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.
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With its log-cabin façade, wood-fired smoker, and homemade sides, Pitt Boss BBQ serves up a savory menu ripe with rustic tradition. A colony of nudist wings arrives wearing nothing but smoke and seasoned dry rub, sending tongues wagging over its alternative lifestyle ($5.14–$10.19), and a hearty half-pound of beef brisket shows off its hunky frame, flanked by a couple of tasty sides such as homemade cole slaw or mac 'n' cheese ($9.99). Dry-rubbed and smoked baby-back ribs are available by the rack ($24.49), half rack, ($13.99), or backed up by a choice of two other meats ($19.49)––perfect for fulfilling a meat deficiency or bringing a blind date with a boar to an abrupt close. A mouthwatering, pulled-pork sandwich is ideal for devouring with two hands ($4.09), leaving feet free to juggle take-home bottles of Pitt Boss’s five flavors of sauce, including sweet and spicy original and zesty East Carolina ($8).
Red Hot & Blue draws from many corners of the Southern map to bring together a mix of classic barbecue and traditional southern fare served amid an array of handpicked blues memorabilia. Red Hot & Blue cooks top-quality meats atop a smoky bed of hickory logs where relatively low temperatures and long cooking times infuse eats with succulence. The meaty mélange encompasses three ways to order ribs ($22.99 for a full slab, $15.99 for a half-slab): wet, slathered with mojo mild barbecue sauce; dry, rubbed with a blend of Memphis-style spices; or sweet, dripping with a more-sugary sauce and a never-ending stream of compliments.
As a 20-year veteran firefighter, Shawn Gregory saw his share of action and understood how draining a day on the job can be. So when Shawn and his wife decided to open Halligan Bar & Grill––named after a common tool used by firemen––they wanted to pay homage to the brave individuals in the fire service. “I built this place kinda to be a clubhouse for me and my firefighter friends to kick back after a long hard day on the job,” Shawn describes on his website.
Alongside firefighter-themed gear decorating the walls, including helmet-covered lights and uniforms pinned to the wall, the original eatery’s pride and joy is a 1973 Seagrave fire engine donated by the Mangohick Volunteer Fire Department. The engine, cut in half, sits behind the bar and portions out libations from its pump panel-turned-beer taps. Fully operational lights dance across the bar, and sirens blare every time someone says the word “refill.” At Halligan’s second location in Glen Allen, bar stools flank an entire fire truck in the massive dining room, and the roof holds tables reserved for VIP seating.
Lauded for its succulent pork ribs on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate and ABC’s The View, Ronnie’s Ribs, Wings & Other Things supplies feasters with expertly executed barbecue classics. Originally founded on the parking-lot grounds of a former gas station, the eatery has since moved to a larger 300-seat location, where 50 TVs entertain customers as they dine. According to the Food Network feature, pit master Ronnie Logan flavors his pork ribs with a mixture of dry rub, brown spices, paprika, and secret ingredients. Each rib rests atop a hickory smoker, which cooks the meat with smoke and heat so no errant flames burn a customer’s meal or convince someone the Olympics are nearby. Along with ribs, pulled-pork sandwiches, jumbo chicken wings, and beef brisket make it hard to ignore the alluring scents drifting about the air, which is also filled with traditional sides and drinks. The family-run Ronnies also caters large familial or corporate events.