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Sep 17, 2010 10:50 AM

BBQ in NoVA?

So I know the chains that we have to put up with:

Red, Hot, Blue and Famous Daves

And I know Dixie Bones in Woodbridge is supposed to be fab. But anything like this closer to Fairfax/Springfield/Annandale? Looking for a boisterous, family friendly "eat with your hands" place for tomorrow night. To make this challenge more difficult -- picky eaters (in-laws, so they can be). One can't eat pasta or breads, the other one doesn't eat anything that is not chicken breast, apple sauce or toast.


Famous Dave's
10500 Owings Mills Blvd, Owings Mills, MD 21117

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  1. Depending on your background be ready to set expectations appropriately.

    That being said - Williards in Chantilly. Don't do the pulled pork or chicken. Do the burnt ends or brisket. You can ask for a third side for platters INSTEAD of corn bread if you like. All tips here can be traced back on this very board.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S

      Good thing about Willards and picky eaters -- they have a large menu full of non-barbecue items, some of which are very good (e.g., gumbo). You should be able to find a chicken breast for the really picky one.

      1. re: Bob W

        And I think Bob steered me to this place mostly. Our company now has had two outings with them, even.

    2. BBQ in the area is a wash, as the countless threads will attest. Your best bet is to find a nice Korean place with tabletop grills and grill your self some bulgogi or bulgalbi. If you're looking for Kansas City, Memphis, or Texas BBQ, you will be disappointed.

      1 Reply
      1. re: monkeyrotica

        Sadly, that's just it. The in-laws won't go near Korean bbq (something that I love and always crave). KC, TX, Memphis and NC is what I'm after.

      2. Dixie Bones isn't worth the trip from upper NoVa, either. If you want a family friendly "eat with your hands"place, you could try Barbecue World in Burke. The food is on par with the chains but it's local and more of a hole in the wall than the chains. Picky eaters, not necessarily particular eaters, would probably like it.

        1. Rocklands BBQ in Arlington is doing good things these days, especially chopped pork shoulder, sliced pork loin, blackened fish, and grilled lamb. They have smoked and grilled half chicken on the menu. In your case, worth the drive into Arlington. Get the Texas Corn Pudding on the side. Good beans as well.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            You know I have to say that Rocklands is a dissapointment. The one in Arlington is right next to my house, but I never go anymore due to the lack of flavor on their ribs and dry chicken. Have tehy come up in the world since they opened that location?

            1. re: Mud Pig

              FIrst of all, chicken is not bbq. Ribs are, and it's true their ribs have become too tough even for the likes of me. But the chopped pork is very good, and the sliced pork and the catfish (also both not bbq) are very good as well.

              1. re: Steve

                It's been years since I hit Rocklands (used to frequent the Wisconsin Avenue shop back in the '90s), so I stopped by the one off Quaker Lane in Alexandria. Tiny little place, but managed to snag a table Friday. The beef ribs had a decent amount of smoke, but they were fall-off-the-bone which is way too tender for me. They were nice and moist, but swimming in fat, and had very little beef flavor. The brisket, however, was very good; not dry, moist, but with some decent bite. Will have to try the sliced pork next time.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  The sliced pork is loin, so it starts off tender and does not need to be smoked for very long. I've had it several times in DC and Arlington. It's always a good sandwich, but not traditional bbq.

                  I know from the Arlington location at Carpool that Rocklands has had wild swings in quality or lack thereof. I had long written them off until now. I didn't know they had an Alexandria location.

                  1. re: Steve

                    "wild swings in quality or lack thereof." The wild swings were due to most of the senior kitchen staff leaving in mass

              2. re: Mud Pig

                I had the chopped pork sandwich a couple of weeks ago and have already argued the out once - but the pork was mushy and gross. Rockland's is too inconsistent to recommend in my book- except for the corn pudding, which can be a carb, veg, or desert depending on you mood.

                BBQ in the region is miles away from having any destination dining spots . . . .

            2. Dixie Bones was a big disappointment recently, in my first and only trip there. Overpriced ($16+ for a plate), mediocre flavors, small (teeny) portions, very Safeway-like beans and potato salad, weird atmosphere.... yeesh, why does the place get good reviews? I've eaten (and judged) BBQ all around America, this place is just not very good. It's a mystery why people like it.

              Willard's in Chantilly was just barely OK in my recent visit. The potato salad and slaw looked promising but were both too vinegary. Not my thing. The burnt ends sandwich was generous but not real flavorful.

              It is heresy and I'm shocked that I'm saying it, but Red Hot & Blue has a great potato salad and perfectly acceptable Q (pulled pork, ribs, sausages). For DC and our bizarro shortage of decent indigenous fare it's OK.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Geeyore

                Nothing heretical about this. Potato salad is potato salad, and RH&B indeed makes a good one. And their ribs and pulled pork are indeed perfectly acceptable, indeed pretty darn good -- just not anything I'd wait in line two hours for, which I confess to doing 20 or so years ago when RH&B just opened and was all the rage.

                BTW, RH&B is sort of indigenous. While they use recipes from Memphis, this is a DC-born and bred operation.