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Jul 21, 2008 09:56 AM

BBQ Ribs - Where to eat

Where are the best bbq ribs in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area???

Wanting to continue and update a conversation from earlier this year that had a lot of good traction and a number of good suggestions. I’m always looking for the next great hole-in-the wall or best kept neighborhood secret.

Since we last talked - here is my updated list of where I have been. Same qualifications as before - ribs first, followed by other items (sandwiches, brisket, etc). I prefer to try my ribs dry to get real feel for the quality and taste of the meat and then add sauce later. A good sauce is always best with white bread. Also, good side items do not make up for bad meat.

FYI: not afraid to travel. can come from a shack, questionable neighborhoods, or top quality restaurant - but no national chains (famous daves, etc) I only care if it is good.

------ The Best-------

Alabama BBQ - I had high expectations because of the name of the place, put down an entire rack (which is rare these days), and ate a sandwich. Spoke to the owner/cook for quite a bit of time - he knows his stuff. I highly recommend.

Andy Nelsons – Meat is tender, falls off the bone with ease. Get them dry, great rub

KBQ BBQ - Great sides, great smoky taste, tender. Very affordable. Possibly second best

Smokey Hollow – one of the best, unfortunately now closed

------ Will Recommend -------

Williads Real Pit BBQ - very consistent; you know what you are going to get - never great, never bad, but always good... This place would benefit tremendously by upgrading the quality of their meat. great sauces - especially for dipping bread.

Rocklands - hit or miss, I have had a great cut, I've had a not-so great cut. Love the Mac N Cheese (and as a bbq purist - that says a lot about the Mac N Cheese).

Klobys BBQ – meat was very tender

Johnny Boys Carryout - a little salty, but the sweet sauce was pretty good

Rib Pit - If you like smoky meat - this is your place. A little dry, but not enough to complain about it. Other than smoke though, not much flavor other than that. Bonus points because the cook took his time and hand picked out a rack - throwing out ribs that were not up to his standards. Pretty nice, considering most places just pick up a rack and give you half, regardless of whether it was cooked well, was meaty, or not.

Dixiebones - I had high expectations for this place -- they were not met. Decent food, nothing special.

------ Never Again -------

Old Glory – not very good

Capitol Q - not very good

Johnny Mac Ribs - not smoked, to much fat, no taste

Randy’s Ribs – inedible - the only bbq i have not been able to finish because I didn't like the taste in my mouth.

------ need to try -------

The Original Johnny Boys (not affiliated to Johnny Boys Carryout)

Might Midget Kitchen (Must order in advance)

Allmans BBQ

Virginia BBQ

Big Bad Wolfe

Urban BBQ

Here is the link last conversation: Please let me know if I should take anything off of my to try list or add anything new.

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  1. My most recent find was is Mr P's Ribs, located in a converted school bus, in the Safeway Shopping Center @ Rhode Island NE. They are only there on Friday-Sunday. If they have a storefront/restaurant, I think it's in MD.

    In terms of BBQ generally
    - Capital Q is the closest DC comes to Texas - and it's bad rip-off of Rudy's - don't recommend travelling for this one.
    - Dixie Bones - Great if you're @ Potomac Mills, but I wouldn't drive for this either.

    - Old Glory - not a destintation place by any means.

    - Texas Rib Kings - In Clinton, MD - This is an office favorite, but i'd go with Red Hot and Blue before TRK. Good value and a decent Pork Ribs with Sauce, but that's pork and sauce != Texas.

    - The 2008 Nat'l pork championship - very underwhelming. Maybe I got sold on the idea of bbq fests because of Food Network, but I recall at most 4 of the 50+ competitors who had food for sale. I stood in line for booth with the most trophies.

    Half a rack of Ribs - ~13
    Admission - 10
    Time in line - 58 minutes

    Wasn't worth it.

    6 Replies
        1. re: WhatsToEatBaltimore

          I can't stand that place. Not only are they par-boiled and not smoked, but the gloppy sauce makes them taste more like meat candy than good ribs.

        2. re: elegantelliot

          I agree completely - Corner Stable is the best ribs I've ever had (except the ones my husband makes, but he doesn't cook outside the home anymore and I'm biased). Bring your PSP if you go there during peak hours though cause it's a loooong wait at the door!!

        3. re: WestIndianArchie

          "My most recent find was is Mr P's Ribs, located in a converted school bus, in the Safeway Shopping Center @ Rhode Island NE. They are only there on Friday-Sunday."

          I second WIA's rec for Mr. P's, located behind and above the McDonald's that is across the street and a couple of blocks west of the Rhode Island Metro. Had the pork ribs today with greens and yams ($13) -- absolutely delicious. Crispy/crunchy on the outside and super tender, meaty and juicy on the inside. You can get a whole rack for $20. I'll be back.

        4. Definitely go to Dale's BBQ - All the way down Route 210 (Indian Head Highway). Dale's is a red cinder block building on the northbound side of the highway. Almost down to the end of Rt. 210 at the naval lab.

          Excellent pork ribs - pit smoked and dry rubbed. A beautiful pink "smoke ring" everytime I've been. Sauce on the side is ok, but of course, the real show's the meat.

          Dale's BBQ has a pleasant small dining room with about six tables.

          BBQ in Charles County, MD, is the real deal...

          1 Reply
          1. re: MDBBQFiend

            I have tried Dale's, and it's not bad at all, but my favorite remains Sonny's at 29144 Thompson Corner Rd. in Mechanicsville (that's MD), just SW of Route 5. Sonny's is a tumble down shack with a stack of wood and smoker in the front and a nice old feller (named "Sonny") siting inside in his white undershirt. The meat falls off the bone and each of the sauces (mild and hot) do their job according to how you prefer.

            Another good one is Flavors of the South, in Huntington (I believe) just off 2-4 to the right as you head towards Solomon's. Sonny's, however, is the real-deal experience with (IMHO) the best ribs around these here parts.

          2. Has anyone tried Kenny's BBQ (Maryland Avenue near the capitol) and Hogs on the Hill (New York Avenue)?

            1 Reply
            1. re: dorf

              I'd rate Kennys and Hogs as better than Red Hot & Blue or Rocklands (certainly more consistent) but not worth going out of your way for.

              KBQ I go out of the way for.

            2. After eating at Rockland's in Arlington, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, not even someone I disliked, truly awful tasting. The sauce is just not good, the cole slaw is worse, the best thing there is the red beans and rice.

              I think Dixie Bones has much better ribs than Rocklands. But neither are my favorite. I miss Mighty Midgets in their former location.

              You should try Urban BBQ.

              Still need to get to Willards.

              I have lately been saving up my BBQ expectations for our beach trip and that Southern drive. Oh and I have friends who now have a huge smoker, and they were already great cooks, but now when they call to get help shredding, I am there.

              If you like NC style you should add Carolina Brothers.

              13 Replies
              1. re: ktmoomau

                If you go through Petersburg, stop off and tour around. If you see a guy sitting with a smoker in a parking lot you're there.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  where is Petersburg? maryland? virginia?

                  1. re: dorf

                    Well there is one in West Virginia, as well, but Dennis S means, Petersburg, VA which is down in Virginia on the way that people travel to the beach normally.

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        about how far is it from D.C.?

                        1. re: dorf

                          Petersburg is just north of Richmond...figure on around 3 hours more or less depending on traffic etc...

                          1. re: dorf

                            30-40 minutes past Richmond - so around 3 hours?

                            I can't guarantee that the man with the smoker would be out there (or for that matter that there wouldn't be more men with smokers), but there are some good BBQ and soul food joints along Washington.

                            As that road goes further West, there are some more established places. I've eaten at the one with the indoor dining and it was okay, but not worth a 3 hour drive (I think this is Little Pig). Hopefully we'll be passing through again in a week and I can try another one. Since I'll be with the fam, it'll probably be the BBQ place on the west side with outdoor seating (I think this is King's).

                            If I do I'll post back with updated info and place names.

                            1. re: Dennis S

                              Well if you're going by Richmond - you might as well stop off for THE BEST bbq in our (surrounding) area. Buzz 'n Neds right off the exit for the Boulevard off 95S (2 hours south of D.C.) This place is the real deal, we bring bag quarts of pulled pork to get us through up here + the ribs are excellent too. Trust me.

                                1. re: beauxgoris

                                  Oh ick, Buzz 'n Neds is waaaaay over-rated. If you want good BBQ and you are in the Richmond area, you go to a small smoker across from Millie's called Ronnie's Ribs,

                                  Seriously the best ribs in the area and great sauce. The brisket is fantastic and the wings are great too. The pulled pork is ok, but nothing to write home about. This place is about meat though, not really about sides or any kind of veggies. I am from the DC area and when I go down to visit relatives, I order a rack of ribs and a pound or so of brisket to take back up with me.

                                2. re: Dennis S

                                  King's Barbecue in Petersburg, VA at 3221 W Washington St (west side of town & like the old place) is the Best I've had in my life. Love them better then the other King's on Crater (east side of town). I buy the sauce by the gallon to take home (best to call ahead to see that they have this size ready or you will have to take the small bottles)
                                  Yes I know I'm hung up on this place as my dad took me as a small fry and I recall him getting sauce in Coke bottles with a cork in the top. So I guess I was raised on this stuff and it is coursing through my blood.

                                  Now for the other side look at andy:

                                  1. re: Smokeater55

                                    Thanks for letting us know. Looks like I will have to lay siege to this place one day!

                      2. re: ktmoomau

                        Tried Carolina Brothers the other day for the first time. The pulled pork sandwich was spot on. The ribs seemd a little overdone, a bit greasy (not as bad as Rocklands), but were tasty. The potato salad had way too much pickle juice in it, completely overpowering. The mac and cheese and beans were nice and the coleslaw has light and crunchy. Overall, was a good experience. We'll see how they do on the second trip....

                      3. "located in a converted school bus, in the Safeway Shopping Center @ Rhode Island NE" - WIA

                        "a guy sitting with a smoker in a parking lot" - DS

                        both mighty high praises in my book.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hill food

                          Zooming in on the map, I'm pretty sure the guy with the smoker is along Washington Street. There's plenty of good eats along there, including fried chicken and general soul food.