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Best BBQ in the DC Metro Area


fischwlu
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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.

You may be thinking about Lefty's Barbeque in Waldorf: www.leftysbarbeque.com.
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I was in Johnny Boys neighborhood a month or so ago and had planned to stop but there was 1 car in their parking lot and a dozen in the lot of the place across the street about 100 yards away (I'm blanking on the name). The pulled pork was tasty but a little heavy on the sauce. The root beer was just what I needed on the very hot day.

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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.

We had planned to follow your directions to Randy's but, for the first time in many years dashing to towards camp, the little brick building in the parking lot of some County facility just off 301 was open -- we got a burst of the smoke going by and decided to stop there on this trip.

There's no name on the stenciled plywood sign, but xeroxed menue identified the joint as J.B's Bar-B-Que, Rt 257 Newburg MD 20664 (take a left off 301 at the diner and it's 1 mile up on the right) 259-4641.

I don't claim to bring the same level of sophistication to my Q analyses as other on the board, but I was particularly impressed by the pulled pork, which seemed, at first, too mild but ended up tasty, smokey and tart. A subtle version, but nunaced, if you will, and addictive. I'm usually good for more sauce than they put on the sandwich, and I commit the crime of cue-slawter whenever possible, but since I was trying to eat while driving, I kept to the basics and considered myself well-rewarded for having done so.

The pork ribs, too, seemed kind of "eh" at first gnaw, not particulalry meaty, and with an indifferent sauce as I snarfed one down while unpacking from the trip. Again, though, as I walked away from the clamshell container, I adjusted my opinion upwards. Apparently the oak logs behind the building were being put to good use, the ribs tasted of a long, slow smoke and and I went back for more right away.

I'd be curious to here what the real Q afficianados think, but I thought it was a pretty reasonable place.

The other fun of the day came when we pulled into Apehangers, a "biker friendly bar" for a couple of Buds and the passing show. It's always funny how polite Huge Men (and I am no little guy, myself) with many tattoos and death's head bandanas seem to be, even funnier to see one of them holding up a ladies T and yelling across the bar "Hey ma, what size should I get for her?") and I like any bar where they call me "sweetie" as they hand me my beer. It was cool and comfortable and the temptation to relax and punch up a little more AC/DC on the jukebox was significant but, sadly we had to push on.

Apehanger's website.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I like J. R.'s meat, I've posted about it in other threads. They serve the meat unsauced and ask if you want hot or mild sauce. In my opinion, the sauce (and the beans as well) are way too sweet and thick for my taste. Get the sauce on the side!

So, I like the ribs and chicken but we take it home (about an hour's drive on the way home from VA or NC) and use our own vinegary sauce concoction. Side dishes mostly forgettable, haven't tried the potato salad. Also haven't tried the pulled pork.

You gotta like the run down, mossy roofed shack atmosphere.

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I had planned on picking up goodies at JB's and at another place, probably Randy's, but time ran short and we only had a chance to repeat at JBs.

Once again, the visuals screamed "authentic."

gallery_7296_1579_5144.jpg

What you see is what you get.

But this time I thought the rib sauce tasted better. This could be because someone seemed to have hit this batch of sauce with a significant dose of vinegar. Or it could be because food always tastes better when you know who did the cooking, and this time around I stumbled across JB himself, a gentleman whose accent suggests he's never lived much more than walking distance from his place of business, and whom all the locals address as "Mr. B." We had only a brief chat -- we were late for Willie Wonka -- but he was almost painfully polite and helpful and clearly proud of the work he does, everything that his food suggests.

gallery_7296_1579_37940.jpgMr. B, himself.

I continue to think that the pulled pork is exceptional, but found the molasses in the baked beans to be almost overwhelming.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Spent a good part of last Saturday blazing through the tobacco fields and brackish backwaters of Southern Maryland and notched two more 'cue shacks into the culinary bedpost.

A couple of weeks ago I would have been ecstatic to stumble across Randy's ribs (website here).

gallery_7296_1604_3545.jpg

In the heart of downtown Hughsville, MD.

Good slow cooking, smokey taste a rich sweet sauce with a palpable bite. But, in the end, they were just too sweet for me. Don't get me wrong -- we're not talking an abomination like H.I. Ribsters or whatever here, and generally speaking I'd cross state state lines in the face of outstanding warrants and angry ex-wives for this stuff. The chopped beef sammy, though over-poured with that same sweet sauce, was served on the only decent roll I've ever found in any barbecue joint. And the service was friendly as all hell.

gallery_7296_1604_17764.jpg

Always service with a smile.

But, just 5 minutes down the road, I'd stumbled up against Sonny's Barbecue Pit (29144 Thompson Corner Rd. Charlotte Hall-- State Road 236 just SE of Route 5 -- 301-290-0035) and the second the engine began sucking the woodsmoke into the manifold, the car itself (which is learning quickly) did a U-turn before I could take the left up to Randy's. Next thing I knew, I was deep in conversation with Sonny's son, Raymond.

gallery_7296_1604_15675.jpg

I think we know who's in charge, here.

About the only thing Raympnd doesn't seem to be able to do around a barbecue pit is to get his little sister, who was manning the window and who is strikingly beautiful, to pose for me. While she hid in the car, Raymond and I talked cue. He's a slow smoker and a sauce-on-the-side man. The ribs were meaty and the meat almost fell off. I hit it up with two sauces, to see what happened then. The mild was one of those understated sauces that turn your attention back to the meat, which desrved it. As befitting a maestro who talks of moving beyond ribs to soul foods of other nations and regions -- lasagne, chili and the like -- certain delicious liberties were taken with the hot sauce, which almost reminded me of something Southeast Asian -- but still had to share the stage with what was falling off them bones.

The chopped pork sandwich was a disappointment compared to the ribs, heavily sauced and good but not great.

No matter. The ribs stand up all on their own.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks for more good barbecue detective work busboy.  Have to make a trip to try those places out, not too far from me, actually.

Saw this in the Post food section this week.  Anyone got an opinion on Jammin' Joe's?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...5080900287.html

Jammin Joes: Yeah, see my post #79 above (I don't know how to link it).

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Mrs. Wiggum and I went to Willard's Real Pit BBQ in Chantilly on Friday night. Highlights included the NC pulled pork. As others have noted, it doesn't have a ton of vinegar, but it was nice to be able to get a true taste of the pork itself, which was very moist. Their baked beans are fantastic as well. The cornbread was a bit dry, though, and the smoked sausage was nothing special. Since we only live 10 minutes away, we will be back...often.

Portions are absolutely enormous! We each had enough leftovers to make 2 full pulled pork sandwiches.

"My cat's breath smells like cat food."

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I have to say, I really enjoy Famous Dave's. (I go to the one in Woodbridge.) Great ribs (plenty of meat & not fatty!) & pulled pork, good selection of sauces, and nice sides. The staff (predominately teenagers) give quick service, and I always enjoy my meals there.

I hate Red Hot & Blue. I went once, and never went back.

At Rockland's, I stick to the buffalo wings (delicious & authentic!)

Looking forward to trying some of the other places mentioned!

Willards BBQ

I tried it tonight and I thought it was good, but not great.  The ribs looked perfect, but were a tad bit on the chewy side.  Now I know the meat shouldn't be completely falling off the bone, but these were a slightly chewier than I like.  And I think dry rubs ribs should stand on their own, even if you're a sauce person (which I am) but about halfway thru half a rack I really lost interest.  The sauces were too tangy (tomato based).  I really liked the "jamaican jerk chicken", which ironically was neither true jamaican jerk chicken nor traditional BBQ chicken, but good nonetheless.  I'll go back to try the pulled pork and brisket sometime, though.  My son will like it.

Famous Dave's

My wife picked up some ribs, pulled pork and some sides about a week ago.  I know this is a chain, but as far as chains go, I thought the ribs were tasty.  Reminded me of decent backyard charcoal grilled ribs, but not really a true pit smoked rib.  One of the better local chains IMO.

In the next few weeks I hope to find Granny's in DC.

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I have never made it to Urban BBQ, even though it's been on my list for well over a year at this point. I've tried twice in the past month, calling ahead each time, but they've been closed for renovations. According to their outgoing voicemail message, they're adding lots of seating and BEER to the menu. I plan to stop by soon after they reopen, which should hopefully be within a couple of weeks.

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I have never made it to Urban BBQ, even though it's been on my list for well over a year at this point. I've tried twice in the past month, calling ahead each time, but they've been closed for renovations. According to their outgoing voicemail message, they're adding lots of seating and BEER to the menu. I plan to stop by soon after they reopen, which should hopefully be within a couple of weeks.

I go by there at least twice a week - drove by yesterday on my way to Target and it still looks pretty rough. I'll post as soon as the OPEN sign is back on.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Lefty's Barbecue off of Route 5 just after you enter Waldorf (just south of the Mattawoman Beantown turnoff). Used to run their business out of a small portable just as you entered St. Mary's County, been here at this Waldorf location for years. Every time I'm back in town I end up at Lefty's several times -- between "Big Mama" cutting the meat to Lefty and his family serving you, you can't go wrong with their tasty Q.

Food Lover -- nothing more, nothing less
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I have to say, I really enjoy Famous Dave's.  (I go to the one in Woodbridge.) Great ribs (plenty of meat & not fatty!) & pulled pork, good selection of sauces, and nice sides.  The staff (predominately teenagers) give quick service, and I always enjoy my meals there. 

I hate Red Hot & Blue.  I went once, and never went back. 

At Rockland's, I stick to the buffalo wings (delicious & authentic!)

Looking forward to trying some of the other places mentioned!

Willards BBQ

I tried it tonight and I thought it was good, but not great.  The ribs looked perfect, but were a tad bit on the chewy side.  Now I know the meat shouldn't be completely falling off the bone, but these were a slightly chewier than I like.  And I think dry rubs ribs should stand on their own, even if you're a sauce person (which I am) but about halfway thru half a rack I really lost interest.  The sauces were too tangy (tomato based).  I really liked the "jamaican jerk chicken", which ironically was neither true jamaican jerk chicken nor traditional BBQ chicken, but good nonetheless.  I'll go back to try the pulled pork and brisket sometime, though.  My son will like it.

Famous Dave's

My wife picked up some ribs, pulled pork and some sides about a week ago.  I know this is a chain, but as far as chains go, I thought the ribs were tasty.  Reminded me of decent backyard charcoal grilled ribs, but not really a true pit smoked rib.  One of the better local chains IMO.

In the next few weeks I hope to find Granny's in DC.

Interesting tcpanda that we're pretty much on the same page. I too really like famous Dave's for all the reasons you mention. In addition, I appreciate the family friendly atmosphere and the fact that the folks who work there seem to actually enjoy their jobs. I sample a little bit of each of their sauces with my ribs, which as you say, are meaty (and delicious) indeed, and intend to order the sauces online (as well as his various rubs). My only complaint, if you can call it one, is WHERE ARE THE DAMNED COLLARD GREENS!?

Anyway, I'm a sucker for any story involving someone who pulled himself up and out of a bad situation--homelessness, drugs, etc.--and became a self-made success. Odd thing being that he opened his first restaurant in Minnesota, the absolute best spareribs (and in-house made sauce) I've ever had was also in Minnesota (St. Paul, I think) at a restaurant called the St. Claire Broiler. I mean these things tasted like contest worthy ribs. Minnesota, BBQ Central in the USA?

Ditto on Red, White and Blue. I tried them once when they first showed up in Arlington (Rosslyn) and was more than underwhelmed.

As for Rocklands (Arlington) I really like the brisket and the lemonade. I found the sides to range from so-so to downright awful, however.

I would love to go on some of the bbq roadtrips mentioned on this thread as well, but it's just not feasible for me right now.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Lefty's Barbecue off of Route 5 just after you enter Waldorf (just south of the Mattawoman Beantown turnoff).  Used to run their business out of a small portable just as you entered St. Mary's County, been here at this Waldorf location for years.  Every time I'm back in town I end up at Lefty's several times -- between "Big Mama" cutting the meat to Lefty and his family serving you, you can't go wrong with their tasty Q.

Is this place in a strip shopping center? I've seen place from 301 in a shopping center, haven't tried it.

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Lefty's Barbecue off of Route 5 just after you enter Waldorf (just south of the Mattawoman Beantown turnoff).  Used to run their business out of a small portable just as you entered St. Mary's County, been here at this Waldorf location for years.  Every time I'm back in town I end up at Lefty's several times -- between "Big Mama" cutting the meat to Lefty and his family serving you, you can't go wrong with their tasty Q.

Is this place in a strip shopping center? I've seen place from 301 in a shopping center, haven't tried it.

Yes, it is. There's a place called Yum's or something just in front of it, and a Dollar Store to the right of it.

Food Lover -- nothing more, nothing less
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  • 2 weeks later...

Urban BBQ is back open. They have expanded, now have tables and chairs as well as the stools, server beer and wine coolers, and more sodas (don't worry, they still have the great root beer on tap) The food is a good as ever and they would be glad to see you all.

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Hjshorter and I lunched at Urban today. We shared a bunch 'o stuff--the infamous Soul Rolls with redneck fondue, a crab cake, some pulled chicken, some ribs, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, collards, and slaw. The place has an amazing aroma and gets quite packed at lunchtime--we were glad we showed up early, and when we left at 12:30 there were people hovering to nab our table. I enjoyed the Dominion root beer on tap. The counter service is very friendly and real.

The ribs had a richly smoked flavor, were appropriately chewy-tender and seemed to have a thin glaze on them--they were great on their own but even better dipped in the red BBQ sauce. I thought the pulled chicken tasted good but was a little too chewy--it definitely needed sauce to tide it over. As for the crab cake, it's very creamy and has a rich flavor--it's not very large and appeared to have been coated in fine breadcrumbs. It's not lump-y for those into jumbo lump crab cakes, but I personally am willing to sacrafice some lumps for a more authentic crab flavor.

Heather's collards are better than Urban's, but Urban's are respectable nonetheless, packed with real bacon and slow-cooked like God intended. The mac and cheese is very cheesy, but the cheese is a bit lacking in flavor--I'd prefer less cheese with more sharpness to it. The slaw is mayo-based and crunchy, not overly dressed, and not particularly sweet (though I was chasing it with the root beer, so maybe my palate was off). The soul rolls are one of those things I think you have to try once--egg roll skins packed with bbq brisket and cheese, deep-fried, and served with "redneck fondue" (a chili-cheese dip). They're just dandy without the dip, but I bet the fondue is great with chips (also available as a starter). I only managed half of one--each order comes with 4 halves, and I definitely recommend splitting this 4 ways if you come with some buddies to avoid overload. The cornbread really is good--slightly sweet, chewy, and packed with fresh corn kernels.

I know this review is not that heavy on the BBQ itself, which is really the point of these sorts of places--but I'm having a hard time getting down a lot of meat these days, which is why I ordered the crab cake. Besides, I just went to NC for Varmint's pig picking over Labor Day weekend and ate my fill of NC-style pulled pork while I was there, so I couldn't bring myself to try Urban's pork BBQ. Next time I hope to try the brisket at least--I got some in the Soul Rolls but would like to sample it on its own.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I rather like Riedel's up on Conn. Ave near the UDC metro. Pretty tasty pulled pork, and there are four styles of sauces (KC, Memphis, North Carolina, and one other I can't think of right now) to choose from. Reasonably well-priced - actually, scrap that, considering the fact that it's a nice looking sit-down restaurant (the kind you wouldn't be ashamed to take your parents or a date to), it's dirt cheap.

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Lefty's Barbecue off of Route 5 just after you enter Waldorf (just south of the Mattawoman Beantown turnoff).  Used to run their business out of a small portable just as you entered St. Mary's County, been here at this Waldorf location for years.  Every time I'm back in town I end up at Lefty's several times -- between "Big Mama" cutting the meat to Lefty and his family serving you, you can't go wrong with their tasty Q.

Found myself in Waldorf today, so tried Lefty's. Definitely friendly folks serving you, very pleasant. I got a chopped pork sandwich and the Thursday chicken lunch special which is 2 leg quarters and one side for $3.49, a nice deal. They also have a chicken and rib lunch special for $4.49.

I thought the chicken was very good, the pork just so-so. It is not very smoky, which works out well on the chicken but leaves the pork a little bland. Baked beans were tasty, but too sweet for me.

I'd stop in again for chicken, maybe try a rib.

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  • 8 months later...

Any new discoveries for Maryland Barbecue? I'll be running my daughter to camp again and always like to use the occasion to get some serious down home 'cue.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Put Randy's on the disabled list. I went by last weekend and the stuff was just bad. Don't know if they had an off day or what, but for the first time in my life, I left a rack of ribs uneaten.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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  • 1 month later...

Last trip to Southern Md. for the year last weekend. Sonny's was inconsistent, I like JB's more and more, the ribs but especially the pulled pork.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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