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 They are uber focused on the success of their BBQ products which include rubs, sauces, peanuts and even Que Cologne.

You can order from their online store or shop from one of the many retailers that carry their products.


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





Fathers Day is right around the corner … and this is where I would usually give a list of great BBQ items you should be giving him. It would probably include Thermapens, Basque Charcoal, Traegers, Charbroil Infrared grills, Grill Charms, Branding Irons, BBQ Classes, BBQ T-Shirts, rubs and sauces or similar stuff. All those are great and fine …however this year give your Dad something he will never ever forget…..


Barbeque Cologne

Heath Hall & Brett Thompson the guys behind the Pork Barrel BBQ brand of sauces and rubs are at it again this time with something uber unique…..

Eau de Barbeque by Pork Barrel BBQ



Discover Que, the intriguing new fragrance from Pork Barrel BBQ. An intoxicating bouquet of spices, smoke, meat, and sweet summer sweat.

Que. A tantalizing fragrance that attracts the opposite sex, giving them whiplash as you saunter by.

Que. An alluring aroma that stops all conversations as others breathe in your presence.

Que. An Eau de Barbecue.

Vote for your favorite Que Commercial HERE!!


Heath Hall & Brett Thompson of Pork Barrel BBQ are building up their BBQ empire one step at a time….

From their award winning competition BBQ team:

To their Rubs and Sauces

Then they moved on to the Shark Tank:

Plus they are in the process of building their very own restaurant (including their already flourishing catering business) :

Now if that wasn’t enough they have also just recently started their own BBQ forum   BBQ Social Network… BBQ This is where I called Heath and pretty much asked him everything I could think of about his BBQ empire……

Heath tells me their motto is:

Reward lives in the house of risk

They are also incredibly big believers in social media as a means to get their name out there….

In regards to Social media – on Twitter Pork barrel BBQ is the 80th most followed food site.

It has provided them with incredible success.

As Heath states Where else can you have 28000 people follow you .  ??? for free.

He likes the the fact that it is not concentrated in marketing. – ie radio is concentrated… paper is concentrated twitter is global. Facebook is global.

He an Brett run the business like politics -We market its strengths not the weaknesses.

Tips from Heath-

Know your audience

Who are they? Cater your content to the audience

Ease of use – how easy is it to use your website, your forum your brand-

Analytics- page views is one of the most important things. Use them to drive your content.

Twitter- its advertising – place engage them – post interesting stories not just about your own brand but of others that are interesting too.

Reciprocal relation you will get back what you give …

Create brand ambassadors – free employees testimonials over advertisements. Its better to have other people spread the word about how great your brand is…

Now as they make their foray into the work of BBQ Backyard what do they hope to accomplish- I asked him point blank there are lots of already successful forums out there on BBQ & grilling what makes yours special?  What will keep people engaged and ultimately grow the population :

Heath had a lot to say about this.

We perused all the BBQ sites –the majority of the forums using old technology.. We are in a stage where things are rapidly changing  ie:  Tablets- zoom 30 /40 other ones. Ipads etc all of these are 5 times or so user friendly..we need a BBQ forum that is that user friendly too.

Our site offers lots of amenities:

User interface – familiar with most people  – not like facebook but it has the same type of feel -You can friend people, you can have your photo up or team logo identify who you are. We want to go beyond the Q&A forum and simplest way you can express yourself personally. You can go on your page here is my name – personalization you can blog post. You can customize it all. You can have blog posts, video uploads and photo uploads.

For example just this past Monday we had over 900 photos uploaded. WE are creating an easy user friendly place to do all this.

Additionally we want people to show off your awards and your food.  Especially keeping everyone in the loop-One of the clearest examples of this is Saturday afternoon. Everyone in the competition world is getting on their computers from 4-6pm to find out who wins  We provide a platform for viewing it finding out information…

This isn’t just a professional competitive BBQ site .This is being established as a BBQ community as a whole.

It gives people an opportunity to interact with people. – Backyard bbq’ers into comps

You can even import address books from your own accounts.

We have completely integrated facebook & twitter. This has provided ease of use in signing in and addressing the current needs of people.

Heath describes their website as a neighborhood – In it you have your own House (page)  your page , customizable. Ability to change colors make it your own.  Also our Icons and name use- requires a person to think about it- make sure you are really talking to a real person. These are real people you are talking with and discussing things with.

Heath also went on to describe some of the upcoming additions to the site which will make it even friendlier:

  • Recipe share book. Still work in progress.
  • Future: live chat
  • Ad space- future.
  • Further down the road- They want to create a page on there a Triple AAA route – hotels sites etc.
  • Create a similar ultimate map for a BBQ crawl .. routes for great BBQ joints all over.
  • Members- rate the joints. Stars the grading system – it will give the joints … higher priority viewing..

Heath also makes it clear the site will always be free its a  priority to both of them. Going forward creative ideas will fund the project. We will use integrated advertising – but we don’t want a barrage of ads just a few ad spots.

Then Heath told me a bit about their restaurant project :

Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant  Opening End of March Beginning April. Location is in Alexandria Virginia Del Ray Neighborhood.

They will be serving traditional bbq food : Brisket, Pulled pork, ribs, chicken, also they are designing our own sausages – jalapeño cheddar and occasionally the fun stuff. – lamb etc.

They have even been toying with the idea of tasting menus where you could come in and try a unique menu selection of their delicious BBQ.

Their location will be licensed & they are excited to also be introducing a line of smoked cocktails.

You walk in to the counter at the back and you can see the butcher station. If you walk in and say I want a half pound customers will be able to see our staff cutting it for them right in front of them.  They will dish up traditional sides as well beans corn puddings coleslaw and more . Our cashier at the end of the line right beside a big open ice chest open with regional and micro sodas.

Heath says they want a family atmosphere. with some exposed field stone a really nice open space. It will seat 70 people. An outdoor patio will also add between 15- 20 more seats

Delivery and to go. Catering tied in as well.

Process is taking longer than we had hoped or imagined.

Looking forward to closing the toolbox  and firing up the smoker.

Fast Casual type of place.

Ultimately Heath stated this :

The Process is taking longer than we had hoped or imagined.

We are looking forward to closing the toolbox  and firing up the smoker.

I have no doubt these BBQ empire building folks will succeed in everything they set out to accomplish.

You can find Pork Barrel BBQ on twitter , Facebook, their website and of course their new BBQ Backyard