By Monica Boland, Lindsay Fry, Marcus Dowling, Jody Kurash, and Jessica Strelitz
The sauces, the spices, the MEAT. Each June, On Tap seeks out the spots in our area that serve up this flavorful goodness we call barbeque. And while pork is just one of the many ways to enjoy barbeque, we would be remiss if we ignored that other meat craze going on – the love of bacon. Dinners, drinks and desserts: bacon is sizzling. So put aside your beach body cares and get ready to pig out. Following are some of our favorite places for barbeque and bacon, plus suggestions from readers.
This southern-style Clarendon classic has a love affair with all things pork. For a taste that would delight even Paula Deen, try their scallops & grits with asiago grits, tasso ham, and tomatoes. To get the most bacon for your buck, go with the Roasted Pork Loin, wrapped in bacon, cornbread stuffing, bacon braised Brussels sprouts and shallots. Join them on Sunday for their “Oystravaganza,” and smother your oysters in their homemade “bacon relish”. For dessert, try their Bacon Studded Waffle with Maple Bacon Ice Cream. It debuted during their annual “Week of Bacon,” an extravaganza of pig roasts, bacon-curing demonstrations, a bacon tasting dinner and other bacon-themed items and has remained on the menu since. -LF
Restaurant 3: 2950 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201; 703-524-4440; www.restaurantthree.com
Established over 20 years ago by local barbeque master John Snedden, Rocklands is a mainstay on the DC scene. Grab a Minted Iced Tea and chow down on their homemade pulled chicken, chopped pork, or mouthwatering baby-back ribs. All of the sauces are John’s recipes, and most are available for purchase. Not to be forgotten are the side dishes, such as their refreshing Minted Cucumber Salad, Homemade Apple Compote, and Grandma Snedden’s Collard Greens. -LF
Rocklands: Located in DC, Arlington, Alexandria, and Rockville. Check www.rocklands.com for more information.
Old-fashioned marketplace meets restaurant and music venue at Hill Country. To order, guests receive a “Meal Ticket,” and order meats by weight. Options include cuts of beef, pork, sausage and even “Beer Can Game Hen.” Once the Pitmasters carve up the meat, it’s wrapped in butcher paper and guests are given complimentary bread or crackers. To accompany the meat, choose from sides such as Longhorn Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Texas Black-Eyed Caviar and Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash. Complete the meal with one of their original desserts – try the PB&J Cupcake for something a little different, or the more traditional Banana Cream Pudding. Hill Country features live southern-style music downstairs in the Boot Bar Tuesday through Saturday nights. Close your eyes and you might think you’re in the Lone Star State! -LF
Hill Country: 410 7th St. NW, DC; 202-556-2050; www.hillcountryny.com
Owned by a group of family farmers, these restaurants feature fresh ingredients supplied by American farms, fisheries and ranches. Stop by for breakfast and order some of their artisan thick-cut bacon, accompanied by their Black Pepper Maple, Joe’s Texas BBQ Sauce, Buck’s Hot Sauce or Golden Boy Sweet & Sour glazes. Don’t miss their Bacon-Wrapped Dates with blue cheese filling and balsamic glaze. If you’re looking for something heartier, order up one of their Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches, or go for their South Carolina BBQ with Fixings, cooked in their 800 degree “Woodstock” oven, and complimented by greens, pickled cucumbers and onions. Finish off your meal with a Triple Layer Chocolate Mousse Cake, or sip instead on a Bananas Foster milkshake. -LF
Founding Farmers – DC: 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-822-8783
Founding Farmers – Potomac: 12505 Park Potomac Ave. Potomac, MD; 301-340-8783; www.wearefoundingfarmers.com
PORC (Purveyors of Rolling Cuisine)
One of DC’s meatiest food trucks, the menu includes Rueben sandwiches, buffalo chicken and pastrami, as well as pulled pork. Depending on how spicy you like your food, PORC offers mild, medium, hot and “Incredibly Hot” sauces to add a little kick! Mouthwatering sides include options like the ever-popular gorgonzola bacon mac and cheese, as well as barbeque beans. Check out their website to find the weekly schedule of locations. -LF
Located in the northeast side of Old Town, TJ Stone’s serves American cuisine with a definite focus on barbeque! Diners can choose from pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork or pulled smoked chicken, and then dress it up with one of the many sauces representing different regions of the country. From Kansas City BBQ sauce to Kentucky Bourbon Glaze, you’re sure to find a favorite. For another barbeque-themed option, try the TJ’s Bubba Burger, an Angus burger with a bourbon-molasses glaze, topped with smoked brisket, onion rings, smoked cheddar, BBQ sauce and last but not least, one of their amazing Gouda tater tots. -LF
TJ Stone’s: 608 Montgomery St. Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-548-1004; www.tjstones.com
Calling all bacon lovers! Get ready for BLT Steak’s grilled double cut smoked bacon appetizer with slab bacon cut into one-quarter to half-inch slices. The mouthwatering treat ($10) is served with chopped parsley, garlic, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Available for lunch and dinner, this bacon-themed appetizer is one of many meat-centric dishes at the bistro’s D.C. location.. -MB
BLT Steak: 1625 I St. NW, DC; 202-689-8999; www.e2hospitality.com/blt-steak-washington-dc
Birch & Barley
Birch & Barley has joined the bacon craze with pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac’s toffee-bacon donuts, available on the D.C. restaurant’s brunch menu. The freshly fried donuts ($6 each) are made with buttery brioche dough and topped with rum-and-brown-sugar toffee and applewood-smoked bacon crumbles. Enjoy the sweet and salty treat with the restaurant’s signature brunch punch, a cava mimosa or freshly squeezed juice. -MB
Birch & Barley: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; 202-567-2576; www.birchandbarley.com
Can’t get enough bacon? Chef Geoff Tracy has just opened bacon bars at each of his restaurants. Each eatery has its own unique bacon dishes, including slow-roasted BBQ pork sliders, twice-baked potatoes with bacon, chocolate terrine with chocolate-covered bacon and crab-stuffed, bacon-wrapped shrimp. The bacon bars are available every Wednesday and Thursday. “The bacon bar menu allows us to pay homage to the saying, ‘Everything is better with bacon,’” said Tracy. -MB
Chef Geoff’s: 3201 New Mexico Ave. NW, DC; 202-237-7800; 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-464-4461; 8045 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA; 571-282-6003; www.chefgeoff.com.
Lia’s Restaurant: 4435 Willard Ave. Chevy Chase, MD; 240-223-5427;
Capital Q BBQ
DC’s destination for Chinese delicacies is also the home to some of the city’s best barbeque. Though the dining space is small, the food is superb. Texas-style BBQ is on the menu, and the beef brisket and turkey platters are of particular note. The “Cowboy platter” gives a nod to location, with beef brisket or pulled meat slathered in delicious tangy or hot barbeque sauce on a bed of white rice. The real gem on the menu though, is purchasing bulk ribs and sweet tea for a party or office event. The quality delivered in their individual plates is retained even when produced in mass quantity. – MD
Capital Q: 707 H St. NW, Dc; 202-347-8396; www.capitalqbbq.com
American Ice Co.
Advertising itself as a blend of “beers, steers and picnic tables,” American Ice Company conjures the image of a rustic Texas saloon in the middle of the Nation’s Capital. A well-stocked bar serves craft brews and hip favorites in jars, pitchers and cans that marry well with one of the most underrated comfort food slinging kitchens in the city. There is no better summer evening option than eating a BBQ pork, turkey or beef sandwich topped with barbeque sauce and cole slaw with a side of pickles outside at a picnic table. Unlike many BBQ outlets in the city, American Ice also boasts quality vegetarian options. – MD
American Ice Company: 917 V St. NW, DC; 202-758-3562; www.amicodc.com
Smoke & Barrel
Smoke & Barrel adds a touch of first-rate barbeque to Adams Morgan’s 18th Street strip. The meats are smoked in-house with bourbon barrel chips, and include ribs, sausage, chicken, salmon, pork shoulder, duck and the uniquely flavored espresso rubbed brisket. S&B also offers a good selection of vegetarian entrees including smoked tofu, vegan wings and chili. Generous sides include cheddar jalapeno grits and garlic mashed potatoes made with cream cheese. Choose the two-person sampler for a “Man Versus Food”-like platter. Whatever you order, ask for a side of their dreamy homemade chipotle honey butter. Imbibers can choose from over 50-craft beers and an array of upscale bourbons. For dessert do not miss the bacon-maple crème brulee or follow the advice of Molly, one of their knowledgeable servers, who advised me on my last visit, “We encourage bourbon for dessert.” -JK
Smoke & Barrel: 2471 18th St. NW, DC; 202- 319-9353; www.smokeandbarreldc.com
Brett Thompson and Heath Hall, the founders of Pork Barrel BBQ, have a deep love for meat that’s rooted in Missouri and influenced by the many pit masters they’ve met during their travels on the competitive barbeque circuit. In 2008, the pair started to build a tiny empire on spice rub. An appearance on the ABC reality show Shark Tank catapulted them into the national spotlight and now the former Hill staffers have a restaurant in Del Ray. Grab a seat at the giant, maple community table, a vintage bottle of soda from an ice-filled chest and order some pulled pork, brisket sausage and a spicy side of jalapeno mac-n-cheese. But get there early, especially on weekends. Like all good barbeque places, they do run out. –JS
Pork Barrel: 2312 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; 703-822-5699; www.porkbarrelbbq.com.
What’s even better than bacon for breakfast? Bacon for dessert! The bacon craze has swept the DC area and now local restaurants are offering bacon-themed treats on their dessert menus. Pork lovers with a sweet tooth will go nuts for these sweet and savory options like the Waffle with Maple Bacon ice cream sandwich at Cleveland Park restaurant Ripple’s market, Sugar Magnolia. “It’s the perfect treat for the bacon-loving ice cream lover,” said Ripple Pastry Chef Alison Reed.
Other bacon-inspired ice cream concoctions include Organic Maple Caramelized Bacon gelato at Paciugo Gelato and Caffè and Restaurant Three’s Bacon-Studded Waffle with maple bacon ice cream, both in Clarendon. Restaurant Three Chef Brian Robinson said his signature waffle is studded with bacon cured in-house. “It’s another way for us to use our bacon in a not-so-typical form,” he said. “It’s a popular dish because people really have an infatuation with bacon.”
Ted’s Bulletin in Capitol Hill sells hundreds of their Bacon and Peanut Butter pop tarts per month, according to Chef Eric Brannon. And don’t forget bacon-flavored cupcakes! Buzz Bakery occasionally carries the Fat Elvis cupcake at its two locations in Alexandria and Ballston and it can always be made available upon special order. The popular treat, inspired by the King’s favorite sandwich, is made with banana chiffon cake, banana caramel core, peanut butter frosting and smoked bacon crumble. “It gives you that salty-sweet balance that I love in a dessert,” said Buzz Bakery Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac.
Baked & Wired also offers an Elvis cupcake that comes “porked” on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. The Georgetown bakery offers a maple cupcake with candied bacon on top daily. The Flap Jack cupcake tastes just like eating a pancake with maple syrup and bacon, according to baker Teresa Velazquez. “I love this cupcake,” she said. “It’s definitely in my top three!”
Baked & Wired: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, DC; 202-333-2500; bakedandwired.com
Buzz Bakery | Alexandria: 901 Slaters Ln. Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-600-2899
Buzz Bakery | Ballston: 818 N. Quincy St. Arlington, VA; 703-650-9676; www.buzzbakery.com
Paciugo Gelato and Caffè: 3033 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-465-4960; paciugo.com/clarendon/
Restaurant Three: 2950 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-524-4440; www.restaurantthree.com
Sugar Magnolia: 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; 202-244-7995; www.rippledc.com
Ted’s Bulletin: 505 8th St. SE, DC; 202-544-8337; www.tedsbulletin.com
American Bar-B-Que & Catering
“This is a well known spot for those in the know. Your one stop shop for all your BBQ needs. Their bread and butter is catering but if you stop by on Wednesday, you can buy from their catering menu.. By the pound!” – J. Miller
“I really enjoy Famous Dave’s BBQ in Laurel, MD. My top two favorites are the Georgia chopped pork and the Texas beef brisket. The Georgia chopped pork is sweet and has the right amount of sauce. The Texas beef brisket is always tender and well seasoned. The coleslaw and mac and cheese are good too!”– Rachel
“My favorites are the tomato based pulled pork at Urban Bar-B-Que Company in Rockville! Great wings too! And vinegar based pulled pork at Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque in Ashburn! They have great potato salad and banana bread pudding that is almost always out! – P. Chrzanowski
Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque
“I know, I know, it’s in Ashburn, but well worth the drive and ample parking. Gotta go with the half rack and mac-n-cheese!” -M. Zappala
“The Tender Rib” –TP
“Urban BBQ is the place to get a good slab of ribs! Yum!” – A. Hubbard
“Great BBQ = Rocklands.”
“Don Pollo. I believe the flavor should be in the meat. There is nothing like a smokey flavor – like you smell when meat is grilled on an open pit and there is smoke all around. No sweet sauces please. They just cover the taste of the meat. “ –Sara
“My favorite place for BBQ is Dixie Bones in Woodbridge. They definitely have the best pulled pork in the area. It’s moist because it’s been smoked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. They have four different sauces and Texas Pete right on the table so you can smother your pork with any combination you like. If you want to splurge, try their ribs. I know people that drive from North Carolina to eat these ribs. They also have the best side ever invented: muddy spuds. It’s thinly sliced potatoes that have been cooked with onions and butter until soft. The best part about this place is that on Sundays they have an all you can eat BBQ buffet where they have the pork, beef, chicken, sausages, muddy spuds, collard greens,
and more! “ -Heather
“I love Honey Pig in Annandale for Korean BBQ Not exactly your typical BBQ but delicious!” -Stephanie
“I really like Rocklands BBQ in Arlington (on Washington Boulevard). It may be lesser known than its older, DC location counterpart, but it’s just as good if not better. I actually stumbled upon it by accident last year. I’ve been back a handful of times now.The ribs and chicken are great. It’s got a small-restaurant feel with a laid-back environment. They also have space for a patio, with a big bar inside, and lots of seating for friends and families. They also host sports teams on the patio, and have a doggie Yappy Hour on Thursdays in the summer. My go-to order is usually the pulled pork BBQ with extra sauce and cole slaw on the side.It is kind of a take-out, dine-in and bar super-joint. Their sauces are awesome, and there are many good things for vegetarians to eat as well.” -Khalil G.