Best of the Rest
Photography by Stefanie Gans

lunch at the auction

I hear mooing.

I am eating brisket and I hear mooing.

You can find barbecue on the side of the road, at a gas station, in a full-fledged restaurant. You can also find barbecue at a livestock auction.

Jeremiah and Sheila Burns run Jeremiah’s Kansas City Style Bar B Q, a cafe open every Thursday at the Fredericksburg Livestock Exchange.

The menu, written on a chalkboard in the back of the tiny room with a few barstools and a couple of tables, offers smoked turkey, chicken and brisket. The sides stay classic: mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, coleslaw. Sheila also makes homemade apple, cherry and blueberry pies.

After lunch, turn left out of the restaurant and into a theater, of sorts. Vaulted ceiling, wooden beams, wooden seats. Farmers in overalls and straw hats. An auctioneer. Cows, pigs, goats.

The food is like what you’d expect to find from a diner on the side of a road in some deserted small town. Good enough, but something you won’t go back for.

But that doesn’t mean you weren’t glad you stopped.


Get it: Jeremiah’s Kansas City Style Bar B Q: Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Fredericksburg Livestock Exchange, Inc., 906 Summit St., Fredericksburg; 540-373-8207


friends of a feather


As any home cook knows, chicken is quick to dry out. Finding barbecued chicken that keeps its inherent juice requires searching.

Carolina Brothers’ shredded chicken sandwich retains that juicy quality, piled into a squishy bun bundled in a peppery vinegar sauce.

Food truck (and new restaurant, page 50) Sloppy Mama’s chops chicken thighs for a sandwich that exudes smokiness. Dressed in a pom-pom of coleslaw, plus pickle slices and Kansas City sauce, the smoky chicken still pops through, but it’s best to eat some of the diced chicken that falls out of the overstuffed sandwich for direct smoke contact.

Get it: Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque, 20702 Ashburn Road, Ashburn Sloppy Momma’s, 14566 Lee Road, Chantilly; roving truck in Arlington, Ashburn, Sterling and Tysons Corner


singed to the edge

Burnt Ends

Burnt ends are a delicacy, not because they’re expensive, but because so few restaurants reserve—and sell—the tougher, drier, immensely smoky bits of brisket. The phenomenon, started in Kansas City, became a countrywide craving after famed food writer Calvin Trillin mentioned their glory in the 1970s.

Only a few Northern Virginia restaurants sell burnt ends. Last summer I was introduced to these beef nuggets with an abundantly smoky and certainly chewy version at Sweet Fire Donna’s.

This year I fell in love with a more luxurious take at Epic Smokehouse. These burnt ends are softer, more succulent brisket than sinewy jerky. It’s because the meat from the point, the fatty section of brisket, is smoked for about 15 hours at just over 200 degrees, then reseasoned and smoked again for another eight hours. The low-and-slow approach reveals an ultra-smoky but not necessarily burnt taste. They may not be a classic take, but it’s still a wonderful piece of meat.

Get it: Sweet Fire Donna’s, 510 John Carlyle St., Alexandria Epic Smokehouse, 1330 S. Fern St., Arlington


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(July 2015)