Jordan Springs Market (Photography by Aaron Spicer)

Hand-pulled pork at Jordan Springs Market

Pulled, chopped or minced? North Carolina vinegar or Memphis sweet? The debate over pulled pork styles runs hotter than the low-and-slow temperatures used to cook the barbecue staple.

There are no definitive winners on the subjective topic, but the pitmaster serving Northern Virginia’s best has his favorites.

“We hand-pull all of it,” says Jordan Springs Market’s Austin Landry. “Never chopped.”

Located in a small three-pump gas station at the junction of Routes 761 and 664 in Stephenson, the market’s sandwiches are a barbecue lover’s dream. Piping hot piles of pork, Carolina-style, spill over the sides of the woefully undersized squishy bun, but that’s OK—getting your hands dirty with this one just adds to the tasty fun.

From the slightly sweet, almost jerky-like crust, known as bark, coating massive lumps of hickory- and cherry wood-smoked meats to the smaller, tendril-like strands, this moist sandwich of pork doesn’t need any accompaniment, but the scoop of crunchy, peppery slaw on top turns this gas station meal into a sublime experience.

Whether you fall on Team Vinegar or Team Sweet—Landry admits he’s a vinegar guy—both Jordan Springs sauces satisfy, but I recommend doing something crazy: Mix the two. Purists may cringe, but trust me, your mouth won’t.


Get it: Jordan Springs Market, 741 Jordan Springs Road, Stephenson Note: Pulled pork is only available Thurs.-Sun.


With Carolina mustard at Monk’s BBQ

The pulled pork pairs well with Monk’s large selection of 10-plus sauces, but the Carolina mustard vinegar is just about perfect: sweet, tart and a kick of heat that hits just right. Get it: Monk’s BBQ, 251 N. 21st St., Purcellville

Fusion at Urban Bumpkin BBQ

The Arlington food truck’s pork sandwich—Bumpkin Pork Sammie—mixes Southern and Asian flavors, marrying smoked pork, crispy fried onions and sweet barbecue sauce with chili garlic slaw on wasabi sesame seed-speckled brioche. Get it: Urban Bumpkin BBQ, Regular stops in Arlington and Reston

The squishy but stable bun at The Pit Stop

The bun, an underdog if there ever was one in a battle between bread and filling, holds up exceptionally well under the mountain of piping hot and smoky chopped pork from this roadside stand. Go for the spicy sauce; it’s the sweet and zesty yin to the cool and creamy coleslaw yang. Get it: Gilbert’s Corner (at the roundabout at Routes 15 and 50), Aldie; 703-944-3611


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(July 2015)