In Washington, D.C., barbecue lovers have a wide variety of options for satisfying their carnivorous cravings. From brisket sandwiches piled high with fried onions and smothered in queso to grilled hot Italian sausages served by the pound with honey jalapeno cornbread—the nation’s capital has it all.
We’ve rounded up five of our favorite BBQ joints to jump-start your meat-filled journey.
Cuts for Cowboys
Texas Jack's Barbecue takes its moniker from John B. Omohundro, a.k.a. “Texas Jack,” a Virginia native who lived in the 1800s, known for his adventurous spirit and his travels—sound familiar, WhereTraveler readers?
We like to think if the cowboy was alive today, he’d be sitting at one of the communal tables at this award-winning Arlington, Virginia, restaurant, digging into a scratch-made barbecue breakfast of eggs, smoked brisket, home-fried potatoes and a biscuit.
If you’re not an early riser, stop by for lunch and dig into a pulled pork burrito, smoked portobello sandwich or the brisket sandwich. Or, carve out time for dinner, and sip on a beer or the restaurant’s “smoked” whiskey sour and make your way through a plate of the “Two-Door ’87 Cutlass Supreme” nachos, heaped with the meat of your choice.
A BBQ Empire
With several locations, four food trucks, a station in the Capital One Arena and a pop-up spot outside of Nationals Park, Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company covers the D.C. area like smoke.
And the Q-ers take pride in their history and hometown. Owner John Snedden helped come up with the menu for the Clintons’ first State Dinner and debuted a limited-edition hot sauce for former President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Those who follow their growling stomach to Rocklands find a range of meats by the pound, plus specialty sandwiches and sides including a broccoli and bacon salad, fried okra and the restaurant’s honey jalapeno cornbread.
Something’s Fishy About This Barbecue
Hungry diners looking for something a little different should make their way to The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, a one-stop shop with a restaurant, smokehouse and market serving up house-smoked seafood, cocktails designed by local distilleries and a lively rooftop patio.
Whether you’re in the mood for a crispy fish dish or a house-smoked sandwich or entrée (spare ribs, anyone?), you’re sure to find a fit here. Sunday brunch brings the Smokehouse benedict, filled with Ivy City Smokehouse Euro smoked salmon (a mouthful both on the page and on the plate) and a crab cake sandwich, among other delectable dishes.
Small Spot for Big Flavor
With a menu full of platters, sandwiches, half-smokes and creative sides, such as the “House Pickles,” a smoky brisket chili and spiced fries, DCity Smokehouse gives diners plenty of reasons to return.
Regulars love the famous “DCity Pit Smoked Wings,” served with a side of cilantro ranch. To top it all off, Fido is welcome at its outdoor picnic tables, but the tempting aromas may be torturous for four-legged friends.
We know, we know, North Carolina has the best barbecue ... wait, Texas does? Now Nashville? No matter the style, groups with differing tastes can unite at one table at the Federalist Pig.
With signature sandwiches such as the “Carolina On My Mind,” “Texas Ranger” and the “Music City,” along with platters, hard cider and favorite fixin’s, it’s no wonder the eatery warns weekenders to check BBQ availability before stopping by.
While you’re there, don’t forget to snap a picture of the Federalist Pig’s beloved mural. What better way to remind you of your D.C. barbecue bonanza?