By Stefanie Gans
I think I pitched something like “The Fried Foods Issue!”
I pitched a lot of ideas last year, but ultimately we ended up with barbecue dominating the July issue’s slot, although Northern Virginia isn’t known for smoked meats.
As a food professional, I remain open-minded at the table. But me as a person, I have preferences. Barbecue isn’t one of them.
Just like how you eventually warm to your friend’s spouse with repeated, mandatory evenings together, I soon found myself enjoying the company of barbecue. After driving all over the region, paying $16 for a brisket sandwich outside of a gas station to trying brisket in a taco, I became a fan. Or more, an explorer. I learned what I appreciated in brisket meat (I’d sacrifice smokiness for tenderness) but I still couldn’t figure out, just by looking, where the best brisket would be. It’s not always along the roadside. Sometimes it’s in a grocery store.
With summer still kicking, here is where to find some pretty awesome barbecue in Northern Virginia (plus a listing of new barbecue restaurants!). I had lots of help on this issue, with Jody Fellows looking for pulled pork (Jody alone went to about 20 different places), Warren Rojas on the rib hunt, me on brisket and all of us finding worthy sides.
Because we had to acknowledge the fact that Virginia isn’t a sanctioned barbecue capital, Ann Hsu Kaufman tried to figure out what our Virginia barbecue identity could be (and how the aptly named Virginia Barbeque restaurant chain defines its eponymous ‘cue.) Corbo Eng looked deep into the fire and found fascinating stories from some of the men who make barbecue here, from a former Las Vegas Elvis impersonator, to a traveling farrier learning barbecue from rodeo clowns to an immigrant from Suriname, who’s cooked over the flames his whole life.
There’s more to the package, which you can now find online and on newsstands, but there’s one more story. It’s when I decided to try the barbecue spot inside of the Frederickburg Livestock Exchange. Try chewing on cow while hearing moos …
READ MORE: Northern Virginia Magazine’s Barbecue Issue