10 BBQ Hot Spots in the DC Area

By Rina Rapuano  |  July 13, 2015
Credit: Lopez

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. 

  • DCity Smokehouse

    Former Hill Country Barbecue pitmaster Rob Sonderman opened this highly regarded BBQ spot in 2013, quickly capturing the attention of folks who sniff out good eats. Call ahead or order online if you’re in a hurry as wait times can be long.

    Don’t Miss: The brisket by the pound, the half-smoke topped with brisket chili and The Meaty Palmer sandwich layered with smoked turkey and pork belly, smashed avocado, tomatoes, chipotle aïoli and cilantro ranch.

    Side Show: Crispy Brussels sprouts, seasoned fries and hushpuppies.

    8 Florida Ave. NW; 202-733-1919

  • The BBQ Joint

    Despite the fact that he spent most of his career as a fine-dining chef in Easton, MD, most Washingtonians who know their ’cue had heard of Andrew Evans’ glorious smoky concoctions before he hung his shingle in Union Market late last year. Look for the rustic-looking stand made of reclaimed wood.

    Don’t Miss: The brisket with “swicy” (sweet-spicy) sauce, ribs and pulled pork.

    Side Show: Cornbread, yams and collard greens.

    1309 Fifth St. NE; 202-714-3292

  • Credit: Lopez

    Smokehouse Live

    The massive space in Leesburg just opened this spring offering oak-smoked meats ordered at a by-the-pound counter, local beer and spirits, and live music Thursday through Saturday nights.

    Don’t Miss: The pit-smoked wet beef brisket, pork spareribs and the Elvis Cake — a layering of chocolate, banana and peanut butter topped with peanuts and candied bacon.

    Side Show: Succotash, mac ’n' cheese and LoCo (that’s short for Loudoun County, y’all) potato salad.

    1602 Village Market Blvd., Leesburg; 571-447-5483

  • Fat Pete’s BBQ

    If you’re looking to eat your way through many of America’s BBQ styles, head here for Texas, Memphis and Carolina ’cue served with six types of sauces in the heart of Cleveland Park. For Kansas City fans, this is where you’ll find the popular burnt ends, aka brisket that’s smoked for an extra four hours.

    Don’t Miss: The pulled-pork platter, sliced brisket and the burnt-ends appetizer, which sometimes sells out.

    Side Show: Mac 'n' cheese, cornbread with apple-honey butter and collard greens.

    3407 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-362-7777

  • Credit: 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: 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 and BBQ beans.

    1801 14th St. NW

  • Credit: 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 'n' cheese, which can be pimped with bacon-Gorgonzola or jalapeño-cheddar.

    3410 11th St. NW; 202-505-4522

  • Rocklands

    This place has been around so long that it has both 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 cold-smoked ahi tuna 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, classic BBQ sandwich.

    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