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New Bad to the Bone Smokehouse BBQ Restaurant in Gainesville, VA

Just wanted to update all you foodies on the new Bad to the Bone Smokehouse BBQ restaurant that recently opened in Gainesville, VA in October 2011. My family and I have eaten there several times and enjoyed the food, etc.

Bad to the Bone has smoked brisket, chopped and pulled pork, smoked wings, will smoke full turkeys, smoked sausages, and other great smoked meats including ribs. Two VA Tech grads and their family opened this great bbq restaurant in the same shopping center as the Wegmans Gainesville Stonewall Shops Square shopping center.

The restaurant makes its own homemade coleslaw, redskin potato salad, salads, bbq sauces, the best sweet and unsweet tea, and other sides. Homemade southern style pies too. No, I do not work for the store; but we are from GA and have been longing for real Southern style bbq and the "fixins".

You won't be disappointed. Also, they have beer and a bar with TV(s) for all you game watchers.

They also make Brunswick Stew and feature homemade soups, They will smoke you a turkey too.

Web site is below--enjoy!



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  1. how does this compare with sonny's?

    the owners posted on the most recent bbq thread, but it was removed…..

    1. Where were you last week? I was out at Manassas Battlefield Jonesin' for BBQ and the fair BBQ place on 29 was closed down. I will definitely check this place out, it would be great to have a rib joint nearby, but Brunswick Stew, too? That piques the imagination a bit. I used to make my own Brunswick Stew and it is a real cold weather dish.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ziv

        you lookin' to eat some squirrel, ziv? LOL

        ps, menmom1 also mentioned this place as a heads up in october. i know...i missed it too!

        1. re: alkapal

          Considering what my neighborhood squirrels did to my kayak last fall when I left it on my balcony, they ought to consider themselves LUCKY I don't prepare my Brunswick Stew with the old fashioned recipe! ;-)
          But I have to admit, at least they only chewed away holes in the top of my boat. It must have looked like Squirrel Marriott Suites when I left it out there...

      2. I'm at Wegmans at least once a week and never saw this place. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll have to look tomorrow when I"m there.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Manassas64

          Yes, Bad to the Bone is similar to Sonny's BBQ based in SE States (FL, GA, NC, and SC) areas. We like Bad to the Bone better.

          A local lady from Warrenton makes their pies. They rotate their soups/stews--just check their web site or FB page for details.

          I read elsewhere that Absolute BBQ was not that great either.

          Well worth the trip.


          1. re: menmom1

            homemade pies?????

            that alone should raise the bar!

            1. re: alkapal

              I'm going to day. The pies sold me.

              1. re: Manassas64

                yep. i was thinking, could i eat pie after the bbq sampler? homemade? yeah, sure i could!

                i looked it up -- 34 miles from my house, though. ;-(.

            2. re: menmom1

              Hi menmom -- I lived in Gainesville FL for a year and ate at Sonny's A LOT -- AYCE rib night mainly, given that I was a poor student at the time. I would consider Sonny's to be decent BBQ. Once you've eaten at a place like Sweatman's in SC, you know what really good barbecue is.

              So, I am going to be moderately optimistic about Bad to the Bone. Gainesville is about a 20-minute drive for us so we will give it a shot.

              1. re: Bob W

                i'd say sonny's various locations had somewhat different quality q. on the whole ist was pretty consistent though. of course, the best i've had was from my cousins' smoke q trailer.

          2. I went today on my way home from Wegmans and got some to go. If you all hadn't told me this was there and I was determined to look for it, I never would have found it. The sign blends in with the brick.

            As for the BBQ, don't go by me, I'm not a BBQ enthusiast, but I do enjoy it occasionally and make pulled pork at home in the crockpot when the mood hits me. I thought it had great taste (pre-sauce), it wasn't dry and not fatty at all. I ordered the kids pulled pork sandwich. It came with BBQ sauce and they have 2 sauces on the counter to choose from, a sweet whiskey and another one. Both good, on the sweet side (which I like).

            My sandwich came with one side, so I had sweet potato fries. The fries were good, but they do put cinnamon on them and the scent of the cinnamon is really strong at first, even though the taste on the fries is very subtle. It kind of put me off for a bit. So if you don't want cinnamon mixed with your BBQ, go for the regular fries or have them keep them very separate.

            For the pie, I'm sorry to say, it's a no go. This is my area of expertise and one bone I have to pick with pie is that is should not be refrigerated, especially if it's baked daily. Refrigeration makes the crust soggy :( And, cold pie is just not right. I brought mine to room temperature and it's good, but as I said, the crust lost its oomph for me. So if what you love about pie is the crust, don't drive out of your way for the pie. I ordered the pumpkin praline which was the special pie today.

            What I liked about the place was that they have good, fresh iced tea. Nothing ruins a good meal than old, nasty, been-sittin-all-week iced tea.

            I also like that it was clean and they were cleaning during the midday lull (it was 4:15, a couple of guys were in the bar area watching the big tv screen and another couple was in the dining area eating. And they were cleaning like it was closing. Nothing I love more than a place that does a deep clean more than once a day. They were cleaning under the booths and wiping down all the seats.

            I'll definitely go back and would love to get to the pie early in the day before it's spent the day on ice. Otherwise, I might just have to drive to Warrenton ;o)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Manassas64

              thanks manassas. cinnamon on fries? how bizarre!

              1. re: alkapal

                I always go for sweet potato fries if they are an option, this was the first time they had cinnamon.

                In Vermont, they serve sweet potato fries with maple syrup, but they serve everything with maple syrup there ;o)

            2. Do they cook over an open pit?

              7 Replies
              1. re: dcbbq


                We went back to Bad to the Bone today while Christmas shopping. Great food and service as usual.

                The bbq is cooked over an open pit and they use hickory wood too, I believe. Just check their web site for more info.

                  1. re: JRCann

                    hardly. It is a core question. "Barbecue" places in and around DC do not cook over an open pit. I believe there are environmental regs

                    1. re: dcbbq

                      how are you defining open pit?

                      1. re: xdcx

                        At minimum, cooked over wood and/or charcoal with wood smoke. It is best if the fire is low and direct so that the fat from the meat hits the coals and turns into smoke (rather than flames, as where the fire is too hot) and adds another layer to the flavor. An indirect fire also works, so long as there is plenty of wood smoke. No gas, no electricity.

                        1. re: dcbbq

                          Indeed. I've never understood why so many books tell you to douse the flare-ups with water. They add flavor, in fact if you have the right design in a gas grill, you get plenty of flavor from burning drippings.

                          I recently had some truly awesome pit beef and the best hamburger I've ever eaten at Roger's Grillin just east of Glen Rock, PA and Roger actually tosses in fatty scraps from his bottom round to add character--does it work? Well, that burger was literally the best I've ever had, and I could certainly see driving a couple of hours each way to have another.

                          3805 Sticks Road, Glen Rock PA 17327, 410-861-6830 (cell)
                          Call first since he's open variable hours Thu-Sun

                          ~ Kiran

                    2. re: JRCann

                      or if you're refering to the oxymoronic character of the name (there being no real bbq in DC (except what I make myself)) the name is an expression of hope. Man's reach must exceed his grasp....

                  2. I was out in Loudoun County at sundown, so I decided a visit to Bad to the Bone was in order. First of all, the address is 8045 Stonewall Shops Square between 55 and 15 on Lee Hwy., but a lot of you are probably more familiar with Old Carolina Road, which is what Stonewall Shops is directly south of. So you go west on 29 from Gainesville past 55, but before you get to 15 you will turn left into Stonewall, which would have been Old Carolina if you had turned right. Now that I have confused that issue sufficiently, the BBQ is way back to the left, so look close.

                    Now on to the 'cue. You order at the front area and take your little number card to a table. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and helpful, and they looked like they were having fun which is cool. I decided to splurge a bit and got the 3 meat platter with the pulled pork Carolina style, the St Louis ribs and the brisket. The pulled pork was pulled, not sliced, and it was smokey and good, albeit just a touch less than spicy. The barbecue sauce was a bit sweet but they have their own pepper sauce that gave it a nice punch. There was very little fat or gristle and, all in all, their pulled pork was pretty good, tho it didn't come with a bun or any other freebies, other than the fairly good but not great cornbread. The brisket was 'cut it with a fork' tender, just a touch of a smoke ring in the meat, and again, there was a hint of smoke from the 'pit' but it wasn't overpowering. The serving size was generous for all three items and this big kid actually had a hard time finishing my meal. I really should have gotten a doggie box but I liked it enough to finish it there. Finally, my favorite item, the St. Louis style ribs. Fairly meaty with just a bit of the 'cue char on them. Good crusty bits of flavor, but they were kind of a dry sort of wet, or a wet sort of dry. I still added a bit of sauce to them after the first one, and all in all, pretty darned good 'cue.

                    The sides were good as well, I got the potato salad and the beans. The taters were tasty, just a bit of tang to it, chunky with bits of red peel on them the way I like it. The beans were, say it with me, smoky, and kind of chewy, slightly al dente, with shreds of bacon floating around in them to add more flavor.

                    How do they rank in my book? I think they destroy Red Hot and Blue. Their ribs are as good (nearly?) as Randy's in Hughesville and nearly as good as Johnny Boys in La Plata. Plus they have pretty good sides and a decent sort of seating area. All in all, pretty good 'cue. Not the best in the area, but they are in the hunt, so to speak.

                    The hickory is stored our to the left of the building and their 'pit' is a steel oven with the wood loaded below. I will download my picture of the platter shortly. I gave it 5 stars, mostly because it is worth 4 for the food, but the fact that the people are cool and the location is so starved for good barbecue made me feel like it was a solid 4.5 star joint.

                    1. This is the picture of the 3 meat platter with pulled pork, brisket, ribs, potato salad and beans. All in all, the food was pretty darned good. Not great, but the staff and the lack of great barbecue in the area make it worth an extra star, in my book.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ziv

                        Thanks for the review, keep meaning to swing by this place on the way home from work and forgetting about it! I grew up on the North Carolina border and have really been missing good BBQ since we moved up here.

                      2. Finally made it to Bad to the Bone today -- excellent BBQ. I've been searching for a decent BBQ joint since I got transplanted up here from the NC border about 5 years ago, and this place finally hits it (or I'm finally so desperate that my BBQ snobbishness is wearing off).

                        Had the Georgia style chopped pork sandwich, sweet potato fries, and a slice of pecan pie. All of it was very good and the service was very friendly.

                        1. we went on thursday. it was pretty good but not great (i originally wrote "OK," but that might give you a sense of "meh" -- which i don't intend to convey), and better than i've had lately around here, with a notable exception (which i'll address later). we agreed that, at some 40 miles from here, it isn't worth a special trip, but is nice if you're in the area. i grew up in the south, so i am pretty tough on my bbq.

                          i got a sampler platter with st. louis style ribs, brisket, smoked chicken and e. carolina pulled pork.

                          overall, good quality, very mild smoke flavor. the best items were the ribs and smoked chicken. both were juicy and tender. the e. carolina pulled pork was stringy (i mean **stringy**) and it was under-"sauced" (read "virtually flavorless"), very dry, and entirely devoid of any chunks of muscle meat or any bark <compare the pulled pork in the next bbq review i'll offer -- from a relatively new restaurant/take-out in arlington of all places>. the e. carolina pulled pork was the least favorite on my platter.

                          the brisket, like the pulled pork, had a very ephemeral bitter edge to the finish on the tongue. the brisket was fine otherwise, but to me it had very average flavor of the meat itself. i'm wondering if that slight bitter edge is from charring.

                          the spare but noticeable sauce for the chicken had a slight sweetness, which i didn't go gaga for, but others may like -- as it may remind them of grilling chicken with bbq sauce on the backyard weber. i was surprised that the skin was not a little drier, however, being smoked chicken, even considering the saucing. the brisket slices had a trail of a straightforward texas-style q sauce on them (tangy, spicy, tomato and vinegar), and that was fine. that sauce was also provided in a small cup with the platter. (sauces of two types are in big pumps too, at the "fixins" area (drinks and sauce). i liked the sauce. (see my recent review of a good texas-style sauce out of the bottle for a taste comparison). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4206...

                          mr. alka had the georgia chopped pork, and that was my least favorite, having more of that "bitter" flavor than any other item. and i really didn't care for the sauce. the meat was tender, however.

                          the sides were fine. i had a celery seed-flavored cole slaw that was not gloppy and generally well balanced between the sugar and the vinegar and the very minimal mayo -- more on the vinegar side. the potato salad was made with some red skinned potatoes (though the rare appearance of the skins showed inconsistent peeling or just a desire to let a hint of the skin remain), and was mayo-based dressing, no egg detected. i don't even recall celery in there. very little else other than salt was detected as seasoning in this. the potatoes were not overcooked, and it was fine, if not a little oversalted. again, no "going gaga" revelations. mr. alka's "ranch beans" did not appeal to me enough to even try them (as i was contemplating all that was on my platter to eat). they looked mushy, and maybe that is how they are supposed to be.

                          we got take-out boxes to bring home our leftovers.

                          i wanted to get some banana black bottom pie, but they had run out. they also offered key lime as their seasonal "fruit" pie (i don't really consider key lime as a fruit pie, although technically it is. their last "seasonal" pie was mixed berries, which would've been nice). they also offered pecan pie and texas sheet cake, and i can easily make those, so wasn't tempted.

                          the space is inviting, with an L-shape set-up, having a bar and four or five round "barrel bottomed" high-tops on one side and then a table and booth dining area toward the front. they had several beers on tap as well as bottled, and mr. alka got one that is brewed in alexandria, actually -- port city. i tink they take pride in their beer offerings, as the beer is featured prominently in the special events, and the types of craft beers they offer on tap).

                          they have several outdoor tables with umbrellas, and it seems very pleasant. the people were nice. (you order, and they bring it to you). if they opened in arlington, they'd do extremely well, i'm sure.

                          miscellany: they have tv screens (3) and golf was on two and hockey on one. they are offering some beer dinners coming up, and i've taken a photo of that "upcoming events" board. there is a framed signed album cover and record from george thorogood on the wall in the front dining area.

                          RECAP: my top pick is the ribs, followed by the smoked chicken, brisket 3rd. forget the e.carolina pulled pork. if georgia chopped pork is your thing, try it, i guess. next time i'm out that way, i'll also try their house-made sausage.

                          BTTB is in the wegman's shopping center on your left as you head down 29) (look also for the dick's sporting goods sign, and note that BTTB is next to dick's and not the wegman's side).

                          much better **pulled pork** -- from a restaurant -- is in arlington at the "backyard barbeque" on sycamore, i want to say at the small "williamsburg shopping center." strange, not very friendly people (at least the man who was doing the prep in the back of the house and the young man at the counter -- father-son?) but good pulled pork, with chunks and bark. ;-)). <edit to note: there's a photo in my post below this post > the sandwich was generous, too. nice fresh mango salsa side available, and decent slaw and tater salad. i still can't go wrong with the brookwood farms at harris teeter. ;-).
                          finally, in warrenton proper -- maybe seven miles further down 29 from BTTB -- is a charming irish pub and restaurant: mcmahon's irish pub & restaurant. <ironically, mcmahon's is located just next to red, hot & blue in warrenton. LOL>. mcmahon's has real irish menu items, good beers and hard cider on draft, a fireplace, irish music, darts, outside seating, separate smoking bar available, and a nice family dining area with great atmosphere. google them. we plan to go in winter, stay at a b&b nearby, and go for some irish atmosphere at mcmahon's. (now to find a b&b that'll let us bring our kitty cat).

                          bad to the bone photos, from 4/5/12.

                          my platter, with ribs, chicken, brisket and pulled pork, tater salad and slaw
                          mr. alka's georgia chopped pork sandwich with his chosen side, ranch beans
                          the front dining area
                          outside looking in, greeted by a woodpile (YAY).
                          longhorn charmer
                          upcoming special events board
                          the bar (which has i guess around 10 stools).

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: alkapal

                            now here is the pulled pork from arlington's own "backyard barbeque" http://www.backyardbbqcompany.com/ from earlier the same day, thursday, april 5:

                            1. re: alkapal

                              I don't care much for the pulled pork at Backyard Barbeque, too low in flavor for me both times I tried it, but they make a terrific chili. Very hard to find better.

                            2. re: alkapal

                              So Loudon may be the rising star on the Q front? I guess I need to take it upon myself to try Double D, which is also on Rt 7 in Loudon. If anyone does have any reports, please post!

                              1. re: Dennis S

                                oh, you found out more about double d's location? do you have an address?

                                gainesville is in prince william county and warrenton is in fauquier county….

                                dennis, you may like this photo of an old map of lord fairfax's property:

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  I have the address below. My coworker seems challenged when I ask to confirm. I'll do my best to make a trek up there this weekend. I almost went 2 or 3 weeks ago and Google maps had it listed on my phone at about the same location. But this may be FFX instead of Loudon?

                                  I'm very into maps, btw, and have a great one of Reston/Herndon from about 1974 that has a lot of historical information on the area (such as a planned community was attempted at least once prior to Reston - by a guy with the last name of Wiehle!)

                                  46960 Harry Byrd Hwy, Sterling, VA 20164

                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                    aha -- wiehle!

                                    thanks for the address for double d.

                                    by the way, do you know of a good resource for virginia place name histories? i have been interested in such things for a while, and was reminded again when i heard traffic report for "backlick road." ;-).

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      If you get there before I do report back, but I plan on going one day this weekend for lunch.

                                      That map I have has a good few other names, like Lawyer's road and Money's Corner. I don't know of any one good source. I found two good links below, and in the second one there's a link to what probably used to be a good source, but it seems that site is down.



                                      1. re: Dennis S

                                        thanks dennis, those were really interesting. there was also an imbedded link: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/GM...

                                        what have you heard about double d bbq? i forget if you mentioned a particular style….

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          My neighbor really likes slow smoked Q, which he does quite well himself, using a variety of woods depending on his preference that day. He swears by the place and says that they have the smoker going where you can see what they're up to, and he says it's the real deal. I can ask today what he goes for the most, but I'm guessing it's more of the beef cuts.

                                    2. re: Dennis S

                                      that address is a shell station with a smokehouse restaurant attached (?). i MAYBE can see a pile of wood on the left of the photo, next to the wall. (maybe it is a dream, though. ;-).

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I really hate relying on Yelp for info, but there are some good pics of the place there, and my coworker confirms. Oh, and he gets the ribs.


                                        Edit: Phone might be 703-517-8179 (according to a sign in a pic on yelp).

                                        Second edit: Definitely next to a gas station: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/Rh1T9C...

                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                          the ribs in photos 10 & 11 alone merit a trip. mmmmmmm.

                                          i guess they set up at the gas station at that address. for some reason, i was thinking that they were a restaurant proper. wish they'd haul that smoker to ballston!

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Alka - it's the real deal! Only on weekends and while he is set up right on Rt 7 it's easy to miss. And he is on the lot of the Shell station.

                                            Full report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844374

                              2. fyi -- lagunitas beer dinner, tuesday, april 24: http://www.badtothebonesmokehouse.com...

                                1. BEST PORK RIBS i have had in 30 years. the folks there at BTTB have definitely perfected what they started. last time, they were OK -- about 1-½-years ago was my first visit?

                                  last night they were perfect! and dining companions loved their pulled pork. my smoked chicken quarter was good, but small.

                                  cole slaw and potato salad both were A+ -- and you know i'm picky about southern food!

                                  the team has really come out on the very top of NVa bbq!

                                  heads up old town manassas, early 2014 gets you your very own BTTB -- but in a more express take-out concept. order at window & pay, then get food right then, too (as a "chipotle" is set up, as i was told). <now, in gainesville BTTB, they bring food and beer your table.>

                                  the owner actually lives in arlington, so i asked our waiter to importune him to open a place in arlington. a pal can dream, no?