The newest barbecue joint in Northern Virginia takes a familiar approach by sampling from some of the country’s best-known regional styles, but Smokecraft Modern Barbecue stands apart from the pack for the sheer variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and woods that pass through its commercial Southern Pride smokers.
The restaurant, which opens today in Clarendon, will sell smoked wagyu brisket, St. Louis-style ribs with a maple orange dry rub, Carolina-style pork with honey and peach, and a tri-tip that owner and pitmaster Andrew Darneille says comes from the Santa Maria region of California. There’s also smoked avocado deviled eggs, burnt ends that sub in pork belly for beef, smoked Chesapeake crab cakes, and a smoked spaghetti squash with fire roasted tomatoes, romanesco cauliflower, spinach and goat cheese. Even brownies and a rum-laced key lime pie get infused with smoke. The restaurant stocks wood from apple, cherry, hickory, maple, and oak trees.
“We’re really looking to redefine modern barbecue, but still keeping signature elements such as hot and sweet dry rubs from the Midwest and that vinegar taste popular in the south,” Darneille says. “Everything has to be touched by fire or smoke, that’s our golden rule.”
Campfire baked beans, street corn, and collard green are just a few of the sides diners can order. Brunch dishes include a smoked Monte Cristo sandwich and the ‘Craft Texas Toast, thick bread doused in a creamy cinnamon sauce and topped with smoked berry flambé and maple bourbon syrup.
Darneille, who worked his way up through corporate groups like Cheesecake Factory and Richard Sandoval Hospitality, seems to assume a “more is more” philosophy. His Smokecraft competition team was active enough to claim more than 70 awards in 2019. For the standalone restaurant, he hired one of the more accomplished bar managers in the District: Lauren “LP” Paylor. The alum of Drink Company, the Dabney, and Dos Mamis was most recently working at Silver Lyan in the Riggs hotel, the first U.S. bar from famous London bartender Mr. Lyan.
Smokecraft’s signature cocktail, Smoke on the Water, blends rye whiskey, spiced simple syrup, and aromatic bitters, all smoked in a glass with wood chips. During brunch, sip on bloody marys with garnishes like candied applewood smoked bacon and smoked salt around the rim.
Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (1051 N Highland Street, Arlington, Virginia) opens for dine-in, takeout, and delivery Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend brunch runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.