some good Charles County 'cue.

Hell, I'll even play delivery boy if anyone wants a Sunday picnic or spontaneous gathering. PM, in that case.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'm spending a good chunk of the next few Sundays motoring into deep Southern Maryland and back along 301 (camp-time) and would be happy to accept any new tips, thread updates or timely suggestions regarding where to get some good Charles County 'cue.

Hell, I'll even play delivery boy if anyone wants a Sunday picnic or spontaneous gathering.  PM, in that case.

Ah, I know the route back and forth to Camp St. Charles in southern Charles County all too well. Johnny Boys' south of La Plata, on the northbound side of 301, used to have great ribs. We'd even get some to bring to the long-suffering Salvatorian priests who ran the camp. :biggrin: I have heard that it has gone downhill in the last few years (the ribs, not the camp). I haven't been there in awhile - maybe it's improved. I like Randy's which is on Rt. 5 (Leonardtown Road). From La Plata, take La Plata Rd./Rt. 488 east to Rt. 5 heading south. Their website is www.randysribs.com.
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Johnny Boys' south of La Plata, on the northbound side of 301, used to have great ribs.  We'd even get some to bring to the long-suffering Salvatorian priests who ran the camp.  :biggrin: I have heard that it has gone downhill in the last few years (the ribs, not the camp).  I haven't been there in awhile - maybe it's improved.

Oh, that's bad news about Johnny Boys.

For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the decent bbq place in Waldorf. If it occurs to me I'll post - it would be on your way whether you take 301 or Rt 5 south.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Johnny Boy's was poor when I went in June. Spare ribs not cooked long enough, so they still had the overcooked-roast-pork texture, not the collagen-broken-down-real-BBQ texture. And not cheap.

Edited by jparrott (log)

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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