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.
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.
The chefs at each Copper Canyon Grill, a mid-Atlantic favorite, craft their regional American dishes from scratch every day. Their kitchens fill with flames and savory aromas as they roast meats and vegetables over hardwood fires, making customers happy, but leaving behind bare earth at local basketball arenas.
The kitchen yields hearty servings of grilled prime rib and filet mignon, ahi tuna and Atlantic salmon, and Delmarva-style crab dip and Eastern Shore jumbo lump crab cakes. It also tempts with a signature rotisserie chicken and jalapeño- and serrano-pepper cornbread baked in an iron skillet.
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.
A product of longtime best friends and entrepreneurs Lonnie Moore and Mike Malin, whose The Dolce Group has launched successful eateries across the globe, Ketchup reinterprets childhood favorites in a sleek, contemporary atmosphere. Diners saunter through a space alive with a red, white, and black color scheme, relaxing in curvy, red banquettes or futuristic-looking chairs designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The tabletops and slatted room dividers boast comic-book-style pop art, ready to transfer onto any on hand Silly Putty, and the walls talk with whimsical portraits of ketchup and mustard bottles holding hands and Heinz bottles fading into clouds of pointillism.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, chefs spin memories of Shake ’n Bake and macaroni washed down with Kool-Aid, creating gourmet masterpieces. Lobster finds its way into mac ‘n’ cheese, and hot dogs benefit from Kobe beef—both in the dog itself and in the chili on top. And there are plenty of options when it comes time for french fry dipping. Ketchup flavors such as root beer, ranch, and chipotle pay homage to the restaurant’s moniker, livening up Angus burgers topped with market-fresh heirloom tomatoes and Irish cheddar cheese. Moore and Malin's jazzed-up comfort food has even caught on at a sister location in Saudi Arabia, and the duo is opening another site in Istanbul, Turkey.