Food & Drink

The Best Barbecue Joints in the Washington DC Area

We can practically smell the smoker.

Courtesy of Cinder

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 should be pillaged with the enthusiasm of cage fighters after a weigh-in. With influences from various regional versions, the local barbecue scene offers a range of barbecue options that can hold their own. Here are some of the best options inside the city and in the surrounding suburbs.

Cinder BBQ

This neighborhood barbecue restaurant serves up smoked brisket, chicken, ribs, and more with a variety of sauces and dry rubs. The pork rinds that are freshly fried and tossed in the dry rub make for a great snack, any time.

2Fifty BBQ

Riverdale Park
After having a successful stint at a farmers market stand for over a year, 2Fifty BBQ now has a storefront in Riverdale Park. Texas-style brisket, pulled pork, and mustard-laced potato salad are just some of the standouts here. 

Black Hog BBQ

Multiple locations
Black Hog offers up smoked brisket, pulled pork, chopped pork, sausage, and more around the Frederick corridor. Go all out with adding on the BBQ pork fries -- which come with smoked pork shoulder, bacon, and cheese.

DCity Smokehouse

Since opening in 2013, this spot has been serving a little bit of everything -- wings, brisket, pulled pork, ribs, turkey and even a house made half-smoke. The sandwiches are a standout, the platters are plentiful, and the Brussels sprouts are a must get.

Federalist Pig

Adams Morgan
Pitmaster Rob Sonderman was acclaimed for his work at DCity Smokehouse, and has become one of the biggest names in DC BBQ now. At Federalist Pig, spices such as black pepper and chile pepper make their way into the juicy smoked meats. And, trust us, get the wings.

Fat Pete’s BBQ

Cleveland Park
Fat Pete’s serves a variety of meats and a selection of regional sauces from Alabama white, to  Texas mop sauce, and a spicy Kansas City sauce. The burnt ends grilled cheese sandwich is a decadent order -- topped with smoked Vidalia onion, bacon jam, American and Swiss cheese, all between two pieces of Texas toast grilled golden brown.

Hammerdown BBQ
Courtesy of Hammerdown BBQ

Hammerdown BBQ

Even city folks make the drive out to Virginia for Hammerdown’s tender, fatty brisket that has won acclaim from customers. The spot sells out early, so call ahead or pre-order.

Garden District

14th Street
Everything is bigger at this popular beer garden/barbecue shack. Expect huge piles of meat on its sandwiches -- including pulled pork and tender brisket -- as well as hefeweizens served up in oversized mugs. When the patio is open, it’s the ideal spot for day drinking.

Hill Country

Penn Quarter
This might be a New York import, but it’s all about Texas. Meats benefitting from Hill Country’s low, slow method of cooking include gargantuan bone-in short ribs, beef shoulder clod (for those who dig lean meat), brisket, pork loin, and pork spare ribs. If you’re feeling like sausage, note that it brings in two flavors from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas.

Kenny’s Smokehouse

Capitol Hill
This no-frills barbecue spot is still riding the wave of a 2012 Obama visit. To make the most of a meal, order a slab of hickory-smoked pork, beef, or baby back ribs, with some simple sides like sweet potatoes, collard greens, or baked beans -- and chow down.

Sloppy Mama’s

Multiple locations
This barbecue truck turned restaurant has built up a following for its ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and all the sides. In addition to the Arlington restaurant, Sloppy Mama’s has outlets in Union Market and Ballston’s Quarter Market.

Liberty Barbecue

Falls Church
The group behind Arlington’s Liberty Tavern opened up this barbecue joint in 2018. Liberty’s selections include pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. Alabama white sauce chicken wings and pickle brined fried chicken are also popular choices.

Texas Jack’s Barbecue
Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Texas Jack’s

Despite the name, this spot represents a variety of barbecue regions around the country. Aside from its famous Texas smoked brisket, the St.Louis-style spare ribs and the Carolina vinegar pulled pork are both excellent choices, too. Round it off with esquites (Mexican style corn and cheese) or a cooling cucumber salad.

Rocklands BBQ

Multiple locations
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.

Sign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Aparna Krishnamoorthy is a freelance food and travel writer based in Washington DC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more dining and wanderlust adventures.