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A hefty silver platter of 2Fifty’s luscious brisket and sides.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

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2Fifty’s First K Street NW Customers Gobble Up Nearly 1K Pounds of Meat

Inside the Texas-style barbecue shop’s wildly successful opening weekend in Mt. Vernon Triangle

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Brisket buffs braced the bitter cold this weekend to score a first taste of 2Fifty Texas BBQ’s second standalone location. Widely considered one of the best barbecue places in the region, Maryland’s revered 2Fifty brought its mouthwatering meats to the heart of D.C. with the arrival of a new sit-down restaurant on Saturday, January 13.

2Fifty CEO Debby Portillo and award-winning pitmaster Fernando González, the Salvadoran couple behind the essential Riverdale Park destination for Central Texas-style barbecue since 2020, expand into the Mt. Vernon Triangle space where Toscana Market formerly sat (414 K Street NW).

The Northwest neighborhood flexed its affinity for top-tier barbecue out of the gate, with a whopping 800 pounds of meat sold on Saturday and Sunday. Orders of prime-grade and American wagyu brisket led 2Fifty’s opening weekend sales, adds the team, followed by a “crazy amount” of tender beef ribs.

The walk-up ordering line at 2Fifty.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
The 85-seat space can fit twice as many diners as its Riverdale Park counterpart.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

The core menu in D.C. also showcases rotating wood-smoked sensations like pork ribs, buttery turkey, pulled lamb with purple corn, and juicy sausage links made in-house. A sleeper hit was poblano sausage, which was the first item to sell out on day one. Mac ‘n cheese and cornbread were the most popular sides to start.

2Fifty is doing things differently in D.C. by not taking online or phone orders and sticking to a first-come, first-served model. Upon opening at 11 a.m., 2Fifty reported a nonstop weekend line of 60 people spilling out onto K Street NW. By 7 p.m. on both days, there wasn’t any more meat left.

The open-until-sellout situation is similar to what Texas institutions like Austin’s Franklin Barbecue does. The anticipated D.C. debut didn’t outshine 2Fifty’s location that started it all; Riverdale Park simultaneously drew a similarly sized queue all weekend, and most meats sold out — which was an “awesome surprise,” says Portillo.

True to Central Texas style, 2Fifty sparsely seasons its meats, letting the oak smoke shine through.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Portillo and González, who are part of a large restaurant family in El Salvador, nod to their Central American roots with new sides like fried plantains. In lieu of sweet baked beans, red kidney beans get simmered with brisket trimmings — the way Portillo’s mother taught her to make them. Served in paper trays, its expanded selection of sides are designed to compliment the fatty flavors of their meaty table companions. Coleslaw that goes heavy on white pepper joins sweet potato mash, fire-roasted Brussels sprouts and tomatoes, and esquites topped with a spicy, neon-orange crumble.

Meats slow-smoked over white oak make the 16-minute drive from 2Fifty’s home base in Riverdale Park. Live TV feeds of employees working the propane tank-shaped offset smokers are on full display for D.C. diners to see while they’re ordering and eating. Oak logs piled up near rustic tables in the back reinforce its all-wood mantra.

Despite the high cost, 2Fifty continues to source from two luxe purveyors known for their ethical farming practices: the Kansas-based Creekstone Farms collective and Snake River, an Idaho outfit known for its breed of American wagyu.

2Fifty got a belated Christmas present in late December by being named one of Texas Monthly’s top 20 Texas-style barbecue trays of 2023. Pull quotes from the pub’s respected barbecue critic hang above a chronological photo collection telling 2Fifty’s backstory, starting with its origins as a farmer’s market stand. 2Fifty first came to D.C. in 2021 with a condensed menu served out of a Union Market stall, which has since shut down.

Booths are coming to the back dining area.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

2Fifty fully embraces one American tradition by introducing whole hog to the equation in D.C. The pulled pork makes its way into sandwiches and atop nachos dotted with diced pickled radishes for a nice acidity contrast. González prepares one small-sized whole hog for every day of the work week and two midsize hogs each Saturday and Sunday.

Pitmaster Fernando González smoking a pig.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
2Fifty in D.C. gets in one or two whole hogs each day.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Big-name local chefs like Danny Lee and Angel Barreto (Mandu, Anju) came out to support their new neighbor over opening weekend. Another impressed customer was the owners’ own 9-year-old daughter. “She was looking at her dad in awe as the star of the show — she’s never seen such a big turnout,” says Portillo.

González is always experimenting with specials, and this location is no different. On a snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, less than 72 hours after opening, the restless pitmaster was already thinking about what’s next. While taste testing his new brisket tamale creation, an incoming $8 special for two, he told Eater he plans to start making his own Texas toast this week. Portillo’s uncle is a professional baker and currently in town to help with the recipe.

Barbecue and beer are also best buds, and the store will soon have an alcohol license to serve a Vienna lager from Hyattsville, Maryland’s Streetcar 82 — brewed especially for 2Fifty — plus pours from their Riverdale Park neighbor Denizens.

2Fifty airs a live TV feed of its smokers in action in Riverdale Park.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

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