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Virginia BBQ


danfishe
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We will be moving to Northern Virginia next month, and would love reccomendations on authentic cue in the area. We'd be willing to drive up to a couple of hours for some really good stuff. We have previously lived in Austin and Nashville and so have at least a passing familiarity with the genre. Thanks!

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There is nothing here that even remotely approaches the brisket or links at, say, Luling City Market or Cooper's in Llano. Of course there are only a handful of places left in Texas that are on this level anyway. You will find the equal of the ribs from, say, the County Line on the hill and the ribs and brisket at the Salt Lick. Nowhere will you find the ambience of the ones I've mentioned. There are local outposts of Red Hot and Blue but I don't think there's anything here on par with the best in Memphis for chopped pork although there are several places that are actually better than what some people give them credit for. Both eastern and western North Carolina style are here but neither is as good as, say, The Skylight Inn or Lexington.

My point in mentioning all of the names of these places which I've been to is that it has become increasingly difficult to find great Q anywhere. Even in states like TX, TN and NC there are not that many places left. What most take for great bbq is a really a step or two below the best. On this level-the step or two below-you WILL find that here.

Last, Allman's on route 1 in Fredericksburg years ago had outstanding, exemplery sliced pork bbq (and real milk shakes and good slaw, too). I haven't been in years but if it's still on the same level it would be worth the trip. Johnny Boy's in LaPlata was/is arguably the D. C. areas best. This is a cinderblock shack with picnic tables on the side of the road. (Charles county, MD is the only area within miles that allows open pits.) Nancy Lewis in the Post after eating at about 60 or 70 places over several months noted this a year or so ago. Her pedigree is from Alabama. (For those who read the frozen custard thread she did the same for this and agreed with me on Neilsen's as the best.)

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Thanks. We will try out Johnny Boy's for sure. Any other suggestions, on the Salt Lick level you describe, would be appreciated. I am planning to make a trip down to Wilson NC the first weekend I can.

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We will be moving to Northern Virginia next month, and would love reccomendations on authentic cue in the area.  We'd be willing to drive up to a couple of hours for some really good stuff.  We have previously lived in Austin and Nashville and so have at least a passing familiarity with the genre.  Thanks!

If you're serious about being willing to head out up to 2 hours...

Get on Rt 29 and head South to the Pig 'n Steak

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Thanks.  We will try out Johnny Boy's  for sure.  Any other suggestions, on the Salt Lick level you describe, would be appreciated.  I am planning to make a trip down to Wilson NC the first weekend I can.

I have the occasion to travel down route 301 through Southern Maryland in to VA regularly. BBQ is usually on our agenda on the return trip.

As has been stated in othet threads, we have found Johnny Boy's to be very inconsistent of late. Got obviously warmed over, dry ribs a couple of times. Don't go often enough to say that's the way it always is, just might recommend going later in the day and asking to make sure the product is fresh.

My two favorite places are as follows:

J-R's barbecue - this place is in a shack adjacent to a black Elk's club. They are open only on weekends in the summer, usually starting the last weekend of April. Ribs and chicken are slow smoked with a little salt, pepper, and paprika, no sauce added while cooking. Just had some Saturday (ribs and chicken), very tender and tasty, sauce served on the side. We found the cole slaw to be good, both the beans and the sauce were way too thick and sweet for my taste, should have gone for the potato salad. J-R's is on route 257 about a mile east of 301 on the right as you head east, there's a sign that says "open today" by the road. 257 is the first intersection north of the 301 bridge over the Potomac river and there's a blinking traffic light.

Bring your own sauce and vinegar if you don't like it sweet and remember to get the sauce on the side!

Crazy Ray's barbecue - I believe they use gas cookers here, but the results are very good. The ribs are sauced some during cooking, and have been consistently tasty. The side orders (beans and slaw) are outstanding. Crazy Ray's is in King George county, VA, on 301, approximately 6 -8 miles south of the route 301 Potomac river bridge. It is a bright orange building just past a traffic light on the left (if you're heading south), don't know the cross route number, but you can't miss it. I believe they're closed on Mondays.

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I found Crazy Ray's to have woefully inadequate chopped bbq. No smoke, sauce masking rather than enhancing, little or no "browns." Haven't tried the ribs.

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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Wanted to add another place I like that's within the 2 hour drive limit, although counterintuitively, you go north.

Pit cooked ribs, chicken and soul food sides. Been going here periodically since 1990.

From south, take 95 north to 695 east towards Glen Burnie. Take route 10 south in Glen Burnie, second exit is Furnace Branch Rd. Turn left off exit, Dotson's take out is about a half mile down on the left in an old shopping center. The smoke house is across the street.

Dotson's Barbeque

7317 E Furnace Branch Rd

Glen Burnie, MD 21060-7059

(410) 768-2784

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Rocklands for sure, but the best kept secret is right here in woodbridge, Dixie Bones.

Not fond of Rocklands, Dixie Bones (which I like) is on Occoquan Rd just off Rte1 at the north end of Woodbridge. I also like a really obscure place called BBQ World in Burke, at the corner of Roberts and Burke Center Pkwy. It has a real wood cooker, and if you want to know why more places in urban areas don't just look at the hood system he has.

Some of my friends like Willard's in Chantilly near the Expo Center on Willard rd. I think they are not as good as the two above. I (real southerner I guess) am not a huge fan of brisket, and that is what they like at Willards.

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Thanks.  We will try out Johnny Boy's  for sure.  Any other suggestions, on the Salt Lick level you describe, would be appreciated.  I am planning to make a trip down to Wilson NC the first weekend I can.

Wilson, known for Parker's and Bob Melton's was a real disappointment for me years ago. Give serious consideration to Pete Jones' Skylight Inn in Ayden about an hour + away which Southern Living called "the best bbq" place in the South recently. This is an excellent link with detailed photos from Holly Eats:

http://www.hollyeats.com/SkylightInn.htm

This is video (yes, video!) of The Skylight Inn:http://www.turnersouth.com/media/player/0,,3001,00.html

Allman's was known for sliced pork bbq years ago. Not chopped. Holly gave it three stars which would be a real fall from what it once was. But I haven't been in over ten years!

I haven't been to Johnny Boy's in a couple of years also. Today, my wife and I are actually driving down that way and may stop by if we don't go to Tony's Riverhouse in Benedict which has Stoney's old cook from Broome Island. Point being that Stoney's a year ago wasn't as good as the year before. Then I found out that their cook left and went to Benedict. A friend stopped in a couple of months ago and said that the Benedict place was as good as the old Stoney's in Broome Island.

Unfortunately, with time, places change.

Edited by Joe H (log)
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Lunch at Johnny Boy's Saturday. Ribs decent, but undercooked (the middle was still like regular cooked pork, not the softer, collage-dissolved texture of proper Q). I'm beginning to think that good ribs in a food service setting are something of a pipe dream. Not that I'm going to work too hard to find them--I like the ribs and shoulder that come off my own smoker enough.

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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While I don't have much to compare it to since I haven't been to any of the mom 'n pop BBQ places in Virginia, I am a big fan of the ribs at Old Glory BBQ in Georgetown. The ribs at Red Hot & Blue are not as good, in my opinion. Never been to Rocklands, but I frequently drive/walk by the Glover Park location and the smell makes my mouth water every time.

I've heard many people recommend the Mighty Midget Kitchen in Leesburg. It is literally a tiny tin shack, built from the fuselage of a World War II bomber. I actually lived in Leesburg a while back and had their peach habanero wings (across the street at Tuskie's) and they were the best wings I've ever tasted.

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Love,

Mr. Roger Troutman, who enjoys food and beverages.

CHAIR, INTERNATIONAL DINING RESEARCH INSTITUTE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

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I've heard many people recommend the Mighty Midget Kitchen in Leesburg.

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I can't vouch for the ribs (they're only available Friday and early Saturday, I believe), but the pulled pork is very good, but might not be as smoky as some might like. I don't need too much smoke, though, so I am a fan.

Their hamburger topped with pulled pork is my go-to.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Old Glory in Georgetown is good. Rocklands is a sure-bet.

Wilewil mentioned Willard's Real Pit Barbeque in Fairfax. IMHO, I really like this place and I am critical about this food (comes with spending a few years in Texas).

Met the owner. Nice guy. He's direct from the Carolinas. Really good briskets and pulled-pork plates are the norm. And the chalk-board menu is a nice way to keep the menu from getting old. He regularly hits the hotspots (KC, Memphis, NC, TX) plus a few international versions every so often. Decent prices, too.

- CSR

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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I think the pulled pork and burnt ends are over-sauced at Willards. I find Old Glory's ribs burnt for my taste (the whole idea of glazing and grill-finishing ribs kinda rubs me the wrong way). Rocklands is good for beef.

I would really suggest that those of you who are particularly interested (and have the time, space, and means) to get a horizontal smoker and try it yourself. It's pretty easy, pretty cheap, and you get to control the cooking method (which basically means, you can avoid getting product that's been done at too high a temp or sped along with gas).

Jake Parrott

Ledroit Brands, LLC

Bringing new and rare spirits to Washington DC.

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Old Glory in Georgetown is good. Rocklands is a sure-bet.

Wilewil mentioned Willard's Real Pit Barbeque in Fairfax. IMHO, I really like this place and I am critical about this food (comes with spending a few years in Texas).

Met the owner. Nice guy. He's direct from the Carolinas. Really good briskets and pulled-pork plates are the norm. And the chalk-board menu is a nice way to keep the menu from getting old. He regularly hits the hotspots (KC, Memphis, NC, TX) plus a few international versions every so often. Decent prices, too.

- CSR

We generally like Willard's very much, but last time I found the brisket to be a bit dry and the cornbread was AWFUL. Dry and crumbly.

However, the gumbo I got last time was OUTSTANDING. :smile: It was loaded with chicken, shrimp, sausage, and other goodies. Had I known the cornbread would be so crumbly I would have gone with the flow and crumbled it into the delicious gumbo.

So definitely peruse the lengthy specials list before ordering.

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I think the pulled pork and burnt ends are over-sauced at Willards.  I find Old Glory's ribs burnt for my taste (the whole idea of glazing and grill-finishing ribs kinda rubs me the wrong way)... I would really suggest that those of you who are particularly interested (and have the time, space, and means) to get a horizontal smoker and try it yourself. 

Good point JP! Too much sauce would definitely be a problem. I grew up eating dry Q, and that's the only way I order it, so I've not had the problems you've mentioned. The sauce and finish method turns me off faster than an Amsterdaam light switch, especially when I get sauced after asking for dry. Ribsters, Memphis BBQ and that "[in]famous" chain are on my s-list :angry: for this very reason.

Regards from Herndon,

- CSR

"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anyone mail ordered ribs before? My neighbor invited me over for some wonderful ribs he had next day aired from Nashville (ok I forgot the name). It seems he does this a couple of times a year.

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Has anyone mail ordered ribs before? My neighbor invited me over for some wonderful ribs he had next day aired from Nashville (ok I forgot the name). It seems he does this a couple of times a year.

I mail-order ribs to my nephew in Pennsylvania every year from Carson's Ribs in Chicago. The service is outstanding, the ribs and extras (sauce, bread, brownis) are delicious and the price, while expensive, is not outrageous (at least to me).

Thanks,

Kevin

http://www.ribs.com/

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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Looks good! I placed a order

Has anyone mail ordered ribs before? My neighbor invited me over for some wonderful ribs he had next day aired from Nashville (ok I forgot the name). It seems he does this a couple of times a year.

I mail-order ribs to my nephew in Pennsylvania every year from Carson's Ribs in Chicago. The service is outstanding, the ribs and extras (sauce, bread, brownis) are delicious and the price, while expensive, is not outrageous (at least to me).

Thanks,

Kevin

http://www.ribs.com/

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The Tennessee place is likely Corky's. Very famous (always in Food Network) and supposed to be very good. One ofthese years I'll try that instead of Carson's, but it's so easy to order from Carson's and I know he likes it. I'm sure you will like what you get.

K

http://www.corkysbbq.com/

**********************************************

Haggis man Posted Today, 12:14 PM

Looks good! I placed a order

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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Hello all,

I know that this isn't a solution to the question at hand, but there's a bbq battle happening this weekend in DC. Maybe some decent que can be had at there. Information can be found at this website:

http://www.bbqusa.us/

Admission is $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids.

I've never attended this event so would appreciate feedback from anyone who has.

Peace out.

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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