Posts Tagged ‘BBQ Road Trip’
2312 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301
As I was approaching Pork Barrel BBQ I was worried. I saw a lot of glass. A lot of very shiny posts and a lot of glass. Then I started to worry I would not like the food or the decor. My preferences tend to run to BBQ joints that have a sense of history to them. Even a little grease and grime- however the Pork Barrel Building has neither. Its in a league of its own.
You would have to be living under a rock not to know about or to have heard about Pork Barrel BBQ. Heath Hall & Brett Thompson.
They have appeared on Shark Tank, numerous TV and radio programs and have competed in many contests. They have their own BBQ forum BBQ Backyard.com. They are uber focused on the success of their BBQ products which include rubs, sauces, peanuts and even Que Cologne.
They partnered originally with Bill Blackburn and “Mango” Mike Anderson in the development of their restaurant. Then came shark tank and the outside investment of Barbara Corcoran. To say they are on the path to legendary status in the BBQ world would be an understatement. Their meteoric rise has been incredible to watch. Through their continuous hard work and sacrifices this has all come to pass. But who are we kidding – the most important thing to me is – how the heck does their food taste ???
I entered the restaurant and was immediately greeted by Mango Mike Anderson. I believe Heath must have texted him after seeing a tweet I posted. I thought Heath would have been busy as he was out of the country (getting married) when I visited. Seriously the guy never stops working.
I was really glad to see the interior of this great BBQ place. It has struck a beautiful balance between trustworthy BBQ goodness, sleek decor items, touches of wood and a vintage throwback with a great assortment of retro sodas and a vibe that just seems to flow from it.
There is this massive slab of a table made of wood that just warms the entire room up. The seating encourages a communal vibe. I believe this is important to a BBQ place as well. Stonework through out makes this place cozy. The lighting fixtures were carefully chosen they look like speckled fire. The bar is so inviting – you just want to have a cocktail or a craft brew.
There are great details that have been worked into the location. The floor holds a working fire suppressant system that was originally in a different locale. They just worked it in from bringing around the piping at the floor of the bar to make an easy foot rest to the draft taps on the plumbing. They took a negative and made it into a positive. It seems that nothing is an obstacle they can’t overcome. I loved seeing a nice arrangement of trophies near the sauce station. I liked the whimsy of the redneck plate dispenser. I liked the patriotic wet wipes. The large wooden boxes that hold the retro sodas beckon to you. Everything in this place was carefully thought and laid out. Even the writing on the bathroom doors in the Coca Cola font was done with care. I don’t think there were any details that were left out save for a picture of all of them. When I mentioned this to Mike Anderson he said they have it just had not had time to put it up.
But really once again it all comes back to the food.
They use 1 Southern Pride currently and demand has been so high that they are planning on putting in another. I also have to mention their staff were great. All of them smiling and happy to be there. Love that.
And how was the food? To put it in one word:
Every single item was amazing. I was gobsmacked at how good it all was.
Tender seasoned smoked chicken that the fat had rendered through beautifully:
Moist brisket full of beefy goodness with a kiss of smoke and a great texture that yielded beautifully with a pull test:
Ribs that had been rubbed and smoked with great care. They didn’t need a speck of sauce.
Beef Sausage in a pork casing that was custom ground with their own spices. Perfect snap and texture full of flavor and some of the best Pulled Pork I have ever had. Gorgeous mahogany color. The pork was in larger pieces full of bark and delicious flavor. It was sooo good.
Then there were the sides. All did a great job of complimenting the meats. There were perfectly balanced collard greens flecked with meat (seriously buy a pint or 4 you won’t regret it), tangy and refreshing cowboy caviar (awesome crunch and creamy beans), sliced cucumbers and red onion salad (so refreshing with BBQ), creamy coleslaw (great on pork), red skin creamy potato salad (like your Momma would make i), sweet BBQ baked beans (but not overly sweet), and mac and cheese (they use a great brand of pasta that helps the cheese stick to it) that had one of the best cheese sauces ever.
You also need to check them out on You Tube
So whats left to say about Pork Barrel BBQ?? I can’t wait to go back. I wish I lived closer.
Pork Barrel BBQ on twitter
Pork Barrel BBQ on facebook
MD/Virginia/North Carolina BBQ Road trip
I have been wanted to get back to North Carolina for a while now. I really wanted to get to some of places on the North Carolina BBQ Society Historic Barbecue Trail. I have this underlying fear that if I don’t see some of these places soon they may not be around too much longer. Each place I went in North Carolina was very unique. They are all very individual save for vinegar. Vinegar was the only constant in the trip. Everything else changed from location to location. On the way to NC I stopped at a few places in Maryland and Virginia as well.
The Trip started at a place that was recommended to me – over the next couple of weeks Ill write about every place I have been.
1310 South Main Street Mt. Airy, MD 21771
They have a deep understanding of all types of BBQ from Competition to Restaurant and everything in between. They even organize their own BBQ competition each year SWINESTASTIC.
Fun license plates cover many of the surfaces. Pig lights, wood beams and a generally comfortable feeling round out the vibe. There is a patio out front for more seasonal warmer months.
The food is all cooked with hickory and oak on a Southern Pride.
The inside décor is a mixture of license plates, BBQ posters and lots of wood. It’s a comfortable place perfect for date night every day eating and families. The place was getting full of happy looking folks all eating lots of BBQ slowly smoked on heir Southern pride using Oak. I watched plate after plate of BBQ being delivered to tables. All of it looked great. These folks have earned some serious accolades for their food and their legendary Black Raspberry Grillin’ Sauce taking 1st place at the National BBQ Association (NBBQA) competition.
We got to try all 4 of their awesome sauces-
Sweet & Tangy Grillin Sauce
Ol’ Red Grillin Sauce
Hot & Spicy Grillin sauce
Black Raspberry Grillin’ Sauce
They were all good. On the advice of our server we even mixed the black raspberry with the hot & spicy and it was the bomb.
We ordered an assortment of food-brisket, pork, ribs, sausage and their smoked turkey. Nothing comes slathered with sauce and I sure did appreciate that. All of it was moist and delicious save for the turkey. The turkey was sliced and looked like it had been grilled after. Unfortunately it was on the dry side but still had good flavor. The meat on the ribs pulled off nicely but was not overdone. The brisket was tender and juicy with a terrific pull and chew. Seasonings were restrained on all the meats. They really did a great job of letting the meat and smoke flavor shine through. I really like the fact they served all of their sauces on the side. It was a fantastic grouping. I can see myself eating here again in the future. I sure hope to get back and I would not hesitate to recommend this place to anyone.
Sides we chose were mac & cheese, hush puppies, cornbread, loaded baked potato, and coleslaw. The slaw was beautifully crisp and lightly dressed, the hush puppies were nicely done with a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior, the cornbread had a subdues sweetness to it and the loaded baked potato was great packed with goodness. I just don’t get the texture of the mac and cheese. the cheese sauce was amazing but the pasta was so soft it was mush. I asked the owner about it and he says thats the way people like it. Personally I like texture to my pasta.
Another thing I just have to mention about Carterque is the people that work there. From the front door, to the bar area, to the waiter to the owner these people are uber friendly. Not in that fake crappy kind of way these people really do go out of their way to make you feel comfortable- genuinely glad you are there.
Terrific place to go, delicious BBQ and all around awesome.
Carterque on Facebook
Carterque on Twitter