10 BBQ Hot Spots in the DC Area

By Rina Rapuano
July 14, 2014
Photo by: Laura Hayes

BBQ is one of those essential summer experiences. Once the temperatures start rising, we find ourselves craving a meat-and-two platter, a beer and a homestyle dessert enjoyed at a picnic table in the middle of nowhere. But since we all can't meander lonely country roads as often as we'd like, we've had to find ways to satisfy those cravings closer to home. Here are 10 DC-area takes on BBQ, including some citified versions as well as a few that require a bit of a road trip. 

  • American Ice Co.

    Hipsters and young families alike flock to this industrial-looking bar just off the U Street corridor that serves up locally sourced BBQ favorites and beers and whiskeys that range from lowbrow to artisanal. The spot doesn't take reservations, so get there early on weekends.

    Don’t Miss: The house-smoked brisket and the "swachos," a swine-topped play on nachos. 

    Side Show: The swachos are the crowd favorite, but other sides include pickles, chili, slaw and BBQ beans made with DC Brau beer and house-smoked bacon.

    917 V St. NW; 202-758-3562

  • Black Hog BBQ & Bar

    You'll find all kinds of BBQ represented here — Carolina chopped pork, Arkansas beef and ribs that come in the styles of Memphis "dry" or Kansas City "wet" — yet people always seem to come away happy. A second location can be found in Ijamsville, MD, and a third is set to open near Frederick in August. 

    Don’t Miss: The brisket sauced with one of the restaurant's housemade flavors, plus the ribs, the pork shoulder and the seasonal chili.

    Side Show: Mac 'n' cheese spiked with Parmesan and cheddar, and a porky blend of collard and mustard greens.

    118 S. Market St., Frederick, MD; 301-662-9090

  • Carolina Bros. Pit Barbeque

    Locals swear by this North Carolina-style BBQ hut, thanks to owner Danny Hurdle's passion for the 'cue of his native state. The meats are hickory smoked in a Carolina pit and served with an equally authentic sauce.

    Don’t Miss: It's easy to eat your way around the tight menu that mainly includes pork, beef or chicken BBQ sandwiches, babyback ribs and platters, plus a killer banana pudding.

    Side Show: Sides are as minimal as the rest of the menu, with offerings of baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, cornbread and macaroni and cheese.

    20702 Ashburn Road, Ashburn, VA; 703-729-7070

  • Photo by: Laura Hayes

    Garden District

    Scoring a seat at this beer garden is not easy thanks to both its popularity and its teeny size, yet we never give up on Garden District's Southern-BBQ-meets-German joint.

    Don’t Miss: BBQ fans should try the pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, the smoked pig head if you show up on a Friday, plus the fresh-made donuts sold on the sidewalk.

    Side Show: Favorites include the hushpuppies, fried half-sour pickles, BBQ beans and the Mexican corn on the cob.

    1801 14th St. NW

  • Photo by: Melissa Hom Photography

    Hill Country

    A Texas BBQ restaurant that comes to DC by way of New York City? It sounds like a joke waiting for a punch line, but Hill Country has proved that it takes BBQ seriously. 

    Don’t Miss: The pit-smoked beef brisket, the pork spareribs and the market chicken.

    Side Show: The Cheddar mac 'n' cheese, collards with applewood-smoked bacon and the confetti coleslaw made with red and green cabbage and carrots.

    410 Seventh St. NW; 202-556-2050

  • Kangaroo Boxing Club

    This scrappy little Columbia Heights bar and BBQ joint comes from the people behind the former Porc food truck, and these people know their smoked meats. To drink, you can find everything from a bucket of beer to locally sourced spirits.

    Don’t Miss: The KBC poutine, the pulled-pork sandwich, the ribs and anything with the housemade pastrami.

    Side Show: Try the perfectly grilled asparagus, the johnny cakes and the macaroni and cheese, which can be pimped with bacon Gorgonzola or jalapeño cheddar.

    3410 11th St. NW; 202-505-4522

  • Kenny’s BBQ Smokehouse

    This local favorite smokes its own meats and serves them with a choice of thin, somewhat sweet mild, medium or hot BBQ sauce. It's like the DC version of a country roadside BBQ joint, and President Obama himself reportedly ate there a couple of years ago.

    Don’t Miss: Pork ribs, the chopped BBQ pork and the hulking Smokehouse Combo — a platter of ribs, chicken, chopped pork, sliced beef, cornbread and two sides.

    Side Show: The pork-studded greens are by far the most popular, followed by the black-eyed peas and the lima beans. 

    732 Maryland Ave. NE; 202-547-4553

  • Rocklands

    This place has been around so long that it has its fans and detractors, but it's such a part of the DC BBQ landscape that it's a must-try for 'cue enthusiasts.

    Don’t Miss: The chopped pork sandwich and the mixed rib platter.

    Side Show: We're partial to the coleslaw, which features more fresh veggies than most, the honey-jalapeño cornbread and the creamy mac 'n' cheese.

    Multiple locations

  • Smoke & Barrel

    Things like sweet potato fries and a bacon-maple crème brûlée on the menu should tip you off that this is undoubtedly a fancified version of BBQ in Adams Morgan. What seems to get the yuppie/hipster Washingtonians most excited is the fact that they offer vegan wings. And for good reason — they're pretty darn good.

    Don’t Miss: The smoked vegan wings, the ribs, bacon-maple crème brûlée.

    Side Show: The smoked asparagus is memorable, as are the sweet potato fries and jalapeño-cheddar grits.

    2471 18th St. NW; 202-319-9353

  • Urban Bar-B-Que Co.

    Despite its name, this reliable local franchise dots the suburban landscape around DC, with the original Rockville location enjoying a particularly rabid following. 

    Don’t Miss: The soul rolls, which are like egg rolls filled with brisket and cheese; as well as the BBQ wings, pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs and the Key lime pie.

    Side Show: Favorites include the chopped coleslaw, beans and collards.

    Multiple locations


Places Mentioned

Garden District

Barbecue • 14th Street Corridor

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Hill Country Barbecue Market DC

Barbecue • Penn Quarter/Chinatown

Food21 Decor19 Service16 Cost$28
Hill Country Backyard Barbecue

Barbecue • Judiciary Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
Kangaroo Boxing Club

American • Columbia Heights

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling Company

Barbecue • Glover Park

Food22 Decor14 Service18 Cost$19
Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling Company

Barbecue • Rockville

Food22 Decor14 Service18 Cost$19
Smoke & Barrel

Barbecue • Adams Morgan

Food20 Decor19 Service19 Cost$23
Urban Bar-B-Que Company

Barbecue • Ashton-Sandy Spring

Food24 Decor16 Service19 Cost$18
Urban Bar-B-Que Company

Barbecue • Rockville

Food24 Decor16 Service19 Cost$18
Urban Bar-B-Que Company

Barbecue • Hillandale

Food24 Decor16 Service19 Cost$18
Urban Bar-B-Que- Ashburn

Barbecue • Ashburn

Food24 Decor16 Service19 Cost$18
Urban Bar-B-Que- Norbeck Rd.

Barbecue • Aspen Hill

Food24 Decor16 Service19 Cost$18
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