We All Queue Up for ’Cue
Barbecue may well be the perfect summer takeout food. Hit up these local joints and get it while it's hot.
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)
Named for chef Matt Hill’s grandmother, this celebrated Arlington Heights gem wins points for main dishes like brisket, poultry, spareribs and seafood cooked over live fire, plus sides like braised greens with white soy and smoked turkey broth; pulled-pork dirty rice; and stewed chickpeas with house-made labneh. Barbecue platters (a meat and three sides) are priced around $16. // 3411 S. Fifth St., Arlington
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, call Wild Tiger, a partnership between Kevin Tien, founder of Hot Lola’s, and Scott Chung of Bun’d Up. The duo cook their pulled pork, brisket, rib and chicken wings out of Bun’d Up in Westpost and serve it at pop-up events and catered affairs. 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 (Westpost/Pentagon Row)
Feeding a hungry group? Liberty Barbecue often runs a Labor Day promotion similar to its popular Fourth of July Bundle: Two meats (pulled chicken, pulled pork or beef brisket), three sides (with options including coleslaw, potato salad and mac & cheese), 12 mini cornbread muffins, housemade pickles, 12 Martin’s potato rolls and sauces, all of which serves eight to 10 people. There’s also beer, specialty cocktails and wine available. Order online at least 48 hours ahead, owner Steve Fedorchak advises. You can also eat outside on the restaurant’s shaded patio. // 370 W. Broad St., Falls Church City
The acclaimed pit stop in Lyon Park often presents a half-priced meat sampler on Labor Day: Enough for two, the meal includes a 1/4 pound of brisket, a quarter of a chicken, two ribs, 1/4 pound of pulled pork and 1/4 pound of Texas sausage, all for $14. Sides and desserts are a la carte and include cucumber salad, collard greens and mac & cheese, raspberry chocolate mousse, key lime chocolate mousse and banana pudding. // 2761 Arlington Blvd., Arlington (Lyon Park)
A local go-to and Best of Arlington favorite, John Snedden’s barbecue joint has been around since 1990. Rocklands is offering a family meal (1 lb. pulled chicken, 1 lb. beef brisket, three pints of salads and sides, four potato rolls, four pieces of honey-jalapeno cornbread and barbecue sauce) for $58. The Feast for Five, at $74.49, includes one rack of ribs, two half-chickens, 1 lb. chopped pork, potato rolls, three pints of salads and sides and barbecue sauce. Non-meat-eaters can chose from offerings that include black bean salad, cucumber salad and Texas corn pudding. //3471 Washington Blvd., Arlington
Maybe you plan to go biking or walking the Four Mile Run trail and you suddenly get a hankering for smoked meat. Bring your wallet and take care of that craving by stopping at this trailside truck and smoker parked near Shirlington. The longstanding operation serves up what some call the best ribs in Arlington from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. // Intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and South Oakland St.
Takeout specials at this Crystal City restaurant include several smoked meats: pulled pork for $15 a pound; beef brisket at $21 a pound and baby back ribs at $27 for a full rack. “Epic sides” include grilled leek mashed potatoes, Carolina slaw and bacon sprouts. For $165, an Epic Feast gets you three full racks of baby back ribs, 1.5 pounds of pulled pork, 1.5 pounds of smoked brisket, a quart of pancetta mac & cheese, a quart of Carolina slaw, and a quart of grilled leek mashed potatoes. Large orders need to be placed 24 hours in advance. // 1330 S. Fern St., Arlington