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Brisket at Texas Jack's
Brisket at Texas Jack's
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Sample Different Barbecue Styles at These Seven Restaurants

Get Texas brisket and Alabama white sauce, all in the region

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Brisket at Texas Jack's
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It’s never been a secret— D.C. hasn't historically been a barbecue city. With competition from all over the American South, obtaining a slot on the most exclusive ‘cue lists is a tough task. While that may be discouraging for some cities, Washington can work past it.

Why? D.C. has the unique luxury of attracting residents from all over the country, including smoker-savvy transients from the country’s top barbecue locations. As they bicker amongst themselves over whose style and sauce is superior, all are representing their regions in the nation’s capital. Washington is barbecue Switzerland, so to speak— remaining a neutral party during the arguments and enjoying a relationship with all. D.C. diners may not have a style to call their own, but it’s not needed when they can enjoy everyone else’s recipes.

This summer, spend barbecue season exploring different styles from across America without even leaving the region. Up for a smoked meat road trip? Venture to Baltimore to try that city's speciality, pit beef.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Branded 72 Pit Barbeque

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The style hailing from Memphis doesn’t rely on sauce, but instead on special seasoningsapplied to pork ribs and shoulders. It's normally served dry but can be eaten “wet” for those who prefer their meat with tangy sauce. In Rockville, Branded ’72 serves baby back ribs with their secret, in-house Memphis rub that’s both sweet and spicy. For those who prefer wet ribs, this eatery suggests their homemade roasted habanero sauce.

Dixie Bones BBQ

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Admittedly the toughest of the styles to find, white sauce is a delicacy rarely available beyond the boundaries of Northern Alabama. This style is the lone mayonnaise-based sauce in the ‘cue canon, combining vinegar, coarsely ground black pepper, and seasonings. It’s best on poultry, such as smoked chicken, and can be found at Dixie Bones. The owners hail from Alabama and specialize in the sauce. It can also be found at Fat Pete’s in Cleveland Park.

Fat Pete's Barbecue

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The more notable of Missouri’s barbecue cities, Kansas City is perhaps most famous for its burnt ends. These small, flavorful pieces trimmed off either pork or beef brisket are crisply cooked and slathered in a gooey, sweet tomato and molasses sauce. Fat Pete’s elevates these crunchy ‘cue nuggets to a new level by putting them on a Swiss and American grilled cheese with Vidalia onions and bacon jam. Find them at the new Oklahoma Joe's in Merrifield, too.

Kangaroo Boxing Club

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While ribs can be found all over the District, Tuesdays and Fridays at Kangaroo Boxing Club are “fall-off- the-bone” St. Louis-style rib nights. Typically, St. Louis meats are grilled instead of smoked, but the thick coating of sauce echoes other styles of ‘cue. This region’s sauce is tomato-based and slightly spicy, a flavor combination captured by the sweet and spicy red pepper jelly served with KBC’s ribs.

Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant

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Of all the sauces found in Washington, North Carolina vinegar sauce has a consistently strong showing in the barbecue scene. Specific varieties from within the state are nuanced for native Tar Heels, but the basic elements of ketchup and vinegar are present in all. While several joints in Washington offer the classic sauce, both this state’s sauce and style are featured in two Pork Barrel BBQ entrees. Order the Carolinian sandwich for North Carolina vinegar-style chopped pork, pickles, and red slaw, or opt for the Tar Heel Tacos topped with pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, and corn salsa.

Smokehouse Live

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Known for its live music and barbecue buffet, Smokehouse Live consistently draws D.C. diners out to Loudon County. Included in its myriad of sauces and styles is mustard sauce, prevalent in South Carolina. At Smokehouse, it goes by the name of Savannah sauce and incorporates acidity from vinegar with the sweetness of brown sugar, but has an extra tang with the mustard. While the sauce can be put on any meat at Smokehouse, it’s prominently featured in the Savannah Chicken entree.

Texas Jack's Barbecue

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While most regional barbecue focuses on ribs or pork, it’s no surprise the Lone Star takes a different approach by focusing on brisket. This cut of breast meat is known to be the toughest – perhaps the reason it’s embraced by Texans – and must be cooked very low and slow to tenderize properly. If prepared correctly, the meat will fall apart with the scrape of a fork. Texas Jack's in Arlington specializes in this cut and offers the other parts of the "Texas trinity" like ribs and sausage. Also find great brisket at DCity Smokehouse's temporary home inside Wicked Bloom, and it's a speciality of Hill Country downtown.

Branded 72 Pit Barbeque

The style hailing from Memphis doesn’t rely on sauce, but instead on special seasoningsapplied to pork ribs and shoulders. It's normally served dry but can be eaten “wet” for those who prefer their meat with tangy sauce. In Rockville, Branded ’72 serves baby back ribs with their secret, in-house Memphis rub that’s both sweet and spicy. For those who prefer wet ribs, this eatery suggests their homemade roasted habanero sauce.

Dixie Bones BBQ

Admittedly the toughest of the styles to find, white sauce is a delicacy rarely available beyond the boundaries of Northern Alabama. This style is the lone mayonnaise-based sauce in the ‘cue canon, combining vinegar, coarsely ground black pepper, and seasonings. It’s best on poultry, such as smoked chicken, and can be found at Dixie Bones. The owners hail from Alabama and specialize in the sauce. It can also be found at Fat Pete’s in Cleveland Park.

Fat Pete's Barbecue

The more notable of Missouri’s barbecue cities, Kansas City is perhaps most famous for its burnt ends. These small, flavorful pieces trimmed off either pork or beef brisket are crisply cooked and slathered in a gooey, sweet tomato and molasses sauce. Fat Pete’s elevates these crunchy ‘cue nuggets to a new level by putting them on a Swiss and American grilled cheese with Vidalia onions and bacon jam. Find them at the new Oklahoma Joe's in Merrifield, too.

Kangaroo Boxing Club

While ribs can be found all over the District, Tuesdays and Fridays at Kangaroo Boxing Club are “fall-off- the-bone” St. Louis-style rib nights. Typically, St. Louis meats are grilled instead of smoked, but the thick coating of sauce echoes other styles of ‘cue. This region’s sauce is tomato-based and slightly spicy, a flavor combination captured by the sweet and spicy red pepper jelly served with KBC’s ribs.

Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant

Of all the sauces found in Washington, North Carolina vinegar sauce has a consistently strong showing in the barbecue scene. Specific varieties from within the state are nuanced for native Tar Heels, but the basic elements of ketchup and vinegar are present in all. While several joints in Washington offer the classic sauce, both this state’s sauce and style are featured in two Pork Barrel BBQ entrees. Order the Carolinian sandwich for North Carolina vinegar-style chopped pork, pickles, and red slaw, or opt for the Tar Heel Tacos topped with pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, and corn salsa.

Smokehouse Live

Known for its live music and barbecue buffet, Smokehouse Live consistently draws D.C. diners out to Loudon County. Included in its myriad of sauces and styles is mustard sauce, prevalent in South Carolina. At Smokehouse, it goes by the name of Savannah sauce and incorporates acidity from vinegar with the sweetness of brown sugar, but has an extra tang with the mustard. While the sauce can be put on any meat at Smokehouse, it’s prominently featured in the Savannah Chicken entree.

Texas Jack's Barbecue

While most regional barbecue focuses on ribs or pork, it’s no surprise the Lone Star takes a different approach by focusing on brisket. This cut of breast meat is known to be the toughest – perhaps the reason it’s embraced by Texans – and must be cooked very low and slow to tenderize properly. If prepared correctly, the meat will fall apart with the scrape of a fork. Texas Jack's in Arlington specializes in this cut and offers the other parts of the "Texas trinity" like ribs and sausage. Also find great brisket at DCity Smokehouse's temporary home inside Wicked Bloom, and it's a speciality of Hill Country downtown.

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