We All Queue Up for ‘Cue
Labor Day is just around the corner, and barbecue may well be the perfect takeout food.
While we’ve still got plenty of weeks of warm weather ahead of us, the traditional end of summer is almost here. Grab a blanket and head for a (socially distant) picnic in a park, or dine in on your porch or patio. Because even during a pandemic, nothing heralds the coming of fall like smoked meat.
Owner Joe Neuman uses only wood, no gas or electric heat, to ensure the smoke deeply penetrates Sloppy Mama’s chicken, ribs and pork. Everything here including the sides is homemade, and he offers five sauces: A tomato-based Kansas City variety, a mustard-based one called Georgia Gold, a vinegar-based Carolina sop, and Alabama White, with a mayonnaise base that goes well with poultry. He suggests ordering online, which can be done a week ahead; standard offerings include sausage, chicken, brisket and ribs. //5731 Lee Highway, Arlington
Pitmaster Andrew Darneille has won dozens of barbecue contests, and the menu at Smokecraft has a common thread: Everything on it, he says, must be touched by fire or smoke. That leads to interesting choices like smoked crabcakes and cedar plank salmon, a smoked Monte Cristo sandwich and even smoked desserts like Key Lime pie and chocolate-cherry bread pudding. For those who are all about traditional barbecue, a Smokecraft Combo for $24.95 allows you to choose three meats from offerings of pulled pork, brisket, chicken, jalapeno cheddar sausage, St. Louis ribs or turkey. Or, size up with the Whole Lotta Cue, which features all of the meats on the menu plus four sides, and feeds three to four people for $69.95. //1051 N. Highland St., Arlington (Clarendon)
Kansas-Style ‘cue is king here, and the best example of it can be found in the restaurant’s signature burnt ends – pieces of meat cut from the triangular, fattier portion of a brisket – which are smoked and seasoned twice before being crisped in an oven. “Kind of like a meat explosion, or an almost brisket bacon feel,” owner Dylan Kough says. A Feast for Four platter includes 1.5 pounds of two meats with three side dishes, plus pickles and potato buns for $37.95; the Extravaganza for Eight comes with 3 pounds of up to three meats with four large side dishes. Sides include Texas caviar (black been and roasted corn salad), collard greens and cheesy jalapeno grits for $69.95. // 2910 N. Sycamore St., Arlington
If you like your barbecue with a Southeast Asian twist, venture over to Wild Tiger, a partnership between Kevin Tien, founder of Hot Lola’s, and Scott Chung of Bun’d Up. The duo will be cooking pulled pork, brisket, rib and chicken wings out of Bun’d Up throughout the Labor Day weekend. To-go orders come with kimchi pickles and pickled onions, and sides include bao buns, a salad with miso-ranch dressing and Brussels sprouts dressed with a Vietnamese fish sauce. A platter of brisket, wings, ribs and pulled pork comes with five sauces, including miso-ranch, a Hoisin dipping sauce, and one with Szechuan peppercorns, allspice, cloves and star anise. “You can almost create your own flavor adventure,” Tien says. // Wild Tiger at Bun’d Up, 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington (Pentagon Row)