Entries tagged with “Urban Bar-B-Que”.


It’s that time again – for the fourth straight year, Meat Week beckons DC’s barbecue lovers with eight great reasons to celebrate low-and-slow cooking.  And this year, our host restaurants have come up with some of the biggest and best specials we’ve ever seen.  I can’t even begin to imagine someone making it to all eight this year…and I don’t know that I want to see the results if anyone does!

If you’ve joined us over the past three years, you know that your DC Meat Week Team is committed to bringing something new to the picnic table each year.  We’ve rotated our leadership again – David Gootzit  (the Bacon Terrorist) is now our Captain, and Jenelle Dennis (Babeque) joins me as First Mate.  This year, we’ve expanded Meat Week in TWO big ways – adding a Food Truck Face-Off to determine which of four local food trucks serves the best barbecue in town and helping one of our hosts introduce a new extreme eating challenge.

Let’s start with that second bit of news. As they have in the past, Pork Barrel BBQ is using Meat Week to launch something new.  This year, it’s the “High on the Hog” Eating Challenge.  Entrants have 45 minutes to eat ALL of the following:

  • 1 Smackin’ Big Daddy Sandwich (the Smackin’ Big Daddy is an oversized sandwich with ½ pound of pulled pork and a Texas Brisket Sausage, topped with Monster Cheese Sauce, Cole Slaw and BBQ Sauce.
  • 1 Slab of Ribs
  • 2 Texas Brisket Sausages
  • 1 Side of Monster Mac & Cheese
  • 1 Side of Baked Beans
  • 1 Side of Cole Slaw

Finish them all in time, and you will be covered with glory (and barbecue sauce).  You will receive a t-shirt, a $50 Pork Barrel BBQ gift card, and your name in the “High on the Hog Challenge” Hall of Fame.  Fall short, and you’re on the hook for $49.95.  The guys at Pork Barrel have said that they’ll open the challenge to as many people as want to try it on Thursday, January 31, but they need everyone’s name no later than Tuesday, January 29 to make sure they prepare enough food.  Email us or contact the restaurant directly if interested.

Generally speaking, Meat Week is meant to be a casual, come-as-you-are festival that will take place this year from Sunday, January 27th to Sunday, February 3rd.  Want to see what we’re doing each day?  Check out the calendar after the jump.
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As I mentioned in our Meat Week introduction yesterday, we’re just days away from the start of this year’s festivities.  We’ll be starting things off at Urban Bar-B-Que in their new Norbeck Road location (which is their old Urban Burger location).  And as much as we loved kicking off the first two Meat Weeks at their other Rockville spot, they’re going all out to welcome us to the new space.

For starters, they’re tempting us with food – free sides to go with our ‘cue.  As they put it, “Come for the meat, stay for the sides!”  Urban is also offering a free commemorative gift to everyone who joins us on Sunday night at 6.

And the cherry on the sundae is Happy Hour bar pricing   Oh…did we forget to mention that this Urban puts the “bar” in “barbecue?”  Add that to the extra space and their best Southern Pride smoker (brought over from the Silver Spring location), and we’ve got every indication that this will be the best kick-off event yet.

Need some more to whet your appetite?  We asked our Captain, Jenelle Dennis, and our First Mate, David Gootzit, a couple of questions about Meat Week.  These are their answers…and just to be fair, we’ve answered them as well.

1) What is it about barbecue that appeals to you most?

JD: Obviously, the taste.  There’s nothing that can match the complexity of flavors that infuse into meat after a low and slow experience in a smoky environment.

DG: Real barbecue requires a committment to craftsmanship and an
investment of time that is absent from many of modern life’s
day-to-day activities.  Throwing something on a charcoal grill and
cooking it quickly can be fun and, if done right, even tasty.
However, the amount of sweat (both literal and proverbial) that goes
into real barbecue reflects an attitude that the cook cares. It’s a beautiful thing.

MB: There’s something really impressive about the way barbecue turns some of the toughest, least desirable cuts of meat into something so tender and tasty.  There’s a lot of skill that goes into getting it just right, and the combination of smoke, spice and richness results in a flavor that you can’t get any other way.

2) As a KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge, what do you look for in GOOD barbecue?

JD: The KCBS judging standards, but with a personal twist when I’m not in a judging environment.  Taste:  Has to appeal to me personally.  I tend to prefer the sweet and tangier flavors.  Texture:  Has to come of the bone easily, but not completely fall off (for ribs),  pull apart easily (for brisket).  Nothing turns me off more than tough or dry meat.  As far as appearance, I’m pretty forgiving.  But a nice bark on a rib really turns me on.

DG: The three criteria in a KCBS-sanctioned contest are appearance, taste and tenderness.  In a restaurant, the barbecue shouldn’t be arranged in too fussy a fashion. It’s barbecue, not haute cuisine. Without the right degree of smoke, it isn’t good barbecue. You can go overboard on smoke and miss the mark, but overall there’s a window with degrees of smokiness, and anything in that window is “good.” Tenderness is tricky for many cooks. In my experience, if you find a good smoke ring, you are much more likely to find a tender piece of
barbecue.  I look for barbecue that gives a little resistance to my teeth, but even that once it yields still provides a touch of chew. To paraphrase the Supreme Court – good barbecue is like pornography – you know it when you taste it.

MB: I want my barbecue to taste like meat, first and foremost.  The smoke is important, and I definitely like a good sauce, but I want to be able to taste the pork or the brisket as soon as I bite into it.  As far as texture, I just can’t stand dried out barbecue.  I know that restaurants have to prepare their meat in advance to be able to handle crowds, but the way a place rests it ‘cue before serving can make all the difference.  I’m pretty forgiving in terms of appearance, but a nice crusty exterior always makes me smile.

3) How would you describe Meat Week to someone who has never heard of it before (and isn’t necessarily a barbecue junkie)?

JD: A gathering of energetic, friendly and hungry people with a love of BBQ or an interest in learning about BBQ.

DG: It’s a week of meat, what else do you need to know?    Seriously - I would say we’ve identified eight of the best barbecue restaurants in the DC-VA-MD metro area and all eight places are working to put their best foot forward for anyone who wants to stop by.

MB: It’s a low-key, week-long celebration of barbecue and you can attend as many or as few nights as you’d like.  I’m with Jim Shahin on the name, though.  If it were “Barbecue Week” people would know exactly what we were talking about as soon as we said it – Meat Week conjures up images of steak.

4) What’s the best barbecue you’ve ever had outside the DC area ?

JD: The best BBQ I’ve had is in competition.  I always think there are strong competitors in Pickin’ in the Panhandle and Smoketoberfest.

DG: It’s a tie between Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas and Cooper’s BBQ in Lano, Texas. Both were incredible experiences and I’ll consider myself fortunate in life if I ever get to return to either.

MB: To me, the best barbecue in the country is in Kansas City.  And the best barbecue in Kansas City is at Oklahoma Joe’s (the original location, at the gas station).  Even Anthony Bourdain has acknowledged its superiority!

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With that, we wish you a happy Meat Week and we hope to see you at one or more of our celebrations.  Look for the big red-and-white banner with our new DC flag-inspired logo and the crowd of smiling faces smeared with sauce.

And when you’ve finished with Meat Week, think about participating in DC Meat Free Week.  Also in their third year (they started in direct response to our inaugural Meat Week), they’ve put together a terrific lineup of meat-free menus to enjoy all over town from Monday, February 6th through Monday, February 13th.  They’ve convinced ten of the best local food trucks to offer special deals on vegan and vegetarian menu items on Wednesday, the 8th, and they’ve even got a book signing with John Schlimm, the Tipsy Vegan, on Thursday at Meridian Pint.

Trust us – after a full week of barbecue your body will thank  you for some down time.

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Can you imagine a Super Bowl watch party that doesn’t involve massive quantities of beef, pork or chicken?  Crazy talk, I know.  But if you make it through eight days of Meat Week, you may not just imagine it…you might actively crave it.

For the third year in a row, Washington will be celebrating “the holiday that time forgot” with a tour-de-carnivore that will highlight some of the best barbecue the area has to offer.  Beginning at Urban Bar-B-Que’s newest location on Sunday night and ending at long-time favorite Rocklands the following Sunday, we’re taking it to the next level for this year’s Meat Week.  We’ve got so much new talent on the DC barbecue scene, we just had to add an eighth day (finally bringing us in line with the national organizers’ recommendation).  And with one of those shiny new logos that plays off the DC flag, you know we’re ready.

If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you know that we started DC’s Meat Week chapter after an introduction to the event by the Washington City Paper’s Tim Carman.  I’m pleased to report that our Meat Week team from last year is back together again this year, with Jenelle Dennis (aka Babeque) as our Captain and David Gootzit as First Mate.  Both are KCBS-Certified Barbecue Judges, and they’re quick to extol the virtues of crisp bark and a well-defined smoke ring in quality ‘cue.  I asked each a few key questions about Meat Week and will be posting their answers tomorrow.

As befits a celebration of the best of the area’s barbecue offerings, we’ll be returning to several of our most popular venues from last year.  In addition to the two I mentioned above, we’ll be hitting up the PORC crew for a second response-requested buffet at Wilson’s in Shaw) and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish for another round of parking lot barbecue.

We’re also proud to finally be able to visit the guys from Pork Barrel BBQ in their own space after two consecutive Meat Weeks featuring “coming soon” sneak peeks.  They’re rolling out the red carpet, with a Meat Week sampler special and the first official taste of their new Carolina Vinegar sauce.  It’s been a long time coming, but good barbecue is all about taking the time to get it right.

The rest of our Meat Week slots this year are given over to ‘cue joints that didn’t exist when Meat Week 2011 rolled around:

Hill Country’s DC outpost has been winning rave reviews since they opened, and their all-you-can-eat Monday night special seemed like the perfect way to welcome them to the lineup.  As it turns out, this Monday Hill Country offers a chance to do some good with your meal: they’re holding a charity concert to benefit the victims of the recent Texas wildfires.  Tickets are $20 and the restaurant is also donating 20% of their food and beverage sales for the night to the relief efforts, as well.  If you’re thinking about coming out Monday night, please consider making a donation.

Smoke & Barrel knows how to draw a crowd with their combination of barbecue and beverages (most notably bourbon).  Due to their limited size – at least until expansion is complete – they’re participating in Meat Week with a reservations-required.  That’s the good news.  The bad news?  Reservations are already completely booked.  If you’re not already on board, you’ll have to check them out another night.

Finally, Memphis Barbeque in Crystal City is doing its namesake city proud, smoking everything from pork to salmon (not to mention a few sides) in a massive sit-down space on 23rd Street.  What better way to celebrate the Friday night of Meat Week?  We had the privilege of taking a First Look when they were ready to open.

The official website features the schedule, addresses and special offers that will be available each night.  While you’re on the site, take a look around at some of the photos from last year and check out the Meat Week Hype that we’ve created for this year, too.  Like that flag logo?  You’re in luck – t-shirts will be available for sale each night (just find the Captain or First Mates).

Except where noted above, all events are come-as-you-are and everyone is free to order whatever they please.

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Just when you thought it was safe to hit the salad bar, Meat Week comes roaring back into Washington ready for round two.  Last year, Snowmageddon forced the cancellation of the final two Meat Week events in our area, leaving hungry carnivores unable to enjoy scheduled outings to Branded ’72 in Rockville and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish on Rhode Island Avenue.  Some folks might have taken that as a sign, a warning from on high to repent and change their ways.

Not us.

This Sunday, DC Meat Week will once again provide carnivores with seven nights of barbecued deliciousness at some of the area’s best ‘cue joints.  And for the second year in a row, Meat Week will be one of your first opportunities to check out a highly-anticipated newcomer to the DC BBQ scene.  Some of the venues have stayed the same (we HAD to kick things off at Urban Bar-B-Que again, and you know we wanted take a second run at Mr. P’s), and a couple of recent additions have been added to the list as well.

Perhaps the biggest change in DC’s Meat Week chapter is who’s running the show.  I’ve passed the Captain’s hat to Jenelle Dennis, aka BabeBQ, though I’ll be staying on as First Mate along with David Gootzit.  Jenelle brings an impressive barbecue pedigree to the role – she’s a KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge and one of the architects of the Snackadium.  Seriously impressive.

Check out the full line-up of venues for this year’s Meat Week after the jump, and pay special attention to Tuesday and Wednesday nights: they’re RSVP-required sneak-peeks at two of the best things that are about to happen to the DC barbecue scene. (more…)

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I’m not going to lie.  When I showed up at Urban Bar-B-Que at 7 PM last night, I figured there was a 50-50 chance that I was going to be enjoying a plate of brisket all by myself and then heading home.  Such is the uncertainty that comes from putting something like Meat Week together.  It’s a feeling I hadn’t had since I stopped planning events as part of my job.

So I showed up with my Meat Week flags and my most recent copy of the KCBS Bull Sheet, ready to greet my fellow Meat Weekers…but I brought a book with me, just in case.

I’m more than a little pleased that the book turned out to be completely unnecessary.  Washington’s barbecue lovers turned out in force to kick off our inaugural Meat Week.  At one point, we had twenty-four people celebrating over plates brown paper-covered trays of ribs, pulled pork and brisket.

The team at Urban were the perfect hosts for our inaugural event.  I had given them a heads up that some undetermined number of people would be arriving to celebrate Meat Week.  Rather than ask “What the hell does that mean?” they actually looked into it and were ready to greet us when we arrived.  They reserved a few tables up front so we’d have a place to gather (we eventually overtook the entire restaurant), and then they stepped back and let Meat Week take its course as everyone ordered whatever they had a taste for.

More photos and details – as well as info on a Haiti relief event tomorrow night – after the jump. (more…)

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Image by Mike Licht, www.notionscapital.com

One week ago, we announced the arrival of Meat Week to Washington, DC.  Since that time, we’ve been blown away by the amount of attention that this celebration of all things barbecue has received.  Not surprisingly, Tim Carman was the first to give us a shout-out over at the City Paper, but his nod seems to have triggered an avalanche of additional coverage: Zagat Buzz, UrbanDaddy, Brightest Young Things, DC MetroMix, Notions Capital…even Modern Domestic!

The word is clearly getting around: Meat Week is Real.  But we’ve gotten more than a few emails asking about the finer points of what this is all about.

And we’ve had A LOT of people asking about our Meat Week Special Sneak Preview of Pork Barrel BBQ on Wednesday night at Mango Mike’s in Alexandria.

All your questions answered – and the details on the Pork Barrel preview – after the jump.

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Being the barbecue snob purist that I am, I’ve frequently found myself giving dismissive answers to friends’ questions about where to find good ‘cue in Washington.  Hell…I’ve even said as much here at Capital Spice.  But a few months back the City Paper’s Tim Carman spread the word that Rockville’s Urban Bar-B-Que had upgraded their smoker and that their brisket was much improved for the change.  I had to check it out.

Sure, Urban’s smoked meats are done in the Texas style, so they were bound to be a bit different than the heavily sauced ribs I’ve come to know and love in Kansas City.  But I was eager to see what their new XLR-600 Southern Pride smoker was turning out, so I joined up with Carman and a handful of other carnivores for a taste test.  urban-brisketAnd since there are limits to how much meat even the most dedicated barbecue enthusiast can order in one sitting, I invited Nell to join me so we could try a broader range of items.

So how was it?  On the whole, this was some of the best I’ve had in DC…but there were definitely some missteps in the mix, as well.

Details on Urban’s cooking method, tasty meats and “Ugly Bits” after the jump. (more…)

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