In its former lives, the space now occupied by J'Ollies Restaurant was a biker bar, a seafood restaurant, and a pub. When J'Ollies moved in, though, that space was transformed into a family-friendly restaurant where diners can feast on pancakes and waffles straight from the griddle, or homemade biscuits bathed in sausage gravy. They can even create their own omelet, filling a hearty three-egg and cheese package with meat and veggies. Later in the day, lunch and dinner options include American classics such as beer-battered cod, meatloaf, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Low and slow. That’s how the pit masters at Hill Country smoke their brisket, sausage, ribs, and other meats to get the most flavor out of the aromatic flames of texas post oak. First seasoned with a classic, Texas-style dry rub, the savory victuals can be enjoyed in-house on butcher paper or bought market style by the pound to be eaten at home. Southern-style sides accompany the finger-licking proteins, including cheddar mac and cheese, campfire baked beans, and braised collard greens with bacon. Though the market-style carry-out is a convenient feature, guests looking for the full Texas experience should enjoy their flame-kissed meats in the dining room or the more festive surrounds of the basement Boot Bar. On most nights, live music fills the cafeteria-style eatery, transforming the open floor into a concert venue as guests chow on ribs or stomp their boots to the music. On Wednesday nights, crooners convene for Rock ‘n Twang Live Band Karaoke—named Best Karaoke in 2011 in the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide—to sing their favorite songs about the Alamo.
Only beer can break your heart. If you think that sounds suspiciously similar to a Neil Young song, you’d be right. It’s the title of a recent event at Smoke and Barrel—a tribute to Neil Young and poutine, complete with Allagash and Boulevard beer pairings. Fun food and beer pairings such as this are par for the course at Smoke and Barrel, or at least during the annual DC Beer Week.
On any given day, though, guests to this beer, barbecue, and bourbon emporium will have plenty to sing about. There's a huge array of craft brews to choose from––local brewery Flying Dog leads an impressive draft list, and other local brews make appearances by the bottle or can. Meanwhile, pulled pork, brisket, and barbecue nachos keep stomachs full and moist wipes gainfully employed, as do tasty sides and starts like fried pickles and sweet potato fries. And even tofu gets the Smoke and Barrel treatment, taking a trip through the smoker before being cut up and stuffed into egg rolls with coleslaw and barbecue sauce.
Virginia Barbeque first opened shop in a 100-year-old home in Ashland. The building's long history helped convey the sense of community roots that founder Rick Ivey wanted to express in his eatery's friendly, wood-smoked meats, and fresh-made sides. Now with locations across the state and a slew of accolades from the local media, Virginia Barbeque's mission to build a devoted following and pave a state highway with barbecue sauce is well under way. The restaurant's signature meats begin with a dry rub in a house spice blend before they take a 12-hour stint in a rotisserie smoker filled with hickory wood. Then, cooks hand-pull the meat and slather on house-made Virginia-style red sauce or North Carolina-style vinegar sauce.
In 1983, "Beefalo" Bob DiMartino began a small-scale catering operation built around no-frills, classic recipes of pit-roasted barbecue, growing his business to include a carry-out joint, sports bar, and even an upscale banquet hall. Bob's process is simple: slow cooking beef, ham, turkey, slabs of ribs and morsels of pork and chicken over smoking hickory fires and not cutting corners with gas jets or heat vision. The sports bar garnishes these backyard-style feasts with plates of oysters, lump crab cakes, and strip steak, as well as sports games on 20 big-screen TVs and rivers of cold beer.
True to its roots as a catering outfit, Beefalo Bob's supplies parties of up to 10,000 with bull roasts, crab feasts, and roasted pigs, as well as rentals of tents, tables, and moon bounces. Fancy occasions find a home in the 250-person Reflections Hall, decked out with chandeliers, DJs, a fireplace, hints of sparkly gold, and a wide-open hardwood dance floor.
The cooks at Virginia BBQ opt to use only high-quality meats, slinging bone-in boston pork seasoned with the eatery’s signature dry drub, a tradition that helped the establishment elicit plaudits from Richmond magazine as one of the region's best barbecue destinations. A rotisserie hickory-wood smoker permeates meat with flavor over the course of 12 hours, the same time it takes to cook meat by sending it to the sun and back. Barbecue gourmands then hand-pull the meat and fill plates or stack catering trays with the lean, flavorful bites. After the cuisine emerges from the wood smoker, it takes on an appetizing quality that the Free Lance-Star called "meltingly tender, astonishingly lean." Down-home side dishes such as baked beans, mac 'n' cheese, or red-potato salad round out entrees of pork ribs, brisket, and chicken. Virginia BBQ outstrips its name by having expanded to Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Mars, the planet whose color most indicated its proclivity for barbecue.