DC Area's Best BBQ

I’ll soon be doing an update of my Best Barbecue in the DC Area blog post. I’ll expand it from separate listings for pork, brisket, and ribs, respectively to include lamb and perhaps pastrami (has to be smoked). I welcome your suggestions. While I’m interested, of course, in great combination sandwiches, I’m selecting based on the meat.

For reference, the earlier list is here – https://johntannersbbqblog.wordpress.com/2022/01/26/where-to-find-the-best-barbecue-in-the-washington-dc-area/


Rocklands for chopped pork, Texas Jack’s for brisket, Smokecraft for ribs, and burnt ends at the Federalist Pig truck in Hyattsville. They are so far my favorites. Special mention to the brisket sandwich at Wagshall’s which seems like it’s own category.


Sorry to take so long to reply to this. I feel like I’ve been pulled in a million different directions lately, so things slip through the cracks.

With the major caveat that I have not yet eaten at Silver & Sons, here are my thoughts on the local DC barbecue places.

Top tier (in my personal Top 25 favorite places nationally)

  • 2Fifty Texas Barbecue - Riverdale Park - Probably the best local barbecue place, based on just about everything on the menu, including the pastrami. The brisket is undoubtedly the best in the DC area.

  • Federalist Pig - Hyattsville & DC - These probably should be ranked separately since the Hyattsville cooker is able to get vastly more smoke into the meat. But both are outstanding. I have experienced some some occasional slight inconsistency in the DC location, however, when it drops to merely very good. I’ve only eaten at the Hyattsville location once, when, by pure coincidence, the person standing in line behind me was “Steve from DC” (he got the burnt ends intended for me, due to an order mixup).

Next Tier (in my personal Top 50 nationally)

Rocklands (Arlington location) - Their brisket does not resemble Texas brisket in any way, but it is absolutely delicious, especially on a sandwich, and their baby back ribs are top notch. The pulled pork and spare ribs are a step down, but are very good. They’re not barbecue, but the grilled lamb sandwich and the pit beef sandwich are both superb and Rocklands’ sides are probably the best in the DC area. I’ve eaten in Rocklands far more than any other local barbecue place and am convinced that people have a psychological block about it (probably unconscious) because it’s so obviously corporate in feel.

Odd Barbecue (Chantilly) - Fusion barbecue with a heavy Korean influence. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, I think, but for me it’s delicious. It’s obviously derivative of Heirloom Barbecue in Atlanta (and maybe not quite as good), but for me this is real good food. I’ll be very interested to get your take on it.

(Allman’s in Fredericksburg would also fit in this tier, but I assume it’s outside your definition of the DC area.)

** Next Tier (honorable mention)**

  • DCity Smokehouse (DC) - based on just one visit, several years ago

  • Hill Country Barbecue Market (DC) - can be outstanding, but is bizarrely inconsistent

  • Liberty Barbecue (Falls Church)

  • Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (Arlington)

** Next Tier (formerly recommended but recent visits have me wondering) **

  • Rolling Rib Part II (Upper Marlboro) - My first visit here in late 2021 had me proclaiming this a great off-the-beaten path discovery; my very disappointing second visit in late 2023 left me wondering if the place had changed owners. It merits another chance, but I’m definitely less enthusiastic than I had been.

Ruthie’s All Day (Arlington) - From the start, I thought this barbecue tended toward being a little dry. Worse, on my last visit I had trouble finishing my chopped brisket sandwich because it just didn’t have much taste. I still highly recommend Ruthie’s as an all-around American restaurant, but I have to say I’ll be cautious about ordering the barbecue again.

  • Sloppy Mama’s (Arlington) - This one leaves me very sad, the owners are very nice and very generous to their local community and they seem really dedicated and knowledgeable. But my last 4 (!) visits have all been disappointing, though the most recent showed some signs of improvement with the pulled pork. To be fair, these visits have almost all been in the late afternoon or early evening when the meat was not at its freshest. But I have real concerns about quality slipping here. Notably, I have not seen the owners on any of my last 4 visits and the manager (who has a jarringly loud voice) doesn’t seem to care much about the barbecue or the customers. I haven’t written them off at all, but I am very very worried.

** Next Tier (decent)**

  • Fat Pete’s (DC)
  • Garden District (DC)
  • Smokin’ Kow (Alexandria)
  • Epic Smokehouse (Arlington)

** Not Recommended**

  • Myron Mixon’s PItmaster Barbecue (Alexandria)
  • Texas Jack’s (Arlington)

A quick note on my personal “Top 25” and “Top 50” ratings: I don’t have anything like the breadth of barbecue joint experiences that you do, so it’s more than a little bit silly that I even have my own personal “Top” ratings because there are so many famous places that I haven’t eaten at.

For example, on our recent trip to Austin and Texas Hill Country (which I still plan to write up for you), we ate in four barbecue places. Two (Franklin and B. Cooper) both immediately moved into my personal Top 10 and the other two (Interstellar and Hays Co. in San Marcos) immediately moved into my personal Top 25.

So take my “Top” ratings as being considerably less than fully knowledgeable. My current Top 10 FYI - Little Miss (Phoenix), Joe’s (KC), Lexington #1 (Lexington NC), Hometown (Brooklyn), Ridgewood (Bluff City TN), Helen’s (Brownsville TN), B. Cooper (Austin), Franklin (Austin), City Market (Luling TX), ZZQ (Richmond). I’d be interested to know if you have a similar top ten list.



My only other comment is that I have been to Ridgewood in Tennessee. I am glad I went, but I think it is more a curiosity than great bbq. After they chop the pork, it gets fried on the griddle. My favorite items there were the Tennessee country ham, Mrs. Proffitt’s BBQ Beans, and the cole slaw.


Sorry for the delay. I think barbecue is an over broad category, so I divide it into pork, brisket, and ribs – and then other categories for other meats. I don’t think you can compare any of the 3 with the others. They’re different foods, so I’ll continue to separate them. I also do separate listings for East and West NC pork. They’re trying to do different things – and SC pork is different still.
I’ll need to get back to a couple of places - Sloppy Mama’s is one – and also try Odd BBQ and possibly others. Overall, 2fifty is easily the best for brisket, and their whole hog is as good as anything else around – like Fed Pig/Hyattsville. I think that ribs are weak in the DC area, but I’ve found some places in Southern Maryland that are genuinely good.
I was just in SC and went to Lewis in Charleston. 2fifty is better.


I guess that’s what makes horse races then. I think the Ridgewood is squarely in contention for the best barbecue I’ve ever had. The meat is actually ham, which they slow smoke. The char that is added by the finish on the griddle adds a lot to me. And their sauce is one of the few barbecue sauces in the whole country that really enhances the meat.

John -

We’ll be traveling for most of April (including a trip to east NC), but let’s plan to go to Odd BBQ after that, whenever we are both in town. Steve, you’re invited too.


I am widely available, so that sounds great to me.

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May then!

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I’d love to join a gathering at Odd BBQ. Right down the street from us.

John and I ended up finally getting together at Odd BBQ this week. I ordered ribs, which I’d not previously had there, and they were a definite cut down from the pulled pork, pork belly, and pit beef that I’d previously had there. They had a good bark, but very little smoke ring, which was odd. They were still good, but not top notch.

I had bites of John’s pulled pork, pit beef, and pork belly (John is a good eater), but not enough to tell whether this was an off day for Odd BBQ.

I don’t much care about service in rating a restaurant, but I will note that there has always been a bit of snippiness at Odd BBQ. I suspect they are striving for an “urban cool” affect, perhaps not knowing that the truly “urban cool” places like Franklin’s in Austin and Hometown in Brooklyn are over-the-top friendly and solicitous.

I’d definitely be willing to go back to join you, Bob.


Me too.

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It’s kind of a hike for me. My next VA trip probably will be to an all-wood place in Louisa or to Monk’s in Purcellville, which I haven’t tried in a while. I’m always happy to have company.

And “snippy” is fair. I’ll write up my visit soon.

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Feel free to quote me if you need backup on the “snippy” point.

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And since I’m retired, I’m usually interested in a trip. Louisa sounds good. Maybe Monk’s too, though I found it very subpar the one time I ate there. To be fair, it was my second barbecue lunch of the day.

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Everyone deserves a second chance

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Especially when they’re two of three. If it was baseball the count would be 1-2, a really good pitcher’s count. (Talking Odd here, not Monk’s.)

I’m usually able to sneak out for a lunch during the week!

I finally posted on Odd BBQ. I enjoyed the pork – it’s a top 10/metro area contender, and the cheese biscuits. The slaw is sensational.



and here are Doug’s ribs

As I said, Ithere’s some good food there, but it’s 45 minute drive for me and it’s not the friendliest place in the area.

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