The Absolute Best Barbecue Spots in DC Right Now
From hearty slabs of Texas-style brisket to indulgent sides, these are the must-visit spots for barbecue in DC.
DC may have a long way to go before it enters into any national barbecue conversations, but that doesn’t mean there's not smoked meat in this town that’s more than worth its salt. With influences from various regions from Texas-style brisket that draws lines and sells out often to Carolina-style pulled pork piled high on a sandwich, the local barbecue scene offers a range of options that can hold their own. So when a craving hits, here are the best spots to get your barbecue fix in DC and the surrounding suburbs.
Ruthie’s All Day
While this spot may not call itself a barbecue joint, it's easily serving up some of the best smokehouse fare in the DMV. Owner and chef Matt Hill’s Southern-style restaurant offers up meat and two (or three) platters with Sticky Spare Ribs, Wood-Fired Citrus-Marinated Chicken, and Smoked Brisket. You’ll, of course, find traditional sides like chopped coleslaw and pulled pork pinto beans, but the benefit of this undefined barbecue spot is you’ll also find gems like Wood-Grilled Delicata Squash with hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds and Charred Dirty Kimchi Rice on the menu.
Black Hog BBQ
Black Hog offers up smoked brisket, pulled pork, chopped pork, sausage, and more at its five locations around the DC area. The shop’s menu runs the gamut of barbecue styles. From Arkansas- or Texas-style brisket to Carolina-style chops, Black Hog BBQ has it all. Go all out with adding on the BBQ pork fries—which come topped with smoked pork shoulder, bacon, and cheese.
This no-frills neighborhood barbecue restaurant serves up smoked brisket, chicken, ribs, and more with a variety of sauces and dry rubs by pitmaster Bill Coleman. This shop doesn’t skimp on the sides either. Options range from classics like Collard Greens with Bacon and Mac ‘n Cheese to more side dishes with inventive flavors like Peach Bourbon Baked Beans. Pork rinds that are freshly fried and tossed in dry rub and other small bites make for great snacks at any time, and guests can enjoy it all to-go, on the restaurant's patio, or indoors.
Since opening in 2013, this spot has been serving a little bit of everything—wings, brisket, pulled pork, ribs, turkey, and a housemade half-smoke. Moving away from the traditional hierarchy of a single pitmaster, DCity has a team that runs the smoker 24/7. Smoked meats, standout sandwiches, and plentiful platters have cemented DCity’s spot as a local barbecue heavyweight.
Fat Pete's Barbecue
Fat Pete’s serves a variety of meats and a selection of regional sauces from the hard-to-find Alabama white to Texas mop sauce and a spicy Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. The Burnt Ends Grilled Cheese Sandwich topped with smoked Vidalia onion, bacon jam, American and Swiss cheese, all between two pieces of Texas toast grilled golden brown makes a decadent and delicious order, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Pitmaster Rob Sonderman was acclaimed for his work at Hill Country and DCity Smokehouse and has since become one of the biggest names in DC barbecue. At his solo venture, Federalist Pig, he utilizes spices like black pepper and chiles to add an extra kick to the juicy smoked meats—wings, spare ribs, and pork shoulder are the stalwarts on the menu. And no order is complete without a side of Sonderman’s dreamy mac ‘n cheese.
After having a successful stint at a farmers market stand for over a year, 2Fifty BBQ finally solidified a storefront in Riverdale Park. The shop’s star is Texas-style brisket that is oak smoked and made from wagyu-grade beef—making one of the most decadent interpretations of the dish in town. Pitmaster Fernando González and his wife Debby González also offer St. Louis-style pork ribs, pulled pork, and mustard-laced potato salad, and the couple’s Salvadoran heritage is reflected in specials such as BBQ pupusas or sides like caramelized pineapple.
Everything is bigger at this popular beer garden and barbecue shack. Expect huge piles of meat on pulled pork and tender brisket sandwiches, that should always be paired with hefeweizens served up in oversized mugs. The patio is the ideal spot for day drinking, and a little barbecue goes along with that perfectly.
Even folks in DC proper make the drive out to Virginia for Hammerdown’s tender, fatty brisket that is smoked by founder Ken Soohoo and his brother, Bing. You can order up the brisket by the pound, on a platter with some sides, or piled atop a locally made brioche roll as a sandwich—any way you slice it, it’s the star of the menu. The spot sells out early, so call ahead or pre-order.
Hill Country Barbecue
Hill Country may be a New York import, but this spot is all about Texas. With a pit crew led by lauded restaurateur Dan Barber, meats benefit from Hill Country’s low, slow method of cooking. Gargantuan bone-in short ribs, beef shoulder clod (for those who dig lean meat), brisket, pork loin, pork spare ribs, and plenty of sides round out the menu, and the banana pudding is a sweet end to the meal.
The group behind Arlington’s popular Liberty Tavern opened up this barbecue joint with solid selections like pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. Alabama white sauce chicken wings and pickle-brined fried chicken are also excellent choices. Save room for dessert, the Texas sheet cake with whiskey sugar is decadent and delicious.
Myron Mixon's Pitmaster BBQ
From the celebrity pitmaster on Destination America's show BBQ Pitmasters, Myron Mixon’s Alexandria outpost is popular for its slow cooked Texas-style brisket, seasoned pork belly, and chicken wings. The extensive menu has a wide selection of appetizers, meat platters, sandwiches, and even a keto-friendly brisket bowl.
Sloppy Mama's Barbeque
This barbecue truck turned restaurant from former high school teacher and football coach Joe Neuman and his wife, Mandy, has built up a following for its ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and all the sides. Preparation styles at this wood-smoked joint run the gamut, from Carolina-style pulled pork to Memphis-style ribs—and each is done with care.
Texas Jack's Barbecue
Despite the name, this spot represents a variety of barbecue regions around the country with a pit crew led by Wanner Zuniga and Edwin Abrego. Texas smoked brisket, St. Louis-style spare ribs and Carolina vinegar pulled pork are all excellent choices. Round it off with esquites (Mexican style corn and cheese) or a cool cucumber salad.
Smokecraft Modern BBQ
From former barbecue hobbyist turned expert smoker Andrew Darneille, this Arlington restaurant offers all the usual smokehouse favorites but also a slew of “modern barbecue” items like smoked crab cakes, smoked salmon, and smoked spaghetti squash. Traditional favorites include St. Louis-style ribs and pulled pork. Pair the dishes with specialty cocktails, beer, or coffee in the expansive indoor and patio dining areas.
Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company
A DC mainstay since 1990, Rocklands offers barbecued ribs (pork and beef), brisket, chicken, sausages, and a slew of sandwiches and sides. A grilled lamb sandwich is one of the more uncommon offerings that knocks it out of the park.